Book Review: The Initial Insult by Mindy McGinnis

“Vengeance, forevermore.”

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Release Date: February 23, 2021

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Price: $14.61 (hardcover)

Plot Summary:

Tress Montor’s family used to mean something—until she didn’t have a family anymore. When her parents disappeared seven years ago while driving her best friend home, Tress lost everything. The entire town shuns her now that she lives with her drunken, one-eyed grandfather at what locals refer to as the “White Trash Zoo.”

Felicity Turnado has it all: looks, money, and a secret. One misstep could send her tumbling from the top of the social ladder, and she’s worked hard to make everyone forget that she was with the Montors the night they disappeared. Felicity has buried what she knows so deeply that she can’t even remember what it is . . . only that she can’t look at Tress without feeling shame and guilt.

But Tress has a plan. A Halloween costume party at an abandoned house provides the ideal situation for Tress to pry the truth from Felicity—brick by brick—as she slowly seals her former best friend into a coal chute. Tress will have her answers—or settle for revenge.

Grade: A

Review:

Ever since I read The Female of the Species years ago, Mindy McGinnis has easily become an auto-buy for me whenever she drops a novel. It doesn’t matter what genre or subject she tries to tackle, I know that it’s going to be one wild ride, as McGinnis has this unique way of creating crazy plots where it’s impossible to truly know where the story is going to go. And I think it’s probably because McGinnis may be more of a pantser author as myself than one who outlines the whole plot.

The Initial Insult sees McGinnis exploring Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado with a Tiger King twist. Two ex-bestfriends Tress and Felicity find themselves at the same party their senior year. Years ago, when the two were younger, the girls were inseparable, then one night whilst Tress’s parents were driving Felicity back home, something occurred. Tress’s parents mysteriously disappeared whilst Felicity was found on the riverbanks alone with no knowledge of what happened that night. Tress has lost everything because of her parents’ disappearance, and she’s convinced that Felicity knows the truth of what happened that night and she’s going to do anything to get her to speak, even if it means slowly walling her alive, brick by brick.

This novel is told in the dual points of views of both Tress and Felicity, which helps amp up the tension and build the thrills. This is a crazy ride and as always, McGinnis’ characters are gritty and strong even at their most vulnerable. Sadly, this novel is only Part I, and seeing how it ended, it’s going to be so hard to have to wait one year to read the sequel!

I recommend this book if you’re a fan of McGinnis and Poe (you’ll love all the references).

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Review: Belif – The True Cream Aqua Bomb

What It Is: Light weight gel-cream

What It Does: Hydrates and nourishes skin

Active Ingredients: Aloe Vera

Skincare Concerns: Dryness, dullness, and uneven texture

Verdict: When scouting for a moisturizer, I’m looking for two things: that it hydrates my skin and that it’s light enough not to clog my pores. This moisturizer perfectly fits the bill. It’s light and gel-like substance but it isn’t as watery as most moisturizers aimed for oily skin are. It still feels rich without feeling too heavy. In fact, it completely absorbs into the skin leaving it feeling fresh, hydrated, and glowing. It’s truly a tall glass of water for your skin!

Price: $38

Where To Buy It: Sephora

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3 Tips for Writers

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If you are a writer, or aspire to be one, you have probably experienced some of the symptoms of writer’s block. Writers find that they can write only when they feel inspired and their minds are energized. When writer’s block strikes, it is often followed by an overwhelming sense of fatigue and frustration. Unfortunately, there is almost no way to combat writer’s block. The best you can do is wait it out.

However, writer’s block does not have to be the end of the line if you are willing to accept some practical steps that will help you to overcome these feelings and continue writing. Keep in mind that writing is an extremely personal process; as a writer, you are responsible for your own feelings and thoughts, so try not to blame yourself if your creative juices seem to dry up at any point. this state will most likely persist until the writing session is complete or until the next time that artists’ muse visits them again.

Here are some tips to help you to get past writer’s block and to finish your piece:

  1. Take a break. If you are experiencing writer’s block, a break can actually be extremely helpful. Unfortunately, this is possibly the last thing that you want to do when writer’s block strikes because it usually means that you have not been getting much work done on your task at hand. However, taking a break from writing is sometimes the only way to get past this phase of writer’s block. During your break, do something that has nothing to do with the things that you are writing about currently. Try to relax and unwind, whether it’s by going for a walk in the park or taking a hot bath at the end of a long day.
  2. Write anyway. The most important thing to remember is that writer’s block does not have to be the end of your creative process. Even terrible rough drafts can be edited at a later date and polished into a better finished final draft, so don’t worry about your rough draft not being the next bestseller. You can fix things up even if you have little written, but you cannot fix a blank page.
  3. Read your genre. If you’re writing for a specific genre (ie. Horror, thriller, romance) it’s best to read a lot of books in that genre so you know what publishing companies are looking for. Not to mention that the more you read the better you will become at writing and the more ideas you’ll have from reading new material! It’s definitely a win/win situation.

These are my three tips for writers, share below if you have any ones that work for you!

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Review: Purlisse Watermelon + Charcoal Purifying Cleanser

What It Is: Purifying Cleanser

What It Does: Banishes dirt but hydrates skin.

Active Ingredients: Watermelon, Vitamins A, B6, and C, Charcoal, Green Tea, and Aloe Vera

Verdict: This has easily become my newest favourite cleanser. First of all – it smells divine – like you’re being pulled right into the summer months with a mouth watering watermelon scent that will make you feel like you’re biting into the most exquisite slice. The best thing about this cleanser is that it helps ban dirt and oil without ever stripping your skin of its precious essential oils. You’re left with hydrated skin, never tight or dry.

Price: $16.20

Where To Buy It: https://purlisse.com/

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Book Review: Whisper Down the Lane by Clay McLeod Chapman

Inspired by the McMartin preschool trials and the Satanic Panic of the ‘80s, the critically acclaimed author of The Remaking delivers another pulse pounding, true-crime-based horror novel.

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Release Date: April 6, 2021

Publisher: Quirk Books

Price: $18.30 (hardcover)

Plot Summary:

Richard doesn’t have a past. For him, there is only the present: a new marriage to Tamara, a first chance at fatherhood to her son Elijah, and a quiet but pleasant life as an art teacher at Elijah’s elementary school in Danvers, Virginia. Then the body of a rabbit, ritualistically murdered, appears on the school grounds with a birthday card for Richard tucked beneath it. Richard doesn’t have a birthday—but Sean does . . .

Sean is a five-year-old boy who has just moved to Greenfield, Virginia, with his mother. Like most mothers of the 1980s, she’s worried about bills, childcare, putting food on the table . . . and an encroaching threat to American life that can take the face of anyone: a politician, a friendly neighbor, or even a teacher. When Sean’s school sends a letter to the parents revealing that Sean’s favorite teacher is under investigation, a white lie from Sean lights a fire that engulfs the entire nation—and Sean and his mother are left holding the match.

Now, thirty years later, someone is here to remind Richard that they remember what Sean did. And though Sean doesn’t exist anymore, someone needs to pay the price for his lies.

Grade: B

Review:

This is my second sampling of Clay’s writing and I must say that I really enjoy how strong his novels begin. This novel is steeped in reality as it’s based off of the 80’s Satanic Panic that made people suspect of anyone in getting caught up with witchcraft. In the 80’s a California preschool was in the news for the teachers were accused of being Satanists. Obviously, it all ended up being one big lie, and this book explores what happens when a little boy delivers a lie that changes not only his life but that of many people. Sean is five years old when he accuses his kindergarten teacher of worshiping the devil. Years later, we see how that lie comes back to haunt him.

Some parts of the book were creepy (I really enjoyed the Gray Boy) and some of them were kinda slow. I liked how it explored the Satanic Panic craze as I was too little to recall any of it when it was happening, not to mention that since my parents weren’t the crazy types, they never thought that Cabbage Patch Kids or The Smurfs were “Satanic.”

I did enjoy the dual narratives between Sean in 1983 and Richard in 2013 as it amped up the mystery of what happened and trying to figure out what exactly what went on. The imagery was dark and creepy and I was compelled to keep on reading as more and more of the mystery began to unravel. I liked how the book ended but it felt like the novel began to drag towards the end, so I would’ve preferred a more tightened end, but I did like how we were left with a question rather than all answers.

*Thank you so much to NetGalley and Quirk Books for the digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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Poetry: A Mother’s Love by Erica Ruhe

Photo by Irina Iriser on Pexels.com

Withered, wasted, wanted, but not for lack of sleep

This heart has known no trail but that of defeat.

Wanted, wasted, weathered in this place of self-loathing and despair

I know not what life has to offer me outside the joy of my own

Wallowing.

What have I given in this life?

What is the purpose of this strife?

Where is the joy that I wish to see in my world?

I have not yet given it life in this day, this week, this year.

I have donned a selfish fishbowl on the lenses of my eyes

And need neither my wants nor my selfish desires of the heart.

I need only love of self, of my neighbor, and my mother who supports my feet.

She is my foundation.

She is of earth and water and fire and water.

She is all I have longed for in my own desires.

How I have taken her for granted, this loving mother

Who feeds and clothes me and puts me to sleep

Each night under a blanket of stars and willowed darkness.

I have appreciated her with only half my heart but as I lie here

In this grass and count the clouds I am comforted by

The Love

I’ve never seen in myself

Reflected her skies.

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Series Review: Them – Covenant

Them is receiving many comparisons to Jordan Peele’s US – but the only thing that the two have in common is a similar poster and a black family dealing with a brutal home invasion. Where Jordan Peele managed to both horrify and crack the audience up – Them only manages to make us feel uncomfortable as we witness all the horrific acts of violence that white characters bestow upon the black characters throughout the duration of the series.

Them is closer to the film Antebellum than US – in depicting black trauma and suffering with no slices of comic relief. Them follows the Emorys relocating from North Carolina after a traumatic event – to Compton, California in the 1950’s. Each character not only has to deal with real horror (overt racism and past PTSD) but also with evil supernatural forces.

The series is a non-stop violent marathon, and even for seasoned horror viewers like myself who has enjoyed watching Hostel a billion times – doesn’t prepare you for the sick dread feeling you’ll experience if you choose to watch Them. Personally, I would’ve liked some moments of levity in between all the violence. I would’ve liked to have gotten to know each of the Emorys in a way that wasn’t entirely focused on their trauma and suffering. Even when Lucky was at Hazel’s home and seemed to be having fun, suddenly she was reminded of the traumatic event that caused them to move – or I would’ve liked to see Ruby triumph when she upstaged her white classmates with her knowledge, rather than be brutally mocked and humiliated.

I wanted the Emorys to have little triumphs in the midst of darkness. Instead – what we’re left with after viewing ten episodes is feeling utterly exhausted and haunted and yes, a little traumatized. Horror should scare us – but it should also entertain. Where Them falls short is that we’re well aware of the real life horrors of racism, we haven’t been able to look away ever since there were some high profile incidents in the past year.

Some Black reviewers question who the series was written for since they don’t feel like it was written with them in mind. If Little Marvin wanted to depict the evils of the white man, then he did a superb job. But after all the horror, a bit of levity and triumph would’ve been the balm we needed.

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Poetry: 23:57 by Azzurra Nox

It seems as if this time never ends,

When your beauty makes my heart bend.

I’ve been popping pills in the night

Because I no longer have my source of light.

Counting black sheep until dawn

You always annoy me when you yawn.

Do you care when you see me cry?

Or do you think it’s all a lie?

I’ve been trying to think this through.

But with each passing day my time is due.

Would you care if I confessed

That your love makes me feel blessed?

I have this desire to die for you.

But I’m not sure if you’ll want me to.

And not because I think you’d care,

But rather because you’d feel bare

To know that your careless love

Has caused my state of despair.

It seems as if this time never ends.
When will your beauty make my heart bend?

Before it all falls apart,

And I’ll have to crawl back to the start

Trying to love you again,

Because this time never ends

As my heart will always bend for you.

Photo by Designecologist on Pexels.com

Did you enjoy this poem? You can find this poem and many others in Bleed Like Me: Poems for the Broken

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3 Chilling Books to Dive Into This Spring

If like me you’re fully vaccinated and eyeing the upcoming summer months as a means to finally escape the lockdown inferno we’ve all been living in – then you may have been wondering what books you should throw in your beach bag as you head off to the nearest beach or holiday. For horror fans – these three books are a perfect mixture of creepy and chilling. So slather on some sunscreen and pull out of these novels for a thrilling ride.

REDDER DAYS BY SUE RAINSFORD

Twins Anna and Adam live in an abandoned commune in a volatile landscape where they prepare for the world-ending event they believe is imminent. Adam keeps watch by day, Anna by night. They meet at dawn and dusk.

Their only companion is Koan, the commune’s former leader, who still exerts a malignant control over their daily rituals. But when one of the previous inhabitants returns, everything Anna and Adam thought they knew to be true is thrown into question.

THE UNWELCOME BY JACOB STEVEN MOHR

Kait’s volcanic temper has already scared most of her friends away, and a bad breakup with her college boyfriend Lutz has left her crippled by guilt and painful memories. So, when she learns that her best friend Alice is planning a three-day sabbatical in a secluded mountain cabin, Kait jumps at the chance to tag along, convinced that rekindling their fractured friendship is the key to fixing whatever’s breaking down inside of her. She should have known… Lutz would never let her go so easily. After a chance roadside meeting, Kait’s jealous ex-boyfriend pursues her into the foothills, revealing the monster under his skin for the first time: a body-snatching inhuman entity capable of assimilating and adopting the guise of any human host. Lutz is determined to prove his twisted love to Kait, even if it means carving his monument to his devotion in the pilfered flesh of her closest friends. Now, with miles of snow-hushed Appalachia between them and civilization, Kait must unite her friends against this horrifying threat, and learn to embrace her own inner monster, before the shadows of her past swallow up her life for good.

SUMMER SONS BY LEE MANDELA

Andrew and Eddie did everything together, best friends bonded more deeply than brothers, until Eddie left Andrew behind to start his graduate program at Vanderbilt. Six months later, only days before Andrew was to join him in Nashville, Eddie dies of an apparent suicide. He leaves Andrew a horrible inheritance: a roommate he doesn’t know, friends he never asked for, and a gruesome phantom that hungers for him.

As Andrew searches for the truth of Eddie’s death, he uncovers the lies and secrets left behind by the person he trusted most, discovering a family history soaked in blood and death. Whirling between the backstabbing academic world where Eddie spent his days and the circle of hot boys, fast cars, and hard drugs that ruled Eddie’s nights, the walls Andrew has built against the world begin to crumble.

And there is something awful lurking, waiting for those walls to fall.

Which of these books are you looking forward to read?

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Poetry: Paper Monsters

A black Sicilian veil cloaks my ashen thoughts.

He tastes like half-eaten candies,

Licorice and cinnamon.

Cobblestone streets reflect minuscule paper monsters.

My heart is filled with a fiery lava, the kind that

Explodes from Etna in the sky at night.

I’ve been waiting for his return.

I’m afraid that soon the fire in my heart

Will fade and become an ice black.

Almond blossoms adorn my bed,

His last words echo in my brain and I writhe

Restlessly….

My body aches for his touch—

I just want to break a little….

I dream of becoming a tragic heroine

A Giovanni Verga character incarnate.

This is how you draw a broken heart:

Dip your fingers in blood and don’t

Hesitate to botch the final project.

His image hovers over me like

A storm cloud in April…

Ever present but translucent

As the flesh fades to cold coal.

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

Did you enjoy this poem? You can find this poem and many others in Lost Girls Go Everywhere: Poetry & Prose on Amazon!

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