Review: The Girls on Floor 13 (Detective Maria Miller #3) by Helen Phifer

The Girls on Floor 13 (Detective Maria Miller #3)The Girls on Floor 13 by Helen Phifer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Helen Phifer’s Detective Maria Miller books are all super solid, page-turning Paranormal Mysteries. These books follow Maria Miller and her partner, Frankie, as they investigate cases that lack a normal, scientific explanation, and trust, these stories get DARK.

Located in New York City, there’s certainly no lack of bizarre happenings for them to investigate. Maria and Frankie have quickly become one of my favorite detective duos.

In this, the 3rd-installment to the series, Maria and Frankie are summoned to the Parker Hotel, an infamously haunted NYC-hotel, after the bodies of two teenage girls are found murdered in one of the rooms on the 13th floor.

The girls are laid out on the twin beds, as if on display. It’s a gruesome scene. As the investigation begins, the hotel manager shares some information with Maria that surprises her. A newspaper article reporting on an almost identical double murder that occurred in the hotel decades earlier.

In fact, a lot of people have suffered a tragic end at the hotel, some of the spirits reportedly still stalk the halls. Is there possibly some connection to the past in this case?

The more time they spend at the hotel, the more it seems to be effecting Maria. It feels like something has poisoned her body. It’s truly a race against the clock as they try to find the murderer, before they have the opportunity to strike again.

I found this mystery very intriguing. Phifer wastes no time diving into the main case we’re going to be examining. I appreciate how Phifer’s not afraid to get graphic. This one is definitely not for the faint of heart.

I loved the inspiration I felt from IRL Haunted Hotels. I know the author had a particular hotel in NYC in mind, but it immediately made me think of the Cecil Hotel. I mean, the watertower connection…

There’s def some creepy imagery in this. I feel like Phifer excels in that area. Let it be known, this is a true Paranormal Mystery. It’s not one of those, is it, is it not, cases. Go into this knowing it is absolutely, 100% Paranormal.

As with many Adult Mystery series, you can read this as a standalone. I would recommend reading the other books in the series though, as there is a lot of great character development for Maria and Frankie, as well as some really fun side characters, over the course of the three books.

With this being said, you could actually read this one first and then if you loved it enough, go back and read the other two. I would certainly have no problem with doing that.

This gets absolutely wild at the end. It’s so gripping. It’s compelling throughout, but the pace and the stakes really increase the closer you get to the end.

Overall, this was an entertaining, fast-paced, creepy mystery. I love how Phifer pulls a historical perspective into her stories as well. The back and forth and the way everything builds out is just very pleasing.

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys Paranormal Mysteries, or Horror Mysteries. Maria and Frankie are like the Mulder and Scully of the NYPD.

Thank you to the publisher, Storm Publishing, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I can’t wait to see what comes next for these characters!

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Review: Cursed Cruise (Horror Hotel #2) by Victoria Fulton and Faith McClaren

Cursed CruiseCursed Cruise by Victoria Fulton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Cursed Cruise, by Victoria Fulton and Faith McClaren, is the second book in the Horror Hotel series. These books follow a group of teen ghost hunters, Chrissy, Chase, Emma and Kiki, who have their own YouTube show.

In the first book, which I haven’t read yet, the teens stay at a haunted hotel in L.A., that I am imagining to be like the Cecil Hotel. The events of that book are referred to here, but I don’t feel you need to read that one first. I didn’t and don’t feel my enjoyment of this was impeded at all.

However, I will say, after reading this, I definitely want to go back and read that one now. It sounds like it was intense, and I think the setting of the hotel would be really fun.

In this one, the teens get invited on the first voyage of a recently recommissioned cruise ship, the RMS Queen Ann, which gave me total QE2 vibes. I’ve read mysteries set on the QE2 and really enjoyed them, so was excited to see something similar in a Teen Horror novel.

The ship has a dark history, with many deaths and dark happenings occurring aboard over the years. It’s assumed to now be haunted.

The Ghost Gang is not the only ghost hunting team making this maiden voyage though. There’s another group, a bit older and more experienced then our mains, that cause a bit of tension.

They’re not very kind and the groups have a bit of a competitive spirit amongst them. They both have their sights set on a syndicated television slot. Chase, from our group, really has his heart set on getting that show.

There’s also a bit of romance in the group, with Chase and Chrissy in a relationship, and Emma and Kiki in a relationship. They do have an adult chaperone as well; I think it was Kiki’s Mom, although she wasn’t too big of a presence, I still liked having her there.

We follow along as the teens get settled into their cabins and begin investigating the history of the ship and the bizarre occurrences happening aboard. Chrissy is the one with the most connection to the supernatural, so we get a lot of those aspects from her perspective.

I thought it was interesting that the author’s included the ship’s perspective. You don’t see that very often, but when you do, I tend to enjoy it. I like the feel of a place, or thing, becoming a character unto itself. It’s interesting and I thought it was fun here.

Overall, this was good. I think the authors delivered on what was intended. If I were going to pin this down to a recommended age category, I would put it into a more Tween Horror niche than YA Horror.

I feel like this is more advanced than a Goosebumps, but may best be enjoyed by Readers aged 11 to 14. It’s a great stepping stone to more advanced Horror. I know I would have loved it had it been a part of my Point Horror line-up from the mid-80s. Totally cool.

Thank you to the publisher, Underlined, for providing me with a copy to read and review. This was cute. It definitely had a nostalgic feel for me!

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Review: Diavola by Jennifer Marie Thorne

DiavolaDiavola by Jennifer Marie Thorne
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The first thing that attracted my attention to Diavola was this stunningly-disturbing cover. What does it even mean?

I had to know.

Then I read the synopsis, which completely sold me. A Gothic-feeling Travel Horror novel, set in Italy, full of family drama and haunted happenings. Yes, please.

I was lucky enough to receive an audio copy, and definitely recommend that format.

The narration style of Andi Arndt was absolutely perfect for this story, and as a representation of the MC, Anna’s, voice. I was transported into the Pace family vacation via this audio.

We follow Anna as she meets her family in Italy, where they have rented a gorgeous historic villa near the tiny town of Monteperso. As Anna tries to settle in, the atmosphere is tense. Her family is complicated.

Mom is always passively-aggressively nagging at Anna about her life choices. Dad seems distant, except when he would like to remind everyone of who paid for their vacation. Nicole, Anna’s sister, has their entire itinerary mapped out to the second, and god forbid anyone question it.

Nicole’s two daughters are also there, as well as her husband. They seem to be the only ones in the family Anna even remotely gets along with. Thank goodness for them.

Then there’s Anna’s twin brother, Benny, attending with his arrogant, asshat of a boyfriend, Christopher.

Anna and Benny’s relationship is the most difficult to figure out. As twins, their relationship has always been a special one, but it is definitely strained at this point. At times it seems good, at other times, not so much.

Honestly, that’s the best way to describe this vacation: strained. Unfortunately, it’s not just the family though. The villa itself, is strange and seems to be affecting everyone.

There’s a locked tower room, odd noises and an ominous atmosphere that’s downright oppressive. I would certainly need a vacation after this vacation.

I was impressed with how immersive this ended up being. When I was in it, I was really in it.

I went through a whole range of emotions and was astounded by the direction it ultimately went. I wasn’t expecting a lot of what occurred in the later half of the story. It fleshed out so many layers that were there all along that I feel like I missed initially.

I am already looking forward to reading it again. I would love to annotate it and really just spend some more time with it. It’s beautifully executed!

I can’t stress enough how gripping and haunting this is. My mind was left reeling, trying to interpret all of the events that went down. The atmosphere is top notch, but it never overshadowed the characters, or the emotions that were raging between them.

I would recommend this to any Horror fan, particularly if you enjoy Travel Horror, or Horror featuring complicated family dynamics. I feel like I know the Pace family inside and out. I’m practically one of them at this point.

Thank you to the publisher, Tor Nightfire and Dreamscape Media, for providing me with copies to read and review.

Diavola has been my greatest surprise of 2024 thus far. I cannot wait to read more from Jennifer Marie Thorne!

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Review: The House of Last Resort by Christopher Golden

The House of Last ResortThe House of Last Resort by Christopher Golden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m just out here chilling on minority opinion island…

…trying to figure out how best to write my review of The House of Last Resort.

Even though this was the latest release from Christopher Golden, an author I have really enjoyed in the past, I was a little hesitant going into this one. While I hadn’t read any reviews, that overall rating of 3.3 was glaring me in the face.

I was concerned. Did Golden have a flop?

I still haven’t read a lot of the reviews, so I am not exactly sure what the issue is, but I have read this one and I really, really enjoyed it!

This went into a surprising Religious Horror direction, which I love. It felt Literary in it’s build-up and I loved the culturally-rich setting. I feel like this would make an incredible movie. It was so vibrant.

In this novel, we’re following American couple, Tommy and Kate Puglisi, who move to the small hilltop town of Becchina, in Italy.

Becchina is dwindling, with the population aging out and young people moving away. In an effort to revitalize the area, the mayor starts a program to sell abandoned homes to anyone for a single Euro, as long as the buyer promises to live there for at least five years.

Tommy and Kate jump at the chance. Tommy has family there and they’re excited about the change in lifestyle and ability to get to spend more time with his family.

Upon arrival, the house isn’t quite giving them the warm, romantic vibes they expected though. It’s giving a more haunted, demonic feel than they would have signed up for.

And why do all the locals whisper about this place?

We follow Tommy and Kate as they attempt to settle in, make their new house a home and become involved with the local community.

Strange things are happening at the house though that they can’t explain. They’ve discovered rooms they didn’t know were there and the more they dig into the history of the house, the more nervous they become.

They ultimately learn that their home was owned by the church for generations and there are dark, dangerous secrets hiding behind every corner, and perhaps even under their feet. With a history like that, will this place ever be able to become a comfortable family home?

As mentioned above, I really enjoyed this. I have always vibed with Golden’s writing. It’s engaging.

Granted, not every moment is smash-bang in your face, it has a lot of quiet, more subtle moments, but all the more for the build, I say. I love a slow burn, as long as the payoff is worth it and IMO, this one is.

Once I started this book, I was definitely consumed by the story. I read 43% in my first sitting. I barely came up for air. I ended up finishing it in a day.

I loved the atmosphere and the feeling of the historic town and property. I was intrigued by the mystery of the house and as a lover of Religious Horror, I was happy to see it take a turn in that direction. The whole feeling of that place was beautifully depicted by Golden.

I would recommend this to Horror fans, or people who enjoy a slow burn set amongst a creepy, mysterious atmosphere. Also, haunted house fans, this is a unique take in the subgenre, so you should definitely check it out.

Thank you so much to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, for providing me a copy to read and review. I always look forward to picking up Golden’s latest work.

This one was definitely a win for me!

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Review: The Stranger Upstairs by Lisa M. Matlin

The Stranger UpstairsThe Stranger Upstairs by Lisa M. Matlin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Things to know about me: I am a huge sucker for an unreliable narrator, particularly if alcohol is involved, and I like unlikable MCs. Check and check for this book.

Unsurprisingly, the first thing that attracted me to The Stranger Upstairs was the cover. I’m shallow. Seriously, can we just take a moment to drink in these colors?

Next was the synopsis, which sold me on the idea of a social media influencer buying a murder house to renovate for content. And with gothic vibes!?

We love that. Additionally, it’s from a debut author and is set in Australia. We love that even more!!

Unfortunately, due to over-extending myself, and I didn’t get to it as quickly as I wanted to. Then the reviews started rolling in and some of them weren’t the greatest.

I started to get nervous. I started to prioritize other books over this one. It was a whole thing. Having now completed this, I wish I would have read it sooner. I thought it was so much fun; a gripping page-turner!

In this story we follow Sarah Slade, a therapist, who is also gaining some traction as a lifestyle influencer.

Black Wood House was once the scene of a grisly murder-suicide, and now it’s Sarah’s latest pet project. She and her husband need a place to start over, and due to its murder house status, they’re able to procure Black Wood at a ridiculously low price in a highly-desirable neighborhood.

Sarah’s idea is to renovate it and she can use the renovation as constant content to attract new followers, helping her to reach the next level in social media status.

Her husband, not a fan of purchasing the house in the first place, can hardly stand to be there. He doesn’t understand Sarah’s determination with this project.

Once the builders, hired on to help with the reno, begin acting strangely and having unexplained accidents, it appears maybe Sarah’s husband is on to something about the malevolent nature of the house.

Nothing is shaking Sarah though, not even the threatening notes that begin showing up for her. Someone doesn’t want her there. Is it the house, or someone else and is Sarah really willing to risk everything just for content?

There are so many layers to this story, but you’ll have to read it to discover all the little avenues Matlin takes us down. Admittedly, the writing style took me a minute to get used to, as it didn’t flow quite the way I expected.

However, after reading the entire story, I sort of feel like the way it was written matches Sarah’s personality perfectly. It’s like viewing the world through her eyes and I not only came to enjoy it, but I became extremely invested in it.

If I had to compare it, I would say the style reminds me of Mona Awad’s style, particularly in All’s Well.

I was extremely intrigued by the house and Sarah’s motivations for being there. I did feel like the house had a lot of Amityville vibes, but it wasn’t a turn off for me. I actually quite liked that.

Sarah, as a character isn’t particularly likable, and you might even classify her as unreliable, but I don’t need to like characters to enjoy a story. Additionally, as mentioned above, I love an unreliable narrator, so I think this story was just set-up to work for me.

I also really enjoyed the mystery behind what was happening with the house. It had a great, is it supernatural, is it not-intrigue to it that I always enjoy.

As Sarah is coming more unhinged the longer she stays in the house, she’s also simultaneously trying to figure out what is going on. I thought Matlin did a great job keeping the intensity up throughout and making Sarah’s investigations into her circumstances believable.

I think as far as debuts go, this one is very strong. I think if this is the kind of story that usually works for you, you should absolutely give this one a go. It’s tense and gripping throughout, with a very interesting conclusion.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Bantam, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I am really looking forward to reading more from Lisa M. Matlin!

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A Haunting on the Hill by Elizabeth Hand

A Haunting on the HillA Haunting on the Hill by Elizabeth Hand
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Initially, after hearing of the upcoming release of A Haunting on the Hill, the first-ever authorized novel to return to the world of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, I thought, this is either going to be amazing and nostalgic, or we’re all going to hate it…

After reading it in a day, I’m happy to report, I loved it and though I wouldn’t say it was nostalgic, it did successfully deliver the atmosphere I was hoping for.

It’s funny because going in, I didn’t read any reviews and honestly, I didn’t even know what the overall rating for the book was since its release. I was surprised after I finished it and rated it, to see that the overall rating was only a 3.46.

It looks like I’m in the minority opinion again.

In this story, we follow Holly, a struggling playwright, her girlfriend, Nisa, a singer, their friend, Stevie, an actor, and a sort of washed-up starlet, Amanda, as they move into Hill House to work on the play Holly has been writing.

Holly rented the mansion for a month after seeing it for the first time while on a weekend getaway upstate. It just seemed like the perfect place to bring her play, The Witch of Edmonton, to life. It promises to be a next-level artistic experience for all involved.

From their very first tour of the house things seemed off, like the house has a spirit and mind of its own. Nevertheless, Holly isn’t able to stop imagining them living and working amongst its gothic goodness. She feels inspired.

Thus, the lease is signed and all associated parties make their way to the property. It’s showtime.

As with Jackson’s original, I loved the feel of the house. Hand did a great job channeling the dreadful atmosphere and the more supernatural elements were appropriately paced and eerie. It was interesting to watch the house unravel each of the characters in their own unique way.

I did find the writing style a little uncomfortable at first, but then I started to see it more as Holly’s perspective, her way of viewing the world and the unfolding events. It is how I could picture her relaying what was happening around her.

With that in mind, it began to flow a lot more easily for me.

Even though this was one of my most anticipated releases of the year, and I have had a hard copy since its release, I decided to wait for a copy of the audiobook from my local library in order to read it.

I had heard from a couple of different people that the audiobook was amazing and I couldn’t agree more. It is a great production, with fabulous narration and sound effects that boosted my overall reading experience.

I’m not sure if I would have rated it as highly had I just read a hard copy, and unfortunately we’ll never know, because I will never forget this listening experience. It was that good.

I also feel like the way this story is told, a bit slower and more subtle in the beginning, with a lot of character work towards the middle, then a rapid increase in supernatural occurrences as it races towards a rapid conclusion, lends itself well to the audio format.

It kept me engaged and I loved picturing the vivid imagery that Hand developed for us. I also enjoyed getting to know this cast of fairly unlikable characters.

The setting, the atmosphere, the relationships and their interactions, this all suited my tastes quite well. I walk away a very happy girl.

I’m already planning to read this again next year, most likely in the Fall. I am going to read Jackson’s original, immediately followed by this. I think that could help to enhance the experience even more.

At the end of the day, I appreciate so much the story that Hand was able to create here. It had to have been a tremendous amount of pressure to take on this task and I think she did an incredible job with it.

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Review: The September House by Carissa Orlando

The September HouseThe September House by Carissa Orlando
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

The September House, a debut novel from Carissa Orlando, is delightfully dark, entertaining and unique. Perfect for fans of Rachel Harrison and T. Kingfisher.

I was blown away and completely impressed by this!!!

Having received a copy of this month ago, by the time I got around to it, I had forgotten what it was about. Instead of re-reading the synopsis, I decided to jump straight in.

That was a great decision and I highly recommend going into this knowing as little as possible. Clear your mind and just dive in. You won’t be disappointed.

In fact, I am so committed in this belief that even I, the over-sharer that I am, am going to say as little as possible about this plot. I will say that it follows a woman, Margaret, and you get told the story fully from her perspective.

Margaret is living in her dream home. From the curb, it’s enviable, but things have slowly gotten out of hand. Mainly in September. Septembers are hell. Fed up with the living situation, Margaret’s husband, Hal, leaves.

Surprised by her Dad’s sudden absence, their daughter, Katherine, who has never visited the home her parents have lived in for the past four years, decides to pay a visit. She’s determined to figure out why her Dad left.

Katherine is suspicious as heck. Why would her Dad just leave, and why won’t her Mom provide her with any substantive information? What happened?

I absolutely love how Orlando chose to write this story. Being inside Margaret’s head as you learn the truth about the house and the things happening there was completely engaging. I was surprised how quickly it kicked off, dropping us right into the heart of it.

Additionally, I loved Margaret’s narrative voice. There was such nuance to it; it was funny, charming and completely heartbreaking at the same time, as all is revealed.

The introduction of Katherine into the house was an absolute delight as well.

I always find mother-daughter relationships interesting, but this one felt particularly well done. They are completely different people and at first, I thought, well, I can see why they really haven’t visited much in the past four years.

Katherine can seem a bit abrasive and honestly, at times, Margaret’s a bit doormat-ish for my tastes, but as the story evolves, and you learn their history, the true nature of their relationship was laid bare.

I was moved by it. Their relationship felt real to me. I became completely invested in them. It’s funny, even with all the horror elements, the truth behind Margaret and Katherine’s lives was the thing that almost broke me.

So yeah, the horror. Let’s discuss. This is a Horror novel, after all and boy, did Orlando impress me with her grasp of horror imagery and her ability to bring it to the page.

If this is Orlando’s debut, I cannot way to read her next book, and her next and her next, and so on and so forth, for what I know will be a long and successful career.

If you love haunted house stories, but are looking for something fresh, powerful and also slightly humorous, you absolutely, positively, definitely need to pick this up.

You might be wondering why I didn’t give it a full 5-star rating if I am swooning about it this much. My only slight nit-pick criticism is that somewhere, around the middle, there were times it felt slightly repetitive and dragged just a wee bit for me personally.

Nevertheless, a sensational debut. I am super stoked to read more from Carissa Orlando. I hope she stays in this lane, the deep, Cozy Horror vibe of this story is something I always enjoy and seek out.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley, for providing me with a copy to read and review. This will remain in my mind for a long time to come!

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Review: The Handyman Method by Nick Cutter and Andrew F. Sullivan

The Handyman MethodThe Handyman Method by Nick Cutter
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Handyman Method is a recently released Domestic Horror tale that left me scratching my head. Not necessarily because of the content, it never lost me, but because I don’t know how to express how I feel about it.

Even days later, I can’t put into words what about this didn’t appeal to me. It’s a good book, yeah, but in spite of its positives, I wasn’t feeling it at all.

This story follows a young family, husband, Trent, wife, Rita and son, Milo, who are moving into a new home. The home itself is in an unfinished subdivision and it seems they are the first to the neighborhood.

Their move-in day is a little odd. You can already tell something is potentially off with this family. The husband in particular is giving off a vibe that resembles Jack Torrance after weeks at The Overlook.

He seems unhinged is what I’m trying to tell you.

After Trent finds a flaw in the wall of his wife’s closet, he cannot rest until he fixes it. In order to do so he does what many of us do. He turns to YouTube.

He finds the channel of Handyman Hank, who is more than happy to guide Trent on his wall patch project, as well as many other things.

Meanwhile, Milo is having interesting experiences of his own at the new property. Some more traumatizing than others. Prepare yourself for some action with his pet turtle…

I don’t know what else to say about this without giving plot points away, so let’s just end the summary portion there. Now let’s get into the dirt.

First, I was struck by how similar the family dynamic resembled The Shining. Trent’s character especially seemed like he was Jack’s less likable cousin. Even down to him losing his job due to an incident at work, the truth of which unfolds for us over the course of the story.

Milo as well felt very Danny, but actually I have no clue how old Milo actually was. To me, he could have been anywhere from 5, all the way to like 13. Honestly, I have no clue.

The Mom, Rita, was odd, but she didn’t really impact me one way or another until the end.

I think I did this book a disservice actually by picking it up directly after I had read The Shining. It was literally the next book, so that was all front and center in my brain.

Therefore, I couldn’t help but see comparisons around every turn in this story, and not in a good way. If I’m being honest, that did impact my experience with this book.

As far as the rest of it goes, it didn’t do anything for me. It didn’t do anything wrong either, I just wasn’t feeling anything from the characters, or any atmosphere, or sense of place. It all felt very flat.

There was certainly plenty going on, as far as action and progression, but I just didn’t care. I know so many people are going to love this. I’ve read some of the reviews and their experiences with it sound incredible.

I wish the same could have happened for me.

I’m glad I gave this one a shot. It had an intriguing premise overall. I just wish I could have connected more with the characters and plot.

As I’ve said before though, just because this one didn’t work for me, doesn’t mean it won’t work for you. I definitely feel like I am in the minority opinion at this point, so please check out all the other great reviews for this book.

If the synopsis sounds interesting to you, it’s absolutely worth picking up. You could find a new favorite and then, feel free to come back and tell me how wrong I am!

Thank you to the publisher, Gallery / Saga Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I’m sad this was a miss for me, but I look forward to picking up more from both of these authors in the future!!

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Re-Reading The Shining for the 4th-Time!!!

The ShiningThe Shining by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was my 4th-time reading The Shining.

You read that correctly, the 4th-time. I’m aware rereading isn’t for everyone, but I am a huge supporter and fan of rereading, especially tried and true favorites.

I know a lot of people feel it is a waste of time, but for me, when a story is special enough to you, each time with it is like a whole new experience. That’s exactly how I feel every time I open the pages of this book.

Additionally, I feel like where I am at in my life plays a huge role in what I take out of a reading experience.

For example, the first time I read this, I was in high school. You better believe that 14-year old Meg walked away from this having picked up on different things than 44-year old Meg does, reading it now.

My experiences have shown me that rereading allows me to focus on different areas of any particular story. This time around, for me, I felt myself really drawn to the private thoughts and emotions of this cast of characters.

Jack’s experience, in particular, as he struggles with the position he finds himself in, his loitering addiction and the love for his family, hit me hard this time. Instead of seeing his horrible aspects front and center, I thought more about what was going on with him internally.

There were moments of clarity for him, when he could see beyond the fog of the hotel’s power, moments where he cherished his son and wife, but they would slip away like mist. It made my heart ache for the whole family.

This experience also reiterated for me how much I love Wendy and Hallorann. They got played dirty in the movie adaptation and we all know it. Not by the actors, the acting was fantastic, but yeah, they feel like completely different people in the book, IMO.

Again, I was beyond impressed with some of the scenes in this still having the ability to scare the shit out of me, even after all these years. The perfect example would be the first time Jack tries to trim the topiary.

That freaking scene gets my pulse racing every time!

I also felt like I paid more attention to the history of The Overlook this time through; like when Jack is looking into it. I really felt focused in those sections and loved being reminded of its intensely lurid history.

Finally, I would just give all the stars in the universe, yet again, to King’s sense of place with this one. His ability to transform a hotel into an actual character in the story is just a masterpiece. It’s basically the standard to which I compare atmosphere in all other stories.

I’m so glad I took the time to reread this. It was exactly what I needed to re-energize my reading. You better believe, this won’t be the last time either!


Here’s the thing, July hasn’t been the best reading month for me. I’ve had a lot of 2-to-3-star books. I’m frustrated. I’m getting disgruntled and burnt out on it honestly.

I have never been in a reading slump before, but I definitely feel myself drifting into that territory…

I feel like in an effort to keep that from happening, I am going to reread one of my top-3 favorite books of all-time. If anyone can shake me out of this funk, it’s Jack Torrance. I hear the fourth times a charm!!!

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Review: Episode Thirteen by Craig DiLouie

Episode ThirteenEpisode Thirteen by Craig DiLouie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Episode Thirteen sounded perfect to me and while there were quite a few things I enjoyed about the story, it was a bit of a mixed bag for me.

I took some time to process my experience with this one before I even attempted to write a review. I was so disappointed initially, but I wouldn’t say that would be a fair assessment of all my time with this book.

I think a lot of the disappointment may have stemmed from me building this one up so much in my mind ahead of time. I set my own unrealistically high expectations, if you will.

This story follows a ghost hunting reality tv crew. Quick side note about me, I have been so into ghost hunting YouTube lately. It’s like my go-to late night viewing, so I was super pumped that DiLouie was bringing some of that to the page.

I listened to the audiobook and I do feel like this story lends itself well to that medium. The audio production was very well executed and I would recommend it.

But while I really enjoyed the audio production, I wouldn’t say I ever really connected with the story overall.

Halfway through, I wouldn’t have even been able to tell you the name of the property they were exploring. I also had a difficult time keeping track of some of the male characters. They all seemed like carbon copies to me in the moment.

And even though I celebrate the over-arching vibe of the book, once we got to the crux of the story, it lost me. It reminded me a lot of both Hide and These Fleeting Shadows.

By this I mean, that a certain plot device was used in all three to sort of explain the nature of the places/settings of each of these stories.

It didn’t work for me in either of those cases and it didn’t work for me here either. The thing is none of the synopsis indicates this is where these stories would go, so there’s no actual way to avoid it. Sorry about it, but it’s true.

At the end of the day, even though I wasn’t dazzled by this one, I would absolutely continue picking up more stories by DiLouie. You can’t win ’em all.

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