Review: Dark Matter – Blake Crouch

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SYNOPSIS: “Are you happy with your life?”

Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.

Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.

Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”

In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.

Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe. – via Goodreads

Man, a while ago Mettel Ray spoke of Dark Matter on her blog, and I decided it would be my next Crouch read, as I have a few on my Kindle and just didn’t know which one to go with, and man, I am glad I went with this one. I really don’t want to say too much about this book to avoid spoilers or to give away too much of the story, so I guess we will see how this review goes down.

Dark Matter is a super fun read. I was hooked essentially from the off. It took a few pages to get rolling, and I was wondering if I was sitting with another version of Crouch’s Wayward Pines trilogy, when suddenly it kicked into overdrive and built a truly fascinating story for itself.

The book might have been a tad too long, but that didn’t slow down the reading, just made it a touch more bloated than it should have been. The story is sharp and drags you in and really gets you thinking about a lot of things. Jason is a character you sympathise with and want to see succeed, but you are also not entirely sure exactly how he is supposed to emerge victorious, or what is really going on.

Okay, I don’t really want to say anything more, except that this is a great read. Dark Matter is smart, engaging, twisty and extremely entertaining. Without a doubt my favourite Blake Crouch  novel to date. It wasn’t missing anything, and delivered the goods in a solid fashion. I can highly recommend this one.

Review: The Confession – Jo Spain

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I received this book in exchange for an honest review. 

SYNOPSIS: Late one night a man walks into the luxurious home of disgraced banker Harry McNamara and his wife Julie. The man launches an unspeakably brutal attack on Harry as a horror-struck Julie watches, frozen by fear.

Just an hour later the attacker, JP Carney, has handed himself in to the police. He confesses to beating Harry to death, but JP claims that the assault was not premeditated and that he didn’t know the identity of his victim. With a man as notorious as Harry McNamara, the detectives cannot help wondering, was this really a random act of violence or is it linked to one of Harry’s many sins: corruption, greed, betrayal? – via Goodreads

So the write up for this looked interesting when I skimmed it. I requested it, read some other books, then picked it on my reading list without remembering what it was about exactly, and man oh man, that was just so worth it. I was so hooked on this book and just wanted to know what was going on every step of the way. I wanted answers!

Spain sets up the story really well. We get this brutal crime, and from there we get three people reconstructing the story for us, from their own perspective. We read about JP from when he was a child and how his upbringing was, and it is quite something to read. Then there is Julie telling us about her marriage to her husband, the man so brutally and senselessly attacked by JP, and finally there is Alice, relentlessly pursuing the truth, desperately clawing at the crime to see how it all fits.

So the story is told in those three fragmented parts, each contributing to the story every step of the way. It is easy to pick up where you left off, as well as to see which character’s section you are reading, which is dead helpful. I appreciated how you never really get a sense of who has done what, and who is innocent, and who is wrong. Each character has their own reasons, their own flaws, their own idiosyncrasies, and the book blends them and blurs them all so well that you are on the fence the whole time, commiserating with a character one moment and condemning them the next.

Something that did irritate me endlessly, however, was the constant referencing of Julie’s tits. Not breasts, not ample chest, but tits, and this point was hammered in, as though this character was definitely purely by her tits. I don’t know, it got old and annoying really quickly, and just felt out of place in this the whole time.

The Confession is written well and flows, you just breeze through it, and just want to know what is going on because the pacing, too, is spot on. Not too much information too quickly, not too little too slowly, so you get just the right amount of satisfaction to keep you going back for more and more. I could highly recommend this read, and have no regrets for checking it out. I had an absolute blast with it, and found it super entertaining.

Review: The Killer Inside Me – Jim Thompson

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SYNOPSIS: Everyone in the small town of Central City, Texas loves Lou Ford. A deputy sheriff, Lou’s known to the small-time criminals, the real-estate entrepreneurs, and all of his coworkers–the low-lifes, the big-timers, and everyone in-between–as the nicest guy around. He may not be the brightest or the most interesting man in town, but nevertheless, he’s the kind of officer you’re happy to have keeping your streets safe. The sort of man you might even wish your daughter would end up with someday.

But behind the platitudes and glad-handing lurks a monster the likes of which few have seen. An urge that has already claimed multiple lives, and cost Lou his brother Mike, a self-sacrificing construction worker who fell to his death on the job in what was anything but an accident. A murder that Lou is determined to avenge–and if innocent people have to die in the process, well, that’s perfectly all right with him. – via Goodreads

I had no idea what I was getting when I ordered this book, so I went into this one totally blind. In fact, I didn’t even read the synopsis when I opened it, I just decided to go ahead and see what it was all about, and see how dark and twisted it would be, how accurate the blurbs from King and Kubrick would be, and I was not disappointed.

This book is told from Lou’s perspective, and the longer you read, the more you realise that Lou is, indeed, not right, and definitely has a deviant mind and a masterful way of rationalising the way he thinks, and definitely feels that he is smarter than anyone around him. It is evident throughout that Lou is off, and the more you read, the more chilling his detachment from people and regular social norms is.

The story is simply told, and you put together the puzzle pieces of Lou, his life, and the reasons he provides for the things that he does. It is also a cold look into events and people, and that makes this a right fascinating read. Lou seems like a dude that everyone likes, but it soon shows that the more things go wrong, not everyone is swept up by his Southern charms.

The Killer Inside Me also spends some time on some hardcore deaths, some sad ones, and a look see at some master manipulations. There are allusions as to Lou’s past, and they crop up consistently, but it is also evident that, because the telling of this story is from Lou, there is a lot of stuff that he doesn’t want to spend too much time examining, so we ultimately only have hte bare bones of his childhood and how his father and Michael fit in, and how that comes together. You get a lot of opportunity to fill in the blanks.

The Killer Inside Me is compelling, from the off. You are drawn into Lou’s world, the strange way he deals with people, how he has a mask on, and how that slips. There is some scheming and wheeling and dealing all the time that you are reading, and it is interesting to see how it all ties together, and what Lou’s thoughts on the matter are.

Indeed, The Killer Inside Me is a darker, more chilling insight and read. I was fascinated and thought it was excellent. It is a short book, so it tells the story quickly, but it never actually feels rushed and is a breeze to read. I could highly recommend this if you are into reading a book that is telling the story from the perspective of a killer, one you get to spend a bit of time with. I could definitely recommend this one.

Review: The Last Mrs Parrish – Liv Constantine

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I received this book in exchange for an honest review. 

SYNOPSIS: Amber Patterson is fed up. She’s tired of being a nobody: a plain, invisible woman who blends into the background. She deserves more—a life of money and power like the one blond-haired, blue-eyed goddess Daphne Parrish takes for granted. To everyone in the exclusive town of Bishops Harbor, Connecticut, Daphne and her husband, Jackson—the beautiful philanthropist and the confident real estate mogul—are a golden couple straight out of a fairytale, blessed with two lovely young daughters.

Amber’s envy could eat her alive . . . if she didn’t have a plan. Amber uses Daphne’s compassion and caring to insinuate herself into the family’s life—the first step in a meticulous scheme to undermine her. Before long, Amber is Daphne’s closest confidante, traveling to Europe with the Parrish family, and growing closer to Jackson. But a skeleton from her past may undermine everything that Amber has worked towards, and if it is discovered, her well-laid plan may fall to pieces. – via Goodreads

Disclaimer: I am so over reading these taglines for books touting it an addictive/shocking/thrilling and having “the best twist” or a “twist you won’t see coming”. Eventually this is going to cause me to not request books or something I swear.

Now, moving on from that, let’s get to the book. Initially I was not a fan of this book. I liked the concept, but didn’t know how well the execution was going as it was a bit rocky in the beginning. I resented reading from Amber’s perspective because really, what a bitch and what a horrible piece of work. There were absolutely no redeeming qualities to her, and the more you read about her, the more you realise that she is one hell of a selfish twit and sociopathic and all. Yes, I am aware that is exactly how she is intended to come across.

I won’t say that the book is shocking – Daphne is a character I liked from the beginning, one I did not believe to be even remotely as stupid as Amber thought her to be. Jackson set my teeth on edge, and I felt so justified in my belief that he was an abusive douche nugget and that he and Amber totally deserved each other. I felt vindicated man, really. They are truly icky characters.

The book flows quite well, laying this sordid tale bare, and you cannot help but be drawn in. As I said, it might come across as a bit predictable, but in no which way does that mean it is not engaging. It is compelling, but it could certainly have toned down on the money shaming that went on the whole time in the beginning, it got old fast. To read about the reality of Jackson and Daphne’s marriage was quite rough because really, that was some mad stuff going on there, and I was fascinated to see how Constantine would carry through with it. Every time you think that something might have been forgotten/overlooked in the narrative, Constantine delivers the goods.

All in all, The Last Mrs Parrish is well worth the read. It is engaging and interesting and has some things that will make you think (spoiled children and one’s notion of abuse amongst other things). The Last Mrs Parrish is a solid psychological/drama read (though not a shocking! thriller! like it is marketed), and I am so glad I checked it out, and can certainly recommend it!

Review: The Coffin Dancer – Jeffery Deaver

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Lincoln Rhyme #2

SYNOPSIS: NYPD criminalist Lincoln Rhyme joins his beautiful protege, Amelia Sachs, in the hunt for the Coffin Dancer–an ingenious killer who changes appearance even faster than he adds to his trail of victims. They have only one clue: the madman has a tattoo of the Grim Reaper waltzing with a woman. Rhyme must rely on his wits and intuition to track the elusive murderer through New York City–knowing they have only forty-eight hours before the Coffin Dancer strikes again. – via Goodreads

Alrigthy then folks, let’s get on with this series! I recently read the first one after putting it off for so many years (don’t you dare judge me, my To Read list is so daunting I sometimes just stare at my Kindle wondering where I will go next on my reading journey, and then just keep staring). I loved it, and I just knew that I had to keep on with it and see where it all went. Well, the follow up to The Bone Collector certainly does not disappoint!

Lincoln Rhyme returns in style, and certainly has more drive for living than he did in the first one. Apparently the Bone Collector drew him out of his depressive shell, and reuniting with Sellitto and acquainting with Sachs is the best thing that could have happened to him. I truly enjoy Rhyme’s mind, and was again drawn into this book and fascinated with our main man being a C4 quadriplegic. Sachs, too, is a character I thoroughly enjoyed. They both had actions in this book that felt a little jarring to the characters we have been presented with up to this point, but oh well.

Percey Clay is a character that really peeved me in the beginning, and not just because I am attached to Sachs and love the interactions between her and Rhyme (that dynamic is fascinating). No, I had beef with how incredibly selfish Percey was, and then she was lauded as being to brave. No, being pigheaded does not necessarily make you brave. Ugh. But on the opposite side of her, we have Roland Bell and Fred Dellray to read about, and they are both characters I thoroughly enjoyed.

I always appreciate reading the interactions between Rhyme and Thom, they are like family, and Thom does not put up with Rhyme’s temper and neglect of his body, and the two are quite close. This is never more clear than when Thom is proud of Rhyme’s accomplishments and how much he (Rhyme) is enjoying his new gadgets, etc. It’s adorable. Then there is the realtionship between Sachs and Rhyme, and I really like it because it is not a romance as you would think of it – that fire is there, don’t get me wrong, but they have immense amount of respect for one another and both push each other, which I like. I did not like the insane jealousy plot that was put in here, it felt a little forced and silly.

The Coffin Dancer was another smart, worthy nemesis for Rhyme to track, and it was quite an intense journey. The Coffin Dancer is as twisty as you would expect, which totally works, and kept me hooked. The plot barrels along, proving that Deaver is quite a deft writer. There are some niggles and issues here, to be sure, but for the most part this is a super entertaining read.

Overall, The Coffin Dancer is a solid follow up for Lincoln Rhyme, and this series has certainly hooked me with these two books. I am really looking forward to reading more on this. The books so far have proven to be smart and well written, two things I appreciate in a book.

Review: The Roanoke Girls – Amy Engel

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I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS: Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die.

After her mother’s suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother’s mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran fast and far away.

Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again. – via Goodreads

Wow. Just wow. The Roanoke Girls is just so up my alley. I think the last book I read with such a hunger was Karin Slaughter’s The Good Daughter. I didn’t want to work or anything. I just wanted to curl up and read and ignore the world. I was drawn in from the off, and fascinated with the entire book.

I enjoyed the way that the book was written, with the “then” section and then the “now” section, as well as the little snippets of the other Roanoke girls sprinkled throughout. It really created tension, and this dark atmosphere you get sucked into and wrapped up in. Yes, the big ick is revealed pretty early, but that in no way affects the book negatively. In fact, it makes you even more observant on the dysfunctional behaviour you were wondering about before. The Roanoke Girls is really well written and flows, with the reveals slowly but surely painting the complexity of the story.

I really liked the way that Engel created the characters. Each had their own story, and each little flashback revealed some more, and every little section of the present peeled away yet another layer. Allegra is totally different from Lane, yet you can see how the girls are bonded. Allegra has a terrible secret, and is jealous because she knows how things will be, yet she loves Lane. It is very complicated. Add to the mix how the author created their grandfather, Yates, and you are in for an disquieting ride. The man does come across as charismatic and charming and loving, which leaves you with a perverted, sickening, uncomfortable feeling, which is amazing to establish the family ties at Roanoke.

Then there are the side characters, most notably Tommy and Cooper, and that is a whole other kettle of fish. Cooper pretty much immediately swept me off my feet, so I totally got why Lane was bowled over. Not everyone’s cup of tea,  to be sure, but total book crush for me. Their relationship was amazing, and then it was crazy, and I could see the shift of it, even while I didn’t like it. They were both damaged creatures inexorably drawn to each other, and just clicked. Tommy is also the all American boy, the safe kid, the nice guy, but he also has multiple layers to him. These characters having so many layers makes for interesting dynamics, and you are so hooked.

As you can tell, I thoroughly enjoyed The Roanoke Girls. I just gobbled this book up, it was thrilling, sick and rough and yet there was hope tinging the edges. It had that same dark, twisted vibe as Averil Dean’s The Undoing, a book I liked a lot more than most people did, it seems. I highly recommend this read if you like something a little warped and unsettling, something that peeks into some messed up places.

Review: Blindsighted – Karin Slaughter

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karin slaughter blindsighted cover

Grant County #1

SYNOPSIS: A small Georgia town erupts in panic when a young college professor is found brutally mutilated in the local diner. But it’s only when town pediatrician and coroner Sara Linton does the autopsy that the full extent of the killer’s twisted work becomes clear. Sara’s ex-husband, police chief Jeffrey Tolliver, leads the investigation — a trail of terror that grows increasingly macabre when another local woman is found crucified a few days later. But he’s got more than a sadistic serial killer on his hands, for the county’s sole female detective, Lena Adams — the first victim’s sister — wants to serve her own justice. But it is Sara who holds the key to finding the killer. A secret from her past could unmask the brilliantly malevolent psychopath .. or mean her death. – via Goodreads

I have been reading Karin Slaughter’s work for years. My love affair with her books and her characters started with this book, something I randomly stumbled upon years ago, totally by accident, and then I was hooked. Just like that, it was all over for me. Blindsighted is one of the best debut novels I have ever read from an author.

Slaughter wastes no time setting up her characters, and before you know it, you are invested in them, their lives, their everything. She has an earnest way of writing, and it makes the characters real, bringing them to life from the pages, and that is not an easy thing to do. The novel also doesn’t suffer from stiff writing, like some debuts do. The story flows, and Slaughter also does not hold back the punches, and is not scared of getting her hands dirty. She does not shy away from heinous details, and they are also not just thrown in to shock. They are there to serve a purpose .

The book is fast paced, bold, brutal, and is written in a way that is flows effortlessly. It makes for an intense, albeit quick, read. Slaughter really is one hell of a storyteller. The tales she weaves and the characters are strong and well presented. The story had the perfect balance that simulates real life intersecting a terrible tragedy. For a debut novel, this truly blew my mind. I also appreciate that the situations were not too far out there like usual for some novels, so strong points for her there as it gives it a feel of the events being viable. Also, she deals with real issues, from romance, relationships, friendships, to issues still riddling the South.

Blindsighted is a fantastic debut novel, and I have been hooked from this very first book. Dark, brutal, violent, with characters that are so real that you get invested in, I cannot recommend Slaughter’s work enough. The Grant County series is a fantastic series, and would definitely say that this is worth the read if you are into gritty, nasty crime thrillers that have darkness and guts.

Review: Divergent – Veronica Roth

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divergent veronia roth book cover

Divergent #1

SYNOPSIS: In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her. – via Goodreads

Years ago, my best friend Natasha was hopping up and down about me getting to this trilogy, so the Distance Book Club was reinstated quickly. Evidently she needed someone to share this with, and so I got onto it. I enjoyed it all those years ago, and recently decided to revisit it again to see how I felt now. The novel directly takes us into a dreadful dystopian future. The children, however, are not necessarily suffering like you would come to expect, though there are some issues.

I enjoyed the concept of them having to choose a faction, as well as what those factions stood for, though it seemed illogical to me that they would not be able to maintain ties with other family members in other factions, etc. I just couldn’t buy into that, though I understand why it was executed this way. Tris is definitely a better leading lady, far less selfish than Katniss Everdeen (who you all know I have some beef with), so reading about her did not grate on me. I actually really, really liked her as the heroine. She is strong, smart, calculating and enjoyable. Then there is Four. Let’s talk about Four. I have mad love for Four. He is strong, he is mysterious (but not in the annoying way), he is just… the more I read about him, the more I adore him. Major character crushing going on here. He’s just a character I understand, and I appreciate that.

These books are written for young adults, and it is evident in the writing style as well as emotions that are described and the flow of the story. There is a large amount of teenage angst (I am so glad that I am so over that ridiculous part of life), but not as over the top as these stories can sometimes get. There is plenty of petty jealousy, childish hissy fits and obsession, though it works eventually if you can just bear in mind it is a book for young people still in that period in life, so I suppose they can identify more.

It took me a while to get into the reading style as it was written in first person, present tense, which is always difficult for me to slot into. I did enjoy the electricity between Four and Tris – it was incredibly painful at times, and at others so sweet, so there was that. It is actually a brilliant romance that Roth hit on here, something I actually looked forward to when I got to the scenes for them. There is also at least only one love interest, which is refreshing. The romance – back to that. It is great. Four believes in Tris’s strength, not that she is some damsel in distress, and the romance isn’t this “if I can’t have the other, I will simply die”. Gosh and the build up damn near drove me wild, loved it.

There are also a lot of places that blatantly show that Roth is a first time writer, plenty of places she tries for too much mystery and executes with too little gusto, but overall it is definitely not a bad read. Her supporting characters can be entertaining (I really like Will and Christina), but ultimately they are not really robust characters. Roth fills out Four and Tris, but the rest are vehicles to carry the story, no more, no less, which is a pity. The first half of the book is very slow and meandering and seemed pretty pointless in places, but the second half catches and snowballs into something rather good. It is also a quick read, in case you are looking for a light filler between books. I was a bit iffy about how some stuff went down at the end, as it really was a bit of a wreck, what with no finesse and proper build up, but outside of that, I think this is a pretty decent read and would recommend it.

Review: Final Girls – Riley Sager

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final-girls-cover

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS: Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.

Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.

That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished. – via Goodreads

GRADE 7.5Alrighty, this one was actually good. It is what I expected – entertaining, keeps you reading, reads really quickly, but never actually delves into the psychological aspects of surviving something so horrific. Sure, it touches on it, and uses some abnormal behaviour to showcase it, but it never gets to the guts of it. That being said, I enjoyed this read.

The story barrels along, and between the main story, there are flashbacks to Pine Cottage, telling us what happened to Quincy. They are spaced really well, because it is not frequently enough to rip you from the main story, and gives you just enough to get us wondering what exactly happened on that terrifying birthday trip. I appreciated that. The pacing was also pretty decent. I feel that the book could have been tightened up in places, it felt a little long winded at times, but not so much to make the book a drag.

To be honest, I was not really taken with any of the characters. I found Jeff to be empty and spineless, Quincy to be the insubstantial shadow she was (I suppose we call that good writing right there), and then there was Sam, who was constantly so abrasive I could not stand her. The situations these two women find themselves in is crazy, and yet you are interested to see where it all goes.

I really wished that Sager had delved more into the psychology of survival, but didn’t really expect it, so I was not horrified when it was all there. I thought the novel truly succeeded in not being bland and boring or overly predictable, as it kept you guessing and also showcased some great twists and turns.

SPOILER: I didn’t ever actually buy into Joe Hannen being the Pine Cottage killer because Sager almost tried too hard to sell that, so my back was up. Plus (and this was intended, I am sure) when you read more about him later in the flashbacks, something just doesn’t sit right or ring true about him being crazy like that.

Final Girls was a fine pick, and an entertaining read that I can see becoming rather popular. I can definitely recommend the read, especially if you are into horror. If you aren’t into horror, no worries, there is plenty to keep you entertained here. The book did drag a little strangely in some places, but I enjoyed it. Worth checking out!

Review: Sandcastle and Other Stories – Justin Bog

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sandcastle and other stories cover

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS: These twelve literary, psychological, and suspense tales are nothing short of an adventure through a roiling sea of emotion. Meet: an old man twisted by fate and a lost love . . . a young girl playing on the ocean shore who becomes entangled in nets of a mercurial god . . . a divorced man mired in troubles who’s coerced into taking a singles cruise . . . a Hollywood actor in a television drama who’s always typecast as the bad boy . . . a child kept awake by night terrors, and a woman who hides her secretive personality from everyone on the beach one sunny day. Genuine voices of the characters, mixed with a clear-eyed tonal directness, make this a series with mesmerizing psychological interaction. Stories span a broad depth of human understanding and build a bridge between deepest chasms of pain and high portals of joy. Read these dark tales and stand witness to unspeakable hate sitting with cozy wile, right beside unconditional love — a provocative and compelling mirror on the human condition. – via Goodreads

GRADE 7.5I was pleasantly surprised by this. I picked it up, was interested to see the short stories that featured, and there were some solid reviews about it. I had no real idea what to expect from the author, who is someone I had not heard of before, or his style of writing or the type of content. Something I am going to draw attention to from the off is the fact that Justin Bog can write. I mean it, really well. It flows quite well, each story brought something different to the table, even though a lot of them had repeating themes (such as oceans, twins, waves, paranoia, trees, psychological issues, names, etc). Bog’s writing style is engaging and creepy, and all his stories featured here are quite unsettling and psychologically creepy, crawling in under your skin. This might not appeal to the average reader, or someone who does not like some twisted tales, and it will upset those thinking they are getting a light, happy-go-lucky read. However, it totally ticked all my boxes for a short story. Doesn’t give away too much, but just enough to make you think, to wonder, and the way that Bog concludes the stories is also quite good, leaving a world of possibilities open to explore. Sandcastle and Other Stories is a really fast read, so it won’t demand an overkill of your time, and offers a great alternative to the average lot of short stories, something I am not usually a fan of. I looked forward to every story, and even when my mind went wandering, it never strayed too far, and always whipped back to the moment. Each story contains a darkness that is executed very well, and some of these stories linger long after you have  moved on. I am so glad that I took a chance on this, as I am certainly looking forward to reading more of Bog’s work, I would love to see how a full fledged novel from him would play out. If you are into short stories, or would like something that is quick but different, I would highly recommend Sandcastle and Other Stories.