The Final Girl Support Group, By Grady Hendrix ~ 5.0 Stars

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Thanks to NetGalley and Berkley for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Release Date: July 13th, 2021

352 Pages

Synopsis: A fast-paced, thrilling horror novel that follows a group of heroines to die for, from the brilliant New York Times bestselling author of The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires.

In horror movies, the final girl is the one who’s left standing when the credits roll. The one who fought back, defeated,the killer, and avenged her friends. The one who emerges bloodied but victorious. But after the sirens fade and the audience moves on, what happens to her?

Lynette Tarkington is a real-life final girl, who survived a massacre twenty-two years ago and it has defined every day of her life since. And she’s not alone. For more than a decade she’s been meeting with five other actual final girls and their therapist in a support group for those who survived the unthinkable, putting their lives together, piece by piece. That is until one of the women misses a meeting and Lynette’s worst fears are realized—someone knows about the group and is determined to take their lives apart again, piece by piece.

But the one thing about these final girls is that they have each other now, and no matter how bad the odds, how dark the night, how sharp the knife, they will never give up. (Goodreads)

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Remember how popular “slasher” movies were in the late 70s, 80s and 90s? Well picture a world where there are real life Final Girls, and those movies were based on the horrifying events that occurred in their lives. This is the premise of Grady Hendrix’s clever, highly entertaining The Final Girl Support Group. It’s a wild ride right from the beginning, and although it took me a little while to warm up to Lynette, once I learned more of her backstory I completely understood her over-the-top actions.

While the subject matter is admittedly dark, this has all of Hendrix’s trademark black humor as well. In between the chills, thrills, and yes, chuckles, are some thoughtful looks at how our society not only treats victims of violence, but the perpetrators themselves. There are fans of these monsters which at first seem unbelievable until you remember the devoted worshipers serial killers like Ted Bundy and Charles Manson had.

In this twisted tale you’ve got six traumatized survivors who for much of the book, aren’t exactly supporting each other, despite the title. They’re all dealing with the physical and emotional scars that their ordeals have left them in different ways which doesn’t leave much left over for anyone else. I spent a good portion of the book second guessing whether Lynette or one of her fellow survivors had finally gone over the edge and turned monster here, and there were enough twists to make my poor head spin. The last few climactic chapters are a kick-ass display of sisterhood and the ending was brilliant!

The Final Girl Support Group is perfect for horror fans looking for a fresh take on the slasher horror sub-genre. And unsurprisingly, it’s already been scooped up by Annapurna Pictures who will be developing it into a tv series. I can’t wait to see what they do with this story. Meanwhile, if you’re a fan of film franchises like Halloween, Friday the 13th, Nightmare On Elm Street, and Scream, you’re going to want to read this book. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed!

Nurse Appreciation Week

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In addition to it being Teachers Appreciation Week, Wednesday was Cinco de Mayo (which I apologize missing) and Thursday marked the start of Nurses Week with this year’s theme being Frontline Warriors, for obvious reasons. I’d like to thank all the nurses who have sacrificed their time, and in the course of this past year, the ones who sacrificed their lives while taking care of the rest of us. 

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Chasing the Boogeyman, By Richard Chizmar ~ 5.0 Stars

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Thanks to NetGalley and Gallery Books for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Release Date: August 17th, 2021

336 Pages

Synopsis: The New York Times bestselling coauthor of Gwendy’s Button Box brings his signature “ thrilling page-turning” (Michael Koryta, author of How It Happened) prose to this story of small-town evil that combines the storytelling of Stephen King with the true-crime suspense of Michelle McNamara.

In the summer of 1988, the mutilated bodies of several missing girls begin to turn up in a small Maryland town. The grisly evidence leads police to the terrifying assumption that a serial killer is on the loose in the quiet suburb. But soon a rumor begins to spread that the evil stalking local teens is not entirely human. Law enforcement, as well as members of the FBI, are certain that the is a living, breathing madman—and he’s playing games with them. For a once peaceful community, trapped in the depths of paranoia and suspicion, it feels like a nightmare that will never end.

Recent college graduate, Richard Chizmar, returns to his hometown just as a curfew is enacted, and a neighborhood watch is formed. In the midst of preparing for his wedding and embarking on a writing career, he soon finds himself thrust into the real-life horror story. Inspired by the terrifying events, Richard writes a personal account of the serial killer’s reign of terror, unaware that these events will continue to haunt him for years to come.

A clever, terrifying, and heartrending work of metafiction, Chasing the Boogeyman is the ultimate marriage between horror fiction and true crime. Chizmar’s “brilliant…absolutely fascinating, totally compelling, and immediately poignant” (C.J. Tudor, New York Times bestselling author) writing is on full display in this truly unique novel that will haunt you long after you turn the final page. (Goodreads)

I loved Gwendy’s Button Box, which Richard Chizmar coauthored with Stephen King so as soon as I saw Chasing the Boogeyman on NetGalley, I immediately requested it. It’s the second metafiction novel I’ve read this week, and it’s another that’s knocked my socks off!

The majority of the story is fiction but I had to continually remind myself of that the entire time I was reading. When you first start this it actually seems more like an autobiographical and true crime novel and that’s because it actually is. Edgewood, Maryland is a real small town in Maryland, and while it has the same issues that plague many communities across the country, overall it’s a picturesque slice of Americana. You can feel the love that Chizmar still has for it and its residents and his descriptive writing immediately drew me in with it’s nostalgic look at his boyhood home and family and friends. The horror starts with some mysterious and creepy events that actually occurred between 1986 and 1990. Using this as a jumping off point, the author than turns this into a haunting, supernatural tale unlike any other I’ve read. What transpires is unreal, mesmerizing, and utterly mind blowing and adding to this are the photos included at the end of each chapter. An absolute must read at the end of the book is the author’s note where Chizmar goes into detail regarding how and why he decided to write this, and the ingenious way the photos were created.

In the end, Chasing the Boogeyman is simply a brilliant piece of storytelling. I guarantee it will be one of this summer’s most talked about books, and I HIGHLY recommend it for fans of authors like Stephen King and Robert McCammon, and of the true crime and horror genres.

Hell of a Book, By Jason Mott ~ 4.5 Stars

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Thanks to NetGalley and PENGUIN GROUP Dutton for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Release Date: June 29th, 2021

336 Pages

Synopsis: In Hell of a Book, an African-American author sets out on a cross-country book tour to promote his bestselling novel. That storyline drives Hell of a Book and is the scaffolding of something larger and more urgent: since his novel also tells the story of Soot, a young Black boy living in a rural town in the recent past, and The Kid, a possibly imaginary child who appears to the author on his tour.

Throughout, these characters’ stories build and build and as they converge, they astonish. For while this heartbreaking and magical book entertains and is at once about family, love of parents and children, art and money, there always is the tragic story of a police shooting playing over and over on the news.

Who has been killed? Who is The Kid? Will the author finish his book tour and what kind of a world will he leave behind? Unforgettably powerful, an electrifying high-wire act, ideal for book clubs, and the book Mott says he has been writing in his head for ten years, Hell of a Book, in its final twists truly becomes its title. (Goodreads)

Hell of a Book definitely lives up to its title! I started this Tuesday night before bed, thinking I’d get a few chapters in and before I knew it, it was 2:30 in the morning! This is metafiction at its best. Mott’s characters: an unnamed African-American author who’s on a book tour to promote his bestselling novel, Hell of a Book, and a young ten-year-old Black boy known only as The Kid, who may or may not be a figment of the author’s imagination, and young Soot, bullied unmercifully because of the darkness of his skin. There’s obviously a connection between them, but it’s quite a journey to get to what that is. To be honest it’s difficult to go further into the story without giving anything away. I will warn you that it explores quite a few themes that certain readers may have trouble with including: bullying, racism, and police shootings. There are some flashes of humor, especially regarding the publishing industry, but for the most part this is a reminder that we live in a country where people are judged by the color of their skin and Black families have to sit down with their children and have The Talk, to explain how to react if they’re stopped by police. It truly is a quirky, at times perplexing, yet always thought-provoking read that is perfect for book groups and upper high school and college literature classes. I guarantee that if you try Hell of a Book, you won’t soon forget it!