Sunday, December 8, 2019

Resisting Madness by Wesley Southard


Death's Head Press sent me a copy of Resisting Madness by Wesley Southard for review. I did not know what I was getting myself into.

I'm not too keen on short stories. I usually find them obtuse and unsatisfying. This is not the case with Resisting Madness by Wesley Southard.
taking this picture with the flashy skull made me feel mad
 
What I liked: 
  • I didn't want to stop reading this book. Each story was better than the last. 
  • Southard writes in an approachable, straight forward, and readable way. His writing reminds me of Stephen King. 
  • The stories were so imaginative! And vivid! Some stories felt more like watching a movie than reading. 
  • There were some very scary and disturbing stories in this book. There were also some amusing stories. 
  • Resisting Madness is one of the most entertaining and enjoyable collection of short stories I've read.
What I didn't like: 
  • I don't like that I don't have anything to write for this part of the review. It makes me feel like a bad reviewer. 
Rating:  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Saturday, December 7, 2019

The Cult Called Freedom House by Stephanie Evelyn

 
 
The Cult Called Freedom House is one of the first books I received free in exchange for a review. I was super excited to dig in, especially because this book was chosen for the Ladies of Horror Fiction group read for December on Goodreads.

I've been following the Ladies of Horror Fiction on Instagram and Twitter since their inception last year. This group promotes women (cisgender or those who identify as female) who write/review in the horror genre through their website, podcast, and all over social media. I love them and have learned about so many books and authors to read!


The Cult Called Freedom House is Stephanie Evelyn's debut novel. Here's the synopsis:

 Everyone but Sophia and Cyrus were going to die. They were all goners well before they knew it. And they certainly thought whatever was happening, they were helping others and saving the world doing it. 

Samantha was only fourteen and looking for what every fourteen-year-old looks for— freedom. She wanted to be as far away from her substance-riddled mother and abusive home as possible, but she never asked for anything like this. It always starts with just one person and one fucked up idea. This is the story about Samantha and the cult called Freedom House.

A psychological horror thriller, this book will frustrate you, scare you, disturb you, and at times, it will make you want to be ill. Are you ready to learn what's going on behind the doors of Freedom House?
 
What I liked
  • This book was compulsively readable. It was hard to put down. 
  • Evelyn is really good at creating suspense and a sense of dread.   
 What I didn't like
  • The pacing of the story was too fast. I had a hard time believing the story was really happening. 
  • While the characters were given a solid back story and put in some seriously horrible situations, I didn't empathize with them. 
  • A lot of really bad and gross things happen in this book. It would have been good (for me, at least) to break up the doom and gloom with a bit of humor or snappy dialogue. Maybe that's not what Evelyn was trying to do with her book. As a reader, it would have worked better for me, and maybe it would have made me like and care about the characters more.
Rating 
⭐⭐
 

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Laughing at Shadows edited by Brett Reistroffer


This book made me grin like a taxidermied crocodile!


I was sent an advance review copy of Laughing at Shadows edited by Brett Reistroffer and published by Bad Dream Entertainment for review.  Keep your eyes peeled for this one, it will be released on March 3, 2020.



Laughing at Shadows is weird and wonderful. I really dug this book. Twelve stories, ranging from delightfully silly to downright depraved make up this anthology of dark humor. Comedy and horror, I can't get enough! Just like salty and sweet, two contrasting elements come together creating something new that's better than before.

Props to Stefan Koidl for his cover art. The cover perfectly sets the tone; the picture seems spooky, but a closer look conveys a much different story.

Like most collections, some stories stand out. Here are my favorites:

  • In Murder Sandwich by Skyler Goff, kidnappers bite off more than they can chew. 
  • Overdue Notice by Andrew Johnston is about a librarian who really, really, really wants a patron's library books returned. Really. Like right now. Or else.
  • Eric J. Guignard's story, It Came From Mail Order, made me grateful for my boring old sea monkeys. 
  • Captain Pistachio's Charming Rampage by Jeff Strand had me literally LOLing in public.
  •  Santiago Eximeno wrote a handy guide for having a demon's baby in Your Diabolical Baby. Thanks Santiago! 

What I liked:
  •  This book was so much fun! I had a good time reading this anthology.
  • The variety! There were all sorts of different types of horror stories. There's something for everyone in here.
  • I discovered a lot of new writers to check out!

What I didn't like:
  • Some stories did not work for me. But that is usually the case with short stories, right? I don't think I've ever read a collection of short stories where I loved each story.

Rating:  

⭐⭐⭐⭐



Friday, November 22, 2019

Book mail! The first book mail post!



This week I've received two (free!) books to review. Now I'm officially a book blogger, right?! Soon I'll be complaining about how many free books I have to read and how far behind I am writing reviews. 😜


First up is an ebook. The Cult Called Freedom House by Stephanie Evelyn. I love spooky houses on book covers! A big thank you to Stephanie for sending me a copy of her book! As for the story, the synopsis already has me scared.

Everyone but Sophia and Cyrus were going to die. They were all goners well before they knew it. And they certainly thought whatever was happening, they were helping others and saving the world doing it. 

Samantha was only fourteen and looking for what every fourteen-year-old looks for— freedom. She wanted to be as far away from her substance-riddled mother and abusive home as possible, but she never asked for anything like this. It always starts with just one person and one fucked up idea. This is the story about Samantha and the cult called Freedom House.

A psychological horror thriller, this book will frustrate you, scare you, disturb you, and at times, it will make you want to be ill. Are you ready to learn what's going on behind the doors of Freedom House?


Laughing at Shadows edited by Brett Reistroffer promises some laughs, which will be welcome after that first book! 😊 I'm grateful to Bad Dreams Entertainment for sending me a copy of their latest anthology. Horror combined with comedy is one of my favorite things. Humor and fear complement each other well, just like my favorite food combination of salty and sweet. I can't wait to dig into these twelve stories while devouring peanut butter filled pretzels and salted caramels! This book will hit the streets in March 2020.






Saturday, November 9, 2019

Bunny by Mona Awad




Oh Bunny! The buzz around this book was so weird!! It seemed like people either loved it or were utterly confused.

I loved it.

Summary: 

Samantha is a scholarship student at a prestigious university enrolled in a MFA program for creative writing. She hates a clique of three rich girls who like super cute things and call each other "bunny." But then! They invite her to one of their salons and THINGS GET WEIRD AND DANGEROUS.

What I liked: 

  • I couldn't keep up with what was happening because at times, it was so bizarre. There were a few times I had to circle back and re-read a page because I was like what.
  • The characters and dialogue were so colorful! Each character jumped off the page! This novel would make a fantastic film. I think Sophia Coppola would do a good job directing it. I'm imagining it with a pastel palette like Marie Antoinette combined with a classic mean girl movie like Heathers.
  • Stories about writers are compelling. I found myself itching to get started on my own short stories.
  • Not sure if this is the message I was supposed to take away, but I've been channeling my inner Bunny, surrounding myself with cute things and dressing cuter. Please note I have not exploded any boys. 
  • Feeling like an outsider, I empathized with Samantha. Her awkwardness was very real to me.

 What I didn't like: 

  • The Lena Dunham blurb on the cover made me wonder if I would like the book.

 Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

 



Friday, November 8, 2019

A Cosmology of Monsters by Shaun Hamill



When Stephen King blurbs a book, I know I want to read it. Here's what he had to say: 
“Shaun Hamill’s A Cosmology of Monsters brilliantly combines the mythos of H.P. Lovecraft with a contemporary story of a family under threat of destruction from supernatural forces. It succeeds because these are good, likeable people that we root for; they could be our neighbors. Horror only works when we care for the people involved, and because we care for the Turners, their nightmare becomes ours. Hamill’s prose is simple, and simply beautiful. If John Irving ever wrote a horror novel, it would be something like this. I loved it, and think you will, too.”
—Stephen King


The cover just spoke to me. The wolf claw and hand embracing was a beautiful image, and as someone who loves monsters, I knew this would be my kind of book. I first noticed A Cosmology of Monsters on Twitter. I immediately followed Shaun on Twitter and ordered the book from Barnes & Noble.

As the book was traveling to me, Shaun tweeted that he would be reading at King's English in Salt Lake City. Since I was unable to attend, I called the bookstore and ordered a signed copy to be delivered. King's English also gets a five star review for excellent customer service and speedy delivery! And yes, now I have two copies of one my favorite reads from 2019!

Yum books!

  Summary: 


A Cosmology of Monsters is about Noah Turner and his family. And a monster. The story starts when his parents meet, and spans throughout Noah's life. His dad saw monsters, and so does Noah. This is a coming of age story with family tragedies and triumphs. And a monster.



What I liked:

  • Yay monsters!! I love monsters and so does Shaun Hamill. 
  • Shaun writes in a simple, precise fashion. 
  • Scary!! This book scared me. I liked it.

What I didn't like: 

  •  Sad dad stuff. A personal reaction to well, the sad dad stuff. My dad died a few years ago and I'm still kinda dealing with that.

      Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐






Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Under Rotting Sky by Matthew V. Brockmeyer




Instagram is a great place to discover books. I've been following Matthew on Instagram for about a year. He sent me his first book, Kind Nepenthe, and I devoured it in a few days. It was one of my top five reads from last year.

When Matthew shared that he was working on a collection of short stories, I was excited - I needed to read more from him! I was patiently waiting to buy this book, and then he kindly offered to send me a copy for review. My expectations were ridiculously high, and they were exceeded.

Each story in Under Rotting Sky is gratifying. This book of short and brutal stories was a pleasure to read and I finished in a few days.

Now I'm waiting for more. Hurry up Matthew. 

What I liked: 

  • Short stories are usually frustrating - either I don't get enough of a story, or everything falls flat. There were 20 short stories in this book and they were all satisfying.
  • Characters! My goodness. He writes realistic characters like few other authors, the sort of characters that you continue to think about long after you've finished the book. This includes ghosts. He writes exceptional ghosts. (I'm wondering if maybe he actually knows some ghosts??)
  • This cover! I would love a print of this cover!
  •  Sometimes you need your guts punched by a book. It feels really good.

  What I didn't like: 

  • There were a few a few stories that made me uncomfortable. But also, I liked that he could creep me out because it rarely happens. So, I even liked what I didn't like.

Rating:⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐