Review: We Hear Voices by Evie Green

We Hear VoicesWe Hear Voices by Evie Green
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

During a mysterious flu pandemic, Rachel’s son, Billy, lies close to death. Rachel is so distraught. He is just a little boy, how could this happen?

Defying all odds, Billy fights through and survives, but he brings a friend back with him from the brink. An imaginary friend who he calls, Delfy.

Rachel knows that many children develop imaginary friends to help them cope through difficult times, so she’s not too concerned about it.

From what Billy is telling her, Delfy is encouraging him to get stronger and that can’t be a bad thing, can it?

But when Billy’s behavior takes a frightening turn, Rachel knows Delfy is to blame.

Billy’s older sister, Nina, also thinks Delfy’s influence is harmful, and she is determined to get to the bottom of it. Her theory is that the flu is the root of the issue and she believes other children may be experiencing the same phenomenon.

There’s a lot going on in this novel; some of the subplots being more interesting that others. One of my favorite aspects was reading about the pandemic, obviously made more eerie due to everything happening in our world.

This novel follows multiple perspectives as it builds out the dreary post-apocalyptic atmosphere. We follow Rachel, a struggling mother, Billy’s sister, Nina, who is part of a space program for teens, and a doctor, whose name I can’t recall, who treats children hearing voices post-flu.

While many of the aspects of this were interesting to me, once they were mushed together, it became a bit much. It was like the plot suffered a little because there was almost too much going on.

The pacing was off because of this as well, with me much preferring particular perspectives to others. Frankly, I could have done with just Rachel and Nina’s points of view.

Even though this is pitched as Horror, I would categorize it more as a Sci-Fi Thriller.

In spite of the tiny criticisms mentioned above, I still found this be to an engaging story and Green’s writing style to be quite pleasing. I would definitely pick up future work from this author.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley Books, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I truly appreciate it.

On the heels of 2020, now is the perfect time to pick this one up! You’ll know what I mean once you read it.

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Review: The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King

The Bazaar of Bad DreamsThe Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams turned out to be a really superb collection. I absolutely loved my time spent reading this.

Honestly though, am I surprised?

Included are 20-short stories, most never published before, that span a wide gamut of topics and provide plenty of food for thought.

I really enjoyed how varied the stories in this collection were. Going from one to the next, I was always surprised with where I ended up.

I found it to be unpredictable in the best way. One moment you are reading about savage cars, the next, names written in the sand, dueling fireworks shows, all the way to the literal end.

My favorite aspect of this book, however, was the short introductions, where King would give insight into his inspirations or personal connections to each story.

Those sections really helped to set the tone going into each story and for me, I think I took a lot more from each one because of that.

I highly recommend this collection, particularly if you are already a King fan and are familiar with his style and humor.

Even if you are new to King, however, I think you will really enjoy this one. It’s just a darn good time!

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Review: American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

American PsychoAmerican Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Wow, okay. American Psycho wasn’t what I expected. I honestly thought, going in, that I would end up loving it.

I know quite a few people who would include this on their favorites list, but after my experience with it, I don’t see why?

I just did not enjoy my time with this. It was so gut-wrenchingly boring for almost the entire book.

It wasn’t the content. I read a lot of brutal, gory stuff; frankly, I thought it could have used some more of that.

Although any scene involving a dog? Yeah, you know I skipped that sh*t.

It was just brain-drainingly repetitive. I get it. Moving on. Happy to have checked this one off of my TBR, now I know.

Thank you so much to my dear friend, Shannon for gifting me an audiobook copy of this.

I never would have made it through otherwise!

I could eventually have some more thoughts on this, but for right now, I’m over it.

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Review: The Last Final Girl by Stephen Graham Jones

The Last Final GirlThe Last Final Girl by Stephen Graham Jones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars**

I am really torn on the rating for this. My heart says give it a 5, while my brain says, 4-stars is more accurate.

After contemplation, I’ve decided to slice it right down the middle for this ode to Teen Slashers.

I grew up watching all things Horror. I had two older siblings, who both enjoyed the genre, so I was exposed to it at such a young age. Honestly, I don’t really remember a time when I wasn’t watching Horror movies.

From the years of being so freaked out by Poltergeist I couldn’t sleep in my own bedroom for 3-months, to watching The Gate on repeat because I had an 8-year old’s crush on Stephen Dorff, Horror movies have always been a positive part of my life.

In The Last Final Girl, Stephen Graham Jones brings the spirit of all that is great in Slasher Horror to the page.

The format of this story is unconventional, to say the least. It’s written in the style of a screenplay, with the narrator setting our scenes and describing characters actions, the POVs switch quickly and often, and there is a lot of rapid fire dialogue.

You really need to pay attention if you want to catch it all!

I listened to the audiobook and thought the narrator did a phenomenal job. I had a huge grin on my face the entire time.

I loved what SGJ did here. It was like he made a list of all things important to that genre, including movie names, characters, actors within those movies, fictional towns, tropes, themes, the well-known rules of Horror and then connected them all with an actual coherent story.

It was amazing and so fun. I could picture every scene because it was like I had seen it all before. The river, the discarded Halloween masks, the mysterious figure standing in the corn, characters like Lindsay, Izzy and Crystal, the scenes at the high school, the final showdown; I loved it all!

I would definitely recommend the audiobook if you are interested in this one. Having read some other reviews, it doesn’t sound like people who read the hard copy had quite the same experience with this that I did.

SGJ definitely took a risk with this one; it’s really for a niche market of die hard fans of this type of movie. If you are, as it appears SGJ is, a student, if you will, of the genre, this is an absolute delight.

Every reference had me giddy and there are a lot. I love SGJ’s edgy style and always appreciate his nods to the classics. I will continue to pick up his work. This was certainly a fun ride for me!

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Review: Insomnia by Stephen King

InsomniaInsomnia by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am so in LOVE with this story!!!

It’s hard for me to fathom now that I was ever intimidated by Insomnia. Legit for years, I was too scared to pick it up.

Honestly, I don’t even think I ever read the synopsis, so it had nothing to do with that.

I tend not to for King’s books, as I know I am going to pick them up regardless of what it says.

After reading this, I would recommend it to any Constant Reader. If you have been putting this one off, maybe intimidated by its size like I was, please don’t be.

Insomnia is charming, captivating, heart-warming and spine-chilling, with Kingverse connections galore.

As always, King’s character work is just phenomenal; definitely my favorite aspect.

Our protagonist is Ralph Roberts, who after losing his wife gradually develops severe insomnia. Not the low-key aggravating-kind, the continuous, question what you’re seeing while awake-kind.

We follow Ralph, a resident of Derry, as he grapples with his new reality and tries to navigate the world with unrested eyes.

It was so great to be in Derry. There’s a lot happening in that special little town town and Ralph ends up in the middle of it all. Along with his closest companion, Lois, they battle terrifying forces wrecking havoc amongst their friends and neighbors.

There are numerous Dark Tower references, as well as tidbits connecting to the greater King-created world in general. I eat that up. Easter Eggs all day, baby. I can’t get enough of them.

While I recommend this book whole-heartedly to the Constant Readers out there…

I’m not sure it would be as impactful, or feel as extraordinary, to a reader without the background to make the connections.

I could be wrong though, as there is a lot going on in this story outside of all that. There’s social commentary, frightening villains and some intense action scenes; obviously a fantastic setting and believable, well-thought out characters.

I cannot say much more about it. I really can’t say anything about the plot without spoiling things, so we’ll leave it at this:

I loved it, I will read it again and I recommend it to any Stephen King fan!

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Review: Ring Shout by P. Djeli Clark

Ring ShoutRing Shout by P. Djèlí Clark
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Ring Shout audiobook is an experience. I loved it!

The historical elements were so well done. The SFF elements were fantastic. The body horror and gore were top notch. The narration was PERFECTION!

Maryse Boudreaux is a Georgia-bootlegger with a magic sword a taste for hunting monsters.

The monsters in question, Ku Kluxes, are plotting to unleash hell on Earth, using D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation to channel their message to the masses.

Maryse, along with her fellow monster-hunting friends, think the world is already tough enough, they don’t need any more challenges to overcome.

They set out to rid the South of this blight and save the world from the hate that wants to consume it.

Clark packed a lot of punch into this novella. There were so many important, and timely, details to consume. The narrator helped to channel life and emotional power into it that I’m not sure I would have felt on my own had I read a hard copy.

I loved the historical feel of the story and how there were strong elements of the fantastical mixed with real life horrors.

I thought it was balanced really well to provide maximum impact; especially towards the end when the final showdown ensues.

Maryse and her friends were fantastic, but Butcher Clyde was such an incredible villain. He stole the show in my opinion.

My goodness! He was horrifying. Well, him and his minions.

I highly recommend this novella, particularly the audiobook. It’s a quick read, but so worth picking up. If you’re not sold yet, perhaps a few of my favorite lines will entice you:

‘This one carries the anger of her people. Pure, yet untapped. We could do much with this.’

‘What we owe this world? Why save it, when its never done a thing to save us?’

I can’t wait to read more from this author. This was all-around fantastic.

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Review: The Shuddering by Ania Ahlborn

The ShudderingThe Shuddering by Ania Ahlborn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What’s not to enjoy about a classically-constructed gore fest with horrifying monsters!?

The Shuddering follows a group of friends on a snowboarding holiday in the unforgiving Colorado mountains.

The Adler twins, Ryan and Jane, spent a lot of their childhood at their parent’s posh ski cabin. Now that their parents are no longer together, their father has decided to sell the memorable property.

Ryan, who has just accepted a job overseas, decides to plan one final weekend at the home with his twin and his best friend, Sawyer.

Jane, recently divorced, decides to bring along her best friend, Lauren and Sawyer brings his gloomy girlfriend, April. Jane, who dated Sawyer in high school and really never got over him, isn’t exactly excited about April’s presence.

As the weekend gets underway, it’s clear tension is going to be the name of the game. Unfortunately, for the Adler party, that’s soon to be the least of their worries.

There’s something lurking in the woods, observing them, coming closer and closer to the cabin and it’s hungry.

Oona, Ryan’s beloved husky, is the first to notice something is amiss.

Her strange behavior leads Ryan to believe that a wolf pack may be hunting in the area.

When a blizzard hits, they become snowed in and the agitation reaches a new peak. The group ends up separating as April and Sawyer try to depart the property.

It doesn’t end well.

From there the intensity and action never stops. As you learn the truth of what pursues the group of weekend travelers, the desperation of their circumstances becomes more and more clear.

I love how Ahlborn built this out. It’s a classic set-up for a horror story and that was exactly the vibe that I was looking for when I picked it up.

I was stressed about the dog, of course. If you have ever read any of my reviews, you probably could have guessed that was coming, so that did have a slight effect on my enjoyment level.

Also, some the decisions made by the characters were questionable, but at the same time, I think that is half the fun. I mean, is a Horror movie even enjoyable if you aren’t yelling at the screen half the time?

The gore and violence were very well done. It was disgusting, it was bloody, it was stomach-churning and it was unrelenting.

I would definitely recommend this to any fan of the horror genre; particularly, if you, like me, enjoy horror stories set in Winter. This is the perfect book for that vibe!

I was a fan of Ahlborn’s work prior to this, but this definitely seals the deal. I will read anything she writes!

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Review: Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power

Burn Our Bodies DownBurn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

I feel like one of the few people left in the YA book world who hasn’t read Wilder Girls.

I own it, of course. Have you seen the cover!? I have added it to many TBRs, but have yet to pick it up.

When I received an early copy of Rory Power’s sophomore novel, Burn Our Bodies Down, I was shocked and excited.

I couldn’t wait to pick it up and then, I just didn’t. Long story short, I am a horrible reviewer, but you read my reviews, you probably know that.

I finally decided to give this one a shot over my week-long Christmas vacation. I am kicking myself now because I really enjoyed this. Why didn’t I read it months ago!?

Burn Our Bodies Down is equal parts weird, disturbing, suspenseful and heartbreaking. Some of my favorite characteristics to find in a book.

The story follows teen, Margot, who has lived with just her mother her entire life. She knows of no other family and any time she presses her mother for info about their past, or where she came from, her mother loses it.

Her mom is extremely unstable and their relationship is quite contentious. Margot has never felt wanted, or loved, and lives her life walking on eggshells.

Just as Margot gets to the end of her rope, she discovers a clue. The only hint she has ever had in regards to her mother’s early life.

It’s a photograph, tucked into a family bible, signed by who she believes is her grandmother. In addition to a phone number, the photo also indicates a town name: Phalene.

She’s shocked. Phalene isn’t even that far away. She decides to go there, find her grandmother and finally get some answers.

Arriving in town, Margot meets a couple of local teens she tries to needle information out of. While she is with them, they receive news of a fire on her grandmother’s farm.

The kids rush to check out the scene and end up finding the fields in flames and a body.

Upon further inspection, they discover the body is a girl, about their age and she looks exactly like Margot.

Thus begins the head-scratching drama that surrounds Margot’s family’s farm.

I can’t even begin to tell you how confused and intrigued I was by what was going on in Phalene.

She meets her Grandmother, Vera, and stays with her, but continues to be brushed off when she tries to get definitive answers about her mother’s childhood, or where she came from.

Margot learns many things in her first few days in Phalene, including the existence of family members she never knew about, including her mother’s twin sister, Katherine. During her investigation, she also ends up making a couple of friends along the way.

There is a dark feeling of unease that spans this entire novel.

You know, deep in your heart, that something is very wrong in Phalene and Margot’s family is at the heart of it, but what!?

I would classify this as an Ecological Horror Novel, a genre I have been enjoying quite a bit lately.

I personally loved Power’s writing style, although I did think some of Margot’s musings eventually bordered on repetitive. With this being said, Power’s ability to write body horror is top-notch; that cannot be denied.

I would recommend this one to Horror readers, particularly if you read and enjoyed Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s, Mexian Gothic. I would say the two stories channel a lot of similar vibes.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Delacorte Press, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity to provide my opinion and will definitely be picking up Wilder Girls now!

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Review: Thinner by Richard Bachman

ThinnerThinner by Richard Bachman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another successful buddy read with my friend, Shannon!!!

I love this story so much. Is it perfect?

Probably not for everyone, but it’s a hell of a fun reading experience for me. This is my third time through this one and honestly, not the last.

Thinner follows the story of Billy Halleck, a successful attorney living the good life in a wealthy Connecticut suburb.

Billy has a lovely wife, Heidi, a sweet daughter, Linda, and friends and associates he pals around with at the local country club.

He also has an extra 50-pounds or so around the middle, evidence of the many rich meals and treats he can afford.

All is good in Billy’s life until the night Heidi decides to spice things up on a drive home from an event.

With Billy desperately distracted, tragedy strikes. The other party is no one in this town however. They don’t have rich friends and connections like Billy. Connections to the judge and the police.

Billy doesn’t even get a slap on the wrist for the role he played in that tragic night.

Others want justice for what happened and if they can’t get it through the traditional ways, it’s no bother; they have their own ways. Old ways.

A soft caress with a gnarled hand and one word whispered with intention, thinner.

Thus, changing the course of Billy’s life forever.

Y’all this story is gruesome, wild and unrelenting.

The body horror is just that, horrible and horrifying and sure to make you cringe. If you aren’t into graphic descriptions of terrifying things happening to a human body, you may want to steer clear.

I find writing as Bachman, King is much more blunt in his delivery and build-up. This reads very quickly and advances through the plot at a rapid fire pace.

I love going along with Billy as he comes to grips with what is happening to him and tries to fix it.

He calls in a favor from his friend, Richard Ginelli, when he feels like the problem is too much for him to tackle himself.

Unfortunately, once on the case, Ginelli is like a guard dog slipped his leash. He can’t be called back and things escalate quickly.

As gritty and physically horrifying as this story is, there’s also some great food for thought mixed in. Blame, guilt, disregard for others, privilege, power and blood feuds; you can find it all in here.

If you are looking for a quick, quirky, messy, horrific tale, you should definitely give Thinner a shot.

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Review: Don’t Turn Out the Lights, Jonathan Maberry, Editor

Don’t Turn Out the LightsDon’t Turn Out the Lights by Jonathan Maberry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Don’t Turn Out the Lights is a Middle Grade Horror anthology curated by bestselling author, Jonathan Maberry, as a tribute to Alvin Schwartz’s, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.

The collection is comprised of 35-scary stories penned by an impressive list of authors!

I know what some of you may be thinking, Middle Grade though?

I can assure you, quite of few of these stories legit creeped me out. They’re quick, fun and each one left me wanting to continue reading.

There really is something for everyone in this collection.

No matter what your fears are, you will find a story that works for you. Some things you may not even know you are afraid of until you read this book, like toys, for example.

Although I have always been afraid of certain toys, but I digress. There were a lot of stories in here that I really loved.

The standouts for me were: The Carved Bear by Brendan Reichs, The Golden Peacock by Alethea Kontis, Tag, You’re It by NR Lambert, The Cries of the Cat by Josh Malerman, The Umbrella Man by Gary A. Braunbeck, Brain Spiders by Luis Alberto Urrea and Rosario Urrea, and Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board by Margaret Stohl.

I did listen to the audiobook and highly recommend that medium. There are two narrators and they both did a fantastic job bringing every story to life.

Overall, this is a very solid collection with plenty of chills and thrills for readers of all ages. If you like to give yourself the heebie-jeebies, you should definitely pick this one up!

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