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Thursday, September 30, 2021

Reviews: Comfort Me With Apples & Flowers for the Sea

 I've been on a horror/thriller novella kick lately and these are the latest reads  - novellas are really growing on me lately! Check these out and add to your TBR. Thanks so much to TorDotCom for these gifted books.


Comfort Me With Apples
by Catherynne M. Valente


Publisher: Tordotcom
Publish Date: October 26, 2021
Hardcover
112 Pages
Standalone
Genre: Horror

Sophia was made for him. Her perfect husband. She can feel it in her bones. He is perfect. Their home together in Arcadia Gardens is perfect. Everything is perfect.

It's just that he's away so much. So often. He works so hard. She misses him. And he misses her. He says he does, so it must be true. He is the perfect husband and everything is perfect.

But sometimes Sophia wonders about things. Strange things. Dark things. The look on her husband's face when he comes back from a long business trip. The questions he will not answer. The locked basement she is never allowed to enter. And whenever she asks the neighbors, they can't quite meet her gaze...

But everything is perfect. Isn't it?

My Review:

It's rare that I sit on a book after I read it to mull over my thoughts before writing my review but I'm still unsure how I feel about this novella.  Arcadia Gardens is the perfect community where Sophia is the perfect wife to her perfect husband.  But over time, she begins to notice things that poke at her perfect balloon of a world.  With only 112 pages, I had no idea what was going on but the writing and the intrigue was there and I couldn't stop myself.

This gave me Stepford Wives and Mother vibes and I'm seriously confused on how I feel about it.  Granted, the last parts brought it altogether and it's really clever... and while the ending leaves us *kinda* knowing what will happen after, I still need more.  I certainly wasn't expecting it to go in this direction and I do love to be surprised. However, I find myself at a loss.  Is this just bizarre? Or is it brilliant? Can't it be both? 

Pay no attention to the back cover where it states this is for fans of Gone Girl - there is absolutely no comparing the two in my opinion and I wish covers would stop using that book as something to draw people in.  This is a very unique and fascinating story.  While I'm still unsure how I feel about it overall, I kind of like that I feel this way.  Beautifully written, a touch of creepy and and ending I wasn't expecting... yeah, pick this up so we can chat about it!

★★★★

Flowers for the Sea
by Zin E. Rocklyn


Publisher: Tordotcom
Publish Date: October 19, 2021
Paperback
112 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Dark Fantasy, Horror

We are a people who do not forget.

Survivors from a flooded kingdom struggle alone on an ark. Resources are scant, and ravenous beasts circle. Their fangs are sharp.

Among the refugees is Iraxi: ostracized, despised, and a commoner who refused a prince, she’s pregnant with a child that might be more than human. Her fate may be darker and more powerful than she can imagine.

My Review:

Woahhhhhhhhhh... what did I just read?! For the majority I had no clue what was going outside of the pregnancy and eventual birth.  But the writing is so lyrical that I was mesmerized into smelling the nastiness of the ark, the flesh, the hunger, hearing the water flush against the walls, the tearing of Iraxi, the taste of pain, betrayal and the salted air. UFFFFFFF.

This dark fantasy novella is worth every single word.  While it is dense in writing in a short 112 pages, Rocklyn powerfully brings us right inside Iraxi's head and I loved seeing her rebellious nature change throughout.  This definitely is graphic in nature and at times I just wanted the birthing to end already but damnnnnnnnnnn Iraxi.... I feel you.  Anger, motherhood and revenge. Let's get ON IT.

I fear anything else I say could potentially spoil it but I absolutely loved the powerful ending and while this may not be a story for everyone, I am highly satisfied with that ending. I'm gonna need to go check out this author's backlist.

"We are a people who do not forget."

★★★★




Review: The Gatherings by Jeremy Ray

The Gatherings
by Jeremy Ray

A huge thanks to the amazing author for this gifted book.

Publisher: Infinite Ray Publishing
Publish Date: August 7, 2020
Kindle Edition
74 Pages
Standalone
Genre: Horror

The Gatherings were supposed to bring world peace. What they brought was the apocalypse.

Celebrities, politicians, and other prominent figures put together The Gatherings, an event to be held worldwide promoting global peace. When a friend invites Emily to one of the gatherings in a secluded apple orchard, she obliges. Sure, she is an introverted writer, but the world is so fractured that The Gatherings are something even she can get behind.

Everything is great until the dancing begins. Then it happens...

In most apocalyptic tales, the end comes by way of viral plague, world war, or robot invasion. Never in a million years could Emily imagine it would be this way. Will Emily survive to see what happens after the end of the world?

My Review:


Jeremy Ray should absolutely be on your radar if he isn't yet.  Not only is he one of the nicest guys you could ever talk to (and his boyfriend thinks I'm funny so YAY πŸ˜‰), but he is quite talented.  As someone who has a love/hate relationship with short stories/novellas, he's really turning it around for me and that's saying something!  This is my third story by Ray and I really loved this spin on how the human race will die. Warms my black soul.

If the world ever does a 'gathering' to promote global peace, ala Hands Across America etc., I'm taking my "I read a lot of horror so I know what's gonna happen" ass and skedaddling. This is pretty powerful for it's 74 pages, which I read on my commute home last night from work.  There's so many things happening and we get to see it happen straight through Emily's widened eyes.  Oh the things she witnessed....  I have visions of all kinds of things.  For instance, at one point I had a The Ruins meets The Human Centipede/Slither going on in my head... and I wasn't hating it.

This story is just as infectious as the meat centipedes contained within.  That's right.  You heard me.  The only thing I wished for was more background but fuck it, some things maybe don't need to be known.  Go snag yourself a copy.. it's Spooky Season and you deserve it!

★★★★


Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Review: Don't Move by James S. Murray & Darren Wearmouth #BuddyReadsToDieFor

Don't Move
by James S. Murray & Darren Wearmouth

A huge thanks to Blackstone for this gifted book.


Publisher: Blackstone
Publish Date: October 20, 2020
Hardcover
250 Pages
Standalone
Genre: Horror

Megan Forrester has barely survived the unthinkable. Six months ago, she witnessed a horrific accident that killed her husband and son, and lives with the guilt of knowing she could have done more to save them. Now, Megan hopes to mend the pieces of her broken spirit by attending a local church group's annual camping trip. But the church group members-riddled with dark secrets of their own-make a catastrophic navigational mistake, leaving them stranded in an untouched canyon in the West Virginian national forest.

Isolated from any chance of help or rescue, Megan and the others quickly realize why this side of the canyon has never been surveyed by mankind: it's home to a terrifying prehistoric arachnid that patiently stalks its prey through even the slightest movement or vibration in the forest. And it's desperate for a meal.

Grief-stricken and haunted by her tragic loss, Megan now faces her ultimate test of endurance. Can she outwit a bloodthirsty creature hellbent on ensuring that no one gets out of alive? When a single wrong turn can mean death, she only has one option: DON'T MOVE.

My Review:


EEK!! I HATE spiders.  They scare me... A LOT.  And yet I'm drawn to books like Ezekiel Boone's The Hatching trilogy and THIS goodness that is DON'T MOVE.  At just 250 pages, the authors grab you by your short and curlies and pull on them over and over again.  I mean, the first chapter alone starts off with a BANG and barely lets up.  BARELY.

Now, if you're a reader like me where what you read plays out as a movie in your head, then this will be an absolute joy of a creepy ride for you.  Also, never, never, EVER go into a forest without a proper guide... and that church group you went with? Even God can't help y'all with what you're about to encounter.  Just sayin'.....  This is like one of those movies you love to watch and whenever you see it come on, you let it play in the background while you do you doing whatever.  

I'll be honest, after the initial chapter I was unsure how I was going to feel about this.... but as chapter after chapter flew by, I realized I was just having the best time.  Was I rooting for the prehistoric arachnid? Mayyyyyyyybeeeeeeeeee.  I mean, it's just trying to live its best life.  It's not their fault food came into their territory. *shrug*  And I really did enjoy the friendship that sprouted between two unlikely characters and found myself rooting for them too.  Either way, it was a win/win for me. 🀣❤

This book definitely has teeth and you better watch out for that bite!  Take this story for what it is and that is full of spidey sense action fun sprinkled with some 'Oh, what a tangled web we weave...". πŸ˜‰  You're not going to find profound literature here but you are going to have quite the journey with this cast of characters so enjoy it for what it is worth!

Another successful #BuddyReadsToDieFor pick! 

★★★★


Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Review: Silver Tears by Camilla Lackberg

Silver Tears
by Camilla Lackberg

Thanks so much to Knopf and NetGalley for this gifted book.

Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
Publish Date: July 6, 2021
Hardcover
320 Pages
Series: Faye's Revenge #2
Genre: Thriller

She's had to fight for it every step of the way, but Faye finally has the life she believes she deserves: she is rich, the business she built has become a global brand, and she has carefully hidden away her small family in Italy, where Jack, her ex-husband, can no longer harm them. She even has the wherewithal to occasionally turn a business trip to Rome into a steamy tryst. But when several major investors--women Faye had trusted implicitly--suddenly sell off their shares in the company, and the police officer who helped search for her daughter discovers the dark secret of Faye's childhood, and she learns that Jack is no longer locked behind bars, Faye has no choice but to return to Stockholm. Not only does she have to fight again to keep her family safe, but now, at long last, she is forced to face the truth about her past. In this bold, mesmerizing story of seduction, deceit, and female power, a woman's secret cannot stay buried forever.

My Review:


Ahhhhh, I don't know what took me so long to read this.  I absolutely LOVED The Golden Cage and may or may not have squealed when I got a copy of Silver Tears because even though I didn't think TGC needed a sequel, I was ready to see where life with Faye was going to take me.  Wooooo buddy! She is NOT a woman I would want on my bad side, that's for sure!

I'll start by saying you absolutely must read The Golden Cage before reading SILVER TEARS.  This way you get a full grasp on what happened with Faye before we got here... and lemme tell ya, she went through a LOT.  But Silver Tears also brings us Faye's past as we go back and forth in timelines from when she was a kid in an abusive home to present day where she's a bad ass entrepreneur who will do WHATEVER it takes to protect herself and those she loves.

If I had a red flag on a stick on me, I would've been waving it rampantly with all the clues laid down.  For being such a strong woman, she still has weaknesses and she ... well, no no no... not going to spoil anything here.  This shorter second installment in the Faye's Revenge series may not be the whopper that TGC was, but honestly, following the first book was going to be hard to beat imo.  What will book three bring us? Surely there will be one and I'm going to need to know what happens.  Tell you what though, I sure did miss Chris in this story. πŸ’”

If you loved The Golden Cage, you'll definitely need to pick this one up. And if haven't read either... well, get on it!  The sex scenes are steamy, the loyalty is real and the kicks just keep on coming!

★★★★

Monday, September 27, 2021

Review: Horseman by Christina Henry

Horseman
by Christina Henry

Thank you Berkley and NetGalley for this #giftedbook. 


Publisher: Berkley
Publish Date: September 28, 2021
Kindle Edition
352 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Horror, Fantasy, Retellings

Everyone in Sleepy Hollow knows about the Horseman, but no one really believes in him. Not even Ben Van Brunt's grandfather, Brom Bones, who was there when it was said the Horseman chased the upstart Crane out of town. Brom says that's just legend, the village gossips talking.

Twenty years after those storied events, the village is a quiet place. Fourteen-year-old Ben loves to play Sleepy Hollow boys, reenacting the events Brom once lived through. But then Ben and a friend stumble across the headless body of a child in the woods near the village, and the sinister discovery makes Ben question everything the adults in Sleepy Hollow have ever said. Could the Horseman be real after all? Or does something even more sinister stalk the woods?

My Review:


This is my fourth Henry read and there is no mistaking how talented she is in bringing us a darker version of stories we already know and love (i.e., Alice, Captain Hook, Little Red Riding Hood, etc...).  But what happens when she takes and already spooky and terrifying legend as the one we know in Sleepy Hollow?  

Labeled as a retelling, it actually takes place a couple of decades(ish) after the original story and we get to see what happens after Ichabod Crane's disappearance.  And there are non-believers - (SHUN THE NON BELIEVERS!) However, wouldn't you start believing if bodies, human and other, started showing up, head and handless? Ben's curiosity is QUITE piqued and I must say, I was with him 1000% of the way! I also loved seeing trans representation as Ben is a 14 year old teen who identifies as a boy... even if his mom is determined to make him into the lady he never wanted to be. 

Henry once again uses her immense talent to expand upon a legendary tale.  Just in time for those who start Spooky Season now (as opposed to all year like I have it 🀣).  But apart from the tale we already have a sense of, we also receive a story of family loyalty, acceptance, friendships and adventure.  For this, I think it was brilliantly written.  For my particularly macabre taste, I wished it had more spooky/horror and less family dynamics. Also, I'd love to see an own voices review of this re the trans rep.

While not my favorite Henry to date, this definitely packs a pumpkin punch! Hold on to your heads, folks! πŸ˜‰  

★★★


Recommended Reading!

 

RECOMMENDED READING

Below is a list of books of various genres that I enjoyed and would highly recommend. It's good to go outside of your comfort zone every once in a while!


The Martian by Andy Weir 

"Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills — and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit — he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?"

With humor, science, action and amazing writing, this is a must read for those who love science fiction.  Yes, there's a lot of science but Weir manages to weave this into the story without making you feel stupid. πŸ˜‰


Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

"The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace. He has looks and wealth; she has charm and elegance. He’s a dedicated attorney who has never lost a case; she is a flawless homemaker, a masterful gardener and cook, and dotes on her disabled younger sister. Though they are still newlyweds, they seem to have it all. You might not want to like them, but you do. You’re hopelessly charmed by the ease and comfort of their home, by the graciousness of the dinner parties they throw. You’d like to get to know Grace better.

But it’s difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are inseparable.

Some might call this true love. Others might wonder why Grace never answers the phone. Or why she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn’t work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. Or why she never seems to take anything with her when she leaves the house, not even a pen. Or why there are such high-security metal shutters on all the downstairs windows.

Some might wonder what’s really going on once the dinner party is over, and the front door has closed."

My first, and still favorite Paris.  I distinctly remember throwing the book across the room because one reveal had me shooketh!








Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

"Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, reporter Camille Preaker faces a troubling assignment: she must return to her tiny hometown to cover the unsolved murder of a preteen girl and the disappearance of another. For years, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed in her old bedroom in her family's Victorian mansion, Camille finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. Dogged by her own demons, she must unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past if she wants to get the story—and survive this homecoming."

My favorite Flynn.  This very dark read is character driven and will surprise you.

Different Seasons by Stephen King

"This gripping collection begins with “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption,” in which an unjustly imprisoned convict seeks a strange and startling revenge—the basis for the Best Picture Academy Award-nominee The Shawshank Redemption. Next is “Apt Pupil,” the inspiration for the film of the same name about top high school student Todd Bowden and his obsession with the dark and deadly past of an older man in town. In “The Body,” four rambunctious young boys plunge through the faΓ§ade of a small town and come face-to-face with life, death, and intimations of their own mortality. This novella became the movie Stand By Me. Finally, a disgraced woman is determined to triumph over death in “The Breathing Method.”"

This novella collection is a must read.  You'll feel nostalgic as you recognize the stories and the film adaptations you've probably already seen.  It also is a great nod to how well written King is outside of the horror genre.








It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

"Sometimes it is the one who loves you who hurts you the most.

Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up
— she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.

Ryle is assertive, stubborn, maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily. And the way he looks in scrubs certainly doesn’t hurt. Lily can’t get him out of her head. But Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing. Even as Lily finds herself becoming the exception to his “no dating” rule, she can’t help but wonder what made him that way in the first place.

As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan — her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened."

I don't do a lot of contemporary romance but if I'm going to, it's probably going to be Hoover.








Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

"The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies.

A sweeping story of family, love, and friendship told against the devastating backdrop of the history of Afghanistan over the last thirty years, The Kite Runner is an unusual and powerful novel that has become a beloved, one-of-a-kind classic."

This is a powerful book that still sticks with me to this day.


If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio

"Oliver Marks has just served ten years in jail - for a murder he may or may not have committed. On the day he's released, he's greeted by the man who put him in prison. Detective Colborne is retiring, but before he does, he wants to know what really happened a decade ago.

As one of seven young actors studying Shakespeare at an elite arts college, Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, ingenue, extra. But when the casting changes, and the secondary characters usurp the stars, the plays spill dangerously over into life, and one of them is found dead. The rest face their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, and themselves, that they are blameless."

If you're not a Shakespeare fan like me, fear not... this book is worth the read!

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

"Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways."

This book surprised me in quite a few ways.  Character driven and well worth the read.


Review: Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy

Once There Were Wolves
by Charlotte McConaghy

Thanks so much to BookSparks and Flatiron Books for this amazing gifted book.


Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publish Date: August 3, 2021
Hardcover
272 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Contemporary, Literary Fiction, Cultural: Scotland

Inti Flynn arrives in Scotland with her twin sister, Aggie, to lead a team of biologists tasked with reintroducing fourteen gray wolves into the remote Highlands. She hopes to heal not only the dying landscape, but Aggie, too, unmade by the terrible secrets that drove the sisters out of Alaska.

Inti is not the woman she once was, either, changed by the harm she’s witnessed—inflicted by humans on both the wild and each other. Yet as the wolves surprise everyone by thriving, Inti begins to let her guard down, even opening herself up to the possibility of love. But when a farmer is found dead, Inti knows where the town will lay blame. Unable to accept her wolves could be responsible, Inti makes a reckless decision to protect them. But if the wolves didn’t make the kill, then who did? And what will Inti do when the man she is falling for seems to be the prime suspect?

My Review:


Oh my heart...❤ I've always had an affinity for wolves since I read The Call of the Wild and White Fang when I was a child.  And now I have another favorite in ONCE THERE WERE WOLVES.  I was NOT expecting to lose myself so completely with this story. I absolutely adore Inti and her commitment not only to her wolves, but to her twin sister as well.  I couldn't imagine living with mirror touch synesthesia - which is a condition that causes a person to feel a sensation of touch when they see someone else being touched.  The brain is such a powerful force, isn't it?  But it is because of this blessing/curse that we, as the reader, get to really feel Inti and all the feels that she goes through... whether through nature, the wolves, the people around her or herself.

I felt at one with the wolf packs and learned so much about them and am truly grateful for the lesson.  I hope there are lots of Intis in the world that understand the devastating effect we are having on this earth and strive to make it better day by day.  It was difficult to read some passages and my heart broke several times over as I became more and more glued to the passing pages.  But this book is about more than just the wolves.  McConaghy digs into Inti and her twin's past.  And let's not forget about the secondary and tertiary characters because their stories are also just as important.

Between the characters and the wolves we get an abundance of magical story telling but the author also gives us such great atmosphere.  I could hear the howls,  I could feel the trees, smell the smells and that last huge scene in the forest... I couldn't help myself, my eyes leaked.  I couldn't recommend this very character driven novel more.  Prepare your heart and be ready for an emotional journey but it is worth every word.

★★★★★



Friday, September 24, 2021

Review: The Barrens by Joe Goodglass

The Barrens
by Joe Goodglass

Thanks to the author for this gifted novella!


Publisher: Darkstroke Books
Publish Date: July 9, 2021
Kindle Edition
114 Pages
Standalone
Genre: Horror

A young couple's weekend foray into the woods turns into a night of unimaginable terror…

When Jacob, a Princeton PhD student with an insatiable hunger for fame and fortune, convinces his best friend, Caleb, to shoot a documentary on the Jersey Devil for their DeBunkers YouTube Channel, the boys persuade their girlfriends, Hannah and Blake, to join them on a weekend getaway. The following morning, the group sets out for the Pine Barrens in search of the folk legend, bringing with them camping gear and recording equipment.

Upon their arrival, Jacob receives a text message from GenX-82, an anonymous member of a local film crew who had shot footage of the Jersey Devil six months prior. In exchange for an interview, GenX agrees to take them to the Blue Hole, the site where the entity was last seen. However, halfway through their hike, Caleb is seriously injured, and the group loses contact with the outside world.

With tension mounting as the night sets in, Jacob's trek through the Barrens soon becomes a descent into madness…

My Review:


Ok, Goodglass with the Goodstory!

I really wasn't sure what I was walking into with this horror novella but it delivered! The very beginning had me questioning just how much I may like this as it starts with 4 friends getting ready for their journey and Jacob already chatting with some girl on the internet that his girlfriend doesn't even know about.  Granted it's for their expedition, but that's also another thing that he's not fully upfront about.  Then they get to Pine Barrens and things start going sideways, upside down and no one (not even you, reader) knows what the hell is real and what isn't. GIMME MORE.

I think there could've been a little more work in editing and catching some typos here and there but this didn't bother me much.  Because of the many events that happen, there were times I needed to go back and figure out what just happened because I think I became just as confused as Jacob was for a while.  Which was probably the point, right? *wink*

The last half of the book is my favorite and honestly, I thoroughly enjoyed the ending! The Barrens gives me The Ritual/Midsommar vibes and I wolud 10/10 watch if this ever gets made into an adaptation (fingers crossed).  I can't wait to see what this author has for us next.

★★★★



Thursday, September 23, 2021

Review: Mouth Full of Ashes by Briana Morgan

Mouth Full of Ashes
by Briana Morgan

Thanks so much to the author for this gifted book!


Publish Date: October 4, 2021
Kindle Edition
Genres: Horror, Vampire

Mourning the sudden loss of her sister, Callie Danoff wants nothing more than to embrace a fresh start in a new town, leaving the haunting memories of her sister’s death behind. But when her brother Ramsay drags her to a spooky boardwalk, the two become entangled with a local vampire gang and its enigmatic leader, Elijah. Callie refuses to accept their existence... until she and her brother unknowingly ingest vampire blood. Now, they only have three days before they turn into vampires themselves.

With her carefree summer thwarted, Callie must trust a group she barely knows in order to save her family.

My Review:

What a cool new take on the vampire genre!  Carnivals/fairs, etc. have always creeped me out.  I've always had dark thoughts about what could be happening in the underbelly of them (Us, anyone?😱) I also really wanted to be a vampire when I was a kid.  I'm basically allergic to the sun so I'm close! 🀞 Put all of this together and add one Briana Morgan and you just KNOW this is going to be a fun ride.  Hands up, everyone!  I thoroughly enjoyed Unboxed (if you haven't read that one, go get it now!) so was super excited to get an early copy of Mouth Full of Ashes. πŸ§›

I LOVE the homage to the Lost Boys - I once put this movie on as a "romantic" movie to watch with my guy and he just shook his head "Of course you would, Chandra". 🀣 #truestory  What I really loved about this story was Callie and Maeve.  It was fun to watch each of their progressions.  Maeve turned out to be my absolute favorite character! And I see you, Briana, with that very fun line you included. πŸ˜‰

I really don't want to say too much so I'll stop here.  This novella has some bite to it.  Get bloody. 🩸 Excuse me while I go grab a milkshake and some fries. Bloody ashes.... 

★★★★



Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Review: The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

The Golden Couple
by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

Thanks to St. Martin's Press & NetGalley for this gifted book.

Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publish Date: March 8, 2022
Kindle Edition
320 Pages
Standalone
Genre: Thriller

If Avery Chambers can’t fix you in 10 sessions, she won’t take you on as a client. Her successes are phenomenal--she helps people overcome everything from domineering parents to assault--and almost absorb the emptiness she sometimes feels since her husband’s death.

Marissa and Mathew Bishop seem like the golden couple--until Marissa cheats. She wants to repair things, both because she loves her husband and for the sake of their 8-year-old son. After a friend forwards an article about Avery, Marissa takes a chance on this maverick therapist, who lost her license due to controversial methods.

When the Bishops glide through Avery’s door and Marissa reveals her infidelity, all three are set on a collision course. Because the biggest secrets in the room are still hidden, and it’s no longer simply a marriage that’s in danger. 

My Review:


Well look at me actually reading an ARC way before the release date! *pats myself on the back* 🀣 Greer & Sarah really know how to engage the reader and I spent the majority of my evening last night sipping whiskey and reading 80% of the book.  Why didn't I finish it last night? Too much whiskey... oopsie.  I was glued to the pages though!

I don't think this book has the panache that their other works have but I appreciate this being more suspenseful and less in your face.  I'm not sure how ethical it is for a therapist (Avery) who has lost her license to continue to help people but I suppose if her clients know that she is unlicensed then who am I to judge?  This ten step program she has seems a bit odd as is her crossing boundaries she probably shouldn't.  BUT, I do love the idea of all of this.  I will say that there were far too many characters involved but I absolutely didn't see the final resolution coming.  Bow tied too neatly but still looks good, if you know what I mean.  

I definitely like Avery's character once I got to know her.  But my favorites were Bennett and Roman.  Once again these authors bring us an easy to read, well written book.  While this is slower paced than their other works, we still receive a layered, more character than plot driven story that I found very entertaining. Every marriage has secrets.  Every person has secrets.  What are YOU hiding?   Grab that popcorn, an adult beverage and a dozen roses, or a tin of nuts. πŸ˜‰ This will have you looking at therapy in a new way.. and just might get you to go rescue a pet.

★★★★


Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Review: The Serial Killer Cookbook by Ashley Lecker

The Serial Killer Cookbook
by Ashley Lecker

Thanks so much to Thriller Book Lover for this deliciousness!

Publisher: Ulysses Press
Publish Date: April 21, 2020
Paperback
120 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Nonfiction, Cookbooks, True Crime

The Serial Killer Cookbook: Last Meals pairs serial killer trivia with the recipes of the meals these killers ate during their final hours. With full-color photos, chilling true crime facts, and easy-to-follow steps, you’ll be cooking up killer meals in no time. This collection of recipes is both delicious and surprising, and spans breakfast staples to indulgent desserts, including:

 Seared Steak, Hash Browns, Toast, and Fried Eggs (given to but not eaten by Ted Bundy, serial killer) Chicken Parmesan and Alfredo Pasta (eaten by Ruth Snyder, murderer) Justice, Equality, and World Peace (eaten by Odell Barnes, murderer) Mac and Cheese (eaten by Gustavo Julian Garcia, murderer) And much more!

My Review:


Aren't you curious as to what killers will have as their last meal in prison?  I never knew I needed to know! ... and now I kinda wish I didn't. Who only wants ONE PITTED OLIVE as their last meal?  Ok, ok, we already know these killers (not all serial btw) are psychopaths but food is food y'all.  WTF. But hey, as a person who loves reading about this subject matter AND loves to cook - well, this just seemed like an absolute must have.  

Some of the recipes look great and others are beyond simple and there are a lot of ice cream recipes - not sure we needed every one of them or a recipe for MELTED ice cream.  Um.... Yeah.  I did enjoy reading about the different killers but there was nothing new to me that I didn't already know.  Except for their food orders, or non orders.  

So where do I stand with this one? I'm not really sure.  I'm going to try cooking most of these recipes but giving a harsh no to the pitted olive debacle. Needs more blood and less ice cream in my opinion.  Gonna just run it down the middle. 🀷

★★★


Monday, September 20, 2021

Review: The Endarkening by JT Ellison

The Endarkening
by JT Ellison

Published: June 27, 2017
Kindle Edition
109 Pages
Standalone
Genre: Horror

A Dark, Sensual, Scary Tale

Art is her refuge, her passion—and her hell.

American art student Evie Williams is studying abroad in Edinburgh and having the time of her life—especially when she falls hard for Thomas MacBean, a sexy art dealer with a Highlander's brogue. But as Thomas and Evie’s romance heats up, so does Evie’s fascination with a special exhibit of dark art at a local gallery. Normally frightened by sinister subjects, sensitive Evie finds herself entranced by one painting in particular, and soon, can’t pull herself away.

Who, or what, has she really encountered?

My Review:


Well, I was never a big fan of art except for the macabre kind and this book won't deter me from my love of darkness but I certainly won't be going near a painting anytime soon nor going anywhere near a dude named Thomas. Short, deadly and bloody sweet, horror lovers.... come hither. πŸ˜‰

★★★★

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Review: Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo

Summer Sons
by Lee Mandelo

Thanks so much to Tor Dot Com and Night Worms for this gifted book.

Publisher: Tor Dot Com
Publish Date: September 28, 2021
Hardcover
384 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Horror, LGBT, Fantasy

Andrew and Eddie did everything together, best friends bonded more deeply than brothers, until Eddie left Andrew behind to start his graduate program at Vanderbilt. Six month later, only days before Andrew was to join him in Nashville, Eddie dies of an apparent suicide. He leaves Andrew a horrible inheritance: a roommate he doesn’t know, friends he never asked for, and a gruesome phantom with bleeding wrists that mutters of revenge.

As Andrew searches for the truth of Eddie’s death, he uncovers the lies and secrets left behind by the person he trusted most, discovering a family history soaked in blood and death. Whirling between the backstabbing academic world where Eddie spent his days and the circle of hot boys, fast cars, and hard drugs that ruled Eddie’s nights, the walls Andrew has built against the world begin to crumble, letting in the phantom that hungers for him.

My Review:

I absolutely LOVE genre bending reads - and this is a mix of a few (?) of my favorites - horror, fantasy, coming of age, gothic, literary... and I'm loving seeing more queer reads! Also, Southern Gothic? I mean, Lee, did you write this for me?! πŸ˜‰

Like with most gothic reads, this is a bit of a slow burn and is very atmospheric.  So prepare yourself to really dig into it.  As a fast reader, I did slow down to like a Mach 10 for this one. 😏 This is also a bit of a somber read as the characters throw themsleves into scenarios they aren't particularly prepared for.  The slow burn works in a way that you feel it as you read along.. that "WTF is happening" without the POP of your typical horror read.  After all, aren't we all afraid of what we don't know than what we do?  And how is this a coming of age since we typically associate that with the younger generation? Well, although these characters are older, they are still finding their own in oh so many ways.  

Now, you're probably wondering how I can keep stating it's a slow burn but now am going to say it's also full of action.  Well, you'll have to read it to completely understand why.  To be honest, the action scenes weren't my favorite and I could've done without so much car commentary.  But the main storyline, the queer representation, the atmosphere.... it more than makes up for it in my opinion.  But that's just my sole perspective.

This book definitely won't be for everyone.  At times it ran too slow for me.  At times the subject matter of grief/loss could be a bit stifling so prepare yourself.. and remember, you may think you know everything about your best friend but when it's all said and done, we all have our secrets - some are just darker than others. 

★★★★

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Review: Her Perfect Life by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Her Perfect Life
by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Thanks so much to Forge and GetRedPR for this gifted cook.

Publisher: Forge
Publish Date: September 14, 2021
Hardcover
336 Pages
Standalone
Genres: Thriller, Mystery

Everyone knows Lily Atwood—and that may be her biggest problem. The beloved television reporter has it all—fame, fortune, Emmys, an adorable seven-year-old daughter, and the hashtag her loving fans created: #PerfectLily. To keep it, all she has to do is protect one life-changing secret.

Her own.

Lily has an anonymous source who feeds her story tips—but suddenly, the source begins telling Lily inside information about her own life. How does he—or she—know the truth?

Lily understands that no one reveals a secret unless they have a reason. Now she’s terrified someone is determined to destroy her world—and with it, everyone and everything she holds dear.

How much will she risk to keep her perfect life?

My Review:


One thing I love about this author's books are that they are full of twists and turns that while you'll guess a few of them, you can't guess them all!! But this is also what keeps me in the middle of the road with the two books I have read by her.  

These characters made some very eye rolling decisions at times.  Considering their field, the lack of common sense at times was downright infuriating.  But... what kind of thriller would it be if we didn't follow along with these characters - it's kind of what makes it fun... even if you want to drop kick them every once in a while. This is moderately paced with a little bit of lulls here and there but overall and very quick read.  It's hard to go too much into this without spoiling anything but if you don't mind suspending some belief, definitely pick up this book.  The star of this particular story for me was Rowen.

I'll certainly be keeping an eye out for the next release from this author.

★★★


Saturday, September 11, 2021

Review: My Sweet Girl by Amanda Jayatissa

My Sweet Girl
by Amanda Jayatissa

Thank you so much to Berkley for this gifted book.


Publisher: Berkley
Publish Date: September 14, 2021
Hardcover
384 Pages
Standalone
Genre: Thriller

Paloma thought her perfect life would begin once she was adopted and made it to America, but she’s about to find out that no matter how far you run, your past always catches up to you…

Ever since she was adopted from a Sri Lankan orphanage, Paloma has had the best of everything—schools, money, and parents so perfect that she fears she'll never live up to them.

Now at thirty years old and recently cut off from her parents’ funds, she decides to sublet the second bedroom of her overpriced San Francisco apartment to Arun, who recently moved from India. Paloma has to admit, it feels good helping someone find their way in America—that is until Arun discovers Paloma's darkest secret, one that could jeopardize her own fragile place in this country.

Before Paloma can pay Arun off, she finds him face down in a pool of blood. She flees the apartment but by the time the police arrive, there's no body—and no evidence that Arun ever even existed in the first place.

Paloma is terrified this is all somehow tangled up in the desperate actions she took to escape Sri Lanka so many years ago. Did Paloma’s secret die with Arun or is she now in greater danger than ever before?

My Review:


Ok ok okkkkkkkkkkkkk, DEBUT! I love reading debut novels because most of the time, they are such a pleasant surprise and it's so nice to see authors really kick it out of the ball park. Welcome to a dual time-line shown in two different countries that starts with Paloma's roommate's death, the body disappearing and Paloma waking up on the floor by her neighbor.... again.  Jayatissa, you have got my interest!

Paloma is quite the unreliable narrator!  Sometimes it was so frustrating and eye rolling to be inside her head and yet at the SAME TIME, I was having so much fun looking through her lenses.  Admittedly, I did feel like after the first opening scene, it got a little stagnant but then it picks right back up and welcome to Twist City! Population, WHAT?!   I do think maybe ALL the twists weren't exactly necessary but honestly, who cares because the ride was just so much fun.  Throw your hands up and throw caution to the wind.  There's also more to the story than just the usual twisty thriller drama... so pay attention and you'll see what I mean πŸ˜‰.  I appreciate the author incorporating some seriousness into the levity that is Paloma (at least she was for me!).  

Listen, absolutely an impressive debut.  I do think it'll be a bit of a hit or miss for readers as being inside Paloma's head can either be grating and draining or a bliss of pessimistic realism that I personally enjoyed ... most of the time.  😏 Will 100% be looking for her next release.

★★★★