Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Book Review | Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

⭐⭐⭐⭐💫
4.5/5 stars

Jennifer

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Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Book Review | Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby

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

Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby

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

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

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

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

Why Did I Read Blacktop Wasteland?


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

The Strengths


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

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

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

The Weaknesses


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

Final Thoughts


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

⭐⭐⭐💫★
3.5/5 stars

Review copy provided by the publisher

Jennifer

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Sunday, July 12, 2020

Recent Updates and Currently Reading | July 12

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

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

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

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

Posted Since Last Update



Finished Reading


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

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

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

Currently Reading


The Bright Lands by John Fram

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

Recent Acquisitions


The Midnight Lullaby by Cheryl Low

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

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

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

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

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

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

Current Distractions


Hamilton

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

Silver Linings PlaybookThe Exterminating Angel Eurovision

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

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

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

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

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

These are my ratings so far if anyone is curious!

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

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


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

Jennifer

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Wednesday, July 1, 2020

On My Wishlist {33}

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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



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

Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

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

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

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

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

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



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

Jennifer

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Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Book Review | Seeing Things by Sonora Taylor

Seeing Things is a new horror release from Sonora Taylor.

Seeing Things by Sonora Taylor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

⭐⭐⭐⭐★


Review copy provided by the author

Jennifer

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Sunday, June 21, 2020

Recent Updates and Currently Reading | June 21

Happy Father's Day, and my love to anyone who is struggling today. ❤️

This past week was a rough week for me, but it was an amazing week for the Ladies of Horror Fiction team. Each year we team up with author Steve Stred to select a grant recipient to receive $100 toward their writing goals. This year author Laurel Hightower joined in so we could offer two grants. After we made the announcement, Andrew Cull, Sonora Taylor, S.H. Cooper, Ben Walker, Cemetery Gates Media, and anonymous donors jumped in, and we now to get to select TEN grant recipients this year! The horror community is such a wonderful and generous community. I'm so happy to be a part of it.

For more information and to apply for the grant: 2020 LOHF Writers Grant

Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas

We also selected the book for our July group read over on Goodreads!  We are going to be reading Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas if you'd like to join in.

Posted Last Week



Finished Reading


Category Five by Ann Dávila Cardinal Seeing Things by Sonora Taylor

I finished reading Category Five by Ann Dávila Cardinal. I'm really enjoying this series, and I hope it continues! ⭐⭐⭐💫★

I also read Seeing Things by Sonora Taylor. Ghosts! I love Sonora Taylor's writing style. ⭐⭐⭐⭐★

Currently Reading


Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

More ghosts! I am loving Home Before Dark by Riley Sager so far.

Recent Acquisitions


The Ghost Tree by Christina Henry Blacktop Wasteland by S. A. Cosby The Bright Lands by John Fram

Thank you to the folks at Berkley for sending me a widget to download The Ghost Tree by Christina Henry. I have a literary thing for both ghosts and trees so my expectations are way high for this one.

Many thanks to Flatiron Books for inviting me to be on the blog tour for the release of Blacktop Wasteland by S. A. Cosby. I am highly anticipating reading this one!

And thank you to Hanover Square Press for sending me out a copy of The Bright Lands by John Fram. This will be a perfect Friday night read.

Current Distractions


Ocean's Eight Knives Out The Lighthouse Inglourious Basterds The Theory of Everything

Are we friends on Letterboxd? Since I've been regularly rating movies on Letterboxd, I'll share them here, too.

Ocean's Eight ⭐⭐⭐⭐★ - I enjoyed this much more than I expected.

Knives's Out ⭐⭐⭐💫★ - This was a rewatch for me. Daniel Craig's accent was much easier to handle not in surround sound this time.

The Lighthouse ⭐💫★★★ - My apologies to everyone who enjoyed this movie. It was so not for me.

Inglourious Basterds ⭐⭐⭐★★ - I really thought I had seen this, but I hadn't. My feelings are split down the middle on this one. It's typical Tarantino.

The Theory of Everything ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ - This was my favorite of the week. Don't expect to learn much about Hawking's science, his work, or his methods. This is the story of the relationship between Jane Wilde and Stephen Hawking.

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.

Jennifer

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Wednesday, June 17, 2020

On My Wishlist {32}

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

Horrid by Katrina Leno
Expected publication: September 15th 2020 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Horrid by Katrina Leno

From the author of You Must Not Miss comes a haunting contemporary horror novel that explores themes of mental illness, rage, and grief, twisted with spine-chilling elements of Stephen King and Agatha Christie.

Following her father's death, Jane North-Robinson and her mom move from sunny California to the dreary, dilapidated old house in Maine where her mother grew up. All they want is a fresh start, but behind North Manor's doors lurks a history that leaves them feeling more alone...and more tormented.

As the cold New England autumn arrives, and Jane settles in to her new home, she finds solace in old books and memories of her dad. She steadily begins making new friends, but also faces bullying from the resident "bad seed," struggling to tamp down her own worst nature in response. Jane's mom also seems to be spiraling with the return of her childhood home, but she won't reveal why. Then Jane discovers that the "storage room" her mom has kept locked isn't for storage at all--it's a little girl's bedroom, left untouched for years and not quite as empty of inhabitants as it appears....

Is it grief? Mental illness? Or something more...horrid?

Any time Stephen King meets Agatha Christie I am there. You aren't keeping me away from this book.



Yellow Jessamine by Caitlin Starling
Expected publication: September 5th 2020 by Neon Hemlock Press

Yellow Jessamine by Caitlin Starling

Powerful shipping magnate Evelyn Perdanu lives a tight, contained life, holding herself at a distance from all who would get close to her. Her family is dead, her country is dying, and when something foul comes to the city of Delphinium, the brittle, perilous existence she's built for herself is strained to breaking.

When one of her ships arrives in dock, she counts herself lucky that it made it through the military blockades slowly strangling her city. But one by one, the crew fall ill with a mysterious sickness: an intense light in their eyes and obsessive behavior, followed by a catatonic stupor. Even as Evelyn works to exonerate her company of bringing plague into her besieged capital city, more and more cases develop, and the afflicted all share one singular obsession: her.

Panicked and paranoid, she retreats to her estate, which rests on a foundation of secrets: the deaths of her family, the poisons and cures that hasten the dissolution of the remaining upper classes, and a rebel soldier, incapacitated and held hostage in a desperate bid for information. But the afflicted are closing in on her, and bringing the attention of the law with them. Evelyn must unearth her connection to the spreading illness, and fast, before it takes root inside her home and destroys all that she has built.

I absolutely loved The Luminous Dead so I can't wait to read Yellow Jessamine!



We Hear Voices by Evie Green
Expected publication: October 6th 2020 by Berkley Books

We Hear Voices by Evie Green

An eerie debut about a little boy who recovers from a sickness and inherits an imaginary friend who makes him do violent things...

Kids have imaginary friends. Rachel knows this. So when her young son, Billy, miraculously recovers from a horrible flu that has proven fatal for many, she thinks nothing of Delfy, his new invisible friend. After all, her family is healthy and that's all that matters.

But soon Delfy is telling Billy what to do, and the boy is acting up and lashing out in ways he never has before. As Delfy's influence is growing stranger and more sinister by the day, and rising tensions threaten to tear Rachel's family apart, she clings to one purpose: to protect her children at any cost--even from themselves.

We Hear Voices is a mischievously gripping near-future horror novel that tests the fragility of family and the terrifying gray area between fear and love.

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



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

Jennifer

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Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Top Ten Books on My Summer 2020 TBR

Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis

Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power

From the author of the New York Times bestseller Wilder Girls comes a new twisty thriller about a girl whose past has always been a mystery—until she decides to return to her mother’s hometown . . . where history has a tendency to repeat itself.

Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis

Lola Nox is the daughter of a celebrated horror filmmaker - she thinks nothing can scare her. But when her father is brutally attacked in their New York apartment, she's swiftly packed off to live with a grandmother she's never met in Harrow Lake, the eerie town where her father's most iconic horror movie was shot.

More Better Deals by Joe R. Lansdale Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby

More Better Deals by Joe R. Lansdale

Told with Joe Lansdale's trademark grit, wit, and dark humor, More Better Deals is a gripping tale of the strange characters and odd dealings that define 1960s East Texas.

Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby

From a stunning new voice in fiction, BLACKTOP WASTELAND is a dazzling, operatic crime novel that holds up a cracked mirror to the American dream. The perfect page-turning read for fans of acclaimed writers such as Don Winslow, Attica Locke, Bill Beverley and Thomas Mullen.

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones The Shadows by Alex North

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

Seamlessly blending classic horror and a dramatic narrative with sharp social commentary, The Only Good Indians follows four American Indian men after a disturbing event from their youth puts them in a desperate struggle for their lives.

The Shadows by Alex North

The haunting new thriller from Alex North, author of the New York Times bestseller The Whisper Man.

Architects of Memory by Karen Osborne Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer

Architects of Memory by Karen Osborne

Terminally Ill salvage pilot Ash Jackson lost everything in the war with the alien Vai, but she'll be damned if she loses her future. Her plan: to buy, beg, or lie her way out of corporate indenture and fine a cure.

Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer

When Edward Cullen and Bella Swan met in Twilight, an iconic love story was born. But until now, fans have heard only Bella’s side of the story. At last, readers can experience Edward’s version in the long-awaited companion novel, Midnight Sun.

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

Electrifying and propulsive, The Night Swim asks: What is the price of a reputation? Can a small town ever right the wrongs of its past? And what really happened to Jenny?

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

In the latest thriller from New York Times bestseller Riley Sager, a woman returns to the house made famous by her father’s bestselling horror memoir. Is the place really haunted by evil forces, as her father claimed? Or are there more earthbound—and dangerous—secrets hidden within its walls?

Do you have plans to read any of these over the summer? What books are on your summer TBR?



This post is being shared as part of Top Ten Tuesday at That Artsy Reader Girl

Jennifer

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