“The House Plant”–Review

Afternoon, bloggers! I just read this new, short story by Jeremy Ray, and I thought I’d share it with you.

This story is told from the perspective of George, a newly adopted houseplant. One day, during a book club discussion, George overhears Brenda, his new owner, tell her book club about her immediate love for George when she first set eyes on him. George’s story, however, is different from Brenda’s.

The House Plant tells George’s story of loss, love, and family. This is my first time reading Jeremy Ray’s work, and I think it was so touching. I’ve never had a green thumb, so I just never got around to appreciating how beneficial plants can be. So, after reading this story, I realized I never would have looked at it that way. Five stars for this story!

Feel free to post your comments. Happy reading! Thank you to the author for the opportunity to read The House Plant.

About the author: Jeremy Ray graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a MFA in Dramatic Writing. He is the recipient of the Max K. Lerner Playwriting Fellowship for his play Boiling Point and the Shubert Playwriting Fellowship for his play Sisters of Transformation. His work has been performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, and his screenplays have placed in the PAGE International Screenwriting Awards Competition, The Academy Nicholl Fellowship, and the ScreenCraft Drama Contest. For more info, click here.

“Ball Boy”–Review

Good evening, bloggers! Here’s my new review for Paul Shirley’s debut novel, Ball Boy.

This is a coming-of-age story, set in Reseda, California. Gray Taylor has always wanted to be acknowledged, yet everyone at school seems to treat him as if he doesn’t exist. While that’s bad enough, he could never succeed in getting Stephanie Espinosa to look his way. Not long after that, Gray is struck with another surprise: his mother tells him that they’re moving back to her hometown in Kansas.

Gray figures that living in Beaudelaire, Kansas, may just be the fresh start he desperately needs. Yet when he steps foot in his new school, he feels as if he’s never left Reseda. He feels out of place, so there’s only one option: leave. But, then, the coach recruits Gray into the basketball team. Although Gray never knew much about the game, he eventually finds his calling.

But within a short time, Gray is determined not just to make a name for himself in basketball, but to use basketball to win the pretty girl, and to save his new hometown that the majority of residents no longer appreciate.

I do enjoy the occasional coming-of-age novel, and I’m also wondering if there will be a follow-up to this book. Some moments did leave me curious, though, but I won’t spoil a thing. As always, feel free to post your comments. Happy reading!

About the author: A former college and professional basketball player, Paul turned the stories of his travels and travails into a humor memoir called CAN I KEEP MY JERSEY? He followed that with STORIES I TELL ON DATES, which also became a renowned podcast of the same name. Paul also runs a productivity consultancy called The Process.

“This Is War, Baby”–Review

The good guys always win, right? Not always…

Seventeen-year-old Baylee Winston had plans for her life, including a plan to lose her virginity to her boyfriend, Brandon. While she and Brandon take it all a step at a time, Baylee can’t help mentally acknowledging her father’s close friend and next door neighbor, Gabe. Sure, he’s a lot older, yet Baylee can’t help her harmless fantasies.

While she and Brandon are in the middle of fooling around, it all comes to an end when Brandon is attacked, and then Baylee is abducted from her room. When Baylee eventually wakes up and finds herself in a dark pit, she discovers her captor: Gabe.

What is Gabe’s motive? To prepare Baylee for sale. Insisting that buyers will want to take her in all sorts of ways, Gabe takes it upon himself by doing disgusting things to her, all the while claiming he loves her, that she’ll eventually enjoy what he does to her. It’s for her own good, he reminds her, and that she’ll be better equipped to handle what’s coming her way. So disgusting! After Baylee is sold, Gabe promises to come back for her. Baylee fears the worst, until she meets her buyer: a man in his late 20s, who’s filthy rich, yet he’s battling his own trauma that lead to his paranoia of germs. So why did he purchase Baylee? What’s with his random episodes? And why did Gabe betray Baylee, a girl he’d known since she was a child?

As K. Webster’s books advise, read at your own risk. They’re not for everyone. This Is War, Baby is the first book in the War and Peace series, and it involves human trafficking, rape, violence, consensual sex, and realities based on victims of Stockholm Syndrome. Despite the many graffic scenes, I do enjoy the storylines. There were enough scenes that made me cringe, yet I read on. After getting to the cliffhanger ending, I told myself I’ll have to purchase the second book. I love cliffhanger endings, by the way. Feel free to post your comments. Happy reading!

For more info on the author, click here. Find her on Facebook and Instagram.

“Of Women and Salt”–Review

A daughter’s fateful choice, a mother’s complex past, and a family legacy that begins in Cuba before either of them was born.

From 19th-century Cuba to present-day Miami, this story revolves around three groups of women: Maria Isabel, Cecilia, and Dolores; Carmen, Jeanette, Elena, and Maydelis; and, Gloria and Ana.

Carmen is a Cuban immigrant who has struggled with a past trauma, all the while dealing with a difficult relationship with her daughter, Jeanette, who is battling a drug addiction. When Jeanette suddenly takes in a little girl after discovering the girl’s mother was detained by ICE, Jeanette is curious about her own family’s history. But Carmen refuses to discuss it. Jeanette, eventually, takes it upon herself to travel to Cuba in hopes she’ll get answers from the grandmother she never knew.

From the cigar factories in 19th-century Cuba to present-day detention centers, from Cuba to Mexico, each of the women’s stories speak of their traumas, as well as difficult decisions, and how it has made them who they are.

While I do like the occasional historical fiction novels, I’m not sure how I feel about this one altogether. The women’s traumas made for a good story, but I think there were too many conflicts crammed into one, and I feel I may have missed something else in the story. I could be wrong. It was still a good storyline, but I give it at least three stars.

*I received this early copy in exchange for n honest review. Feel free to post your comments. Happy reading!

*Of Women and Salt will be available on April 6, 2021.

About the author: Gabriela Garcia is the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award and a Steinbeck Fellowship from San Jose State University. Her fiction and poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, Tin House, Zyzzyva, and The Iowa Review. She is the daughter of immigrants from Mexico and Cuba, and she grew up in Miami. Of Women and Salt is her first novel. For more info, click here.

“Come Forth in Thaw”–Review

Good evening, bloggers, and Happy first day of March! I’m looking forward to new reads. In the meantime, I recently read Jayson Robert Ducharme’s latest book, so here’s the description:

The Adrienne Forest State Park is one of many, beautiful state parks in the White Mountains. It is a popular destination for tourists, painters, hikers, and even weddings. Yet the forest is also a place of great pain and torment, and is an equally popular destination to end your own life.

The only thing young mother Eleanor Jackson has left in her life is her son, Alan–a troubled teenager who has gone to the forest to commit the unthinkable. As Eleanor goes to find him in the forest, she witnesses bizarre and fantastical happenings that try to manipulate and distract her from rescuing her child. When the sun goes down, the specters of the tormented emerge. She will come to discover so much more than just her son.

Based on Japan’s Aokigahara Forest, also known as Suicide Forest, near Mt. Fuji, this novella talks about not only suicide, but the realities of trauma, loss, and mental illness. The twist toward the middle of the story caught my interest even more. I took a few guesses as to how it would go down, yet I wasn’t even close. It was still worth the read, and I look forward to more stories by the author.

Feel free to post your comments. Happy reading!

About the author: Jayson Robert Ducharme is the author of over 40 short stories, ten novellas, and two novels. His work has appeared in the New Hampshire, Science Fiction and Horror editions of Z Publishing’s America’s Emerging Writers series. His collection of novellas Come Forth in Thaw is available for purchase on Amazon. For more info on the author, click here.

“Cold Cole Heart”–Review

I am vengeance. I am rage. I am death. And…

I am coming for her.

Cold Cole Heart is a dark romance story of Cole Heart, a former Navy SEAL who had spent four months as a prisoner of war in Egypt. Four months of physical, mental, and sexual violence, including starvation, had taken every ounce of Cole’s sanity. He vowed to take down Anta, the self-proclaimed queen of Egypt, who thrived on punishing him and having his men killed. But Cole made a mistake. Instead of slowly punishing her like he wanted, he killed her in an instant.

A decade later, Cole is no longer the same man before those months as a POW. His PTSD has left him with anger and vengeance. He had already tortured and killed five women who all apparently resembled Anta. Now he’s down to one more. When he finds woman #6, he promises she will pay.

What Cole doesn’t know about Natalie, the sixth woman, is that she knows trauma just as much as he. After her mother died, she was all alone, but then her cousin, Alan, offered his home to her. She felt so welcomed, felt she finally had some family. Until one night, when Alan’s true colors emerged. But now Natalie is Cole’s prisoner, his version of Anta. While Cole promises he’ll kill her slowly, like the way Anta slowly tortured him, Natalie tries to figure him out, almost fearing him yet feeling drawn to him.

I’ve read K. Webster’s Pretty Little Dolls series and really enjoyed it, and I finally got around to reading this excellent standalone. The storyline drew me in, and there are plenty of intense moments. One scene in the middle of the book made me look away and cringe for a bit because it was too graphic. Still, I read on, especially because these two are so messed up, and I needed to know how far they were going to go. I didn’t expect that plot twist later in the story, either, but I think the author did a good job. Dark romance fans ought to indulge in this one. Brace yourselves! Feel free to post your comments. Happy reading!

Warning: This story contains graphic physical, mental, and sexual violence.

About the author: K. Webster is the USA Today bestselling author of nearly 70 romance books in many genres, including contemporary romance, historical romance, paranormal romance, dark romance, romantic suspense, taboo romance, and erotica romance. For more info, click here.

“One Dead Girl”–Review

Good evening, bloggers, and Happy New Year! I hope everyone is well. Lately, I’ve been a slow reader, but I’m happy for having the opportunity to read One Dead Girl. I just finished it, earlier, so here’s the description:

Eighteen-year-old Sita is a ghost, although she has no idea how she died. Her new afterlife consists of her attachment to her grieving boyfriend, Ash. Sita may be a ghost, yet she learns she has no choice but to follow Ash throughout his daily life, or haunt her killer. But she doesn’t know who the killer is.

Every day she watches Ash grieve, Sita tries to connect with him, all the while thinking back to their life together, about a future they had planned. While Sita works hard to hold onto him, Ash’s beautiful co-worker, Emma, enters the picture, posing a threat to what Sita no longer has. As time passes, Ash starts to feel the possibility his home is haunted, thanks to Sita’s presence. Will she ever know who killed her? If she does, what will become of her ghost?

This story had quite a few surprises I didn’t see coming. With all the people in Ash’s life who weren’t exactly fans of Sita, I wondered what their deal was. Poor Ash was overwhelmed with grief, yet no one was helping his cause. But as I got closer to the end of the story, it all changed. When I read the ending, I said, “That’s messed up.” For fans of supernatural fiction, pick up this copy. Feel free to post your comments. Happy reading!

*Thank you to the author, Kristen Tru, for this review copy! You can find her Instagram.

“Birthday Girl”–Review

Anna may survive the carnage… but who will she be once the ocean of blood clears?

On the night before her 18th birthday, Anna surrenders her virginity, all to just be done with it. It’s okay for her, anyhow, since she intends to leave Miss Codie’s Orphanage once she’s 18. When her best friend, Kate, convinces her to stay up later to celebrate before her departure, they come across a mysterious boardgame, which accidentally frees Magriol, a sadistic exile from Hell, who thrives on practices that disgust even the Devil himself. After the girls witness his gruesome tricks, Magriol lures them into a game, where they must find something special, which he won’t name until they get toward the end. Should the girls succeed, Magriol will spare them. But with every gruesome obstacle they take on, Anna wonders if it’s all a trick.

Past reviews have mentioned how brutal this story is, and they weren’t kidding. It’s filled with gore, mayhem, rape, and dismemberment. You know I enjoy horror stories, yet I didn’t expect this much detail. I was already cringing at certain scenes. But that’s what I need in a story. I started reading this book on my birthday, which was five days ago, and I’m happy to have purchased this copy. For horror fans, this one might be right up your alley. Feel free to post your comments. Happy reading!

About the author: Ash Crowlin graduated from Bowling Green State University with a BAC in Theatre. He lives in Port Clinton, OH, where he spends his time giving wealthy tourists poor advice. He loves coffee, gin, and art films concerning human centipedes. For more info, click here.

“The War of the Roses”–Review

Hello, bloggers! It’s been awhile since my last review, so here’s one of The War of the Roses, which I finished reading last night.

It’s the story of the ugly aftermath of the Roses’ pending divorce. Barbara wants out. Jonathan is devastated. Jonathan offers to go half on everything, but Barbara refuses the offer. She wants it all: the house and its possessions. But Jonathan worked for it all as much as she. The battle is on, and no divorce lawyer or judge will stop these two from plotting, sabotaging, and pushing each other’s buttons in extreme ways to get the other to step down. Last one standing gets the house and its possessions. Who will win it all?

What a crazy story. Throughout my reading it, I thought, “Really, is this all worth it?” All that fighting, the manipulations, the sabotaging? It drove the Roses toward insanity. For material things! And what an example they were setting for their kids. While messy divorces aren’t uncommon, this one was a combination of dark humor and disturbing content. I’ve never seen the movie adaptation, although I saw only the ending, which is a little different from the book’s ending. Perhaps I’ll watch it. I’ve heard good things.

Looking for some domestic suspense? Pick up this book. Feel free to post your comments. Happy reading!

“Alessa’s Melody”–Review

Set in Quebec, this is the story of Louis Delacroix, who grew accustomed to a childhood of work and neglect, never knowing what it was like to receive love. Then his baby sister, Sophie, entered the picture. While he held a grudge against his parents for all the love they gave Sophie, Louis eventually grew to love her. They were in an inseparable pair.

Then Sophie died.

Fifty years later, Louis is an old man, a butler in a mountain estate to a dying steel tycoon, Marshall Turner. With nothing to show for his life, all Louis has are memories of his dead sister, along with his regrets. With the holidays approaching, Marshall’s son and daughter-in-law pay a visit, along with their little girl who holds a special talent that sends Louis back down memory lane. During the Turners’ stay at the estate, Louis is going out of his mind, questioning whether or not the girl’s presence is meant to be.

This book has quite a heartbreaking backstory, yet I enjoyed reading it all. It went from sad to a bit creepy, which is what I usually seek in horror stories. Great job to the author. I look forward to his next work. Check it out, if you’re interested. Feel free to post your comments. Happy reading!

*I received this copy from the author, in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much!

About the author: Jayson Robert Ducharme is the author of over 40 short stories, ten novellas, and two novels. His work has appeared in the New Hampshire, Science Fiction and Horror editions of Z Publishing’s “America’s Emerging Writers” series. His collection of novellas, “Come Forth in Thaw,” is available for purchase on Amazon. For more info, click here.