Must-Watch Monday: Horror Films

Hell House LLC

Hell House LLC tells the partial, disjointed story of a company (i.e. a group of friends) that designs and runs haunted houses each year. Although I stumbled upon the movie by accident, it has since become one of my favorite Halloween-themed titles.

Brief comedic reprieves in Hell House LLC—courtesty of Paul, my favorite character—lighten the otherwise slow-building tension. Suspense and mystery are what this film does best, leaving several elements of the friends’ journey open to speculation and interpretation. Documentary-style storytelling (interviews, found footage, and secondhand video) works in the film’s favor, especially when it comes to nailing down what actually happened “that night” in 2009.

Amazon Instant Video (FREE for Prime members): http://amzn.to/2ycnavl

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Martyrs

First, to watch and understand Martyrs, one must be prepared to read subtitles (unless fluent in French).

Second, this movie is NOT for the faint of heart.

To me, it’s almost divided into two halves, the second of which seems to take an entirely different turn. While some of the violence and gore may be construed as gratuitous, much of it serves a purpose that isn’t revealed until the end of the film. One image in particular is seared into my memory. I won’t forget it soon…or ever.

WATCH AT YOUR OWN RISK.

Amazon Instant Video: http://amzn.to/2xuoLOw

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Sinister

Sinister is one of few horror films to affect my ability to sleep and feel safe in my own home. (In fact, the only others I can remember are Candyman and The Unborn, after watching both back-to-back at a sleepover in the seventh grade.)

Not only is Ethan Hawke’s acting top-notch, but the director does a fabulous job of balancing “jumpy” scenes with an ever-increasing intensity that reaches its crescendo at the movie’s close.

Let’s just say my husband wasn’t thrilled when the lamp by my bedside stayed on stayed on that night.

Amazon Instant Video (to rent or buy): http://amzn.to/2yccWeE

DVD: http://amzn.to/2yCkWac

 

****Stay tuned for more horror-themed movie reviews throughout the month!****

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October: The Season of Horror

It’s FINALLY October, the season of horror films!

Maybe it was AMC’s FearFest, or a similar movement from Chiller TV, that first got me hooked on the genre and medium. Either way, I’ve become a self-professed horror film “connoisseur” in the last few years, and I’d love to pass my recommendations along to viewers of like minds.

For the purposes of this post, I’ll bypass a defense of the genre and its fans here (although I did have my students read Stephen King’s article “Why We Crave Horror Movies” this semester).

Some people don’t understand those of us who watch, analyze, and re-watch scary movies. And that’s okay….

To each their own!

Although a departure from the blog’s titular entertainment medium, I’ll be doing several film features this month, all revolving around the scary, the horrific, the suspenseful, the dark.

To kick it off, I’ll share an article that was shared with me: “Here’s 31 Underrated Creepy, Disturbing, and Downright Scary Films You Can Watch Throughout October”. My plan is to watch and review all of these, while also highlighting some of my favorite all-time horror films.

If this subject matter appeals to you, stick with me this month as we cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time! And if this subject matter doesn’t appeal to you, keep following our Facebook page for book-related posts, per usual. 🙂

~Holly

Cover Reveal: Saving Mercy by Abbie Roads

SavingMercyHighRes


Saving Mercy by Abbie Roads

Series: Fatal Truth Series
Genre: Dark Romantic Thriller
Publication Date: April 4, 2017

AVAILABLE ON NETGALLEY

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He’s found her at last…

Cain Killion knows himself to be a damaged man. His only redeeming quality? The extrasensory connection to blood that he uses to catch killers. His latest case takes a macabre turn when he discovers a familiar and haunting symbol linking the crime to his horrific past—and the one woman who might understand what it means.

Only to lose her to a nightmare

Mercy Ledger is brave, resilient, beautiful—and in terrible danger. The moment Cain finds her the line between good and evil blurs and the only thing clear to them is that they belong together. Love is the antidote for blood—but is their bond strong enough to overcome the madness that stalks them?

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Book Review: Love & Rockets by Maggie Wells

Love & RocketsLove & Rockets by Maggie Wells
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another gem from witty wordsmith Maggie Wells!

Third in the Coastal Heat series, Love & Rockets follows in the footsteps of the previous installments: the title can be read as a standalone romance, and it stands out among its peers as superbly written.

Maggie’s use of the English language never fails to amaze me. While reading, I often think: “Wow, I never would have thought to express __________ in that way.” Rather than watered down prose, her vocabulary and syntax challenge readers, giving credit to their intellect and/or powers of deduction.

Like the other titles in the Coastal Heat series, Love & Rockets features relatable, well-developed characters and sources of conflict that readers can identify with: family tensions, societal hierarchies, career demands, and—last but not least—the treacherous “dating” landscape.

A Maggie Wells hero has chinks in his armor, a source of vulnerability that makes him human (one of my favorite aspects of the author’s storytelling). Her heroines, on the other hand, wear pride and independence like a badge and struggle to admit when they need help. This dynamic, when aired with the author’s mastery of the craft, never fails to deliver a page-turner.

Finally, I found the aspects of Jake’s job to be well-researched, and I liked that the novel’s rhetorical devices (i.e. descriptions and comparisons) often revolved around the subject of space science. The latter adds an extra layer of “art” to an already well-written novel.

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Book Review: Race the Darkness by Abbie Roads

Race the Darkness (Fatal Dreams, #1)Race the Darkness by Abbie Roads
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

REALLY impressed with this debut from Abbie Roads!

As Race the Dawn’s premise is quite complex, I really didn’t know what to expect from the title. Preternatural elements, religious fanaticism, and convoluted interpersonal relationships make this a difficult read to categorize. For me, it strikes a balance between my two favorite genres, romance and mystery/suspense, with a sprinkling of paranormal thrown in to keep readers on their toes.

Learning about Xander’s ability, post-trauma, gets the novel off to an interesting start. The hook did its job of investing me in the characters and action, and the momentum never lapsed. Thankfully, there was no sagging middle to contend with. Instead, the action chugs along at a steady pace, offering readers a new discovery in nearly every chapter.

The author’s writing really impressed me. Her vivid descriptions held me captive (no pun intended), and even the villains had a complexity and depth to them that goes beyond the typical good guy-bad guy scenario.

Race the Dawn is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. As this one was a win for me, I’ve already started on another from the author (Hunt the Dawn).

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New Release: Peace of Infinity by Maegan Abel

Title: Peace of Infinity
Author: Maegan Abel
Release Date: Sept 19, 2016
Add on Goodreads
Soul Mates.
Two words that bring out a wide range of meanings, depending on who you’re asking.
According to Evangelie Walker, the women in her family are cursed. She’s watched this curse run rampant her entire life and she’s not about to fall into the trap. To protect herself, Evie keeps everyone at arm’s length, aside from her sister, Cara.
Things are a little different for Gavin Jericho. He’s spent his life waiting for Evie, just like he always does. He knows, without a doubt, she’ll appear at some point and the hollow ache he always feels during the wait will give way to the completeness she brings.
There are theories about soul mates ranging anywhere from completely romanticized Fiction to scientific belief of one soul separated into two bodies. But is it a blessing or a curse to be tied so undeniably to another soul?
Can you find peace in your Infinity?
I wanted to scream. I wanted to beg him to look at me, really look at me, and tell me how to let him in the way he wanted. I just wasn’t enough, even though I tried. And that killed.
“I’m the kind of bitch who is usually proud of that title. I’m the kind of bitch who wears that title like fucking armor.” My voice wobbled and it pissed me off. His expression didn’t change and that just hurt more. How could he bring me to the brink of breaking and not even care? “I’m the kind of bitch who is just barely not bitch enough to pretend that it doesn’t bother me that you see me as a bitch.”
He pushed up, coming to stand right in front of me again, and I did everything in my power not to run away from him and the damage he could cause. This was only the beginning of what Infinity could do and I knew that, but I wasn’t sure I could stop it now. His hand lifted, almost like he was going to touch me, but at the last second, he raked his fingers through his own hair instead. “You’re trying to protect yourself from the wrong things, Evie. You’re guarding yourself on the wrong side and I’m afraid—no, I’m actually fucking terrified that by the time you open your eyes and see that, it’s going to be too late.”
Maybe it was already too late.
“It’s easier to give up everything now than to see how good it can really be and lose it,” I whispered, keeping my eyes on his with a great deal of effort.
He shook his head. “That’s just it. You won’t lose it. This thing between us, that’s the way it works. We all live, we all die, we all start over. The best part of that is knowing that when we start over, we have someone there the next time. And the next.” He sighed and this time he cupped my cheeks with his warm hands. I hadn’t taken the time to really enjoy the way his big hands felt when they touched me. Any part of me. I needed to. “This is the beauty of Infinity. This. Us. Knowing we will always find one another again.”
I had no words. None.
He bent his forehead to mine and closed his eyes. My body shuddered as his sigh washed over me, then he tilted his head up and pressed his lips to my forehead.
“I meant what I said earlier,” he whispered against my skin, the position keeping me from being able to see his face. “I have always loved you. And I always will.” It hit me all at once then. His words felt like goodbye, and it terrified me. My hands came up of their own accord, grabbing his back near his shoulders as if I could hold him to me…as if I could keep us together by sheer force of will.
But I couldn’t find my voice. My fear choked me and kept me from saying the words that would make him stay.
Maegan despises writing about herself in the third person. She also hates touting her accomplishments like she thinks she’s really done anything special…
Now that we got that out of the way, I’ll tell you what you need to know. I was born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I went back to school in my late twenties and studied Stage Production Technology. I now work full-time in the alterations shop of a major department store and part-time backstage in the various theatres around the area.
I’ve been an avid reader from a very young age and the top goal on my list of things to accomplish in my life was to write and publish a book. During the summer of 2013, while working backstage on The Lion King, I read eleven books in four weeks. I read my first New Adult book and was introduced to a genre I felt I could totally relate to. The idea for Perfectly Broken and the character of Lili was born backstage during that time.
   

 

Cover Reveal: Peace of Infinity by Maegan Abel

Title: Peace of Infinity
Author: Maegan Abel
Release Date: Sept 19, 2016
Add on Goodreads
Soul Mates.
Two words that bring out a wide range of meanings, depending on who you’re asking.
According to Evangelie Walker, the women in her family are cursed. She’s watched this curse run rampant her entire life and she’s not about to fall into the trap. To protect herself, Evie keeps everyone at arm’s length, aside from her sister, Cara.
Things are a little different for Gavin Jericho. He’s spent his life waiting for Evie, just like he always does. He knows, without a doubt, she’ll appear at some point and the hollow ache he always feels during the wait will give way to the completeness she brings.
There are theories about soul mates ranging anywhere from completely romanticized Fiction to scientific belief of one soul separated into two bodies. But is it a blessing or a curse to be tied so undeniably to another soul?
Can you find peace in your Infinity?
Maegan despises writing about herself in the third person. She also hates touting her accomplishments like she thinks she’s really done anything special…
Now that we got that out of the way, I’ll tell you what you need to know. I was born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I went back to school in my late twenties and studied Stage Production Technology. I now work full-time in the alterations shop of a major department store and part-time backstage in the various theatres around the area.
I’ve been an avid reader from a very young age and the top goal on my list of things to accomplish in my life was to write and publish a book. During the summer of 2013, while working backstage on The Lion King, I read eleven books in four weeks. I read my first New Adult book and was introduced to a genre I felt I could totally relate to. The idea for Perfectly Broken and the character of Lili was born backstage during that time.
   

 

Book Review: For Better or Worse by Lauren Layne

For Better or Worse (The Wedding Belles, #2)For Better or Worse by Lauren Layne

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

4.5 stars

For Better or Worse is one of those books I hated to put down, looked forward to picking back up, and mourned over as it came to a close. Off-the-charts, sizzling chemistry between its main characters, and surprises that take readers well beyond the predictable, make The Wedding Belles #2 an enjoyable endeavor from start to finish.

Both characters are likable in their own ways, and both storylines emphasize career-related pursuits in some way. (So, not the “finding oneself” of YA or NA, but the finding of one’s passion.) On a more personal level, there’s a mystery behind Josh’s recent past that readers discover along with Heather, and readers are along for the ride as the heroine works through issues with her mother.

Although I’m admittedly a long-standing Lauren Layne fan, the author has kicked it up a notch with this series. Something about the way everything ties together in the end, the scope of the characters’ emotional growth, and the ins and outs of the wedding planning business make this series some of LL’s best work yet.

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Book Review: To Have and To Hold by Lauren Layne

To Have and to Hold (The Wedding Belles, #1)To Have and to Hold by Lauren Layne

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ohhhh! I am positively SWOONING over To Have and To Hold by Lauren Layne!

Admittedly, I had reservations about it at the start. Seth doesn’t make the greatest of first impressions—not on Brooke and not on readers. However, his bristly, demanding demeanor in these opening scenes only makes his growth as a character that much more gratifying in the end. In terms of what I look for in a book boyfriend, the “hotel trillionaire” bit doesn’t appeal to me personally. But I will say that Seth won me over…and then some. He’s hardened, but he’s hardened for good reason. And although he occasionally makes cruel remarks—none of which I found unforgivable, btw—he knows it and owns it when he’s crossed a line.

Brooke, I loved from start to finish. Never whiny, never so obtuse that I wanted to shake her. Although she has her own reasons for being negative, she’s determine to stay on the bright side of things. Better yet, she does so without managing to be annoying.

Miscellaneous:
• I loved following Maya’s storyline, and the Tylers’ friend Grant made me laugh. (I actually could have had more of him.)
• At one point in the narrative, everything comes together so perfectly that it brought tears to my eyes.
• The book successfully piques interest in the rest of the Wedding Belles and their stories.
• While the sex scenes themselves are steamy, the storyline isn’t held hostage by gratuitous coupling.

As usual, Layne’s writing blows me away. The dialogue is perfect, the conflict on point. Perfectly paced, with no parts rushed and no saggy middle, To Have and To Hold consistently surprises readers with new and compelling information Definitely a must-read page-turner for fans of contemporary romance!

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Book Review: Cream of the Crop by Alice Clayton

Cream of the Crop (Hudson Valley, #2)Cream of the Crop by Alice Clayton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.5 stars!

I should start with what drew me to Cream of the Crop…

The cover, obviously. It looks like one of the oddly sexy Got Milk? ads from back in the day.

But of course the name Alice Clayton pulled me in as well. I read Wallbanger from her several years ago, which still goes down as the funniest book I’ve ever read.

As for Cream of the Crop, the heroine’s inner monologue drew me into the story. She’s hilarious. From her obsession with well-made cheese to a fashion sense tending toward designer labels and showcasing her best assets, nearly every moment in Natalie’s head is LOL-worthy. Her status as a family-oriented Manhattanite and ad executive rounds out her character, as do conversations with her closest friends Roxie and Clara. Although Natalie is confident in her size-18 curves, and brazen when it comes to her sexuality, she does have moments of vulnerability that made her character more real to me.

Oscar, on the other hand, was a tad less appealing as a character. While his physical attributes seemed to be on point, at least one petty move on his part rubbed me the wrong way. Another part of his life he was too obtuse about, considering how it would affect a new woman in his life. Because he seems like a relatively smart guy, it frustrated me that he didn’t see that particular topic differently.

The only thing I didn’t just love-love about the narrative is that there was some down time and summarizing. What felt like fast-forwarding through Natalie’s time away from Bailey Falls. Those sections tempted me to skim because I craved the next moment of excitement.

All in all, Cream of the Crop registered as a fun and different reading experience. The dairy farmer’s occupation was a fun one to learn about, as was Natalie’s innovative approach to her advertising campaigns.

A light-hearted, humorous affair, Cream of the Crop earns top billing from me. I love an entertaining romantic comedy!

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