Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Book Review | Artemis by Andy Weir

Artemis is a science fiction novel from Andy Weir.


Jazz Bashara is a criminal.

Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you're not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you've got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.

Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down. But pulling off the impossible is just the start of her problems, as she learns that she's stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself—and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even riskier than the first.

I was excited about Artemis for the simple fact that it was a new Andy Weir book. I loved The Martian so I was anxious for more Andy Weir. I was hoping to go into reading it blind, but I spoiled myself to the premise as I was adding it to my Goodreads. Once I saw it was a heist story set on the moon, I had to read it immediately.

There was a level of fun to Artemis. I'm sure a lot of readers will enjoy it. I hoped by the time I sat down to write my official review, the fun aspects of Artemis would overtake my issues, but the opposite has happened. When I look back on reading Artemis, the problems are what I remember most.

Most of my issues revolve around the main character Jazz. This makes sense since there really weren't any other developed characters in Artemis. It was a formula that worked well for Mark Watney's character in The Martian, but I wasn't a fan of Jazz at all.

Not only was Jazz not likable, her character development was problematic. The reader is told on several occasions that Jazz has a sexual history. Why? What does the fact that Jazz has sex tell us about her character? As many times as it was brought up, I assume it was supposed to mean something.

My assessment of Jazz's character is Andy Weir tried to create a badass female character like Devi Morris from Rachel Bach's Paradox trilogy and failed miserably.

Jazz's back story was filled with the awful choices of her youth. I didn't see how her back story was any different from her current story. She was still making awful choices. I wish I could have cared about her, but instead I felt she deserved whatever she got.

Complaints aside, the science in Artemis was fun. The science was a huge part of what I was hoping for going into reading Artemis. Like The Martian, I have no idea if the science was accurate, but it didn't need to be.

At the end of the day, my opinion of Artemis isn't going to sway anyone and it really shouldn't. I wanted a new Andy Weir novel and that's what I got.

I will be excited for his next release, but I'm also hoping it will be a while before we get his next female protagonist.

Despite having issues with Artemis, I came away from reading it waffling between 2 and 3 stars so I'm going to stick with my initial reaction and go straight up the middle with my rating.

5/10: Decent Read

Review copy provided by publisher

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Saturday, October 28, 2017

Recent Updates and Currently Reading | October 28

I always get bummed out at the end of October. The spooky and the scary slip away from every day life, and I just want to hold on to it so tightly. This year October has flown by in a blink without being able to really pause and enjoy it.

NaNoWriMo Participant

Is anyone taking part in NaNoWriMo this year? NaNoWriMo used to be one of my favorite things out of the entire year. It was so. much. fun.

My NaNoWriMo stats are telling, though:

NaNoWriMo Statistics

Those numbers represent 2001-2006. My first child was born in 2007. I've popped into NaNoWriMo each November since, but I haven't managed to participate much.

This is the year I'm going to try to jump back into the fun.

If you aren't familiar with National Novel Writing Month, it's where you write a novel of at least 50,000 words in 30 days (the month of November).

If you are taking part and want to join up as a "writing buddy", let me know. I think you can add me here. I'd love to have/share some encouragement along the way.

SciFi Month

Hopefully my blogging and reading won't suffer too much through November since I'm planning to take part in SciFi Month.

I'm not quite sure how the participation works for SciFi Month, but I'm hoping to read and post about SciFi whether I figure it all out or not.

Posted Last Week


Book Review | The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Book Review | My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix


Donna Galanti posted about dreams. Be sure to check it out and enter her giveaway for an Amazon gift card: Guest Post | Do Your Dreams Have Power Over You?

Read Last Week


My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix Killman Creek by Rachel Caine

My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix ()
You can read my full review here.

Killman Creek by Rachel Caine ()
Killman Creek did not disappoint me!

Review Copies


Let's Get Monster Smashed: Horror Movie Drinks for a Killer Time by Jon Chaiet, Marc Chaiet

Let's Get Monster Smashed: Horror Movie Drinks for a Killer Time by Jon Chaiet, Marc Chaiet

This book pairs drinks with horror movies! There are shots, gelatin, punches, special fx, and non-alcoholic recipes in Let's Get Monster Smashed. The movie pairings elevate this book to super cool status, but the recipes are perfect for horror fans (or just fans of alcohol really). My sister-in-law and I invent new scary drinks each October and this book is damn handy for me right now. I do wish there were more traditional cocktails, but I'm happy for the level of originality here.

On a related note, I need this wine glass I just found on Pinterest:

Pinterest Pumpking Wine Glass

Current Distractions


  • The Astros made it into the World Series. They are up a game and looking great!!
  • Due to the World Series and other aspects of life, I have not yet started season 2 of Stranger Things. At some point today, it will happen! Are you watching?

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, October 27, 2017

Guest Post | Do Your Dreams Have Power Over You?

I'm very excited to welcome Donna Galanti to Book Den today. Be sure to enter her giveaway and check out which books are on sale for free and $.99. Her books have been on my wishlist for a while so you know I'm scooping them up!

Do your dreams have power over you?
by Donna Galanti


Do you dream about the same thing over and over?

For years I had theme dreams. How I wish they were of nice things. Rainbows. Birthday parties. Cooing babies.

Nope. Mine were scary. A man with a machete chasing me to whack off my head. Of course I never actually died in this dream. I always woke up just before being decapitated. But the heads of my loved ones did roll.

Maybe dreaming of monsters is why my favorite show is Supernatural. Okay, it wouldn’t have anything to do with the fact that Dean and Sam Winchester are HOT! I guess I’ll have to keep them forever in my dreams. Sigh…

And perhaps we’re better off not remembering our dreams – or re-living them over and over. Perhaps they need to stay as dreams to ward off the dark.

In my paranormal suspense novel, A Human Element, Laura Armstrong is also haunted by nightmares of an evil man chasing her. Only, this man is not a figment of her imagination. He is very real and very capable of killing her from afar. When her dreams become a reality and she discovers her stalker is part of her own destiny she has to decide whether to kill him or redeem him. Ben Fieldstone in A Human Element also dreams of a Laura and a meteorite coming to crush him to death, as it did his parents.

But back to machetes. I ran for miles in my dreams avoiding decapitation from that unknown machete wielding maniac. He swung blades of steel seeking my neck. He chased me. On and on.
Then one day a crowd came. They surged onto the brute and whacked him to death with garden hoses. He disappeared and never returned. For the first time someone came to help me. And they destroyed the thing that haunted me most. They gave me hope.

Maybe this is the reason I write from the darker side with a touch of hope. No matter how dark things are, there is hope for survival.

And then it hit me. The machete man was awfully familiar to the villain in my book, X-10. I think he hides inside me and comes out when I write, and that is the only place he’ll remain safe from now on. If not, I’ll send back in the angry hoard of garden-hose attackers to get him good.

The power of dreams, right? Have your dreams had power over you?

P.S. I’m also giving away a $25 Amazon gift card below!

Excerpt - Ben Fieldstone’s Dreams That Haunt Him:


That night he dreamed.

He stood at the lake on its shore. The stillness covered him in peaceful quiet. The moon shone high overhead painting the wave tops with gold that lapped at the water's edge. Something moved in the distance on the path leading around the lake. It was a girl. She walked toward him as if she knew him. Finally, she stood before him and smiled. He found himself smiling back.

She took his hand and stared at him with her large, brown eyes. She looked so lovely. Her hand was warm in his, her touch sent waves of yearning through his body. She reached up on her toes and kissed him. He squeezed her hand and found himself kissing her back. Their tongues intertwined in a soft, embracing dance. He gave himself to her mouth, falling into her sweet wetness.

She put her hand behind his neck and pulled him closer. "Ben, do you know what I am?" Her eyes held him in a trance.

"What you are? What do you mean?"

"Come with me, I'll show you."

He followed her as she led him down the path. Then he looked up. Something green shone in the sky. The meteorite. It would crush them. She was leading them toward the spot where it would crash.

"No!" He pulled her with him to go back.

"Come." Her large eyes drew him into her.

"No, follow me," Ben urged. "Can't you see, it's coming!"

"Come." She caressed his hand. "It's where I belong. We can belong together."

"No!" He dropped her hand and ran.

His legs pumped fast over the rocks and fallen logs on the path. He turned once. She still stood there under the moon. The green thing filled the sky behind her as it streaked toward them.

She was smiling.


About A Human Element:
One by one, Laura Armstrong’s friends and adoptive family members are being murdered, and despite her unique healing powers, she can do nothing to stop it. The savage killer haunts her dreams, tormenting her with the promise that she is next. Determined to find the killer, she follows her visions to the site of a crashed meteorite–her hometown. There, she meets Ben Fieldstone, who seeks answers about his parents’ death the night the meteorite struck. In a race to stop a mad man, they unravel a frightening secret that binds them together. But the killer’s desire to destroy Laura face-to-face leads to a showdown that puts Laura and Ben’s emotional relationship and Laura’s pure spirit to the test. With the killer closing in, Laura discovers her destiny is linked to his and she has two choices–redeem him or kill him.

Praise for A Human Element:
“A Human Element is an elegant and haunting first novel. Unrelenting, devious but full of heart. Highly recommended.” – Jonathan Maberry, New York Times best-selling author

Praise for A Hidden Element:
“Fascinating…a haunting story about just how far parents will go to protect, or destroy, their children in the name of love.”—Rebecca Cantrell, New York Times best-selling author

Purchase A Human Element here: On sale for just $0.99 10/27 – 11/2! http://mybook.to/AHumanElement

Purchase A Hidden Element here: On sale for FREE 10/27 – 10/31!
http://myBook.to/AHiddenElement

Donna Galanti Bio:
Donna Galanti is the author of the paranormal suspense Element Trilogy and the children’s fantasy adventure Joshua and The Lightning Road series. Donna is a contributing editor for International Thriller Writers the Big Thrill magazine and blogs with other middle grade authors at Project Middle Grade Mayhem. She’s lived from England as a child, to Hawaii as a U.S. Navy photographer. Donna enjoys teaching at conferences on the writing craft and marketing and also presenting as a guest author at elementary and middle schools. Visit her at www.elementtrilogy.com and www.donnagalanti.com. She also loves building writer community. See how at www.yourawesomeauthorlife.com

Connect with Donna:
Twitter https://twitter.com/DonnaGalanti
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/DonnaGalantiAuthor/
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5767306.Donna_Galanti

Enter to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card:


a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Thursday, October 26, 2017

Book Review | My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

My Best Friend's Exorcism is a horror novel by Grady Hendrix.

My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

A heartwarming story of friendship and demonic possession. The year is 1988. High school sophomores Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fourth grade. But after an evening of skinny-dipping goes disastrously wrong, Gretchen begins to act...different. She's moody. She's irritable. And bizarre incidents keep happening whenever she's nearby. Abby's investigation leads her to some startling discoveries--and by the time their story reaches its terrifying conclusion, the fate of Abby and Gretchen will be determined by a single question: Is their friendship powerful enough to beat the devil? Like an unholy hybrid of Beaches and The Exorcist, My Best Friend's Exorcism blends teen angst, adolescent drama, unspeakable horrors, and a mix of '80s pop songs into a pulse-pounding supernatural thriller.

If you are a fan of 80's nostalgia, My Best Friend's Exorcism will fulfill your 80's cravings. I think the only two references from my childhood that are missing in My Best Friend's Exorcism are Caboodles and Aquanet.

My Best Friend's Exorcism is the first work of fiction I've read by Grady Hendrix. I obviously read and loved Paperbacks from Hell {review}, but I didn't read Horrorstör when it was released. I see now that was a mistake.

My Best Friend's Exorcism is accurately billed as Beaches meets The Exorcist. I don't normally get scared reading horror books, but I've decided exorcisms scare the shit out of me. That's the one thing in media that really gets under my skin.

The twist with My Best Friend's Exorcism is the point of view. We are seeing Gretchen's possession from the point of view of her best friend Abby. This is Abby's story of how she met her best friend, saw the changes in her, and basically saved her soul. It's a life long story and not one that I expected to find inside My Best Friend's Exorcism.

Abby is the hero of the story, but that girl should have died at least 26 times by the end of the book. She is the girl in every horror movie that runs up the stairs instead of out of the house. Repeatedly. But I love her. Zits and all.

7/10: Recommended Read

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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Book Review | The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

The Picture of Dorian Gray is a classic horror novel by Oscar Wilde.


Written in his distinctively dazzling manner, Oscar Wilde’s story of a fashionable young man who sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty is the author’s most popular work.

The tale of Dorian Gray’s moral disintegration caused a scandal when it first appeared in 1890, but though Wilde was attacked for the novel’s corrupting influence, he responded that there is, in fact, “a terrible moral in Dorian Gray.” Just a few years later, the book and the aesthetic/moral dilemma it presented became issues in the trials occasioned by Wilde’s homosexual liaisons, which resulted in his imprisonment.

Of Dorian Gray’s relationship to autobiography, Wilde noted in a letter, “Basil Hallward is what I think I am: Lord Henry what the world thinks me: Dorian what I would like to be—in other ages, perhaps.”

Wow. I see why The Picture of Dorian Gray is so loved. I partially want to be mad at myself for waiting so long to read it, but I also feel lucky to be reading it for the first time.

My only regret in listening to this one on audio is I didn't get the chance to highlight the text. This book is so quotable, I'd even give thought to highlighting a print copy. Sacrilege, I know.

The writing is witty and amazing, but the story is amazing, too. I'm not sure how I managed to shield myself from what this story was really about all these years. It makes me hesitant to share too many details because the revelations in The Picture of Dorian Gray were the best part for me.

Even though The Picture of Dorian Gray is a short book, I think it could have been even shorter. Every revelation made each new tangent worth it, though.

The Picture of Dorian Gray is an amazing look at society, youth and beauty, and the arts. It's a "horror" novel in the way that Shelley's Frankenstein is a "horror" novel. There are supernatural things at work, but it's much more about the social commentary than the actual monsters. The horror elements are fantastic, but there is appeal for a much wider audience.

I want to point out the version I listened to was narrated by Simon Prebble. There are several audios available for The Picture of Dorian Gray, but Simon Prebble reminded me of Jim Dale which is the highest compliment I can give a narrator. If you decide to give this one a listen, I would seek out the Simon Prebble version.

My goal in life is now to hunt down the 1945 movie adaptation starring Angela Lansbury as Sybil Vane.

9/10: Highly Recommended

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Saturday, October 21, 2017

Recent Updates and Currently Reading | October 21

It took long enough, but it's finally starting to feel like Fall!


Posted Last Week


Last week I didn't post a single thing. Since that includes not posting an update last weekend, I'm reaching back an extra week.

Book Review | The Willows by Algernon Blackwood
Why I Love Horror + Some Recommendations

Read Last Week





The Cats of Ulthar by H.P. Lovecraft (★★★★☆)

Frindle by Andrew Clements (★★★★☆)

The Rats in the Walls by H.P. Lovecraft (★★★★☆)

The Salt Line by Holly Goddard Jones (dnf)

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (★★★★★)

Thank you, Bark, for recommending The Cats of Ulthar! That was a fun one! Lark also mentioned having read The Rats in the Walls so I gave that one a read, too. Unfortunately, the Goodreads description for The Rats in the Walls was one giant spoiler so beware there.

I wound up DNF'ing The Salt Line at 35%. I couldn't get into it, and I have no idea why.

I loved The Picture of Dorian Gray. If the stars align for me, I'll have a review out this week for it.

Review Copies



Many, many thanks to Rachel Caine for the review copy of Killman Creek. Killman Creek is the sequel to Stillhouse Lake (review). I've been so anxious for this book so I was thrilled to receive an invite for an early copy.

Current Distractions


  • American League Championship Series: Astros v. Yankees. One game left to determine who makes it to the World Series. (Go 'Stros!)
  • I finished season one of Riverdale. So. Many. Feelings. I 100% plan to catch up on season 2 this weekend. I'm not waiting.
  • Since I needed a Riverdale/Netflix replacement, I started watching season 12 of Supernatural. How is this show still going?
  • I'm getting very, very excited about Stranger Things next week.

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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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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