Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Book Review | Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall

Rules for Vanishing is a young adult horror novel by Kate Alice Marshall.

In the faux-documentary style of The Blair Witch Project comes the campfire story of a missing girl, a vengeful ghost, and the girl who is determined to find her sister--at all costs.

Once a year, the path appears in the forest and Lucy Gallows beckons. Who is brave enough to find her--and who won't make it out of the woods?

It's been exactly one year since Sara's sister, Becca, disappeared, and high school life has far from settled back to normal. With her sister gone, Sara doesn't know whether her former friends no longer like her...or are scared of her, and the days of eating alone at lunch have started to blend together. When a mysterious text message invites Sara and her estranged friends to "play the game" and find local ghost legend Lucy Gallows, Sara is sure this is the only way to find Becca--before she's lost forever. And even though she's hardly spoken with them for a year, Sara finds herself deep in the darkness of the forest, her friends--and their cameras--following her down the path. Together, they will have to draw on all of their strengths to survive. The road is rarely forgiving, and no one will be the same on the other side.

I'm writing this review three months after having read Rules for Vanishing. Sometimes this can be a tough thing to do, but sometimes it helps me narrow down the things that really struck me and stayed with me.

In reading Rules for Vanishing, I was most excited for the creepy horrors. It reminded me a lot of when I read Kim Liggett's The Last Harvest. I love finding truly horrific scenes in a young adult book.

I also remember the ending being left up to interpretation. There was a definite ending, but it was an ambiguous one. Rules for Vanishing would make an excellent book club read. I wish I had been buddy reading it when I read it!

Rules for Vanishing is going on my list of automatic young adult horror recommendations. If you haven't had a chance to read it yet, I recommend you pick it up!

4.5/5 stars


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Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Book Review | Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby

Blacktop Wasteland is a new crime fiction release by S.A. Cosby.

Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby

Beauregard “Bug” Montage is an honest mechanic, a loving husband, and a hard-working dad. Bug knows there’s no future in the man he used to be: known from the hills of North Carolina to the beaches of Florida as the best wheelman on the East Coast.

He thought he'd left all that behind him, but as his carefully built new life begins to crumble, he finds himself drawn inexorably back into a world of blood and bullets. When a smooth-talking former associate comes calling with a can't-miss jewelry store heist, Bug feels he has no choice but to get back in the driver's seat. And Bug is at his best where the scent of gasoline mixes with the smell of fear.

Haunted by the ghost of who he used to be and the father who disappeared when he needed him most, Bug must find a way to navigate this blacktop wasteland...or die trying.

Like Ocean’s Eleven meets Drive, with a Southern noir twist, S. A. Cosby’s Blacktop Wasteland is a searing, operatic story of a man pushed to his limits by poverty, race, and his own former life of crime.

Why Did I Read Blacktop Wasteland?

The early reviews have been amazing for Blacktop Wasteland! How could I not get pulled into wanting to read it? The majority of my friends have given it 5 stars and the rest a solid 4 stars.

The Strengths

I went into Blacktop Wasteland pretty blind outside of just knowing how well it was being received. Blacktop Wasteland turned out to be a really great crime novel. It was full of action and full of consequence, and I loved S.A. Cosby's voice.

Blacktop Wasteland had a lot of surprises, too. I'm certain I said "noooo" out loud more than once!

There was a lot of heart in Blacktop Wasteland. It makes me excited to see what Cosby does next.

The Weaknesses

Here is the part where I get purely subjective. Pretty early on I had Blacktop Wasteland pegged as a heist book. I am such a huge fan of heist stories, and I've been really craving them lately. I see now that Blacktop Wasteland is being billed as part Ocean's Eleven which is fair since my own mind went there (more specifically Ocean's Eight). I'm glad I didn't see the comparisons ahead of time, though, because my heist expectation would have been even higher. My mind kept expecting the plotting and the pacing of a heist novel but was being given a great crime novel that was something else altogether.

Final Thoughts

If you love a good crime story, I wholeheartedly recommend you pick up Blacktop Wasteland. I will not be surprised to see it on a lot of favorites and awards lists for this year.

3.5/5 stars

Review copy provided by the publisher


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Sunday, July 12, 2020

Recent Updates and Currently Reading | July 12

I hope everyone is having an amazing weekend. Things have been really busy over at the Ladies of Horror Fiction and unfortunately that balances out to things being really quiet over here! Things will hopefully be semi back to normal next month, but in the mean time, please be sure to check out all these lists of nominees!!

LOHF Award Nominees for Best Collection
LOHF Award Nominees for Best Debut

LOHF Award Nominees for Best Poetry Collection
LOHF Award Nominees for Best Novel
LOHF Award Nominees for Best Novella

Stay tuned because we have more categories to announce this week.

Posted Since Last Update

Finished Reading

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby

I finished reading Home Before Dark by Riley Sager. Hopefully I can put the finishing touches on my review today to post this week! ⭐⭐⭐⭐★

I also read Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby which I really enjoyed. I'm aiming to get a review out for release day on Tuesday. ⭐⭐⭐💫★

Currently Reading

The Bright Lands by John Fram

I'm planning to start The Bright Lands by John Fram later today!

Recent Acquisitions

The Midnight Lullaby by Cheryl Low

Many, many thanks to Grinning Skull Press for sending me out a copy of The Midnight Lullaby by Cheryl Low. (And thank you to Tammy for putting this author/book on my radar!)

Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Powers Devil's Creek by Todd Keisling Murder Ballads by John Hornor Jacobs

I had a few highly anticipated orders arrive last week!! These are all must read authors for me!

Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Powers - After loving Wilder Girls {my review}, I had to read her new release!

Devil's Creek by Todd Keisling - I absolutely loved The Final Reconciliation {my review} so I'm looking forward to reading Devil's Creek. The reviews have been spectacular for this one so I'm even more excited.

Murder Ballads by John Hornor Jacobs - I'm also a big John Hornor Jacobs fan having loved Southern Gods {my review}, A Lush and Seething Hell {my review}, and his Incarcerado series {my review} which I need to return to some day!

Current Distractions


Are you guys watching Hamilton? I've seen it 5 times in the last week and a half. That's normal right? ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Silver Linings PlaybookThe Exterminating Angel Eurovision

I finally watched Silver Linings Playbook. ⭐⭐⭐⭐★

The Exterminating Angel is a Spanish movie from 1962. It's very Twilight Zone-ish, and I loved it. A group of people are having a dinner party and they just stay. No one can leave the room they are in. The audio is in Spanish, but I believe the subtitles were in English. ⭐⭐⭐⭐★

I also watched Eurovision. I really enjoyed it - it was a great quarantine escape - but I didn't love it as much as everyone else seems to have loved it. ⭐⭐⭐★★

Iron Man The Incredible Hulk Iron Man 2 Thor
Captain America: The First Avenger The Avengers Iron Man 3 Thor: The Dark World
Captain America: The Winter Soldier Guardians of the Galaxy

Are we friends on Letterboxd? I've come to rely on Letterboxd so much for selecting and tracking movies. When I'm in the mood for a certain genre of movie, I'll search by genre and filter for movies I haven't seen. Every single time I would search a genre that wasn't horror, all of the top choices were Marvel movies. I'm giving up and giving in and I'm watching them all in order. I'm attempting to rank them (it's not easy, there's so many) as I go.

These are my ratings so far if anyone is curious!

Iron Man (rewatch) ⭐⭐⭐⭐★
The Incredible Hulk ⭐⭐⭐★★
Iron Man 2 (rewatch) ⭐⭐⭐★★
Thor (rewatch) ⭐⭐⭐⭐★ - I enjoyed it more this time.
Captain America: The First Avenger ⭐⭐💫★★
The Avengers ⭐⭐⭐⭐★
Iron Man 3 ⭐⭐⭐★★ - The first half was 5 stars, the second half was 1 star.
Thor: The Dark World ⭐⭐⭐⭐★
Captain America: The Winter Soldier ⭐⭐⭐💫★
Guardians of the Galaxy (rewatch) ⭐⭐⭐⭐★
Avengers: Age of Ultron ⭐⭐💫★★

So what about you? Let me know what you're reading (or watching) this week or leave me some links!

This post is being shared as part of Book Date's It's Monday! What Are You Reading? and Caffeinated Book Reviewer's The Sunday Post.


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Wednesday, July 1, 2020

On My Wishlist {33}

On My Wishlist is where I share a few books that have recently made it onto my wishlist. These are the books that have recently caught my eye!

The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn (Kingdom of Grit #1) by Tyler Whitesides
Published May 15th 2018 by Orbit

The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn (Kingdom of Grit #1) by Tyler Whitesides

"I'm hiring you to steal the king's crown."

Ardor Benn is no ordinary thief. Rakish, ambitious, and master of wildly complex heists, he styles himself a Ruse Artist Extraordinaire.

When a priest hires him for the most daring ruse yet, Ardor knows he'll need more than quick wit and sleight of hand. Assembling a dream team of forgers, disguisers, schemers, and thieves, he sets out to steal from the most powerful king the realm has ever known.

But it soon becomes clear there's more at stake than fame and glory -Ard and his team might just be the last hope for human civilization.

The Thousand Deaths of Ardor Benn was recommended in one of my group reads last week as a great heist novel. If you are also in need of a team of thieves right now - give it a look!

Still Can't Do My Daughter's Hair by William Evans
Published September 18th 2017 by Button Poetry

Still Can't Do My Daughter's Hair by William Evans

Still Can't Do My Daughter's Hair is the latest book by author William Evans, founder of Black Nerd Problems. Evans is a long-standing voice in the performance poetry scene, who has performed at venues across the country and been featured on numerous final stages, including the National Poetry Slam and Individual World Poetry Slam. Evans's commanding, confident style shines through in these poems, which explore masculinity, fatherhood, and family, and what it means to make a home as a black man in contemporary America.

This poetry collection came highly recommended by one of my favorite poets - Stephanie Wytovich. It sounds amazing, and I need it.

Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron
Expected publication: July 7th 2020 by Bloomsbury YA

Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

It’s 200 years after Cinderella found her prince, but the fairy tale is over. Teen girls are now required to appear at the Annual Ball, where the men of the kingdom select wives based on a girl’s display of finery. If a suitable match is not found, the girls not chosen are never heard from again.

Sixteen-year-old Sophia would much rather marry Erin, her childhood best friend, than parade in front of suitors. At the ball, Sophia makes the desperate decision to flee, and finds herself hiding in Cinderella’s mausoleum. There, she meets Constance, the last known descendant of Cinderella and her step sisters. Together they vow to bring down the king once and for all–and in the process, they learn that there’s more to Cinderella’s story than they ever knew . . .

This fresh take on a classic story will make readers question the tales they’ve been told, and root for girls to break down the constructs of the world around them.

My friend Emily (book.happy/LOHF) just read and recommended this, and I need this one, too!

Have you read or are you planning to read any of these? What books have recently made it onto your wishlist?

This post is being shared as part of Can't-Wait Wednesday over at Wishful Endings.


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Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Book Review | Seeing Things by Sonora Taylor

Seeing Things is a new horror release from Sonora Taylor.

Seeing Things by Sonora Taylor

Abby Gillman has discovered that with growing up, there comes a lot of blood. But nothing prepares her for the trail of blood she sees in the hallway after class - or the ghost she finds crammed inside an abandoned locker.

No one believes Abby, of course. She’s only seeing things. As much as Abby wants to be believed, what she wants more is to know why she can suddenly see the dead. Unfortunately, they won’t tell her. In fact, none of them will speak to her. At all.

Abby leaves for her annual summer visit to her uncle’s house with tons of questions. The visit will give her answers the ghosts won’t - but she may not like what she finds out.

Seeing Things is my third book to read by Sonora Taylor. Her previous releases Without Condition {review} and Little Paranoias {review} are favorites among the Ladies of Horror Fiction team.

I'm so happy Taylor has gifted us with a ghost story. Combining my favorite horror element (ghosts) with her storytelling really put me in my happy place with this one!

Seeing Things follows Abby Gillman as she begins "seeing things" that others claim are just her imagination. Weighing in at under 200 pages, Seeing Things is a quick read, but it packs in a full story of legends and family secrets.

I would be happy if Taylor decided to make a whole series following Abby and her family and how she copes with seeing things. I'll be reading what comes next either way.


Review copy provided by the author


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