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Sunday, November 29, 2020

Review: After All I've Done by Mina Hardy

After All I've Done 
by Mina Hardy

Thanks to Thriller Book Lover for this thrilling copy.

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publish Date: November 10, 2020
310 Pages
Genre: Psychological Suspense

She's lost her best friend, her husband--and possibly, her mind.

Five months ago, an accident left Diana Sparrow badly injured and missing a few months of her memory. As if that's not enough, she's started having recurring nightmares about the night of the accident. Dreams that feel so real, she's left questioning: maybe she didn't just slide off the road into a ditch. Maybe, just maybe, she hit something. Or someone.

She can't turn to her former best friend Val, who's been sleeping with Diana's husband Jonathan for months, but she might find some comfort in newcomer Cole Pelham. Yet the closer they become, the more Diana begins to wonder what really happened that night--and how Cole might be connected. Worse, it seems everyone else could be involved, too.

Who was with her that night? What really happened? As her life unravels thread by thread and the dreams become too real to ignore, Diana will have to face the unthinkable--and do the unforgivable.

My Review:

"Letting someone die is not the same as killing them."

Oh my sweet baby cheezits - you really had to go there didn't you, Hardy?! 😮

At first I was like okkkk... here we go.  Another amnesia riddled alcoholic woman unhappy in her marriage.  Haven't read this before, have we? 🙄  And yet from the get go, I was super intrigued.  She's not really an alcoholic, she just likes her wine and uff... with two broken collar bones.. well at least her mother-in-law is close by to help her during her recovery.  But then secrets start to unravel and my oh my, this is one of those times you DO want to get it twisted... and twisted it sure does get!

I legitimately could not stop laughing during the last few chapters.  Because this book took a WIIIIIDE ass left turn and while it will absolutely not be for everyone, I thoroughly enjoyed every piece of it.  I mean, I kiiiiinda knew that **insert character** was bat shit but holllllly shitballs y'all!  Hardy slapped me up one side of my face and before I even had the chance to turn the other cheek she was slapping that one too!

I'm literally sitting here still giggling about the absurdity of it all ... in the very best way.  I am surely entertained.  Touching on loyalty of friendship, marriage, adultery, sordid pasts, mothers, lovers and a LOT of wine.... this was certainly the read I needed right now.  


Friday, November 27, 2020

Review: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

And Then There Were None 
by Agatha Christie

Publisher: William Morrow
Publish Date: March 17, 2009 (first published November 6, 1939)
Kindle Edition
250 Pages
Genre: Mystery

Ten people, each with something to hide and something to fear, are invited to a lonely mansion on Soldier Island by a host who, surprisingly, fails to appear. On the island they are cut off from everything but each other and the inescapable shadows of their own past lives. One by one, the guests share the darkest secrets of their wicked pasts. And one by one, they die…

My Review:

Well, first off let me say that I'm so glad they changed the title from it's original.... eesh.  You'll have to look it up if you want to know.  Secondly, THIS IS MY FIRST AGATHA CHRISTIE!!  I know, I know.... as a lover of thrillers, you'd think I would've read one by now.  BUT NOPE.  So once Abby (Crime By The Book) revealed she had never read Stephen King.... well, we had to have a book off.  The Kind of Horror vs. the Queen of Mystery.  

The ultimate locked room mystery!  Ten people invited to Soldier Island.  Ten people left to their own devices.  Ten people guilty as their past comes to greet them in the most gruesome ways.  But who is killing them off?  And why???  Short review: I'll definitely be reading more Christie - but I did have some mixed feelings about this book.

What I loved: all the mystery, of course! Each person had their imperfections and were guilty of SOMETHING.  It almost felt like a posh version of Clue... except everyone is dying and fingers keep pointing to everyone who is left.  In books like these I tend to pick one I think may be the killer just to see if I'm right and weirdly enough, I was RIGHT with this one! (Pure luck, I assure you.)

What I didn't particularly care for: at 250 pages and 10 characters there wasn't a lot of time to really go in depth with any of them.  For me, this caused me to care very little about any of them.  Quite frankly, I applauded whoever was killing them off one by one.  While I appreciated the epilogue so we see how it all came together, it wasn't as shocking or as wondrous as I had hoped.

Overall, this was a winner.  Christie is the Queen for a reason and this was an intricate story to try and put together.  Plus, I love locked room mysteries so yay!


Sunday, November 22, 2020

#ATBR2020 Review: Video Palace by Dr. Maynard Wills

Video Palace 
by Dr. Maynard Wills

Publisher: Tiller Press
Publish Date: October 13, 2020
384 Pages
Genres: Horror, Short Stories, Anthology

A collection of chilling stories from the leading writers in horror and suspense exploring elusive urban legends.

In the popular podcast Video Palace, Mark Cambria, aided by his girlfriend Tamra Wulff, investigated the origins of a series of esoteric white videotapes. Cambria went missing in pursuit of these tapes, but not before hearing whispers of an ominous figure called the Eyeless Man.

Fascinated by the podcast and Cambria’s disappearance, Maynard Wills, PhD, a professor of folklore, embarks on his own investigation into the origins of the tapes and the Eyeless Man, who he believes has lurked in the dark corners of media culture and urban legends for at least seventy-five years. As part of his study, he has invited popular writers of horror and gothic fiction to share their own Eyeless Man stories, whether heard around the campfire or experienced themselves.

Get swept away in this thrilling and terrifying collection of tales from contributors including:
-Bob DeRosa
-Meirav Devash and Eddie McNamara
-Owl Goingback
-Brea Grant
-Merrin J. McCormick
-Rebekah and David Ian McKendry
-Ben Rock
-John Skipp
-Graham Skipper
-Gordon B. White
-Tamra Wulff and Mary Phillips-Sandy

My Review:

I'm not a podcast listener so I wasn't sure how it would be to go into a collection of stories based on the Video Palace podcast. So honestly, I'm not sure if I missed anything or not. What I can say is that I had fun reading this collection. Lots of creepy moments and I had to remind myself to not even think of the Eyeless Man or he'd come for me... which resulted in me actually thinking about him... but I'm safe... so far... I think....

Very reminiscent of Slender Man (which I was obsessed with at one point) with a touch of The Ring with those damn video tapes. I'm so happy I got rid of my VHS player a few years back (yes, I still had one for a LONG time). I did feel at times that while the stories are all from different points of views, they all still seemed somewhat similar to each other. Perhaps it would've been better to read a couple stories here and there rather than binge reading the entirety of it all in one sitting.

If you're a fan of folklore/urban legends then I think you'll have a lot of fun with this collection. Like all collections, some tales grabbed me more than others but I can they all raised the tiny hairs.


Jessica's Review:

I am absolutely fascinated by urban legends and folklore. The creepier the better. While I'm not a podcast listener, this seems like one I should finally give a chance. It's no secret that Slenderman is one I can't get enough of, mainly because you can literally find the exact date of his origins on creepy pasta, and yet he has such a hold on some people. That just shows the power that some urban legends can have.

This book caught my attention because I've never heard of the Eyeless Man before and he seems to be one where you can't truly pinpoint his origins. He feels similar to the Bye-Bye Man (definitely recommend that movie), where you don't want to think of him or he'll come for you. Don't say it and don't think it - easier said than done, right?

This collection of short stories was a great way to introduce him and see people's experiences with this chilling urban legend (and of course resulted in online searches for more). I loved the format, all coming from VHS tapes. A unique way of telling the stories. While to some the stories could feel repetitive, it shows how he manifests and the consistency made it even creepier to me.

If these types of urban legends, folklore, and creepy campfire stories pique your curiosity, then give this one a try! Now, back into the rabbit hole of researching different stories and inevitably freaking myself out. 

5 stars

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Review: Wonderland by Jennifer Hillier

by Jennifer Hillier

Publisher: Pocket Star
Publish Date: October 5, 2015
Kindle Edition
312 Pages
Genre: Thriller

Welcome to Wonderland. By day, it’s a magical place boasting a certain retro charm. Excited children, hands sticky with cotton candy, run frenetically from the Giant Octopus ride to the Spinning Sombrero, while the tinkling carnival music of the giant Wonder Wheel—the oldest Ferris wheel in the Pacific Northwest—fills the air. But before daybreak, an eerie feeling descends. Maybe it’s the Clown Museum, home to creepy wax replicas of movie stars and a massive collection of antique porcelain dolls. Or maybe it’s the terrifyingly real House of Horrors. Or…maybe it’s the dead, decaying body left in the midway for all the Wonder Workers to see.

Vanessa Castro’s first day as deputy police chief of Seaside, Washington, is off to a bang. The unidentifiable homeless man rotting inside the tiny town’s main tourist attraction is strange enough, but now a teenage employee—whose defiant picture at the top of the Wonder Wheel went viral that same morning—is missing. As the clues in those seemingly disparate crimes lead her down a mysterious shared path of missing persons that goes back decades, she suspects the seedy rumors surrounding the amusement park’s dark history might just be true. She moved to Seaside to escape her own scandalous past, but has she brought her family to the center of an insidious killer’s twisted game? Acclaimed author Jennifer Hillier’s bone-chilling thriller is masterful and fast-paced, hurtling toward a shocking, bloody conclusion.

My Review:

Are you a fan of amusement parks?  I LOVE roller coasters and cotton candy, and hot dogs and that big boat where you're screaming "GREAT TASTE" and the other side yells "LESS FILLING"!  Though every single "haunted house" type thing always made me giggle more than retreat in fear.  I do think that if there was a Clown House and Doll House, I'm not certain I would enter those because *shiver*.  I certainly wouldn't take a job being a live doll.... it makes the hair stand up just thinking about it!  

These characters have got some baggage, y'all.  I must admit that I did fall in love with Castro and would LOVE to see a series continuing her life.  She just felt VERY real in her trying to transverse working as the new deputy police chief in a new small town, the aftermath of her husband's death and all that entailed and being a mother of two.  PHEW - I'm tired just writing that. Hillier had me giving the side eye to EVERY single character and I still didn't figure it out.  Though the reveal wasn't *too* shocking, I certainly didn't see it coming either. 

Hillier has very quickly become one of my favorite thriller authors.  JAR OF HEARTS and LITTLE SECRETS are must reads.  She brings us some of the creepiest villains with all too relatable characters.  I was so excited to finally read WONDERLAND and it was worth every single word.  Now I must go back further in her backlist and read CREEP and FREAK.  I can't recommend Hillier enough to thriller lovers out there.  If you're ever looking for a good thriller to read, you really can't go wrong with her work.


Friday, November 20, 2020

Blog Tour & Review: Savage Row by Britney King


Savage Row
by Britney King

The international bestselling author of Her and The Social Affair returns with another suspenseful thriller that very well could be set in the house next door.

Jack Mooney, a career criminal, has been in prison for nearly a decade, quietly nursing his hatred for the jurors who put him there. One in particular gets him through the endless days—the alluring Amy Stone.

When Mooney is granted early release, he makes Amy his first priority. To his delight, she’s even more enticing than before, and better still, she has a lot more to lose than he’d imagined.

As Mooney’s campaign of terror mounts, the police seem powerless to protect the Stone family, who must rely on their wits to survive a psychopath hell-bent on revenge.

My Review:

Need one more reason to skip jury duty? Well here you go! I feel so bad for Amy.  She was just doing her civic duty and now, YEARS later... that guy she helped put in jail? Well, he's back and with a vengeance. Mooney is an extremely smart criminal and he knows just how to push the boundaries without ever crossing them.  This leaves Amy and her family in a very precarious situation as legally they can't do anything about the harassment and stalking.  So now what?

In true King style, she has us glued to the pages from beginning to end.  The suspense builds up and she makes this typical small town larger than life.  The creep factor is strong here but the scariest part is that fine line between "too much" and "it could happen to you" and well.... the latter is always a bit scarier in my mind.  For me, you can never have too much in King's books.  I'm here for the crazy and she always delivers. I was side eyeing every single one of these characters (ok, except for the kids... and maybe the dog)... but that's what is so fun about this read.  You never really know.  Revenge/stalking reads are always a yes from me.  

If you love fast paced, insane thrillers - King is always the way to go.  While you may always question what's happening within the read itself, the one thing you can always count on is that you'll be entertained.  Guaranteed.



Hello. I’m Britney.

I live in Austin, Texas with my husband, children, a dog named Gatsby, one ridiculous cat, and a partridge in a pear tree.

When I’m not wrangling the things mentioned above, I write psychological, domestic, and romantic thrillers set in suburbia.

Currently, I’m writing three series and several standalone novels.

The Bedrock Series features an unlikely heroine who should have known better. Turns out, she didn’t. Thus she finds herself tangled in a messy, dangerous, forbidden love story and face-to-face with a madman hell-bent on revenge. The series has been compared to Fatal Attraction, Single White Female, and Basic Instinct.

The Water Series follows the shady love story of an unconventional married couple—he’s an assassin—she kills for fun. It has been compared to a crazier book version of Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Also, Dexter.

Around The Bend is a heart-pounding standalone, which traces the journey of a well-to-do suburban housewife, and her life as it unravels, thanks to the secrets she keeps. If she were the only one with things she wanted to keep hidden, then maybe it wouldn’t have turned out so bad. But she wasn’t.

The With You Series at its core is a deep love story about unlikely friends who travel the world; trying to find themselves, together and apart. Packed with drama and adventure along with a heavy dose of suspense, it has been compared to The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and Love, Rosie.

The Social Affair is an intense standalone about a timeless couple who find themselves with a secret admirer they hadn’t bargained for. For fans of the anti-heroine and stories told in unorthodox ways, the novel explores what can happen when privacy is traded for convenience. 

It is reminiscent of films such as One Hour Photo and Play Misty For Me. Classics. Without a doubt, connecting with readers is the best part of this gig. If you’d like to connect, shoot me an email. You can also find me on Facebook, Instagram, and occasionally on Twitter.


#ATBR2020 Review: The Wrong Family by Tarryn Fisher

The Wrong Family 
by Tarryn Fisher

Thank you Graydon House for this gifted review copy!

Publisher: Graydon House
Publish Date: December 29, 2020
336 Pages
Genres: Suspense, Domestic Thriller

Have you ever been wrong about someone?

Juno was wrong about Winnie Crouch.

Before moving in with the Crouch family, Juno thought Winnie and her husband, Nigel, had the perfect marriage, the perfect son—the perfect life. Only now that she’s living in their beautiful house, she sees the cracks in the crumbling facade are too deep to ignore.

Still, she isn’t one to judge. After her grim diagnosis, the retired therapist simply wants a place to live out the rest of her days in peace. But that peace is shattered the day Juno overhears a chilling conversation between Winnie and Nigel…

She shouldn’t get involved.

She really shouldn’t.

But this could be her chance to make a few things right.

Because if you thought Juno didn’t have a secret of her own, then you were wrong about her, too.

My Review:

WAIT - WHAT?!  No.  Nope, Fisher.  You're not allowed to do that.  I literally said "WHAT? No......" when I flipped what I didn't know was the last page because WHY!  Let me take a breath........ *breath*.....  And before I get on with this review, please know that I am an absolute fan of Fisher.  I want to be a guest in her mind for a day just to see what is happening in that gray matter of hers.

OK.  So I'm torn.  TORN.  Fisher is compulsive - I don't think I could ever NOT read a book of hers but sometimes I'm like I am now.  All in a tizzy not knowing how I'm supposed to be feeling.  So love it or not, either way she's eliciting all these emotions from me and not gonna lie - in either fashion, I'm happy about it.  I know, I don't make a lot of sense and if you know anything about me by now, that's probably one of the only things I'm consistent with.

I called the first twisty fireball she threw my way.  And so did that sideways head nod we do when we're all "Yep, I knew it!" but like in a mild-I-know-it kinda way.  And I could tell from the get go that this was gonna be a bit of a slow burn domestic suspense... but it's Fisher... so I knew some DRAAAAMAAAA was on its way.  Listen, I like Froot Loops as much as Samuel does but you can't spoon feed me this sugary goodness and then go ZIPPPPPPPPPP - now we are here.  No ma'am,  I need more answers that went from THIS POINT to THAT.  

I'm bamboozled.  It got a bit convoluted towards the end there, but I'm also not hating on it.  Again, I am having a hard time processing exactly how I feel about this one.  Not my favorite Fisher, but if you're a fan then I highly recommend you pick this up - because OoOoooOOoOooo, I need people to discuss this with.


Jessica's Review:

Last year I read and LOVED Tarryn Fisher's book THE WIVES. Like, I could not put it down and that last page! What a way to end a book and leave your head spinning. Well, that being said, she did the same thing to me with THE WRONG FAMILY. How am I supposed to process that ending? Why was that the last page - I definitely thought I had more and they were just stuck together. Another addictive page-turner from Fisher and she kept my head spinning.

I don't want to go into too much detail and ruin the twists and surprises, but this is more of a domestic suspense than a thriller. We meet the Crouch family - Winnie, her husband Nigel, and their son Samuel. The picture perfect family living in a gorgeous home. This is a thriller/suspense, so we all know that everything is never as it seems. One night, Juno overhears an explosive fight between Winnie and Nigel where she learns something shocking about the family. So begins her spiral into finding out the truth.

We get this story from the POV's of Winnie and Juno, and these women couldn't be anymore opposite. Fisher throws us a couple curveballs and I just couldn't put the book down. I have so many questions and while I was highly entertained with this one, it felt like something was missing but I'm not sure what. I know a lot of reviewers that are raving about this and I can't wait to see where others fall on THE WRONG FAMILY.

3.5 stars

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Review: How to Speak K-POP by Jungho Park

How to Speak K-POP 
by Jungho Park

Thanks so much to the author for this delightful copy!

Wouldn't it be amazing if you could understand what your favorite Kpop idol says to you or the jokes from your favorite Korean drama on Netflix?

How to Speak KPOP is all about helping you to understand Korean words from the pop culture without getting into too much Korean grammar or any boring language textbook type of study.

Here is the truth.

Korean language and KPOP language are two very different things.

Korean pop culture has an exceptionally unique language and it still evolves further as the K-POP, K-Drama, and K-Movies have been expanding to other countries and beloved by other language speakers. Some KPOP words wouldn't be easy for even a native Korean speaker to even guess what they mean. That's because it requires a deep understanding of the cultural background first before anything else.

How to Speak KPOP is the most straightforward guide book to learn Korean words from Korean dramas, movies, and pop culture. It uniquely combines the most popular Korean slang words and trendy phrases that cannot be found in the ordinary Korean language textbook. And it will give you a full explanation of the cultural background of the word and help you to understand why it is being used like that. This book will give you a fun and easy way to learn the most popular Korean words one by one.

It will also help you to know how the word is pronounced with the Romanized alphabets. Please don't forget to read and say a word from the examples. The examples are thoughtfully picked to sound just like a native and a true KPOP fan who knows what KPOP language is all about. Try out words you learned to your Korean friend or write a fan letter with them to your favorite idol star.

They will be pleasantly surprised. Learning a foreign language is very rewarding, and learning a cultural background even opens your eyes and heart to a whole new experience. You will get both from this book!

My Review:

K-POP and Kdramas are all the rage these days. Does it make me a bad Korean if I'm not into it all? 🤣 I certainly do understand the obsession though and honestly love seeing people get so excited and posting about them on social media.  And if you ever wanted to get a quick study of the Korean language, this is such a fun book to do it with.

When I was little, my mom sent me to "Korean school" after my regular school.  It was just a few of us in the basement of the Korean church learning Korean songs and learning how to read and write the language.  As a typical kid, I grumbled about it - who wants more school after school, right?  But as I've gotten older I've appreciated the fact that I've retained so much of it and omg, this book was like taking a trip down memory lane but then ALSO learning MORE.  By the time I was done, I felt my Korean accent coming back and was honestly just SO HAPPY.  Giddy, even. It's really hard to explain but by the time it was done, I was thanking my mother in my head for making me go to so much damn school. ❤

For everyone who has asked me to help them learn Korean, I present to you HOW TO SPEAK K-POP! And for those big fans out there, you're going to want to get your hands on this.


Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Review: Super Fake Love Song by David Yoon

Super Fake Love Song 
by David Yoon

Thank you Penguin Teen for this copy! Happy publishing day!

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Publish Date: November 17, 2020
308 Pages
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romantic Comedy

When Sunny Dae—self-proclaimed total nerd—meets Cirrus Soh, he can’t believe how cool and confident she is. So when Cirrus mistakes Sunny’s older brother Gray’s bedroom—with its electric guitars and rock posters—for Sunny’s own, he sort of, kind of, accidentally winds up telling her he’s the front man of a rock band.

Before he knows it, Sunny is knee-deep in the lie: He ropes his best friends into his scheme, begging them to form a fake band with him, and starts wearing Gray’s rock-and-roll castoffs. But no way can he trick this amazing girl into thinking he’s cool, right? Just when Sunny is about to come clean, Cirrus asks to see them play sometime. Gulp.

Now there’s only one thing to do: Fake it till you make it.

Sunny goes all in on the lie, and pretty soon, the strangest things start happening. People are noticing him in the hallways, and he’s going to football games and parties for the first time. He’s feeling more confident in every aspect of his life, and especially with Cirrus, who’s started to become not just his dream girl but also the real deal. Sunny is falling in love. He’s having fun. He’s even becoming a rocker, for real.

But it’s only a matter of time before Sunny’s house of cards starts tumbling down. As his lies begin to catch up with him, Sunny Dae is forced to wonder whether it was all worth it—and if it’s possible to ever truly change.

My Review:

What silly thing have you done for love or just to get someone's attention?  I think we've all been there at one point in our life.  Did that something get a bit out of control?  Sunny's sure did - and what a fun trip to take with him.  What starts off fun and brings him surprising joy is just an escalation that is doomed to come crumbling down.

What a cutesy YA rom-com.  We all know how these stories go and this holds true here as well.  What makes this so much fun though are these absolutely adorable characters!  If you've ever been that nerdy, not popular, kid in school then you'll be able to relate greatly with Sunny and his crew.  I love this very diverse cast, the relationship between Sunny and Grey Dae (yes, those names!!!), him and his parents, his framily and the kids at school that don't exactly make his life easy. You'll love the lessons that are learned and while Sunny's disposition isn't always as bright as his name would make you believe, you'll find yourself all smiles at the inevitable antics that come about.  I could totally see this also going to film (ahem).

There's less Korean culture references in this than there was in Yoon's other YA novel, but I liked that as while it was touched on enough for me to nod in understanding without it being all in your face, it was unnecessary to fill that cultural vessel as much because of the now representation of a more "Americanized" Korean family.  

All in all, you get exactly what you expect out of this novel... with a diverse cast (YAY).  For those who tend to shy away from YA novels, this one does start off YA strong but stick with it as that fades as you read on...  prepare your bellies for deep nerdy, snorty laughter with a pull of the heart strings that will definitely leave you smiling at the end.



Monday, November 16, 2020

Review: Wyrd and Other Derelictions by Adam L.G. Nevill

Wyrd and Other Derelictions 
by Adam L.G. Nevill

Thank you to the author and Night Worms for this copy.

Publisher: Ritual Limited
Publish Date: October 26, 2020
106 Pages
Genres: Horror, Short Stories

Derelictions are horror stories told in ways you may not have encountered before.

Something is missing from the silent places and worlds inside these stories. Something has been removed, taken flight, or been destroyed. Us.

Derelictions are weird tales that tell of aftermaths and of new and liminal places. Each location has witnessed catastrophe, infernal visitations, or unearthly transformations. But across these landscapes of murder, genocide and invasion, crucial evidence remains. And it is the task of the reader to sift through ruin and ponder the residual enigma, to behold and wonder at the full horror that was visited upon mankind.

Wyrd contains seven derelictions, original tales of mystery and horror from the author of Hasty for the Dark and Some Will Not Sleep (winner of The British Fantasy Award for Best Collection).

My Review:

These stories are like standing in a place where horrible things have happened and yet you can feel the vibrato from the invisible particles that was left behind.  Like that constant shoulder tapping where you turn around and nothing is there... all your tiny hairs at attention as you try to keep yourself from falling to pieces. When I read the story notes at the end and read that the author got inspiration from his visit to Poland and the feelings he got from certain places there... well, clearly that resonated greatly in the feelings I had from this read.

I had sworn off short story collections and anthologies a while ago... but when this showed up at my door step, it's like the creature from the cover suctioned itself to me, the suctioning sounding like "READ.. ME"... and so I did.  In full transparency, I probably would have set this down after the first couple of pages.  It's not an easy read in the fact that it's very lyrical and I almost felt like I was just reading clumps of adjectives over and over again.. but I told myself I could get through at least ONE short story.  I was uncertain how I felt after that first one so I continued to the next and the next and the next.  And quite frankly, I STILL don't know how I feel about any of it.

Let me try to break it down.  What I didn't care for:  no dialogue or plot and the very lyrical prose.  What I liked very much: the very lyrical prose once I got used to it and the absolute staticky, eerie feeling that will take a moment or three to brush off my reading soul. This isn't going to be a read for everyone, that much is certain.  I'm not even quite sure it's the read for me.  However, I can't oversee the fact that these stories will stick with me for a very long time and I will question every single little thing that I can't see.. like something is constantly scurrying away from my line of sight.  Basically, I'm having a very love/hate relationship with this.


Saturday, November 14, 2020

Review: Heartbreak Bay by Rachel Caine

Heartbreak Bay 
by Rachel Caine

Thanks so much to Thomas & Mercer and NetGalley for this advanced copy.

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Publish Date: March 9, 2021
Kindle Edition
Series: Stillhouse Lake #5
Genre: Thriller, Crime Fiction

They’re hunting a killer so silent, so invisible, that his unspeakable crimes are the only proof he exists.

A car submerged in a remote pond. The bodies of two girls strapped into their seats. The mystery of their mother, vanished without a trace, leads Gwen Proctor and Kezia Claremont into dangerous territory.

On the surface, Gwen’s life is good—two children approaching adulthood, a committed partner, and a harrowing past dead and gone. But that past is attracting the attention of someone invisible…and unstoppable. Trouble’s just beginning. So is the body count in this backwoods Tennessee town.

As threats mount and Gwen’s hunted by an enemy who pulls all the strings, Kezia has her back. But working to solve these vicious and unreasonable crimes will expose them both to a killer they can’t for the life of them see coming.

My Review:

"There's no time in a woman's life that isn't dangerous, and that's just a fact of life."

I have missed Gwen, Sam and their family.  Their past has come to haunt them again... but really it's their continuous present and inevitable future.  I feel so hard for this family.  In this continuation, we also get to learn more about Kez and now we have two very strong female leads with their amazing supporting men and I truly love all their dynamics.

"I'm a suspicious bitch, but I've found it works for me."

I figured some things out fairly early on.  Sometimes it's disappointing to find out you were right but other times, like here, it gave me that *head nod, smirk, mm-hmmm* moment while still feeling this intense ANGER at what was happening on behalf of all the characters being tortured. Feel me? And I felt a LOT of things while reading this one. 

It's really hard for me to review this as it has elicited a lot of emotions.  I truly fell in love with these characters... all of them... and this was a roller coaster of a read.  So I'll just leave it as the below.

I've loved this series since the very first book - it is most definitely one of my favorite thriller series and I'm saddened to hear of the author's passing.  I highly recommend this series and will definitely be looking into her backlist.  If you love a good thriller series where the very first book has the main character losing control of her car so it crashes into her own garage where a girl her serial killer husband is keeping captive is unintentionally found.... surprising the hell out of her and her kids.... well..... yeah, you're gonna need to read these.  I truly wish there were more. 

In the Author's notes, Caine states, "If this is the last of Gwen's story, then I hope you feel it was worthwhile.  I do."  I do, too...  RIP Rachel Caine - you will be greatly missed. ❤



Rachel Caine is the NYT, USA Today, and #1 WSJ bestselling author of more than 50 books in several categories and genres, including adult thriller and adult urban fantasy/SF as well as books for young adults ages twelve to eighteen.

She is the winner of several national awards, and most recently was a finalist in both the International Thriller Writers awards and the Killer Nashville awards for her debut thriller novel Stillhouse Lake.

Rachel is available for school and library appearances, as well as professional conferences and convention appearances. Please use the contact form to request appearances, charitable donations, or for any correspondence.

Please go check out all her work HERE.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Blog Tour & Review: The Cult of Eden by Bill Halpin


The Cult of Eden
by Bill Halpin

Thank you to Blackthorn Book Tours and Bill Halpin for this copy and stop on the Blog Tour.

Publisher: Cosmic Egg Books
Publish Date: October 1, 2019
336 Pages
Series: The Unrisen #1
Genres: Occult Horror, Thriller

Newlywed Will Battese finds himself homesick and overwhelmed after following his ambitious wife, Shannon, to New York City. When a surprise pregnancy shreds their already meager budget, Will drops out of college and settles for work at a low-end diner. There, a small act of kindness draws the attention of Victor Degas, a man with an unsettling presence and deformed eyes. Unbeknownst to Will, Degas belongs to an ancient, sophisticated cult known as the Edens and believes Will to be the key to gaining otherworldly power. As the sun sets on Good Friday, Degas orchestrates a home invasion in which Will and his baby boy, Gideon, are kidnapped, leaving Shannon to join forces with an unreliable agent from the Roman Catholic Church. While Will struggles to save other innocents from the Eden parish below the city, Shannon discovers that the cult plans to use her family for an unimaginable demonic ritual, and that the Vatican may let it happen. With no one to trust but themselves, Shannon and Will must fight not only to survive, but to keep their humanity intact. THE CULT OF EDEN is the first volume in The Unrisen saga.

My Review:

I'll pretty much read anything that has to do with cults. I can't help it. It's something that absolutely fascinates me and I can't see that changing anytime in the near future. Present me a book about an underground Satanic cult and how can I possibly say no?!  And this goes from 'Honey, can you pass the salt?' to 'Geezuz fuck, please stop - that hurts!' - blood, splat - YAY! 😈

Here's what I like about this book:  You know exactly who is on what side.. HOWEVER, while the line is clear between good and evil, you somehow still get this little ... ok, ok... I'm kinda seeing this cult's point of view.  And when you start justifying the evil side of things as you're reading... well, I don't know about you, but I like it!  It's also not *too* religious to the point of turning you off if you're not into reads like those (like me).  Yes, there's several references and religious overtones obviously but since this is a Satanic cult, it's less "God is all" and more "God sucks".  Which seems obvious but I think you'll know more what I'm trying to get at when you read this.  While there's a little bit of a slow start, it grabs you and flies by after.

What I didn't quite like so much:  The dual storylines of home invasion/cult and the Nacaan Tribe in the Amazon Jungle.... while it kind of comes together towards the end, I'm still just a *bit* confused on the exact correlation between the two but think maybe this will be better understood as this trilogy continues.  Some parts felt campy (in the best way) but the consistency did feel off a bit because of it, but it never really bothered my flow.

If you love reading about cult mentality like I do, then I highly recommend this book.  It may seem like a story you've read before in certain areas but definitely shines on its own in others.  Certainly impressive as a debut and I'm so curious where we go from here.

★★★☆ but with the two horns up for this as a debut, I'd round up to ★★★★


Bill Halpin was born and raised in Orlando, Florida, where he grew up on the horror genre. After graduating from the University of Central Florida, Bill moved on to New York City and earned a degree in Optometry from SUNY. Now, he lives and practices in Saratoga Springs, NY and writes in between his appointments. The Cult of Eden is his debut novel.

Praise for The Cult of Eden

“In the age-old struggle between Good and Evil, between Christianity and Satanism, there are heroes and there are villains. However, as The Cult of Eden reveals, in the heat of battle it is not always clear who are the good guys and who are the bad… as black and white certainties are swept away by a tide of blood-stained grey.” 
Charles Christian, editor The Grievous Angel zine

“The Cult of Eden is a stellar debut novel. A kaleidoscope of religious undertones and occult sprinklings not seen since The Exorcist. I’m a Bill Halpin fan!” 
Chuck Buda, author of Curse of the Ancients and The First Cut

“Halpin takes a new spin on the creepy religious cult and amps the terror factor up to eleven! Not only is the Cult of Eden like no group you’ve ever seen before, but the Battese family is thrown into a bizarre and complex plan to effectively undo all of creation. This stellar freshman novel from Bill Halpin has me on the edge of my seat waiting for the next installment!”
-Kathleen from Belle of the Bookcase