Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Why I Love Horror + Some Recommendations

What do you do if you are a librarian who doesn't read horror, but you need to be able to recommend horror books to your patrons? You turn to Becky Spratford. Becky is a Readers' Advisor who trains librarians in helping their patrons find books to read. She literally wrote the book on Readers' Advisory for Horror. She's one of the greatest champions we have in the horror community.

Becky asked me to write up a post on why I love horror and to talk about a few of the horror books I've loved. If you're interested in reading a little bit about why I love horror, you can find that post on Becky's RA for All: Horror blog. I tried to recommend some horror novels that are pretty recent but not widely read. If you are a regular reader of my blog, my horror recommendations will not surprise you. You've heard me recommend each one of these probably more than once already.

I love that Becky is sharing some of the reasons horror readers enjoy the genre. Feel free to add your comments on why you love horror (if you do!) or let me know here.

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Monday, October 9, 2017

Book Review | The Willows by Algernon Blackwood

The Willows is a novella by Algernon Blackwood

The Willows by Algernon Blackwood

Two friends are midway on a canoe trip down the Danube River. Throughout the story Blackwood personifies the surrounding environment—river, sun, wind—and imbues them with a powerful and ultimately threatening character. Most ominous are the masses of dense, desultory, menacing willows, which "moved of their own will as though alive, and they touched, by some incalculable method, my own keen sense of the horrible."

"The Willows" is one of Algernon Blackwood's best known short stories. American horror author H.P. Lovecraft considered it to be the finest supernatural tale in English literature. "The Willows" is an example of early modern horror and is connected within the literary tradition of weird fiction.

I've been sharing my journey with Lovecraft lately, but the story that brought me back to Lovecraft was Algernon Blackwood's The Willows. I wasn't planning to review The Willows, but it turned out to be such an awesome read I decided it really needed to be shared.

What struck me while reading The Willows was how much Blackwood's writing reminded me of H.G. Wells'. So much so that as soon as I finished reading The Willows I did a search to see if there were any essays comparing their work. What I found was Blackwood and Wells were friends. I don't know how that influenced their writing, but I thought it was interesting nonetheless.

In The Willows, two friends are taking a canoe trip up the river, and the rough water forces them stop for the night on an island among the willow trees.

The build up of tension (not to mention the personification of nature) made this an awesome read for me. I can't wait to dive into more of Blackwood's work in the future.

I was able to get my copy of The Willows free in the Kindle store. It's also available on Project Gutenberg and other places you can typically find these old classics.

9/10: Highly Recommended

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Saturday, October 7, 2017

Recent Updates and Currently Reading | October 7

I hope everyone has been able to embrace the spooky side of October this week. Every October I get in the mood for short stories, and I have a feeling Lovecraft is going to be taking over most of my short story time this month.

I got some Halloween decorating done this week. Hopefully I can get some more done before the holiday flies by. Sometimes I consider just leaving it out all year...

Posted Last Week


Review | The Night Cyclist by Stephen Graham Jones
Review | The Thing on the Doorstep by H.P. Lovecraft
Review | The Blackbird Season by Kate Moretti
Review | The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft

Read Last Week



You can read my full review of The Blackbird Season here. The characters kept me from connecting to and enjoying that one.

I loved The Thing on the Doorstep (review). It's my favorite Lovecraft story so far.

The Call of Cthulhu, on the other hand, is not one of my favorites (review).

I also read Joe Lansdale's A Fine Dark Line. A Fine Dark Line is very similar to both The Bottoms and Edge of Dark Water. Of those three, A Fine Dark Line is the weakest, but I really enjoy Lansdale so I was happy to have read it.

Review Copies


The Devil and the Deep: Horror Stories of the Sea edited by Ellen Datlow

There's no cover yet for The Devil and the Deep, but it's an original anthology of horror set in the deep blue sea with new stories from Seanan McGuire, Christopher Golden, Stephen Graham Jones, and others.

Current Distractions



I'm embracing Riverdale this week. There are so many "unlikable" characters and yet I root for and care about every one of them.

My husband and I also started watching True Detective. I promise this is pure coincidence and not a cry for a Lovecraft intervention.

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?, Tynga's Reviews' Stacking the Shelves, and Caffeinated Book Reviewer's The Sunday Post.

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Thursday, October 5, 2017

Book Review | The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft

The Call of Cthulhu is a short story (novelette) by H.P. Lovecraft.

The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft

One of the feature stories of the Cthulhu Mythos, H.P. Lovecraft's 'the Call of Cthulhu' is a harrowing tale of the weakness of the human mind when confronted by powers and intelligences from beyond our world.

I'm enjoying my trek through the works of Lovecraft, but The Call of Cthulhu is going to get a low rating from me.

This isn't the first time I've tried to read The Call of Cthulhu so I knew what to expect. I was going into it with a fresh perspective and a fresh love for Lovecraft this time, though.

The Call of Cthulhu is where we get to briefly meet the Great Old One Cthulhu. As the seminal work that an entire mythos is named after, The Call of Cthulhu is underwhelming. The actual entity Cthulhu, however, is a huge human form that is part octopus and part dragon. That's awesome.

I'm continuing to enjoy the atmosphere in these stories. I may not be a fan of Lovecraft's use of language, but atmosphere is something he does very well.

"It was voodoo, apparently, but voodoo of a more terrible sort than they had ever known; and some of their women and children had disappeared since the malevolent tom-tom had begun its incessant beating far within the black haunted woods where no dweller ventured. There were insane shouts and harrowing screams, soul-chilling chants and dancing devil-flames; and, the frightened messenger added, the people could stand it no more."

Even though this story is not going to be on my list of favorites, it's one I will probably revisit. Lovecraft's writing is so complex, there is bound to be more to discover and it can only get easier with each read.

I feel like The Call of Cthulhu is where a lot of people start reading Lovecraft. I've seen it suggested as an appropriate place to start. I'm obviously not a Lovecraft expert, but I wouldn't start with this one simply because the writing is unbearable at times. Hopefully in the near future I can provide an alternate suggestion.

4/10: Not My Thing

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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Book Review | The Blackbird Season by Kate Moretti

The Blackbird Season is a thriller novel by Kate Moretti.

The Blackbird Season by Kate Moretti

Known for novels featuring “great pacing and true surprises” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) and “nerve-shattering suspense” (Heather Gudenkauf, New York Time bestselling author), New York Times bestselling author Kate Moretti’s latest is the story of a scandal-torn Pennsylvania town and the aftermath of a troubled girl gone missing.

“Where did they come from? Why did they fall? The question would be asked a thousand times…

Until, of course, more important question arose, at which time everyone promptly forgot that a thousand birds fell on the town of Mount Oanoke at all.”

In a quiet Pennsylvania town, a thousand dead starlings fall onto a high school baseball field, unleashing a horrifying and unexpected chain of events that will rock the close-knit community.

Beloved baseball coach and teacher Nate Winters and his wife, Alicia, are well respected throughout town. That is, until one of the many reporters investigating the bizarre bird phenomenon catches Nate embracing a wayward student, Lucia Hamm, in front of a sleazy motel. Lucia soon buoys the scandal by claiming that she and Nate are engaged in an affair, throwing the town into an uproar…and leaving Alicia to wonder if her husband has a second life.

And when Lucia suddenly disappears, the police only to have one suspect: Nate.

Nate’s coworker and sole supporter, Bridget Harris, Lucia’s creative writing teacher, is determined to prove his innocence. She has Lucia’s class journal, and while some of the entries appear particularly damning to Nate’s case, others just don’t add up. Bridget knows the key to Nate’s exoneration and the truth of Lucia’s disappearance lie within the walls of the school and in the pages of that journal.

Told from the alternating points of view of Alicia, Nate, Lucia, and Bridget, The Blackbird Season is a haunting, psychologically nuanced suspense, filled with Kate Moretti’s signature “chillingly satisfying” (Publishers Weekly) twists and turns.

Why do characters have to be so unlikable in psychological thrillers? These were probably my least favorite psychological thriller characters ever. I almost put this down - I almost put the entire genre down - but I decided to carry on and see what kind of pay out would happen.

There were some positives. I thought the multiple points of view were handled well especially since there were four different perspectives. One of the characters was a mom to an autistic boy. I didn't like her, but I appreciated the dynamics there. I enjoyed the writing and the atmosphere in The Blackbird Season.

The biggest issue for me was obviously the characters. I know I've been harping on unlikable characters lately, but my issue goes beyond the characters just being unlikable. Some of the best characters I've come across this year have been absolutely hideous, but I was given reasons to care about them. That's the difference. In books like The Blackbird Season, we are given awful characters that are just that: awful.

This wasn't a hit for me, but I would read another Kate Moretti novel. I feel like The Blackbird Season was following a definite trend with the current thrillers, and I'm starting to have my fill of them.

The Blackbird Season isn't going to be one of the books I recommend to folks looking for a thriller. There's a lot of small town drama that may appeal to some readers, but I prefer to have an emotional stake in the outcome rather than being a bystander.

4/10: Not My Thing

Review copy provided by publisher

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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Book Review | The Thing on the Doorstep by H.P. Lovecraft

The Thing on the Doorstep is a horror novelette from H.P. Lovecraft.

The Thing on the Doorstep by H.P. Lovecraft

"The Thing on the Doorstep" is a short story written by H.P. Lovecraft, part of the Cthulhu Mythos universe of horror fiction. It was written in August 1933, and first published in the January 1937 issue of Weird Tales.

Daniel Upton, the story's narrator, begins by telling that he has killed his best friend, Edward Derby, and that he hopes his account will prove that he is not a murderer...

I've probably read more things derived from Lovecraft than actual Lovecraft tales, but I've been making an effort to read Lovecraft more the last few years.

I was a little leery heading into reading The Thing on the Doorstep simply because it is part of the Cthulhu mythos. While I have enjoyed many of the derivative works, I haven't had success with the original Cthulhu stories. I'm much more drawn to stories like The Shunned House and The Horror at Red Hook. I love hauntings and atmosphere and let's not forget the phosphorescence.

I have a whole new love for Lovecraft after reading The Thing on the Doorstep, though.

The Thing on the Doorstep was not an easy story to get into. Lovecraft's writing is probably why I have abandoned many Lovecraft stories over the years. It took me three tries of picking up The Thing on the Doorstep and starting over from the beginning to finally connect with it. I had to slow down and keep rereading to grasp what Lovecraft was saying through his complex and excessive writing style. Once the story got underway, though, his writing was much more accessible.

I say that as a warning to stick with it and not a warning to stay away from it. In the end, I absolutely loved The Thing on the Doorstep. I don't want to give any spoilers so I will just give you the opening sentence:

"It is true that I have sent six bullets through the head of my best friend, and yet I hope to show by this statement that I am not his murderer."

It's only 40 pages long so I'm not going to divulge what is happening.

There was so much I loved about The Thing on the Doorstep - the characters, the atmosphere, the suspense. I really enjoyed the storytelling despite the bloated writing.

I'm in the mood to spend my October reading short horror so you will probably hear more about Lovecraft before the month has ended. I'm looking forward to revisiting and persevering through some of the Lovecraft tales that didn't work for me in the past.

As for The Thing on the Doorstep, it is currently my favorite Lovecraft tale.

9/10: Highly Recommended

Have you read any Lovecraft? I would love to hear your favorite Lovecraft story if you have one!

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Monday, October 2, 2017

Book Review | The Night Cyclist by Stephen Graham Jones

The Night Cyclist is a horror novelette from Stephen Graham Jones.

The Night Cyclist by Stephen Graham Jones

"The Night Cyclist" by Stephen Graham Jones is a horror novelette about a middle-aged chef whose nightly bicycle ride home is interrupted by an unexpected encounter.

I loved this story from Stephen Graham Jones. I'm a runner not a cyclist, and damn it, now I want a bike.

I've never experienced so much suspense in a bike ride before. I swear this entire tale could have just been the main character chasing after a creature of the night on a bicycle and I would have loved it. There was a bit more to The Night Cyclist than that, though.

Everything about this story felt authentic - from the restaurant field (the main character is a chef) to what it must really feel like to be a cyclist.

The Night Cyclist weighs in at 32 pages. I would only recommend it to folks who love reading short stories, but I do without a doubt recommend it. I laid down my $.99 so I could read it on my Kindle, but you can read it for free on Tor's website here: https://www.tor.com/2016/09/21/the-night-cyclist/

8/10: Great Read

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Sunday, October 1, 2017

Recent Updates and Currently Reading | October 1

Happy October!


I hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend. The weather finally cooled down a bit here yesterday. I was able to get some much needed gardening done. I'm trying to salvage some plants that didn't do too well in the hurricane. We put out a hummingbird feeder yesterday, and by evening we already had our first hummingbirds!

Today is my husband's birthday so I'm hoping we will get another beautiful day today.

Posted Last Week


Book Review | Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill
Book Review | The Trust by Ronald Balson

Read Last Week



I read The Witches with my one of my kiddos. I think it was actually my first Roald Dahl to read! I'm a little ashamed of that, but it's never too late, right? We enjoyed it. I think he liked it a little more than I did.

If you want to read my review of The Trust, you can find that here. It's the fourth book in the Liam and Catherine series, but it could definitely be read as a stand alone. It was actually my first Liam and Catherine book, and I don't think I was missing out on much.

Volume 4 of Saga was the weakest of the series so far for me. Each installment contains less and less of a full story. I will probably continue to pick them up from the library, though.

I loved The Night Cyclist by Stephen Graham Jones. I'll post a quick review of it later this week. If you love a good horror short story, you should check it out.

Current Distractions


I finished Defenders, and I started watching Riverdale. It's definitely different than the Archie I remember!

Did anyone watch the new Gerald's Game movie on Netflix? I was hoping to watch it this weekend, but it hasn't worked out yet. It's a lot easier to read horror than it is to watch it in my house.

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, September 27, 2017

Book Review | The Trust by Ronald Balson

The Trust is a mystery novel from Ronald H. Balson. It's the fourth book in the Liam and Catherine series.

The Trust by Ronald Balson

When his uncle dies, Liam Taggart reluctantly returns to his childhood home in Northern Ireland for the funeral—a home he left years ago after a bitter confrontation with his family, never to look back. But when he arrives, Liam learns that not only was his uncle shot to death, but that he’d anticipated his own murder: In an astonishing last will and testament, Uncle Fergus has left his entire estate to a secret trust, directing that no distributions be made to any person until the killer is found. Did Fergus know, but refuse to name, his killer? Was this a crime of revenge, a vendetta leftover from Northern Ireland’s bloody sectarian war? After all, the Taggarts were deeply involved in the IRA. Or is it possible that the killer is a family member seeking Fergus’s estate? Otherwise, why postpone distributions to the heirs? Most menacingly, does the killer now have his sights on other family members?

As his investigation draws Liam farther and farther into the past he has abandoned, he realizes he is forced to reopen doors long ago shut and locked. Now, accepting the appointment as sole trustee of the Fergus Taggart Trust, Liam realizes he has stepped into the center of a firestorm.

This was my first Liam and Catherine book. It's the fourth in the series, but the Trust can definitely be read as a stand alone novel.

I really liked the characters of Liam and Catherine. Their happy marriage/family life was refreshing. I also enjoyed the not-so-happy dynamics between Liam and the family he left behind in Ireland. Liam was shunned from his family 16 years ago after they discovered he was a spy for the CIA. His uncle has now passed away, and Liam must return to the family as the trustee to his uncle's estate.

Liam's uncle basically knew he was going to be murdered, and he set up his trust so that his assets wouldn't be distributed to the family until the murder was solved. Answer me this: why do dead people always leave behind the most vague letter possible? Trust no one. I'm no expert, but I feel pretty strongly that it would help solve a lot of mysteries if they included some details in their departing letters.

Liam - who happens to also be a private investigator - must uphold his uncle's estate wishes (and withhold the estate from the family) while simultaneously working to solve his murder.

While I enjoyed the writing and I was interested in what was happening, I didn't really have a reason to care who the murderer was. I realized during the reveal that I had stopped guessing pretty early on.

In the end, The Trust delivered on its promises and I enjoyed reading it, but it didn't particularly stand out from the crowd.

6/10: Good Read

Review copy provided by publisher

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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Book Review | Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill

Sea of Rust is a science fiction novel from C. Robert Cargill.

C. Robert Cargill is the author of one of my favorite novels (Dreams and Shadows). I was excited when I heard there was going to be a new Cargill release, and when I heard what Sea of Rust was about, it became one of my most anticipated books of the year.

C. Robert Cargill is also the screenwriter behind Sinister and Marvel's Dr. Strange.

I saw someone on Twitter refer to Sea of Rust as an "eventually true story". I think that's an excellent description. Sea of Rust takes place after the Artificial Intelligence has waged war on the humans and the robots are all that remain. The robots are now creating facets known as OWI (One World Intellengence) and battling against each other.

Even though the law of the land is now to upload to an OWI or shut down, many bots are resisting and fighting to save their individuality.

Brittle is one of the bots who refuses to be absorbed by an OWI. On the run, Brittle hangs out in the Sea of Rust - an expanse of expired and war torn robots - looking for parts.

Along with following Brittle's story, we are treated to the backstory of how AI came to exist and the wars that followed. I had chills reading about the downfall of humans and their robots. It was easy to imagine Sea of Rust as a glimpse into our future.

Sea of Rust is a smart book, and I really enjoyed it.

7/10: Recommended Read

Review copy provided by publisher

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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Recent Updates and Currently Reading | September 23

This was not a typical reading week for me. My 8 year old was home sick from school for a couple of days, and I pretty much spent those days playing Nintendo with him and reading. So other than my son being sick, it was a pretty awesome week.

Posted Last Week


Book Review | Paperbacks from Hell by Grady Hendrix (with Will Errickson)

Read Last Week




The first book I read this week was the awesome Paperbacks from Hell. You can read my full review here. It's a nonfiction book about the history of the horror genre. It's a must read for horror fans.

I also read Joe Lansdale's Edge of Dark Water. It turned out to be even better than I was expecting.

Sing, Unburied, Sing turned out to be less than what I was expecting. I probably won't be posting a review for Sing, Unburied, Sing because I don't have much to say about it. The writing was beautiful, but it just wasn't a book I connected to. I'm surprised, and I feel like I must have read it wrong.

I won't be posting a review for Saga either. Maybe once the series ends, I'll post some thoughts. I'm still enjoying it, but I feel like I'm getting less of a complete story with each installment so my ratings keep declining.

The last book I read this week was an old horror novella from Algernon Blackwood called The Willows. I loved it. I will be reading everything Algernon Blackwood I can get my hands on.

Review Copies



Hide and Seek (Helen Grace #6) by M.J. Arlidge - Hide and Seek is the 6th book in the Helen Grace series. I don't typically read series book out of order, but this is another book I plan to dive into anyway because I have high interest in it. I'm not going to post a synopsis because it definitely spoils book 5 if you are planning to read the whole series.

Current Distractions



I had several folks ask me last week whether or not I enjoyed IT. I did! I was very nervous about how they would handle the movie only being a part one of two, but I love how they are handling it so far. IT was scary, and it was full of childhood shenanigans. I don't ask for much more than that.

I started watching Marvel's Defenders again this week. If you haven't seen the other Marvel shows, I wouldn't recommend Defenders. It is written for those who have seen all of the predecessors. I'm not enjoying the directing or the storytelling much, either.

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?, Tynga's Reviews' Stacking the Shelves, and Caffeinated Book Reviewer's The Sunday Post.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Book Review | Paperbacks from Hell by Grady Hendrix (with Will Errickson)

Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction is a nonfiction book from Grady Hendrix and Will Errickson.



Take a tour through the horror paperback novels of the 1970s and ’80s . . . if you dare. Page through dozens and dozens of amazing book covers featuring well-dressed skeletons, evil dolls, and knife-wielding killer crabs! Read shocking plot summaries that invoke devil worship, satanic children, and haunted real estate! Horror author and vintage paperback book collector Grady Hendrix offers killer commentary and witty insight on these trashy thrillers that tried so hard to be the next Exorcist or Rosemary’s Baby. It’s an affectionate, nostalgic, and unflinchingly funny celebration of the horror fiction boom of two iconic decades, complete with story summaries and artist and author profiles. You’ll find familiar authors, like V. C. Andrews and R. L. Stine, and many more who’ve faded into obscurity. Plus recommendations for which of these forgotten treasures are well worth your reading time and which should stay buried.

This book is astonishing.

First of all, Paperbacks from Hell is a gorgeous book. All of the pages are in full color, and every aspect of this book is high quality. You could call it a coffee table book, but there's a lot more to Paperbacks from Hell than just the stunning paperback images.

Paperbacks from Hell is divided up into the major categories of horror fiction that were prevalent in the 70's and 80's. Topics like 'Hail, Satan', 'Creepy Kids', 'When Animals Attack', and 'Real Estate Nightmares' walk the reader through the history of the horror genre. The written content in Paperbacks from Hell is just as extraordinary as the visual content. There's a lot of information about publishers, authors, and cover artists, as well as insight into what the readers were wanting and how the market shifted throughout the horror boom. The commentary is filled with a lot of humor and a lot of love.

I felt so much nostalgia reading Paperbacks from Hell. Whether I was remembering the books I saw growing up or remembering books I've read and loved, I had a great time revisiting the horror paperbacks of the past. There were also quite a few books that were completely new to me.

After making my way through Paperbacks from Hell, I can't help but have paperback envy and regrets over the books I've purged over the years. Paperbacks from Hell has sparked a love in my heart for even the worst of books.

I can't say enough about Paperbacks from Hell. It's a must read for anyone interested in the history of horror fiction, and I highly, highly recommend it.

10/10: Awesome Read

Review copy provided by publisher

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Sunday, September 17, 2017

Recent Updates and Currently Reading | September 17

I had a bit of normalcy this week. The kids returned to school on Tuesday, and I was able to go back to work on Wednesday. It feels like we are starting the school year over again after being out for a few weeks.

I had another great reading week, and I'm trying to get back into the swing of things with a couple of reviews. I also have a review book to share!

Posted Last Week


Book Review | Final Girls by Riley Sager
Book Review | Ugly Little Things by Todd Keisling

Read Last Week



The first book I finished this week was Final Girls by Riley Sager. It did a great job of holding my interest. If you love psychological thrillers, you might want to check out Final Girls. {You can read my review here.}

I also read Ugly Little Things: Collected Horrors by Todd Keisling. It contains a novella I recommended earlier this year, and it's actually cheaper to buy the entire collection than to the individual novella. {Review}

Review Copies



The Trust (Liam and Catherine #4) by Ronald H. Balson - St. Martin's Press sent me the latest mystery from Ronald H. Balson. It's the fourth in the series, but it's got rave reviews at the moment so I'm going to check it out. "The newest novel from the author of Once We Were Brothers finds private investigator Liam Taggart returning to his childhood home for an uncle's funeral, only to discover his death might not have been natural." It sounds like it will work as a stand alone.

Current Distractions



I finally have a theater open (post-hurricane) so my mom and I are going to see IT today. I'm sooo excited.

If you've ever had to endure hours of reading Captain Underpants, the movie is super cute. And... that's as far as I'm going to take that recommendation. (My kids loved it.)

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?, Tynga's Reviews' Stacking the Shelves, and Caffeinated Book Reviewer's The Sunday Post.

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Friday, September 15, 2017

Book Review | Ugly Little Things by Todd Keisling

Ugly Little Things is a collection of horror stories by Todd Keisling.

Ugly Little Things by Todd Keisling

THIS IS GOING TO HURT.

The eleven stories in Ugly Little Things explore the depths of human suffering and ugliness, charting a course to the dark, horrific heart of the human condition. The terrors of everyday existence are laid bare in this eerie collection of short fiction from the twisted mind of Todd Keisling, author of the critically-acclaimed novels A Life Transparent and The Liminal Man.

Travel between the highways of America in “The Otherland Express,” where a tribe of the forsaken and forlorn meet to exchange identities. Witness the cold vacuum of space manifest in the flesh in “The Darkness Between Dead Stars.” Step into the scrub of rural Arizona and join Karen Singleton’s struggle to save her husband from a cult of religious fanatics in “When Karen Met Her Mountain.” Visit the small town of Dalton in “The Harbinger” and join Felix Proust as he uncovers the vile secrets rooted at the heart of Dalton Dollworks. And in the critically-acclaimed novella “The Final Reconciliation,” learn the horrifying truth behind the demise of the rock band The Yellow Kings.

With an introduction by Bram Stoker Award-winner Mercedes M. Yardley and illustrations by Luke Spooner, Ugly Little Things will be your atlas, guiding you along a lonely road of sorrow, loss, and regret. This is going to hurt—and you’re going to like it.

After reading and loving Todd Keisling's The Final Reconciliation earlier this year, I was excited to have the opportunity to read more stories by Keisling in Ugly Little Things.

The first thing I want to mention is The Final Reconciliation is included in this collection. You can read my full review for that here. It's my favorite novella I've read so far this year.

I didn't realize that several of the stories in Ugly Little Things had been previously published. This was fine for me as I hadn't read any of the other tales, but your mileage could vary on that.

I was pleasantly surprised to find a few of the tales fell into the novelette/novella range. I'm a big fan of that format when it comes to horror, and I think these longer works are also the best of this collection.

I highly recommended The Final Reconciliation earlier this year, and with Ugly Little Things you get that novella and more. It's kind of a no brainer if you are interested in checking out Todd Keisling's work. He's an author I keep on my radar, and I look forward to reading more of his work in the future.

8/10: Great Read

Review copy provided by publisher

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Book Review | Final Girls by Riley Sager

Final Girls is a psychological thriller from Riley Sager.


Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout's knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media's attempts, they never meet.

Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancĂ©, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.

That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy's doorstep. Blowing through Quincy's life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa's death come to light, Quincy's life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam's truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.

Why did I read Final Girls?

Stephen King put Final Girls on my radar. I may not always like his recommendations, but I do pay attention to them.

“The first great thriller of 2017 is here: Final Girls, by Riley Sager. If you liked Gone Girl, you’ll like this.”—Stephen King

I've been waffling for weeks about reading Final Girls. The hype has been so strong, but readers I trust haven't had a positive reaction to it. I decided I needed to read it for myself. I think my curiosity won out with this one.

The Strengths

I was able to read Final Girls in pretty much one sitting. It was an easy read which was exactly the kind of book I needed to pick up.

I had a lot of interest in the premise and the backstory of these "final girls". I wanted to know what happened to them, and I was anxious for some twists and turns (whether or not I actually got them).

I enjoyed Riley Sager (aka Todd Ritter's) writing. I will read more books by him in the future.

The Weaknesses

Too many implausible things happened in Final Girls. I feel like I can usually go with the flow in a lot of what I read, but I couldn't suspend my disbelief with this one. I'm just not buying it.

Most of the psychological thrillers I've read the last few years have had really unlikable characters. Final Girls is no exception to this trend.

At this point, I don't even want to see grape soda in the store. Seriously, how much grape soda did the main character have in her house? I would mention the Xanax, but I think a Xanax would come in handy after suffering through the repetition of Final Girls.

Would I recommend Final Girls to others?

Yes, I would recommend Final Girls to others. I have a love/hate relationship with psychological thrillers, and my reaction to Final Girls was keeping in line with my previous experiences. If you typically love them, though, I would say yes, pick this one up.

6/10: Good Read

Have you read Final Girls? What did you think? Are you a fan of psychological thrillers or do you run the other way when a book gets compared to Gone Girl?

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Sunday, September 10, 2017

Recent Updates and Currently Reading | September 10

I'm praying everyone is safe from Irma (and Harvey). The last time I posted I was confident Harvey was going to stall out and head north, but I was wrong. Harvey went back into the gulf and came right back at us. Thankfully we had no water in our home, but a lot of our friends and family weren't so lucky. There's so much devastation here; it will be a while before things feel normal again.

I don't have any posts to share or shows/movies to discuss, but I did manage to read some amazing books.

Read Last Week



The Bottoms by Joe R. Lansdale - I am so glad I grabbed this book from the library before the storm. It was exactly the book I needed when I needed it. If you've never read Lansdale, The Bottoms is the perfect place to start.

It by Stephen King - My goal was to finish rereading It before the movie came out. I'm absolutely thrilled to have read it again even if it will be awhile before I get to see it. I remember why I love this book so much.

Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill - This was probably my most anticipated book of the year. I'm happy to say I wasn't disappointed. I will try to get a real review out later this week.

So what about you? Let me know what you're reading 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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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Top Ten Hidden Gems

These are some of my favorite books of all time, but they don't have many reviews on Goodreads. (Btw, Andy Davidson's In the Valley of the Sun is on sale today for $1.99!) I'd love to hear if you've read any of these hidden gems.




The Nightmare Chronicles by Douglas Clegg

Strangewood by Christopher Golden



Deep in the Darkness by Michael Laimo

Bad Things by Tamara Thorne

Before Leonora Wakes (Division #1) by Lee Thompson



Beyond the Door by Jeffrey Thomas

Inside the Outside by Martin Lastrapes



A Nearer Moon by Melanie Crowder

Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction Horror edited by Mark Matthews

In the Valley of the Sun by Andy Davidson


This post is being shared as part of The Broke and the Bookish's Top Ten Tuesday.

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Saturday, August 26, 2017

Recent Updates and Currently Reading | August 26

Hi all! I hope the winding down of summertime has been great to you all. I don't have much reading to report this weekend, but I wanted to make sure I popped in to give an update since I have been terribly quiet over the last couple of weeks. Between work and caring for my grandfather, my brain has been incapable of reading/reviewing.

I live on the Texas coast, but it looks like my area will be mostly spared from the hurricane. All of the projection models had it looping to us after landfall. Now that Harvey is on land, though, it looks like it will stay west of us. My work is closed through Wednesday due to the severity of what was expected here, but we are likely to only get rain. I've been feeling so guilty about not even replying to comments last week; I'm going to devote some serious time to getting caught up around here while I'm off.

Posted Last Week


I did a Top Ten Tuesday post listing some of my favorite audiobooks.

Read Last Week



A Wrinkle in Time (Time Quintet #1) by Madeleine L'Engle: This is my third reading of A Wrinkle in Time. Several years ago I reread it for Banned Books Week. At the end of my review I said I was definitely going to read it again with my boys. Weeeellll, I can't get them to read it. I even tried bribery. Since I went through the trouble of getting it from the library, I decided I would just read it to myself again. *sigh*

Firelight (Amulet #7) by Kazu Kibuishi: When Firelight came out last year, I only had access to a Kindle version through my library. When I spotted a print copy on the shelf last week, I wanted to read it again in print.

Can I just say how happy I am that Goodreads can handle rereads now? It is really going to save my challenge in times of stress.

Review Copies


I'm going to lift my ban on review copies in September. I may post some thoughts next week on what I've learned during my hiatus.


Paperbacks from Hell: A History of Horror Fiction from the '70s and '80s by Grady Hendrix - Quirk Books sent me a copy of Paperbacks from Hell. It is a must read for me due to the content, but I have to say this book is absolutely gorgeous. It's "a tour through the horror paperback novels of the 1970s and ’80s", and it's beautiful. All of the pages are in full color, and it's filled with nothing but vintage horror goodness. "Page through dozens and dozens of amazing book covers featuring well-dressed skeletons, evil dolls, and knife-wielding killer crabs! Read shocking plot summaries that invoke devil worship, satanic children, and haunted real estate! Horror author and vintage paperback book collector Grady Hendrix offers killer commentary and witty insight on these trashy thrillers that tried so hard to be the next Exorcist or Rosemary’s Baby. It’s an affectionate, nostalgic, and unflinchingly funny celebration of the horror fiction boom of two iconic decades, complete with story summaries and artist and author profiles. You’ll find familiar authors, like V. C. Andrews and R. L. Stine, and many more who’ve faded into obscurity. Plus recommendations for which of these forgotten treasures are well worth your reading time and which should stay buried." I can't wait to take the tour.

Current Distractions


  • My kids are back to school and homework is in full swing. We are still trying to figure out our routines. I miss summer already.
  • What kind of torture is this? I finally got caught completely up on Game of Thrones last week, and the season finale is tomorrow?! My husband and I decided to start back over with season one. LOL.
  • Are you guys watching Ozark on Netflix? I'm almost through with season one, and I'm just not loving it like everyone else seems to be.
  • I also started watching Defenders. My hubs is a huge comic book guy, but they are all hit or miss with me. I'm a big fan of Jessica Jones and Daredevil so Defenders is working out for me so far.

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?, Tynga's Reviews' Stacking the Shelves, and Caffeinated Book Reviewer's The Sunday Post.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Top 10+ Recommendations for Someone New to Audiobooks

If you are considering giving audiobooks a try, these are some of my all time favorite narrators and audiobooks.

Kate Mulgrew



I love Kate Mulgrew's performance in both NOS4A2 and The Fireman by Joe Hill.

Frank Muller



I give a lot of credit to Frank Muller for getting me as far into The Dark Tower as he did. Unfortunately he passed away before completing the series. That might be why I haven't finished the series either.


I have found other great audios like All Quiet on the Western Front by simply seeking out Frank Muller narrations.

Rob Inglis



I love Rob Inglis's performance in the entire The Lord of the Rings trilogy. These are audiobooks I love to revisit.

Jim Dale





My absolute favorite audios of all time are the Harry Potter audios narrated by Jim Dale. I've actually tried to listen to other Jim Dale audiobooks and my brain won't let me. No matter what he's reading, I try to place it into the wizarding world of Harry Potter. I highly, highly recommend listening to the entire Harry Potter series via Jim Dale. The audios are extraordinary.

Wil Wheaton



I've heard great things about other books narrated by Wil Wheaton, but I think the only one I've listened to is Ready Player One. I would recommend it even if the movie wasn't about to release, but there is no better time than right now.

Bonus: I just saw that the upcoming Joe Hill book (Strange Weather) will be narrated by both Kate Mulgrew and Wil Wheaton (among others)!

Michael Page



Michael Page has narrated a lot of audiobooks, and the Gentleman Bastard series is among some of my favorite audios of all time.

Tom Stechschulte



Tom Stechschulte is another prolific narrator, and I love his narration of Robert McCammon's Swan Song. Swan Song is in my top three favorite books of all time (in any format). If the size of Swan Song has ever prevented you from taking the plunge, do not be afraid to go the audio route with this one.

Tom Stechschulte also narrated Cormac McCarthy's The Road. I haven't listened to it, but bet his voice is awesome for that one, too, so I'm including it here.

If you have any favorite audiobooks or narrators, please let me know in the comments!! If you are new to audio, I hope this gives you some options to consider.


This post is being shared as part of The Broke and the Bookish's Top Ten Tuesday.

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