One Woman Book Club: May 2018

Well, this is awkward.

Let’s address the elephant in the library (ha… ha…) I apologize for my absence. Sometimes you read 11 books in a month, and sometimes you read, well, none.

For the month of May, however, I decided to fall back into my reclusive, book-binging ways and boy oh boy do I have a few goodies for you.

*YouTuber voice* And without further ado, let’s get into it.


My Best Friend’s Exorcism

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Grady Hendrix

Five Star

     Firstly, we need to address how fucking fantastic this book cover and its sleeves are. The hardcover version is laid out exactly how you’re imagining your parent’s high school yearbooks are, instantly setting you up for a fun (albeit dark) reading experience. The insides are riddled with signatures and lengthy variations of H.A.G.S all addressed to one of the main characters, Gretchen, and well… you know what? I’ll insert a photo. It’s great.

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     The book is set in the 1980’s amid the beginning of the very real satanic panic. The culture of the 80’s and the whole ‘there-is-evil-controlling-the-world-I-think-my-neighbor-might-be-sacrificing-a-cat-help-me-Jesus” mentality that was quite literally a thing, drives the plot of this horror-comedy that is otherwise about deeply rooted friendships and the lengths we go to in order to preserve the ones we hope will stand the test of time.

     Abby and Gretchen have been the best of friends since 5th grade. It’s that pure and heartwarming friendship that’ll leave you feeling nostalgic for the friend that you grew up with during your awkward phase. Things take a turn for the worse, however, when the girls find themselves on a bad acid trip in the middle of the woods during high school. Gretchen wanders off to God knows where and disappears for a period of time, concerning the other girls. That being said, Gretchen’s strange behavior upon her return ends up being much more worrisome. Abby becomes convinced that a demonic possession is to blame for the wedge driven between them, and commits to doing whatever it takes to save her best friend.

     Now, this is not a terribly scary book. I don’t imagine many readers will be losing any sleep or reaching for their holy water. With that in mind, a few intensely detailed visuals of several particularly disturbing scenes might make your skin crawl a bit. Grady Hendrix does a wonderful job of delving deep into some squirmy shit, while simultaneously keeping the overall tone lighthearted and comedic. I was extremely impressed to discover that Hendrix is a male author being that the inner workings and nuances of female friendships are so well depicted. 

     All in all, this book was one of a kind. It was a novel that was hard not to inhale, and more than anything, it was just plain fun. I really look forward to reading Horrorstör, another one of Hendrix’s novels, which is set up like an Ikea catalogue. (This guy is so cool don’t @ me).


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Dean Koontz

 Four StarFour stars

     So, my Grandma loaned me this book. Her words? “Oh, Kirsten. I just finished this book. It was pretty disturbing. I think you’d like it.”

     Thanks, Grandma.

     For all twenty-six years of her life, Chyna Sheppard has been a survivor. Despite an extremely unfortunate and borderline abusive childhood, she has come out on top and allowed herself to open up to a single person: her best friend Laura. Laura takes Chyna home with her for their spring break, where the unimaginable happens. Sociopath and serial killer Edgler Foreman Vess sneaks into the home, and begins brutally slaughtering all of its sleeping occupants, Laura and her family included.

     This book does not relent. The suspense was literally anxiety inducing at times, and the beginning of the book is extremely graphic. What makes it so addicting is the insane attention to detail throughout the entirety of the novel. Koontz has the ability to accurately describe the precise thoughts and idiosyncrasies the characters have exactly how I imagine I would have them myself if ever found in that horrific situation. For example, when Vess enters into Chyna’s guest room, he finds the room completely undisturbed and seemingly unoccupied. Chyna’s suitcase was still packed and hidden away, her bed still made, her toiletries put away. There was nothing to indicate that someone was staying in that room that night. And yet, as Chyna hides under the bed absolutely silent, she wonders if perhaps the sink had water droplets from when she washed her hands earlier. And, what if the hand towel is still damp from when she dried them? Will he notice? Will these small details be what gives her away and costs her her life?

     The book switches off between the perspectives of Chyna and Edgler Vess, both of which are ridiculously complex characters. While Koontz’s gift to so thoroughly show and not simply tell is what made the book so unique, it was also why I gave the novel only 4/5 stars. Because I had become so familiar with the minds of the characters, I found myself questioning a few decisions that didn’t seem to really fit what I had grown to know about them. There was also an occasional excess of details that felt tedious at times.

     While this wasn’t for the faint of heart, I did enjoy the book as a whole. This was my first Koontz novel, and I have a sneaking suspicion that it won’t be my last. 


The Off Campus Series


  Elle Kennedy

So there are four books in this series, and I’ve decided to do them all in a single review.

The Deal: Five Star

The Mistake: Four Star

The Score: Four Star

The Goal: Three Star

     Dude, these covers kill me. Full disclosure, I read these books on the Kindle app on my iPhone, so I was spared the quizzical and judgmental looks I imagine I would have received if I had read one of these bad boys out in public.

     Speaking of bad boys, AMIRITE?

     All of these books fall in the still fairly new genre of “New Adult”. On Goodreads, New Adult is described as “bridging the gap between Young Adult and Adult genres. It typically features protagonists between the ages of 18 and 25 with the cap at 30ish.” While I would agree with all of this, I also have come to find that it also means “toooooonnnnnnnnns of sex”. Seriously.

     Regardless, I really enjoyed this series. The common denominator throughout all of these books are the male protagonists. All four boys are good friends or roommates that play on the same college hockey team. I really like the fluidity of novels that reference one another, and it’s nice to have familiar names and characters that you already know pop up in one another’s books. I found that this allowed me to get more involved in the story, as well as more invested in the well-being of the characters and the relationships that they form.

     The structure of all four books are generally the same: the guy is a huge player until the girl comes along that makes him want to change his ways and be monogamous. What really makes this series a standout among the million other books with the exact same storyline is that all of the characters are likable. The author doesn’t waste your time with petty and immature plot lines, because all of the main players are impressively reasonable. The issues that the characters do encounter in their stories are actually valid, and their resolutions are equally as believable. 

     The books also have their subtle yet distinguishable differences. The one with the best character backgrounds and development (The Deal), the most sexually charged (The Score), the most obnoxious female protagonist (The Goal), etc. 

     I always enjoy a more mindless read in between all of the emotionally taxing horror/suspense novels that I read, and this series allowed me that. While there definitely is a stigma surrounding new adult (thanks a lot, Fifty Shades of Grey), I would say that this series did the genre right. But can we be a bit more discreet with the covers guys? No? Sex sells, you say? Well, alright then.



See you next month!



(most likely)

(no promises tho)

One Woman Book Club: February 2018

February was a good month for books, people! I’m so excited to be able to highly recommend a few of the books on this month’s One Woman Book Club list. I know the suspense is killing you, so let’s dive right in.



Dangerous Girls

By Abigail Haas (pseudonym) Abby McDonald

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Goodreads rating: 4.13 stars

My rating: Five Star

Wouldn’t we all look guilty, if someone searched hard enough?

I don’t even know where to really start with this book. Because I am a monster, I typically read books in a single sitting. It’s usually around 4am after starting a book four hours earlier that I realize hmm, maybe this was a mistake. That being said, this book made it easy. 

A group of best friends decide to spend the Spring Break of their senior year getting trashed in a luxurious beach house in Aruba. Soft spoken, easy-going Anna is having the time of her life celebrating with her dream of a boyfriend Tate, and her wild and free, don’t-give-a-fuck BFF Elise along with a few other close friends. That is until Elise is found stabbed to death in her bed, and Anna and Tate are declared the prime suspects. Now Anna is stuck in a foreign country, fighting for her innocence in a system unfamiliar to her.

Now, I know what you’re probably thinking- this is totally an Amanda Knox meets Natalee Holloway type of story.  You’d be right. The similarities are definitely there, but the originality certainly isn’t lacking. This book is so much more than the murder of a pretty blonde on a vacation. Haas writes with a deep understanding of complex young-adult relationships; love, sex, deceit, jealousy, friendship, guilt, innocence. The murder was simply the catalyst, with both that and everything in between executed to near perfection.

The story reads as a stream of consciousness from the perspective of Anna. It bounces back and forth between her memories and recollections both before and during the event, and her understandings and emotions during the aftermath and pending trial. Throw in a few police reports, documented transcripts of phone calls and interviews as they are being presented in court, and you’ll find yourself invested in a captivating thriller that you might as well be a jury member on. You will find yourself empathizing for Anna, scared for Anna, wishing the best for Anna. You will feel her emotions and anxieties as if they were your own, simply because she comes across so flawed, and therein, so real. But most of all, you will find yourself questioning Anna. How reliable is your narrator? What exactly do you believe, when the only story told to you is one you know to assume to be the truest version? I enjoyed everything about this book, and the feeling it left me with resonated for days afterwards. I would say to throw any reservations you may have about this book out the window, and give it a shot.


Bird Box

By Josh Malerman

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Goodreads rating: 3.98 stars

My rating: Four Star

It’s rare to stumble upon a truly original psychological horror, but Josh Malerman delivered. People around the world are seeing… something. Pregnant Malorie is at home with her sister when the first case breaks out in Russia. Before she knows it, the phenomenon has spread to a global scale. No one has answers. All that anyone seems to know is that if you see this something, you will quickly be driven to madness, murder, and finally, suicide. People begin blacking out their windows, boarding up their homes, and living their lives in blindfolds, all in the name of survival. What makes this book so bone-chillingly scary is that the unseen is so much more terrifying than the seen. It’s like being in a horror movie where the camera purposely doesn’t pull back large enough to see what’s standing directly behind you for the entire novel. There is something absolutely terrifying about not being able to give your fear a face.

Presently, Malorie has two small children in tow. She spends the first several years of their young lives training them- teaching them to live in the dark. The children have essentially lived their entire existence without the use of their eyes so that they might stand a chance at surviving upon leaving the house.

For full disclosure, I will say that you shouldn’t go into this book expecting answers. There is no, ‘why did this happen?’ or ‘how did this happen?’ which I believe is something to be appreciated. In this book, it couldn’t matter less. Our protagonist Malorie’s only goal is to find safety in this dystopian setting, and she’s all the more determined to now that she has something to lose.

If this sounds like a book you’d be interested in, I’d go pick it up ASAP and give it a read before the movie, starring Sandra Bullock as Malorie, is released later this year!


Killman Creek

By Rachel Caine

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Goodreads rating: 4.32

My rating: Four Star

After reading Killman Creek’s predecessor, Stillhouse Lake, I could not wait for this book to arrive. I was tracking my package on Amazon constantly like the impatient brat I always knew I was.

By the opening of this novel, Gwen Proctor has successfully transitioned from victim to warrior. She may have won the first battle against her murderous ex-husband’s psycho accomplices, but the war has just begun. Now Melvin Royal himself has escaped from prison and is determined to destroy his ex-wife and shatter the new lives that her and her children have attempted to create for themselves. This time, however, Gwen decides that a game of cat and mouse isn’t permissible. She’s tired of hiding and waiting around for the worst- of Melvin having all of the power. No, she’s decided to save him the trouble of finding her, because she’s coming for him.

After being so utterly in love with the first book, I almost felt like this sequel didn’t stand a chance of living up to it. Don’t get me wrong, Killman Creek had all of the elements that made Stillhouse Lake such a hit for me, but there were a few things I struggled with throughout. Stillhouse Lake is told exclusively from the perspective of Gina/Gwen, whereas this book expands its narrators to include fellow revenge seeker Sam Cade, as well as both of the children, Lanny and Connor. Caine definitely had her reasons for doing this (which I won’t divulge for the sake of spoilers), but I still found myself missing the well executed simplicity of keeping the thoughts of a single narrator straight.

I also struggled with the fact that Melvin had escaped prison, because of course he did. The only time that was even somewhat realistic to me was in The Shawshank Redemption. That being said, if you manage to suspend your disbelief, you’re bound to enjoy this pulse-pounding thriller. I’ll definitely be purchasing the third book in the series upon it’s December 2018 release.


The Butterfly Garden

By Dot Hutchison

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Goodreads rating: 4.06

My rating: Four Star

The Butterfly Garden is another one of those books that takes place in the present, but is consistently flashing back to past events in order to give us an understanding of what had to happen to get us to where we are now. This is extremely common, and in this case, extremely effective.

Hidden away there exists a garden. This garden is filled with “butterflies.” If the quotations there didn’t tip you off that we aren’t talking about insects, then let the record show that no, we aren’t talking about the little fluttering kind. No, the butterflies in this garden are young women- all drugged and kidnapped and brought to live in this twisted community where they are forced to sing and dance and have sex with their self-proclaimed keeper, The Gardener. He tattoos intricate and individualized butterfly wings onto their backs, and, past a certain age, has the women permanently preserved. Preserved, you ask? What do you mean? Well, if you’re thinking the worst, you’re correct.

Our story opens with the FBI questioning a particular butterfly, Maya. One would think that the fact that the reader is so quickly assured that The Gardener is caught would almost certainly guarantee a happy ending, however that shred of hope is ripped away just as quickly as it is introduced.

The character development in this story is outstanding. Almost every butterfly introduced plays a unique role in the unfolding of the novel, and Hutchison effectively captures the different ways that individuals can attempt to cope with trauma. This is a story about the lengths some will go to in order to survive, and the deeply ingrained desire to preserve beauty at any cost. While I wouldn’t say you need to rush out and buy this little guy, it’s definitely a unique and easy-to-read novel in its own respect.



See you next month!

One Woman Book Club: January 2018

I try to read a lot of books. Goodreads might be one of my favorite forms of social media. Except it’s not really social and it probably means I’m a loser. You should have seen me  doing those summer reading programs through the library as a kid. I won so many free In-N-Out burger coupons courtesy of all the Nancy Drew books I read, it was insane. Anyways, what was I saying? 

I pledged to (do my best to) read at least 50 books this year, so I’ve decided to leave little reviews of the ones that I read in uncomfortable positions in my bed over the coming months. And while some months may have ten books and some may only have one, good books are hard to find and I hope this gives you some ideas.

I typically like to buy and own the books that I read, but that shit gets expensive. So I’ve done my best to move past the one time I found a smushed booger in a library book and have recently decided to go back to my roots: the public library. Don’t you dare get these on I swear to fucking God.

Disclaimer: I pretty much only read fiction. Romance/drama and mystery/thrillers are my go-to genres. Maybe I’ll branch out. Probably not though.

180 Seconds

By Jessica Park

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Goodreads rating: 4.03 stars

My rating: Three Star

I went into this book with pretty high hopes, many of which weren’t met. The story follows college student Allison, who is essentially your run of the mill “damaged” protagonist. She’s pushed outside of her comfort zone and forced to interact with actual humans (scary!) one afternoon when she’s dragged into a social experiment where she has to sit and maintain eye contact with, wouldn’t you know it, a super hot guy named Esben Baylor for 180 seconds. I find myself weirdly appreciating the idea behind this- what would you see in a stranger during the three minutes of subconscious empathy that comes as a result of resolute eye contact?

Because Allison is soooooo quirky and antisocial, she totally doesn’t know that he’s essentially a famous social media star and perfect in every single way. Seriously. The guy doesn’t have a single flaw. It’s annoying. Anyways, their whirlwind romance where Allison has to ‘learn to trust’ and ‘let someone in emotionally’ basically cures her anxiety. Love is wild, am I right?!

While this novel was a romance, the relationships that really shine in this book are the ones between Allison and her best friend Steffi, and the one shared between Allison and her sweet adoptive father Simon. Those two bonds were what bumped my rating up to three stars.

The Chalk Man

By C.J. Tudor

The Chalk Man

Goodreads rating: 3.87 stars

My rating: Three Star

I love murder mysteries. I really, really do. And well… this one was okay. This was Tudor’s debut novel, and I do have to give her a pat on the back not only for the easy-to-read writing style, but also for the original ideas intertwined into the story. The book bounces back and forth between 1986 and the present day (in a fairly non-annoying way), slowly but surely giving the reader insight into what has conspired between that fateful day back in the ’80s, and now.

As preteens, Eddie and his friends would ride their bikes around Stranger Things-style and leave each other secret messages in the form of chalk figures that they would draw outside one another’s houses. It was all meant to be a fun way of communicating, until chalk figures that none of them claimed to have drawn end up leading them to a dismembered body in the woods. Flash forward to 2016, when all of the now estranged friends end up receiving a letter in the mail of a single chalk man, forcing them to confront and truly figure out what went so horribly wrong in 1986.

So, this all sounds great, right? I was IN. However, there was more than one occasion that the story seemed to drag on and on. I felt pretty detached from all of the characters, to the point where I almost didn’t give a shit who killed who. While there was both a twist and big reveal, it ended up being pretty anticlimactic. This has been a pretty hyped up new release, and while it wasn’t bad, you can definitely find better thrillers out there. A prime example is…

Stillhouse Lake 

By Rachel Caine

StillHouse Lake

Goodreads rating: 4.11 stars

My rating: Five Star

I absolutely inhaled this book and immediately ordered the sequel. Stillhouse Lake had all of the components you look for in a good thriller. An eerie setting, gruesome twists, and an abundance of characters who you so badly want to trust and yet can’t actually bring yourself to.

Gina Royal was the stereotypical happy-to-be-submissive housewife and mini-van mom until one unfortunate evening when she arrived home to see that a drunk driver had accidentally driven through the front of her house. “You spend any time in the garage?” An oblivious Gina is asked by Mr. Intimidating Policeman. After explaining that no, that’s her husband’s workshop, Gina is promptly shown the inside of her garage, which to her absolute horror is filled with the body parts of tortured young women. This is how Gina finds out that her husband is a serial killer. Forced to change identities and relocate to protect her family from internet trolls and vigilantes convinced that she was a co-conspirator in the crimes, newly invented Gwen Proctor is determined to keep her children safe. But when a dead body shows up with her jailed ex-husbands MO, she might be forced to go to some extremes.

The pace was quick and consistent, with clues that were just vague enough to keep you guessing while still giving you everything you would need to come to your own conclusions if you’re paying close enough attention. To me, that’s something to truly be appreciated.

That being said, I found myself piecing the clues together at the same time as our protagonist, making the experience all that much more enjoyable.

Forget the serial killer ex-husband. The person you really don’t want to fuck with in this novel? The badass single mom that’ll do anything to protect her kids.

Royally Matched

By Emma Chase

Royally Matched

Goodreads rating: 4.17 stars

My rating: One Star

Firstly, I feel like I should clear the air here. I’m not one to judge a book by it’s cover (just kidding, I totally am a little bit, but who isn’t?) but this cover was BAD. At least 50 Shades of Grey was a little bit more discreet. I bought this one over Amazon, solely because I was too ashamed to go out and buy this… in public… Honestly, I’m embarrassed to have bought it at all. I WAS DECEIVED BY THE HIGH RATINGS, OKAY? Which, while we’re on it, what the hell? Where are these people that gave this book five stars? Send me your location. I just want to talk.

Henry John Edgar Thomas Pembroke, Prince of Wessco, is a huge piece of shit. If you don’t already hate him for his vomit-inducingly long name, you’ll definitely hate him for his poor excuse for wanna-be playboy behavior. He’s supposed to become King or whatever, but because he’s, as I aforementioned, a huge piece of shit, he signs up for an American television show where twenty hot and semi-important girls fight to be his Princess or Queen or… whatever, no one really cares. Sound familiar? It’s literally royal Bachelor minus Chris Harrison. Oh my God… do I… miss… Chris Harrison? It’s that bad.

Anyways, the girl who catches Prince POS Henry’s eye? A contestants sister. Her name is Sarah Mirabelle Zinnia Von Titebottum (Again with the long name! This is the Devil’s work.) Also, her last name is TITEBOTTUM. Let that sink in. I really don’t think I need to say any more.


That’s all I’ve got for you for the month of January. If I had to recommend a single book for you to read out of these four, I’d definitely go with Royally Matched so that we can shit on it together.

In all seriousness, pick up a copy of Stillhouse Lake. February has a pretty solid line up so far, including Stillhouse Lake‘s sequel, Killman Creek. So make sure to keep an eye out for that! Well, I’m off to the library! (I’m not.)

The End of the F***ing World: A F***ing Review


 Netflix has taken it upon themselves to start automatically playing the trailers of featured shows and movies once you open up the app or go to the website. Oh, you weren’t interested in Grace and Frankie? Well guess what, sucker! They don’t give a damn. Next thing you know the first episode has started playing and then oops! You just finished a show you had no intention of starting.

     This is how I stumbled upon The End of the F***ing World. Now, before we get started with this review there are a few things that you, the reader, should know.

     Firstly, the show, based on a comic book series by Charles Forsman, is only 8 painlessly short episodes. The twenty minute installations just beg to be binged.

    Secondly, if you know me at all, you know that I was basically guaranteed to like this show. After convincing a friend to give it a try, I promptly received this text which felt like a compliment but probably shouldn’t:

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     Yeah, I studied abroad in London for a semester 4 years ago, and no, I won’t let you forget it.

     Now to the good stuff.

     The show follows self-diagnosed psychopath James as he navigates the stereotypical hell that is existing as a weird and awkward teenager with a traumatic childhood. James, who has formed a morbid obsession with death (naturally), has decided to level up from killing animals to humans. He decides that fellow outcast, middle-finger-in-the-air Alyssa might be an interesting first victim. Alyssa, desperate to escape her sleazy step dad and idle mother, gladly welcomes seemingly innocent and awkward James as a distraction and means of transportation.

     What started out as a relationship of mutual convenience quickly develops into one of true camaraderie as the two embark on a quest that leaves the audience highly invested in the two anti-heroes. A crime here and there, a murder sprinkled in, a bit of self discovery and a whole lot of teen angst make for an entertaining and easy to watch show from start to finish.

     Not only is the storyline a dark and unique play on the clichéd coming of age story, but it’s also hard not to get swept up in the outstanding performance from the two leads (Jessica Barden, I’m looking at you), and the colorful stylistic elements of the show. The voiceovers provided throughout the series really give the audience a look at the vulnerable state the character’s are simultaneously experiencing regardless of the hard and confident exterior they both share.

     The End of the F***ing World has mastered the portrayal of an inarguably dysfunctional and yet pure kind of love. A dark drama and somehow also a heartwarming comedy, this one’s worth checking out.

     “I’ve just turned 18. And I think I understand… what people mean to each other.”