Unmemory by Kristi DeMeester

Unmemory Published: 2018

Publisher: Tallhat Press

Format: Chapbook, Paperback

Pages: 40

Genre: Christmas Horror

Buy: Yves Tourigny

Rating: 4/5

An original, 9,000-word short story by Kristi DeMeester, with 10 illustrations by Yves Tourigny. A university student attempts to track down the briefly-glimpsed Christmas film which traumatized her as a child.


I received this short chapbook in my December Nightworms box which is a new horror subscription box that you can check out here.  

Since this is such a short book, my review is short and sweet but worthy of a mention here on the blog, and it’s Christmas Horror…who doesn’t love holiday themed horror to get you in the spirit!?

This was my first introduction to Kristi DeMeester and now I’m dying to read more of her work.

A young college student tries to track down a film that traumatized her as a child. What follows is a bizzare and creepy reminder that it’s not always ghosts and demons that haunt us.

The artwork is by Yves Tourigny and was absolutely phenomenal, it really added to the overall vibe of the story. There’s an image towards the end that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get out of my mind.

Do you enjoy reading themed books during the holidays? I’ve got two other books on my TBR this month that are full of Christmas horror goodness!

Happy Reading!

Advertisements

Hangman by Daniel Cole

Hangman (Fawkes and Baxter #2) Published: July 24th, 2018

Publisher: Ecco

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 373

Genre: Mystery & Crime

Buy: Amazon 

Rating: 4/5

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

How do you catch a killer who’s already dead?

Eighteen months have passed, but the scars the Ragdoll murders left behind remain.

DCI Emily Baxter is summoned to a meeting with US Special Agents Elliot Curtis of the FBI and Damien Rouche of the CIA. There, she is presented with photographs of the latest copycat murder: a body contorted into a familiar pose, strung up impossibly on the other side of the world, the word BAIT carved deep into its chest.

As the media pressure intensifies, Baxter is ordered to assist with the investigation and attend the scene of another murder to discover the same word scrawled across the victim, carved across the corpse of the killer – PUPPET.

As the murders continue to grow in both spectacle and depravity on both sides of the Atlantic, the team helplessly play catch up. Their only hope: to work out who the ‘BAIT’ is intended for, how the ‘PUPPETS’ are chosen but, most importantly of all, who is holding the strings.


 

Note: So this has been sitting in my draft folder since I finished the book in September. Nice job Stephanie, nice job. 

Hangman by Daniel Cole is the follow-up to Ragdoll and takes place 18 months after the bizarre series of murders. I like to keep my reviews simple and without to many details as to avoid spoilers. However, to be safe, if you have not read the first book then skip ahead or better yet, just put off reading this review until you have.

This book takes place in London and New York as a pattern begins to emerge between gruesome murders happening in both cities.

Baxter is asked to travel to NYC to help the FBI and NYPD track down the person responsible for the murders which leave behind bodies scarred with the words “PUPPET” and “BAIT”. She is teamed up with Rouche and Curtis from the FBI and they struggle to work together as a team and to get any closer to answers. After a catastrophic failure to prevent an attack that makes the body count jump to a staggering amount, Baxter returns to London to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen there.

The pacing of this book was much slower than the first and gave off less ‘Seven’ vibes that I had loved so much, but I still enjoyed it. It’s another compelling read for those of us who enjoy things more twisted and don’t mind bodies piling up. I still don’t love Baxter but I really love her friendship with Edmunds! Edmunds is my favorite character and would love to see book three follow him as a lead detective, if he ever gets the balls to quit Fraud and return to homicide…he’s brilliant and fascinating.

Speaking of book three, I was quite pleased to find out that Daniel Cole is working on a third book! I’m really looking forward to see where Cole takes the characters next. Who brings back, who he doesn’t…I can’t wait!

Thank you again to Ecco books for sending me a copy of this book! I truly appreciate it and can’t wait to see what Cole delivers next.

Happy Reading!

The Lies We Told by Camilla Way

The Lies We ToldPublished: October 9, 2018

Publisher: Berkley Books

Format: Paperback

Pages: 336

Genre: Thriller

Buy: Amazon

Rating: 3/5

I received a copy from the Publisher through a Goodreads Giveaway that I had won. 

When Clara’s boyfriend, Luke, disappears, everyone believes that he’s left her, but Clara thinks she knows the truth. Recent evidence suggests that Luke had a stalker, and Clara worries that he’s been kidnapped. Then Luke’s older sister, Emma, who vanished twenty years ago, suddenly reappears.

Emma wants to help Clara with her search for Luke, but she refuses to talk about what happened — even though it nearly destroyed her family when she vanished. And the deeper Clara digs into Luke’s mysterious disappearance, the more convinced she is that the two incidents are connected. 


I love dark, psychological thrillers so I was pretty excited when I received a copy of this in the mail. Camilla Way is a ‘new-to-me’ author so I wasn’t sure what to expect having not read her previous novel, Watching Edie. 

I was pleasantly surprised with the kind of fast read that’s impossible to put down.

Clara is hanging out at the flat she shares with her boyfriend Luke Lawson, waiting for him to return home from work, but he isn’t responding to her texts. When she notices that he’s left his phone at home, she checks to see if he’s contacted her through email. She notices that he has emailed her, telling her he’d be home at his normal time.

As the time passes and a heavy feeling grows, Clara contacts Luke’s family, friends, and the police. Upon some digging of her own she discovers that Luke had a stalker, and a darker past that Luke had never mentioned. Luke’s sister Emily disappeared when he was just a kid, and the family completely erased her from their life. As if she never existed at all. Soon the police investigation gains nationwide appeal and Luke’s sister, Emily, reaches out to Clara eager to assist with the search but unwilling to see her family.

The only reason why I didn’t give this four or five stars is because the plot itself is nothing new or unique to the world of thrillers, however, it’s cleverly written and very entertaining. The cast of characters are all really unlikable as well and there’s so much deceit flying about it makes your head spin! Nonetheless, this novel is worthy of adding to your TBR pile for a quiet night on the couch and a cocktail.

Have you read Watching Edie or The Lies We Told? What’s the best thriller you’ve read recently? Tell me in the comments!

Happy Reading!

 

 

The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton

The CraftsmanExpected Release Date: October 16th, 2018

Publisher: Minotaur Books

Format: Kindle

Pages: 352

Genre: Mystery & Crime

Pre-Order: Amazon

Rating: 5/5

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Catching him will make her career – and change her forever.

August, 1999

On the hottest day of the year, Assistant Commissioner Florence Lovelady attends the funeral of Larry Glassbrook, the convicted murderer she arrested thirty years earlier. A master carpenter and funeral director, Larry imprisoned his victims, alive, in the caskets he made himself. Clay effigies found entombed with their bodies suggested a motive beyond the worst human depravity. 

June, 1969

13-year-old Patsy Wood has been missing for two days, the third teenager to disappear in as many months. New to the Lancashire police force and struggling to fit in, WPC Lovelady is sent to investigate an unlikely report from school children claiming to have heard a voice calling for help. A voice from deep within a recent grave. 

August, 1999

As she tries to lay her ghosts to rest, Florence is drawn back to the Glassbrooks’ old house, in the shadow of Pendle Hill, where she once lodged with the family. She is chilled by the discovery of another effigy – one bearing a remarkable resemblance to herself. Is the killer still at large? Is Florence once again in terrible danger? Or, this time, could the fate in store be worse than even her darkest imaginings?


I’ve read quite a few of Sharon Bolton’s books and all of them have been four or five star reads for me. I love the way she writes: the character development is always masterful and the atmospheric details pull you in to her world in a way that has you both wishing to stay and dying to get out. Her latest book, The Craftsman, far surpasses that and is deserving of more than just five stars. It has earned it’s spot as my favorite read this year.

I read a lot of Mystery and Crime novels and one thing that I find irritating is the way that a lot  of authors feel the need to write every female lead detective as damaged but bossy, arrogant and just like ‘one of the guys’. I get the strong female thing, but it’s overdone and borderline cliche.

In The Craftsman, Sharon Bolton introduces you to Florence Lovelady, who as a young detective in her twenties during the notorious Glassman case in 1969, struggles with sexism in the office. Her peers don’t take her serious because she’s a woman and would rather have her serve them tea then give input on a case. It’s real and it’s refreshing, so for that I gave two huge thumbs up. However, don’t be fooled, our lead detective is still full of spunk and does not easily take no for an answer.

But let’s get to the gist of the story which, in all seriousness, still has me in a book hangover. It begins in 1999 at the funeral of serial killer Larry Glassbrook, who killed three local teenagers back in 1969. Florence Lovelady, the investigator responsible for putting Larry away, returns to the town of Sabden to attend the funeral. While there, strange things begin to happen that seem eerily similar to Larry Glassbrooks MO, and they seem to be directed at Florence.

From here the story alternates between 1999 and 1969 and is perfectly executed. In the past we learn of Florence’s involvement in the case, as well as other drama in the town. Just when you think you know what’s happening, your blindsided with something even more shocking. We also get a taste of witchcraft but in a way that adds nothing but eerie charm to the environment and to the story. It’s authentic and real. It takes this book from ‘just another mystery’ and makes it next level. Florence is in danger but Larry is dead, so who is the person coming after her?

I urge you to not wait to buy this book: witchcraft, children being buried alive, and serial killers. If you’ve never read anything by Sharon Bolton, then make this your first; and if you have – well then what are you waiting for? The Craftsman will be released on October 16th, just in time for Halloween! Pre-order your copy now and then come back and tell me how much you loved it once your done!

Happy Reading!

 

The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta

The Brilliant DeathExpected Release Date: October 30th, 2018

Publisher: Viking

Format: ARC Paperback

Pages: 330

Genre: Fantasy

Pre-Order: Amazon

Rating: 3/5

I received a copy of this from the publisher through BookishFirst in exchange for an honest review.

Teodora di Sangro is used to hiding her magical ability to transform enemies into music boxes and mirrors. Nobody knows she’s a Strega – and she aims to keep it that way.

Then she meets Cielo – and everything changes.

A Strega who can switch outward form as effortlessly as turning a page in a book, Cielo shows Teodora what her life could be like if she masters the power she’s been keeping secret. And not a moment too soon: the ruler of Vinalia has poisoned the patriarchs of the country’s five controlling families, including Teodora’s father, and demands that each family send a son to the palace.

If she wants to save her family, Teodora must travel to the capital – not disguised as a boy, but transformed into one. But the road to the capital, and to bridling her powers, is full of enemies and complications, including the one she least expects: falling in love



Teo is a Strega, only she’s kept it hidden from her family since she was a young girl since most people in the village don’t believe them to be real. A member of a powerful family, she’s used her powers to turn people who do not pledge loyalty to her father into charms and trinkets.

One evening, her father receives a formal letter from the Capo – a ruler who claims to have the desire to unite the country. After reading the letter, her father drops, coming dangerously close to death. On a mission to find help for him before it is too late, Teo sets off to the capital, using her powers to transform herself as a son of the DiSangro family.

Along the way she meets a fellow Strega, Cielo, who can transform himself into anything he wishes, including a woman. Together they venture to the capital and Cielo helps Teo with strengthening her powers, the two forming an unbreakable bond along the way.

This book sends off a very clear message. There’s a lot of obvious female empowerment which (don’t hate me), although I appreciate, it felt a little at times like ‘okay get off the soap box, we get it’. It was a little trite.

This book includes a gender-fluid couple as well as the struggle Teo herself faces with accepting who she is and who she loves. This earned a star for me because diversity in books is a wonderful thing and the world could use a little more of that. I think a lot of young people out there will feel good reading books with characters like these as it gives them something/someone to relate too, and that’s never a bad thing.

However, unfortunately the story itself just felt…underwhelming. There wasn’t a lot of character or world building and for most of the book I kept wondering when something really interesting was going to happen. The plot moved much to quickly and had it slowed down a bit  there would have been more time for the characters to develop. Sadly I skimmed a lot and didn’t feel like I missed anything in doing so.

Overall, I didn’t love it but I appreciated it. I wanted this book to be so much more than just a message though.  I mean, gender bending Strega’s and mafia battles?! It should have been most epic! I think there is a lot of room for improvement and I do hope the author writes more with Teo and/or other Strega’s!

Happy Reading!

 

 

 

 

Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter

Pieces of HerPublished: August 21, 2018

Publisher: William Morrow

Format: Paperback

Pages: 480

Genre: Thriller

Order: Amazon

Rating: 5/5

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

What if the person you thought you knew best turns out to be someone you never knew at all?

Andrea Cooper knows everything about her mother Laura. She knows she’s spent her whole life in the small town of Gullaway Island; she knows she’s never had any more ambition than to live a quiet life as a pillar of the community; she knows she’s never kept a secret in her life.

But one day, a trip to the mall explodes into violence and Andrea suddenly sees a completely different side to Laura.

Twenty-four hours later, Laura is in the hospital, shot by an intruder whose spent thirty years trying to track her down. Now Andrea must go on a desperate journey to follow the breadcrumbs of her mother’s past. If she can’t uncover the secrets hidden there, there may be no future for either of them.


Happy Publication Day to Karin Slaughter! Her new book “Pieces of Her” is available to purchase today so do yourself a favor and get your copy now!

Pieces of Her is a beefy book coming in at 480 pages of character and relationship exploration. It’s a departure from Karin Slaughters typical style but I liked it just as much.

Andy Cooper lives with her mom Laura in the small apartment above her garage. For a 31 year old woman, she doesn’t have much going for her: she dropped out of school, works as a 911 operator and hardly speaks to anyone. She’s actually a really annoying character who seems completely incapable of managing the most basic of things like packing an overnight bag or having a real conversation with either of her parents. This didn’t make her a very likable character but I think it was key to her development you see happen throughout the story.

One afternoon she’s having lunch with her mom in the cafeteria when everything changes. A man walks up and begins to open fire. Andy freezes but Laura takes action and pulls out some fancy assassin-like moves and now Andy finds herself staring at a woman she thought she knew.

While in the hospital Laura tells Andy it’s time for her to leave; not tomorrow, or next month, but right now. Without any explanation from her mother, Andy leaves and begins a journey for answers. Who is her mother? Why won’t she talk to the police?

The narrative switches between current Andy and that of another woman from thirty years before whose story line is even more suspenseful and exciting. The two narratives eventually collide together in a action packed ending that will make your head spin!

I enjoyed watching Andy stumble and grow along the way and appreciated the way Laura and Andy ‘find’ themselves in each other at the end. This was definitely a story about relationships and the bond a mother and daughter have. As a mother myself I know how easy it is to want to coddle and protect your baby but just as easily,  that can become the very thing that burdens them.

A great big thank you to Karin Slaughter and William Morrow Books for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I enjoyed this book tremendously!

#SlaughterSquad forever!

Happy Reading!

The Grip of It by Jac Jemc

The Grip of ItPublished: August 1st, 2017

Publisher: FSG Originals

Format: Paperback

Pages: 273

Genre: Horror

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository

Rating: 3/5

Julie and James settle into a house in a small town outside the city where they met. The move – prompted by James’s penchant for gambling, his inability to keep his impulses in check – is quick and seamless; both Julie and James are happy to leave behind their usual haunts and start afresh. But this house, which sits between ocean and forest, has plans for the unsuspecting couple. As Julie and James try to settle into their home and their relationship, the house it’s surrounding terrain become the locus of increasingly strange happenings. The architecture – claustrophobic, riddled with hidden rooms within rooms – becomes unrecognizable, decaying before their eyes. Stains are animated on the wall – contracting, expanding – and map themselves onto Julie’s body in the form of bruises; mold spores taint the water that James pours from the sink. Together the couple embark on a panicked search for the source of their mutual torment, a journey that mires them in the history of their peculiar neighbors and the mysterious residents who lived in the house before Julia and James. 

Written in creepy, potent prose, The Grip of It is an enthralling, psychologically intense novel that deals in questions of home: how we make it and how it in turn makes us, mapping itself onto bodies and the relationships we cherish. 


I adore creepy haunted house stories and The Grip of It by Jac Jemc has all of the classic bones: couple buys old house cheap, house has been on the market for years but couple doesn’t bother looking into why, couple moves in immediately, odd things begin to happen, couple slowly goes insane.

When will people learn?

Julie and James get the idea to start fresh outside of the city because James can’t seem to get his gambling problems in check (so buying a house is totally the correct course of action). Hoping that a new house will mend their broken relationship and re-store their faith in each other, they move in with no questions asked. They’re enamored by all the secret rooms and hallways and the possibility of a clean slate.

From here the story builds slowly but like any good haunted house novel or movie, eerie things begin to surface: shadowy figures lurking in empty rooms, growling in the dark and hot stinking breath hovering over you while you sleep.

And that’s sort of where the parts that I enjoyed about the book ended.

I know I’m in the minority here when I say that I didn’t love this. ‘The Grip of It’ confused me more than anything and maybe it was supposed to? The narration was constantly switching between Julie and James whose voices were so familiar that at times I was confused by who I was following. The chapters were also ridiculously short which, while it makes for speedy reading, makes it difficult to become immersed in the story, especially coupled with constant POV changes.

So while I liked it, I just didn’t love it. A generous three out of five stars from me.

Do you like haunted house stories?

Happy Reading