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Bats and Bones Reviews

Five Stars

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
For those readers fortunate enough to have read Jeffrey Hickey's previous two novels, MOREHEAD and THE COACH'S SON, the success of SCARY MAN and his most recent foray into the hows and whys we as human beings relate to each other and to the world around us - this book so very aptly titled BATS AND BONES - will be no surprise. Although even with the fine after taste of Hickey's talent remembered from those first books will likely not prepare for the acknowledgement that here is a major American author. It is simply that. Hickey more than most any other current writer - in the realm of Augusten Burroughs, Jonathan Safran Foer, David Sedaris - has mastered comedic writing, but the startling discovery is that Hickey is equally impressive and effective writing about contemporary mores, the manner in which the world has changed with the invention of social media, the changing perception of same sex people and altered rules and regulations that remain ahead of small minded people who simply haven't a clue what being unique is all about, and on and on. But to the stories.

Jeff’s stories for middle school age youngsters were originally released n 1998 and represent a collection of stories Jeff wrote after his mother passed away. ‘I wanted to explore the notion of death within the presence of life.’ It is a short book (I have only read the Kindle version without the available sound effects) but the treasures within are Tillamook Rock, Eye on Five, The Shade of a Tree in the Light, and The Barbershop
The exceptional art illustrating these stories is by Rachel Betz and the fine cover art is by Karen Kiser, Jeff’s wife.

Each of the five stories is special but the last story in the collection – The Barbershop – is small masterpiece. Sensitive, exquisitely written, this is Jeff Hickey at this best.

Said before but it deserves repeating, Jeffrey Hickey is one of our more compelling American writers – and that applies to his novels for adults as well as his collections of children’s stories. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, October 15


From The Point Reyes Light:

Inverness man releases subtle, spooky tales

Samantha Kimmey

Death is the unifying theme of four children’s stories released this month by Inverness author Jeff Hickey. 

The short collection is intended for middle schoolers and up. “It is about death within the presence of life,” he said. “Life goes on, life is all around us, and yet…death happens all the time.”

Mr. Hickey worked as a children’s storyteller for about a decade beginning in 1990, mostly in the Bay Area though he also traveled across the country.  In the mid-90s, as he was considering his next writing project, his mother died suddenly. Her passing directly informed one of the stories, a short piece called “The Shade of a Tree in the Light.” And since his kids were around nine or ten years old at the time, he also wanted to write stories that would appeal to them and their friends.

“I wanted to create a spooky story collection that wasn’t typical. I wanted it to be more subtle, more diffuse,” he said.

Mr. Hickey released a C.D. of the stories in 1997, though it was not widely sold. It was mostly a vanity project for me and my kids and their friends,” he said with a laugh. He has also performed the stories at various events over the years.

The audio version features Mr. Hickey reading the tales, accompanied by music and sound effects. Rumbling thunder and bird calls accent a score that includes synthesizer, percussion, and his wife, Karen, playing the penny whistle.

The release also features a physical book, which Mr. Hickey self-published with the assistance from the company CreateSpace. The scored audio tales are also newly available for purchase online. 

The four stories in the book are “Tillamook Rock,” “Eye on Five,” “The Shade of a Tree in the Light” and “The Barbershop.”

Tillamook Rock is inspired by the construction of the Tillamook Lighthouse, on a rock off the Oregon coast, and the wreck of the ship Lupatia in 1881. 

In the audio version, the instrumentation begins bucolically but later turns dark. The thunder of a storm crashes and Mr. Hickey switches from a distant modern narrator to one of the immigrants who worked on the shop. The lighthouse, which was decommissioned decades ago, was critical to steering ships at sea to safety, but its construction was a perilous task that claimed lives. 

“At night, the voices of the dead mingled with the voices of the living as each clung to the rocks like barnacles,” Mr. Hickey’s Irish character warns.

In Eye on Five, Mr. Hickey adopts a southern twang to narrate the brief story of a man, driving for hours along the highway, who sees something in his rearview mirror. “Something was swirling around his car leaving a sort of vapor trail, a mist, a path,” the narrator says. 

The Barbershop is the longest story, with the audio version clocking in at 30 minutes. The narrator recollects his hometown barbershop, a place of camaraderie for the men of the town—though occasionally a sinister old man with wiry gray hair came around, never speaking but often appearing before someone’s death.

Mr. Hickey’s tales have one common thread: tapping into the frightening, mysterious belly of death while also showing his characters—dead souls lost at sea, or a longtime barber watching his business slowly dwindle—accept or find solace in the approaching ending. 

In Tillamook Rock, a motley crew of ghostly workers sail off together into the Pacific—seven whose bodies were found, four who remained lost at sea and a dog that survived. The narrator of The Shade peacefully watches his spectral mother fade away. In The Barbershop, the main character says near the end that the shop has shown him a few things. “I have seen the future. The future has a name. That name is death, and he’s not such a bad boy.”


Bats and Bones is available in print on Amazon. The audio version is available on audible.com and iTunes.


                                                                Five Stars

By Beth on November 3, 2015
Format: Audible Audio Edition
I was given this book by the author for a review. He also gave me the audio because he said it needs to be listened to for a better experience. He is right. The author narrates the book very well and has some music and sounds in the background. It is very well done. I enjoyed all of the stories but my favorite is the last story, The Barbershop. It brought a tear to my eye. I agree with the author to buy the audio version because these stories are better off being heard.


                                                                 Five Stars

Amy H
I got this book sent to me with the audio book from the author in exchange for an honest review..

WOW!!! Words cannot express how much I loved this book. The Audio helped make the book. My children loved this book so much they listen to it all the time.

these are a collection of horror stories for children. they have good meaning and are fun to read to kids. My favorite is the eyes on highway 5. I love the old man trying to figure out what is going on, but also trying to make it home before daylight and finds himself in a weird position. I couldn't help but laugh at the end of this story

my children loved the tree light story. To me, this was sad. It was about a mother who had passed and can pass on information thru the trees. This story my children thought was the scariest

I would recommend this book to everyone, this will be on my list to buy for Christmas presents!!!


                                                                  Five Stars

By The Book Lover's Attic on November 19, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition

This is a fun book even though it is full of spooky stories. I say that because the audio is so well done, that I couldn't help but smile all the way through! If you can use headphones to listen, it makes it even better. My favorite story is Eye on Five, mostly because of the fast pace and excitement that is caused by the accompanying sound effects.

I am a huge Hickey fan and am delighted that he published this in print so that my children can look through it and read it at their leisure for years to come.

The writing is without fail as I would expect from Mr. Hickey. This would be a fun book to listen to while camping, or during a children's sleepover. Well done!

Did I say I love the cover? I do!


                                                                 Five Stars

Great Enjoyment!
By Shirley Priscilla Johnson TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 5, 2015
Format: Paperback

This book was given to me for a honest review and here it is. I was quite surprised with the reading of these stories. I found myself captivated in the tales and e peically when I heard them read on the CD. They just truly came to life, almost giving me chills. This book is very captivating entertaining and interesting. I'm happy to recommend this read to you. I really believe you would truly enjoy the listening tales. Very well done Recommended to you..


                                                                  Four Stars
Bats and Bones is a collection of four more or less spooky stories. The audio version also includes two instrumental songs and the spoken stories have background music.

1. Bats and Bones (instrumental)
This one gets you in the right mood - dark and foreboding of the stories to come - move closer (to the light) and let's begin...

2. Tillamook Rock
The first, a classic ghost story, was easily the creepiest one, though it was not scary in a frightening way. The speaker did a great job here, and the accompanying music intensified the dark atmosphere. However, I'm not sure I would have been equally impressed if I had only read the story instead of listening to it. 5 stars.

3. Eye on Five
My least favorite story in the collection . Too loud, too fast and screechy for my taste, it did not fit in well with the other stories. 2 stars.

4. The Shade of a Tree in the Light
Quiet but intense. 3 stars.

5. The Barbershop
The longest of the stories, and a fine example of less is more. Subtle but impressive, this one still lingers in my mind. 5 stars.

6. A Stranger Within (instrumental)
A gentle return to reality.

Bats and Bones was very different from what I expected. Instead of using striking or 'gory' effects , the stories are much more sophisticated and subtle. The fitting music and excellently modulated voice of the audio version weave an impressively intense atmosphere. The mood is uncanny at times, but never downright scary. I also received an e-book version containing some unexpectedly colorful painted pictures, which contrast nicely with the stories. However, I prefer and recommend the much more powerful audio book version.


                                                                      Five Stars

Scary (but not too) Stories!
ByUkknighton February 3, 2016
I received the book and a CD of Mr. Hickey reading Bats and Bones. If I could choose one, I would choose both! The art work in the book fits the mood of the stories and will give children a visual and set the mood, and the audible version features fabulous music and Mr. Hickey'swonderful story telling voice(s)! Very fun for a child to read along with! Just don't listen before bed! Very fun!


                                                                        Five Stars

By margaret chadwickon January 5, 2016
Author: Jeffrey Hickey
Title: Bats And Bones
Genre: Middle Grade, Ghost Stories

Synopsis: Bats And Bones is the second work for children from IPPY award winning author, Jeffrey Hickey. This collection of spooky stories is for middle school children and above. It dramatically, poignantly, and at times, comically explores the notion of death within the presence of life. This work is meant to be read whilst listening to the audio book where the author performs all the voices himself, backed by music he composed and recorded.

Review: I found this book really easy to get into and I had it finished within two hours of starting this book. These stories are short and would be good for children who struggle to sit through longer stories or read longer stories. I would read these stories over and over again. I really enjoyed settling down with this book and just could not put it down. This book will be in my collection for many years to come and will be passed down with the rest of my collection when I am no longer on this earthly plain. I will read these stories to my children and grandchildren, etc, etc and hopefully they will do the same for the future generations. This book should be in every book collection for young (and old) children as it is an excellent read that children will love. It is also a good way to teach them about parts of life that they may not understand.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


                                                                    Four Stars

Dec 24, 2015 Pari rated it really liked it

I was given a free copy of the Audiobook and a PDF in exchange for an honest review.

'Horror' isn't really my genre. I haven't had people insisting me to read a horror book going all "WOW!" So, when I saw that Bats and Bones was up for review, I approached Mr Hickey, and he was kind enough to send me an audiobook and a PDF for reference.

This was my first audiobook experience and I loved it! The voice modulations, the music, they all added to the whole spookiness of the short stories in it.

For horror stories like these,you need to experience them, not just read them off of a Kindle or paper. For me, the audiobook created the whole eerie atmosphere. If you can't buy the audiobook, maybe you could have "Oooooooo . . ." going in the background while reading under a candle.

After you have everything set, you can dive into Bats and Bones, and say goodbye to all your friends and family and enter the world of the ghosts and the dead.

There are four short stories in this collection and each of them open up to a different aspect of the world of ghosts and how connected we can be with them in life. My favourites were The Barbershop and A Shade Of The Tree In The Light. I loved them because they had emotions rolling off of every sentence— which is really rare in a horror story— and it never deviated from the main theme. The Tillamook Rock was a little disappointing as I didn't get it. I felt that Eye On Five was incomplete.

What I loved about Mr Hickey's writing was his beautiful description. It warmed my heart and brought tears to my eyes. 


                                                                     Five Stars

Nov 03, 2015 Beth rated it it was amazing

I was given this book by the author for a review. He also gave me the audio because he said it needs to be listened to for a better experience. He is right. The author narrates the book very well and has some music and sounds in the background. It is very well done. I enjoyed all of the stories but my favorite is the last story, The Barbershop. It brought a tear to my eye. I agree with the author to buy the audio version because these stories are better off being heard.

                                                                       Four Stars

Dana Murphy
Jan 31, 2016 Dana Murphy rated it really liked it

I won this book in a GoodReads giveaway. Me and my granddaughter sat down to listen and read along the other night. It was a great experience. She found the whole concept very much fun. I was with her in the idea of audiobooks not being my style. But I think because we read it together and listened to the wonderful music, that made it a great way to bond. We are now passing it along to some of her friends. I will post more comments as they come in from others. Thank you for the opportunity to have this book and be able to share it.


                                                                          Four Stars

Nov 13, 2015 Cyndi rated it really liked it

I received a copy of this book and the audio from the author. This was a fun book to listen to. I almost felt like I was sitting around a campfire listening to the stories with some great music and sounds in the background! I enjoyed all of the stories, but the last one, The Barbershop was the best! That one made me smile and brought tears to my eyes. This is considered a collection of spooky tales, but they are very tame spooky stories so can easily be enjoyed by most of the family.

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