Review: My Heart Is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones

My Heart Is a ChainsawMy Heart Is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

My Heart Is a Chainsaw is Stephen Graham Jones most recent, brilliant, love letter to the Slasher genre. It’s also one of my most anticipated books of the year and it did not disappoint.

I actually finished this on September 2nd. Subsequently, I wrote a full review, which if I do say so myself, was pretty darn good.

Then due to major stupidity on my part, my laptop got inadvertently shutdown and all of my efforts were erased.

Normally, I would try to find another person within striking distance to blame, but unfortunately, there was just me, my dog and a potentially haunted ceiling fan.

But I digress…

Jade Daniels is a social outcast in her small, lakeside town of Proofrock, Idaho. A half-Indian girl, forced to live with her abusive father, Jade changes her hair color often and views the world through a prism of her vast knowledge of the Horror genre.

As her high school career comes to a close, there’s not much on the horizon for Jade. She works as a janitor for the local public school system, and it seems she may be doing so into the future. That in and of itself is fine. If she could just stay away from her Dad and his pervy friend, it would be okay.

When mysterious events around town start mirroring the plot structure of her favorite genre, however, Jade knows it’s finally happening. She’s excited by the prospect.

Proofrock has a slasher on their hands!

Therefore, she does what any logical Horror aficionado would do and tracks down the most logical choice for final girl, so she may teach her how to save herself and the town.

Sure, there will be a high body count, it’s almost time for the annual 4th of July celebration, after all. We all know Slashers cannot resist events like that, but the final girl should still be able to stop him. Eventually.

I’m always amazed by how much Jones can pack into a story. Each page feels like a Master Class in the Horror genre; full of references and rules that make my heart soar.

In addition to that though, he always doses us full of hard-hitting real world issues as well. There are many layers here, as there are in other novels of his that I have read.

This story was so much fun to read. It’s intricate, gritty, bloody, gory, smart, sarcastic, biting and fierce. The writing is top-notch and it’s going to remain in my mind for a long time to come.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Saga Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I am sure there are a lot of things I am forgetting to mention about this, but what can I say? I’m silenced by greatness!

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Review: The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass

The Taking of Jake LivingstonThe Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

Jake Livingston seems like an average teen. He struggles with many of the same issues that his peers do, however, Jake’s life is made a little more complicated by the fact that he can see dead people.

For the most part, the unsettled spirits are harmless, stuck in their death loops, repeating the same actions over and over again.

Then there is Sawyer. A troubled local teen, who a year prior, shot and killed six kids at a nearby high school and then subsequently took his own life. His spirit is still so angry and he’s not done. Sawyer has plans and intends to use Jake in order to execute them.

Suddenly, everything Jake thought he knew about navigating the world with this gift is flipped on its head. He’s in unchartered waters.

When bodies start turning up in his neighborhood, Jake knows he needs to learn the new rules, no matter what it takes. His life and all he loves depends on it.

The Taking of Jake Livingston was one of my most anticipated books of the year. I preordered it months ago and was so excited to get to it.

I decided to listen to the audiobook on my annual Labor Day Weekend road trip. One of my favorite things to do is pick out which audiobooks I will listen to on the journey. I travel alone and can be in the car, depending on traffic, anywhere from 4-to-6 hours, each way.

So, there and back, listening on 1.8 to 2x speed, I can get a lot of precious reading done.

While I enjoyed many aspects of this story, I will admit, it wasn’t quite gripping enough to keep my mind from wandering. The beginning, as I was meeting Jake and learning about his life and gift, I was completely focused. After that, it sort of wavered in and out for me.

Now thinking back, I don’t remember much. I’m not blaming the book entirely. I am sure a lot of the blame lies within myself. I had a lot on my mind and wasn’t giving it the attention it deserved.

There was some good humor and I felt the premise was unique. I actually would like to read it again someday, at which time I will read my hard copy. I certainly enjoyed it enough not to unhaul it and would recommend it as a Teen Scream for the Spooky Season!

I think the bottom line is, I didn’t read this under the best circumstances and my reading experience suffered because of it. With this being said, DO NOT let my experience stop you from giving this one a shot.

This is a good book. It’s well written with interesting characters and fun Horror elements. I will definitely be picking it up again at some point and giving it another try!

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Review: Small Favors by Erin A. Craig

Small FavorsSmall Favors by Erin A. Craig
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The small town of Amity Falls is remote and truly secluded from the outside world. It’s set amongst the Blackspire Mountain range, at the edge of an almost impenetrable forest where monsters are said to lurk.

When a supply party goes missing, and evidence of a massacre are found in the woods, the townsfolk believe the monsters may have awoken and are getting closer.

Contention arises among the citizens, as they try to decide how best to proceed. They’re afraid to send anyone else for supplies, but with provisions running low and winter approaching, what choice do they have?

Ellerie Downing lives with her family in Amity Falls. On the cusp of adulthood, Ellerie finally gets to vote in the town proceedings. She struggles with her decision, but ultimately votes for the path she thinks best, even though it may differ from the opinions of those she loves most.

Shortly after the vote, tragedy strikes the Downing family, leaving Ellerie to look after her family farm and her younger siblings. It’s a lot, but Ellerie rises to the occasion.

She has also made a new, intriguing friend. A young man, a trapper, staying on the outskirts of town. Cloaked in mystery, the boy has never even given Ellerie his true name, but the two are drawn to each other like moths to a flame.

As winter progresses, tensions rise while the supplies continue to decrease, forcing people to hide in their homes, protecting what is theirs. Bizarre and spooky occurrences are also plaguing the town, driving everyone’s paranoia higher. Will Ellerie be able to get her sisters through until Spring?

Small Favors was one of my most anticipated releases of the year. I absolutely loved Craig’s 2019-release, House of Salt and Sorrows and couldn’t wait to see what she would come up with next.

The synopsis comp to Needful Things is legit, but it is Needful Things if it were set against the backdrop of M. Night Shyamalan’s, The Village, and fused with Dark Fairy Tales.

I know, delicious, right!? Plus, Craig’s writing continues to impress. It’s lush, detailed and DARK. This entire story had such a vibe; the location, the atmosphere, it got into my bones.

I enjoyed how ominous it felt, even when nothing overtly scary was happening. It always felt like at any moment, a monster could appear from the periphery. The characters were compelling and I really liked the conclusion; it was unique and inventive.

I’m so happy with this and again, look forward to seeing what Craig dreams up next. I know I will definitely be adding it to my shelves, whatever it is!

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Review: Such a Quiet Place by Megan Miranda

Such a Quiet PlaceSuch a Quiet Place by Megan Miranda
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

The private neighborhood of Hollow’s Edge has always been a desirable place to live. It’s close to the local private college and a lot of the residents actually work there together.

Because of that, and many other reasons, Hollow’s Edge offers that bougie upper-class feel that many people seek. It’s a solace from the outside world of sorts for the people who live there.

That is until the murder of Brandon and Fiona Truett. A murder for which one of their own, Ruby Fletcher, was sent to prison. But Ruby wasn’t really one of them, was she?

She didn’t own a house in Hollow’s Edge. She was just staying there with Harper Nash after Harper’s fiance moved out. Ruby was younger than everyone else, not as settled. She was known to raise a few eyebrows from time to time.

Now a year and half has passed since the Truett’s tragic deaths. Ruby has been released from prison on a technicality and guess where she ends up?

Right back in Harper’s house. Harper is horrified. There is a possible murderer living under her roof. A murderer who is most likely quite peeved that her friend’s testimony may have helped put her away in the first place.

It doesn’t take long for rumors and suspicions to begin circling around Hollow’s Edge, sowing seeds of contention amongst the remaining residents.

It’s clear to Harper that Ruby is up to something, although she’s not sure what. She knows Ruby is hiding things from her; the scariest of which may be her intentions. Is Ruby seeking revenge, or something else?

Such a Quiet Place is pure entertainment. It kicks off very quickly and the suspense really never lets up.

I though Miranda did a great job building the tension over the course of the story. I was completely enthralled by it the entire time; wanting to know the truth about the Truetts and Ruby Fletcher.

For me, this is a super solid Domestic Thriller. It had red herrings, twists, reveals, unlikable, judgemental characters and a steady, nail-biting pace.

I love stories set in insulated neighborhoods. Stories that portray the often dramatic interactions between neighbors and friends. It’s amazing the sort of secrets that can be found in such places.

I was really looking forward to this title and I had a ton of fun reading it. Completely engaging, beginning to end.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Simon & Schuster, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I can’t wait to see what twisted things Megan Miranda comes up with next!!

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Review: The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix

The Final Girl Support GroupThe Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

The Final Girl Support Group, Grady Hendrix’s newest, inventive Horror story, revolves around the idea that final girls are real.

The classic Slasher films we all grew up on, and have come to love, are based on the real-life horror stories these women survived. We’re talking movies such as Friday the 13th, Halloween, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Nightmare on Elm Street, Leprechaun and Black Christmas.

Twenty-two years ago, Lynnette Tarkington, survived a massacare in her home. She is a real-life final girl.

Since that time she has developed some unhealthy habits trying to stay safe. She’s a bit paranoid and has trouble letting people in.

The only people she trusts are the five other women, and their therapist, in the Final Girls Support Group.

This mixed-bag of trauma surivors have been meeting every month for more than a decade. They don’t always get along, but they need one another. Their therapist does a fairly good job keeping them on track and seems to really care about their well-being.

When one of the women misses group, without explanation, Lynne fears the worst. It turns out, her fears are valid.

A monster is back and he’s come to pick off the final girls one-by-one. Lynne immediately jumps into action. She’s been anticipating this for years and has a solid survival plan in place, but will she be the last final girl?

I found this story to have a completely unique premise and loved the use of mixed media sprinkled throughout that built-out the lore behind these final girls.

As I have come to expect with Hendrix’s novels, it is also full of his quick wit and dry humor. It’s over-the-top, wild plotlines kept me completely engaged. Nostalgia for days!

I thought this book was extremely clever. The ending was insanity. So much fun. I am actually thinking about listening to the audiobook this Fall; maybe around Halloween.

It’s definitely a story I wouldn’t mind revisiting!!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley Books, for providing me a copy to read and review.

It was one of my most anticipated books of the year and Hendrix didn’t disappoint!

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Review: For the Wolf (Wilderwood #1) by Hannah F. Whitten

For the Wolf (Wilderwood, #1)For the Wolf by Hannah F. Whitten
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

The first daughter is for the Throne.
The second daughter is for the Wolf.

As the second daughter to the Queen, Red’s fate is set. While her sister will inherit the throne, Red will be sacrificed to the Wilderwood and the monsterous Wolf that resides there.

In her kingdom it is believed that the Wolf of the Wood has the ability to release the world’s captured Gods, and that with Red’s sacrifice, he just may choose to do that. Thus, Red could essentially be the savior of the world.

It’s never worked before, but now could be the time.

Red doesn’t know about all that, but she is hiding a mysterious gift that she learned once, the hard way, is dangerous. Because of this, she is ready and willing to go, if only to protect her friends and family from herself and the magic that lies within her.

Upon entering the Wilderwood, Red quickly discovers it isn’t at all what she expected. Sure, it’s dangerous, but she was planning on instant death. Not so much.

Also, the Wolf, he’s not a beast, he’s a man who lives in a castle, has an incredible library, two humorous roommates, a magical mirror and he needs some help.

Is this starting to sound like anyone you know?

For some reason going into this, I expected a Little Red Riding Hood retelling, but it’s straight-up, Beauty and the Beast. My favorite fairy tale of all time. I smiled every time I discovered another connection.

This is wildly creative. I loved the entire atmosphere of the Wilderwood and the Wolf’s castle. It’s dark, dank, murky and dangerous. The root magic, or earth magic, that Red and the Wolf had is quite captivating. I really enjoyed that aspect.

Red and the Wolf’s slow burn romance was also enjoyable, although when I say slow, I mean SLOW.

For me, it dragged on too long. I almost feel like this could have been broken into two books. While I liked all of the content, it failed to keep me entirely engaged. I was constantly checking to see how many pages I had left.

However, it’s good. It is a well thought out story with some great world creation, so please do not let my one small grievance affect whether or not you pick this book up.

In fact, please pick this book up. I want to hear your thoughts! If you enjoy Fantasy with interesting magic systems, you could end up loving this. Particularly if you are a fan of slow-burn romance.

I am absolutely planning to continue on with this story. There’s some complicated political maneuverings occuring, as well as intense family drama, so I can’t wait to see how that plays out.

Looking forward to it!

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Review: Blood Like Magic (Blood Like Magic #1) by Liselle Sambury

Blood Like MagicBlood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dang, this was good!!! I can’t stop smiling.

💜🖤💜🖤💜🖤💜🖤💜🖤💜🖤💜🖤💜🖤💜🖤💜🖤💜

Voya Thomas is initially excited for her Calling. It’s a task each witch in her family must complete before they are able to come into their powers.

The tasks are assigned by different ancestors and over the years have varied in detail and difficulty.

The ancestor who assigns her task, however, is known to be tough, as she should be. Her life was extremely tough, parts of which are shown to Voya through visions.

After Voya fails, she is given an unprecedented second chance, but her task seems impossible. Not only does the task seem impossible, the stakes are higher than ever.

Generally, if a witch fails in her Calling, she doesn’t gain her powers. Yeah, that sucks, but you can overcome that. You just have to live like any other person without magical abilities.

For Voya, if she fails, her entire family will lose their powers. Every single one of them! Their livelihoods are based on their powers, and most importantly, her little sister’s life depends on their powers.


Her task is to destroy her first love. Problems, Voya has never been in love, not even close, and she’s a little against killing someone.

The task seems clear, there is no way around it, so in order to save her family, Voya must make the ultimate decision. Can she take a life?

I loved this book from the very start. Sambury created such an intricate and addictive story with Blood Like Magic.

I absolutely adored the mix of Sci-Fi and Fantasy elements. A lot of the story is based around a corporation that has created a genetic match-making program; I love those sort of futuristic tech elements added to a story. They definitely make my nerd heart soar.

Additionally, I quickly became attached to Voya. She’s a very likable character. She drew me in and had me feeling everything she was feeling.

The Thomas family itself, is full of drama, but also love and support. Voya had many special connections within her family and I think those relationships really provided her with the strength she needed to progress with her Calling.

The love interest, Luc, was fun to learn about as well. He’s had an interesting life up until the time he meets Voya and is frequently misunderstood.

In Voya, he found someone he could open up to and watching their relationship evolve made me swoon. Somewhat enemies to lovers; so, if you’re into that…

This did not end how I thought it would end. There were so many twists that I never could have predicted. My jaw spent the last quarter of the book on the floor!

I cannot wait to get my hands on the next book. Liselle Sambury is amazing and I predict a long, successful career ahead of her.

I fully expect this will end up as one of my top books of the year. An absolutely phenomenal debut!

PICK THIS BOOK UP!!!

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Review: She Who Became the Sun (The Radiant Emporer #1) by Shelley Parker-Chan

She Who Became the Sun (The Radiant Emperor, #1)She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Initially, I was going to think on this for a bit before writing my review, but I am just going to do it. Bite the bullet, say what I have to say and no doubt, tick a couple of people off along the way.

She Who Became the Sun was one of my most anticipated releases of the Summer. I fully expected to give this one 5-stars. Unfortunately, that’s not the experience I had with it.

The first 25%, I was hooked. We meet a young girl, a peasant of the Central Plains of China, who adopts her brother’s identity after he tragically dies in order to enter a monastery as a young male novice.

More importantly, Zhu Chongba, her brother was fated for greatness and she plans to take that greatness for herself. She will make her fate a choice, instead of a chance.

The last 25%, I was so engaged. There’s a lot of action, brutal deceptions and pivotal moments that tied me right back into the story.

The central portion, however, was a mixed bag for me. I couldn’t focus, my eyes kept glazing over; to be honest, I was bored.

I felt like a ton was happening, while simulataneously nothing was happening. Trust, I understand this makes zero sense, but it’s how I felt.

With my slight disappointment out of the way, I will say that Parker-Chan’s writing deserves all of the stars.

Their ability to create a beautiful sense of place, evoke strong emotions with their characters and seamlessly incorporate multiple perspectives into one linear narrative, is top notch. I did feel like I was in 14th-Century China.

Additionally, I enjoyed the exploration of gender identity and gender fluidity. With both Zhu and Ouyang, a eunuch general in the Mongol army, their gender identity was a large part of the development of their characters over the course of the story.

Obviously, I am giving this book 4-stars. I clearly enjoyed it. Even though I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as I expected, it’s still a really good start to a series.

Although I am not sure how many books The Radient Emperor series is slated to be. I will definitely be continuing on.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Tor, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity and am confident a ton of Readers will love this one!

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Review: The Dead and the Dark by Courtney Gould

The Dead and the DarkThe Dead and the Dark by Courtney Gould
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Logan Ortiz-Woodley has been bouncing around the country most of her life. Her Dads are the stars of television’s most popular ghost-hunting show, ParaSpectors, and owing to this, she has traveled quite extensively with them filming.

When they tell her they need to return to the hometown they fled years ago, Snakebite, Oregon, she doesn’t think too much of it. Just another stop on the road for another episode.

What Logan wasn’t prepared for was the chilly reception the family would receive in Snakebite. The town seems to blame her Dad, Brandon, for unusual occurrences following his most recent visit.

Because of this, Logan and a group of local teens get off to a rough start. There’s been a lot of tension in the town since a popular boy, Tristan, went missing. In fact, on the day Logan arrives there is a vigil praying for Tristan’s safe return.

His girlfriend, Ashley Barton, hasn’t given up hope that Tristan will be found, although others aren’t so sure.

Disturbingly, Ashley begins to be plagued by visions of what appears to be Tristan’s ghost. Unsure what to do, she seeks help from the only person she can think of who may actually have knowledge of paranormal activity, Logan.

The girls begin a cautious friendship and start to investigate what is going on in Snakebite. As more teens disappear the stakes are raised, as is the creep factor.

In addition to all of this, Logan also learns a lot more about her Dads, their relationship and what caused them to leave Snakebite in the first place. She’s been desperate to learn more about them, as her relationship with her Dad, Brandon, has been particularly strained.

The Dead and the Dark is a darkly compelling YA Paranormal Thriller releasing Tuesday, August 3rd.

I really enjoyed diving into this story. There’s a lot of exploration of topics outside of the paranormal, such as family, sacrifice, grief, forgiveness, the idea of home being tied to people versus place and what it’s like to be different in a small town.

I listened to the audiobook and was completely transported to Snakebite. It’s that small town many of us grew up in. I felt like I had been there before and could recognize all the Town players.

For a debut, I was impressed with the flow of the story and the layers Gould was able to bring to the page. While the paranormal aspects, as well as the atmosphere, were a ton of fun, I think I enjoyed the family dynamic and character growth most of all.

If you enjoy Mysteries or Thrillers with a Paranormal twist, you absolutely need to be adding this title to your TBR!!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with copies of this to read and review. I had a great time with it and cannot wait to see what Courtney Gould writes next!!!

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Review: The Therapist by B.A. Paris

The TherapistThe Therapist by B.A. Paris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

B.A. Paris, my Queen of Manipulation, is back with an all new Domestic Thriller, The Therapist, releasing this Tuesday, July 13th.

When they began their relationship, Alice and Leo, were making a go at it long-distance. However, as time passes, it no longer feels enough to just see each other on the weekends.

Deciding to make the jump of living together, Leo buys a house in an exclusive, gated-community called, The Circle, in London. As lovely as it is, it’s a far cry from Alice’s little cottage in the country.

Making the transition easier is the fact that Alice actually got to keep her cottage, renting it out to tenants temporarily, because Leo was able to get such a bargain on the house.

When Alice finds out how he was able to get the house at such a steal, however, she’s furious!

A woman, Nina, had been murdered in the house, in their bedroom. She cannot believe Leo withheld this information from her. He’s a liar and Alice is so angry about the whole thing that she can’t even stand to be around him while she processes it all.

Leo, sheepish at being caught out, agrees to give Alice some space to work through all she’s learned. Alice, for her part, doesn’t just work through it though, she becomes obsessed with it.

Alice doesn’t believe the official story that Nina’s husband was the killer. She can’t explain why, she just knows that isn’t right.

As strange occurances begin happening at the house and suspicious neighbors seem to be lurking around every turn, Alice isn’t sure just who she can trust.

Gaining some assistance from a Private Detective also interested in Nina’s case, Alice begins a deep dive into the life of the woman who used to live in her house.

With numerous red herrings, a protagonist that I wasn’t sure I could trust, more twists and turns than an amusement park roller coaster, I could tell I was reading a B.A. Paris!

I listened to this entire audiobook today while performing my regular Saturday chores around the house. I ended up cleaning things that didn’t even need cleaning. I had to know how this was going to turn out.

I came nowhere near predicting the end, although I don’t generally try to do that. I like to just go along for the ride and let the author take me where they choose.

I will admit, toward the beginning, feeling frustrated with Alice. She’s a bit bullheaded and I just couldn’t understand why she was so fixated on Nina. However, I was satisfied with how that was ultimately explained and as I grew to know Alice, it made a lot more sense.

The intensity definitely continued to build at a nice steady pace as the story went on. There’s a lot of suspects!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Macmillan Audio and St. Martin’s Press, for providing me with an early copy to read and review.

B.A. Paris is definitely one of my go-to Domestic Thriller authors and I had a blast with this one!

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