Monday, May 3, 2021

Book Review | The Last Flight by Julie Clark

The Last Flight is a thriller novel by Julie Clark.


The Last Flight by Julie Clark

Claire Cook has a perfect life. But behind closed doors, nothing is quite as it seems. That perfect husband has a temper that burns as bright as his promising political career, and he's not above using his staff to track Claire's every move. But what he doesn't know is that Claire has worked for months on a plan to vanish.

A chance meeting in an airport bar brings her together with a woman whose circumstances seem equally dire. Together they make a last-minute decision to switch tickets ― Claire taking Eva's flight to Oakland, and Eva traveling to Puerto Rico as Claire. But when the flight to Puerto Rico goes down, Claire realizes it's no longer a head start but a new life. Cut off, out of options, with the news of her death about to explode in the media, Claire will assume Eva's identity, and along with it, the secrets Eva fought so hard to keep hidden.


I missed out on reading The Last Flight last year. When the April Book of the Month selections came out last month, I wasn't in the mood for any of the options so I went back and added The Last Flight to my BOTM box instead. I'm so glad I did. The Last Flight was exactly what I was in the mood for. I don't read enough thrillers so I'm always thrilled when I find one that sucks me in and keeps me entertained. I had a bit of a book hangover when I finished.

The Last Flight alternates between two women who are attempting to escape from the lives they've been dealt. One is escaping an abusive husband, and the other is fleeing from a life just as dangerous.

I loved two things about this book - 1) I didn't want to put it down and 2) I loved the friendships. I'm finding more and more friendships in my adult fiction, and I love it. There's not any earth-shattering content that makes this thriller stand out above the rest - it's just a really solid thriller that I enjoyed.

I read The Last Flight during a weekend down at the beach. It's a great choice for a summer/vacation read.

⭐⭐⭐⭐★
4/5 stars
 

Jennifer

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Monday, April 19, 2021

Book Review | The Low, Low Woods by Carmen Maria Machado

The Low, Low Woods is a horror graphic novel by Carmen Maria Machado


The Low, Low Woods by Carmen Maria Machado

 

When your memories are stolen, what would you give to remember? Follow El and Vee as they search for answers to the questions everyone else forgot.

Shudder-to-Think, Pennsylvania, is plagued by a mysterious illness that eats away at the memories of those affected by it. El and Octavia are two best friends who find themselves the newest victims of this disease after waking up in a movie theater with no memory of the past few hours.

As El and Vee dive deeper into the mystery behind their lost memories, they realize the stories of their town hold more dark truth than they could've imagined. It's up to El and Vee to keep their town from falling apart...to keep the world safe from Shudder-to-Think's monsters.

Collects issues # 1-6.


It's been a while since I've been sucked into a graphic novel. I've read a few lately that just didn't work for me. The Low, Low Woods has reminded me how much I enjoy reading comics.

The Low, Low Woods isn't perfect. It's strange (in both good and bad ways), and it's meta enough to mention deus ex machina. But the strong female characters, friendship, and really great body horror have me recommending that you pick it up next time you are looking for a good horror graphic novel.

⭐⭐⭐⭐★
4/5 stars
 

Jennifer

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Monday, March 29, 2021

Book Review | Be Wary of the Silent Woods by Svetlana Chmakova

Be Wary of the Silent Woods is the first book in the Weirn Books series by Svetlana Chmakova.

Be Wary of the Silent Woods by Svetlana Chmakova

In the Night Realm, vampires, shifters, weirns, and other night things passing for human prowl the streets... but they still have to go to school! Ailis and Na'ya are pretty average students (NOT losers), but when a shadow starts looming and a classmate gets all weird, they are the first to notice. It gets personal, though, when Na'ya's little brother D'esh disappears-It's time to confront the secrets of the forbidden mansion in the Silent Woods!

Join the acclaimed author of Awkward, Svetlana Chmakova, for an outing into her favorite fantastical world full of magic and adventure!


This is a catch up review from last year! Be Wary of the Silent Woods was one of my favorite books of last year. I featured it on my Favorite Books of 2020 post, but I never posted a proper review for it.

2020 was an amazing year for middle grade books, and Be Wary of the Silent Woods was another home run for me. Be Wary of the Silent Woods is the first volume in the The Weirn Books series. It's a graphic novel, and I adored it.

A weirn is a witch born with a demon guardian spirit bound to them for life.

The guardian spirits reminded me of the daemons in the His Dark Materials series. They did not have a big role in this first volume which makes me really excited to see what comes next. I would love to know more about them. This first volume focused mostly on the kids, the night school, and the mystery of the creepy old house in the silent woods.

Even though this is just volume one, we are treated to a full story here. I cannot wait for the next volume in this series! Svetlana Chmakova wrote a previous series set in this same world called "Nightschool: The Weirn Books". I'm going to need to track those down along with her other series to tide me over. 

⭐⭐💫
4.5/5 stars

Jennifer

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Sunday, February 28, 2021

Book Review | Alone by Megan E. Freeman


  Alone is middle grade survival story by Megan E. Freeman.

Alone by Megan E. Freeman

When twelve-year-old Maddie hatches a scheme for a secret sleepover with her two best friends, she ends up waking up to a nightmare. She’s alone—left behind in a town that has been mysteriously evacuated and abandoned. With no one to rely on, no power, and no working phone lines or internet access, Maddie slowly learns to survive on her own. Her only companions are a Rottweiler named George and all the books she can read. After a rough start, Maddie learns to trust her own ingenuity and invents clever ways to survive in a place that has been deserted and forgotten. As months pass, she escapes natural disasters, looters, and wild animals. But Maddie’s most formidable enemy is the crushing loneliness she faces every day. Can Maddie’s stubborn will to survive carry her through the most frightening experience of her life?

I'm back with some more middle grade horror today! I was really excited when I discovered Alone because it sounded dystopian to me, and I couldn't remember having read anything like it. I instantly preordered because I was so intrigued! I didn't realize at the time that Alone was written in verse. To be perfectly honest, I was worried when I found out. I have DNF'ed several middle grade books over the years that were written in verse, but I had absolutely no problems with the writing or the structure of Alone. I think that format enhanced Alone!

I was also excited that the main character had a dog as her companion. (This is one of the reasons that I read Alone this month - Barb is hosting her annual puppy love challenge to read a book in February featuring a dog.)

Overall I really enjoyed Alone. I felt like I was on this survival adventure right along with Maddie. I loved her as a character, and I loved her rottweiler George. The premise is Maddie wakes up to find herself entirely alone in her world. She has to figure out how to gather supplies and survive on her own. I think kids who like survival stories would enjoy this and find it to be quite unique. The first night I started reading Alone, I had nightmares about my youngest child being left behind to survive on his own.

I could really feel Maddie's loneliness while reading Alone. I think being written in verse, it was a perfect vehicle to express a lot of Maddie's emotions. There's a section at the end that includes one of my favorite poems of all times - The Summer Day by Mary Oliver. I think that section is just so beautiful.

As much I did enjoy Alone - I have some complaints. Everyone left in the middle of just one night. Not just in Maddie's town but in the surrounding towns, too. Everyone left their cell phones and all of their pets behind. The only reason was convenience to the plot. I know a lot of my followers have trouble with animal death. These pets were left behind in cages and in homes. There is also a bad guy in Alone, and this is proven via a kitten. Any reason the author could have given for everyone to leave especially without their cell phones or their pets would have been better than the one we got.

When it comes to middle grade horror, I pass any books that I like on to my kids, and I donate the rest. Despite my complaints, I will pass this one on to them. I have no doubts they will have the same issues, but it's still a book that really sucks you in and makes you care. If you have kids in your life or in your class who love survival stories, I still say add this to your collection. They will fall for Maddie and George, and they will likely enjoy the unique way this story is presented through verse.
 
⭐⭐⭐
3/5 stars

Jennifer

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Monday, February 22, 2021

Book Review | Lakewood by Megan Giddings

Lakewood is a debut horror novel by Megan Giddings.

Lakewood by Megan Giddings

A startling debut about class and race, Lakewood evokes a terrifying world of medical experimentation—part The Handmaid’s Tale, part The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

When Lena Johnson’s beloved grandmother dies, and the full extent of the family debt is revealed, the black millennial drops out of college to support her family and takes a job in the mysterious and remote town of Lakewood, Michigan.

On paper, her new job is too good to be true. High paying. No out of pocket medical expenses. A free place to live. All Lena has to do is participate in a secret program—and lie to her friends and family about the research being done in Lakewood. An eye drop that makes brown eyes blue, a medication that could be a cure for dementia, golden pills promised to make all bad thoughts go away.

The discoveries made in Lakewood, Lena is told, will change the world—but the consequences for the subjects involved could be devastating. As the truths of the program reveal themselves, Lena learns how much she’s willing to sacrifice for the sake of her family.

Provocative and thrilling, Lakewood is a breathtaking novel that takes an unflinching look at the moral dilemmas many working-class families face, and the horror that has been forced on black bodies in the name of science.

I read Lakewood with the Ladies of Horror Fiction Goodreads group. I didn't realize Lakewood was being compared to The Handmaid's Tale. I also see now appropriate comparisons to Catherine House. I'm not a fan of either of those works so I want to start out by saying I'm probably not the right audience for Lakewood.

The exploration of medical experimentation and race in Lakewood was chilling, and I loved Megan Gidding's writing style.

I like there to be a strong balance between plot and character development, and I felt both of these were lacking in Lakewood (as well as in The Handmaid's Tale and Catherine House).

If you are someone who likes to focus more on the narrative than on the plot, Lakewood might be the right fit for you. I think this is a strong debut, and I will keep my eye out for Gidding's next release.

⭐⭐⭐
3/5 stars


Jennifer

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