Book Review: My Heart Is A Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones

“Some girls just don’t know how to die….”

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Release Date: August 31, 2021

Publisher: Gallery/Saga Press

Price: $17.29 (hardback)

Plot Summary:

Jade Daniels is an angry, half-Indian outcast with an abusive father, an absent mother, and an entire town that wants nothing to do with her. She lives in her own world, a world in which protection comes from an unusual source: horror movies…especially the ones where a masked killer seeks revenge on a world that wronged them. And Jade narrates the quirky history of Proofrock as if it is one of those movies. But when blood actually starts to spill into the waters of Indian Lake, she pulls us into her dizzying, encyclopedic mind of blood and masked murderers, and predicts exactly how the plot will unfold.Yet, even as Jade drags us into her dark fever dream, a surprising and intimate portrait emerges…a portrait of the scared and traumatized little girl beneath the Jason Voorhees mask: angry, yes, but also a girl who easily cries, fiercely loves, and desperately wants a home. A girl whose feelings are too big for her body. My Heart Is a Chainsaw is her story, her homage to horror and revenge and triumph.

Grade: A+

Review:

The book opens with a very dark and creepy prologue – but I’ll admit that I wasn’t crazy about the two foreign tourists and was happy to meet the actual protagonist, Jade Daniels. Now Jade is everything a horror lover as myself loves, in fact had we been in high school together we would’ve had slasher sleepover parties. Jade is cool in the way that girls that love gore are – meaning her styling choices are questionable, her social skills nonexistent except when she’s spouting slasher speak and slasher trivia – and honestly I ADORE HER FOR IT.

We follow Jade – a recent high school graduate as she slowly begins to believe that a slasher film is unfolding in her very town. This convinces her to see beautiful rich girl Letha Mondragon as a potential final girl – and ultimate savior. For a slasher fan as myself I reveled in the slasher speak and pop culture references. I know many have mentioned this in other reviews, but the only fault this novel has is that it’s a slow burn.

Honestly, if Jade weren’t such a compelling character I don’t know if I would’ve enjoyed the journey so much but Jade is a total badass and I know that Jones’ delivers when it comes to horror and gore – so I patiently waited for the bloodbath. To say that Jones’ doesn’t disappoint is an understatement – if this were a movie, Jones’ budget would’ve blown just on the fake blood expense because there is SO MUCH OF IT & I AM HERE FOR IT. I mean, I directed a short where we used almost ten gallons of corn syrup, because I literally wanted to be drenched in it. And by the time you’re finished reading the gory, batshit crazy final pages you’re going to feel like you just waded in ten gallons of blood too.

Don’t walk but RUN to buy this book if you’re a fan of all 70’s & 80’s slasher flicks, cause you will LOVE this. Also, have I mentioned how awesomely badass Jade is? Go on, you know you want to get to know her! This book is fucking brutal and a wild ride.

*Thank you so much to NetGalley and Gallery/Saga Press for the digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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Film Review: Fear Street 1994 & 1978

Growing up I was a HUGE fan of R.L. Stine’s books, in particular the Fear Street series. Basically, those books were my crack and I bought at least three books a month. So when Netflix announced that they were gonna come out with three Fear Street inspired films, I knew that I was going to check it out.

From the very beginning 1994 opens with a very Scream-esque sequence – a recognizable actress is first chased and then stabbed to death by a guy dressed in a black cloak and skull mask. I didn’t mind the heavy handed reference because the inside of a mall after hours was definitely creepy. However, I was soon annoyed by the following scene where the protagonist is listening to the radio and Garbage’s “Only Happy When It Rains” in 1994, when the song came out in September of 1995. That aside, the film’s soundtrack was completely awesome if you’re a lover of 90’s music.

I loved the look of the movie and feeling like I was reliving my high school days, but what didn’t work for me was the fact it simply had too much going on. What I mean is, you have killers, ghosts, and zombies. ALL AT ONCE. It’s just too over the top.

Meanwhile, 1978 was very reminiscent of Friday the 13th franchise with the setting of a summer camp and a possessed killer that wields an ax and wears a burlap sack as a mask (which if you’re a fan of Jason Vorhees you know that he used to wear that as a mask long before he donned a hockey mask). Just like 1994, 1978 had a killer soundtrack (lots of Bowie, and lots of Bowie references, my heart was full). But what made this film superior to 1994 was that it had better fleshed out characters, and I was more invested in these characters than I was in the previous film. Not to mention that this installment mostly focused on ONE possessed killer rather than have a smorgasbord of all things spooky.

FEAR STREET PART 2: 1978 – Cr: Netflix © 2021

I’m really looking forward to the third and final film, 1666. I truly hope that the film is based off of R.L. Stine’s origin saga, The Betrayal, The Secret, and The Burning because those books were truly top notch for MG and it really explained by Fear Street became so cursed (I’m looking at you Goode!).

Let me know if you’ve checked these films out or any of the books when you were young! I’d love to talk more about all things Fear Street!

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Poetry: Love Does Kill

Photo by Ivan Samkov on Pexels.com

Long ago, in a lost dream,

I saw myself dying.

The look of surprise and pain crossed my face;

(The blade went down.)

It punctured my heart.

All the lies that you told me,

at that moment seemed so trivial.

All the hurt that you had done to me,

at that moment was all forgotten.

(The blade came down harder.)

It reached my lonely soul,

My screams of agony diffused with your own.

This death so slowly;

It hurts me even more.

Why did my love have to eliminate my soul?

All of my tender, love, care; caused this killer

to leave me bare.

(The blade comes down, once more.)

Farewell, to this tormented love.

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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Book Highlight: The Case of the Murderous Mr. Cream by Dean Jobb


“A tour de force of storytelling. One of the best books I’ve read this year. Dean Jobb breathes new life into Cream’s victims—who they were, where and how they lived—all the while blending in thorny issues of policing, of the fictional detectives being created, of the other serial killers on the loose. This book is both chilling and thrilling.” —Louise Penny, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Chief Inspector Gamache series


”When a doctor does go wrong he is the first of criminals,” Sherlock Holmes observed during one of his most baffling investigations. “He has nerve and he has knowledge.” In the span of fifteen years, Dr. Thomas Neill Cream murdered as many as ten people in the United States, Britain, and Canada, a death toll with almost no precedent. Poison was his weapon of choice. Largely forgotten today, this villain was as brazen as the notorious Jack the Ripper.

Structured around the doctor’s London murder trial in 1892, when he was finally brought to justice, 
The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream exposes the blind trust given to medical practitioners, as well as the flawed detection methods, bungled investigations, corrupt officials, and stifling morality of Victorian society that allowed Dr. Cream to prey on vulnerable and desperate women, many of whom had turned to him for medical help.

Dean Jobb transports readers to the late nineteenth century as Scotland Yard traces Dr. Cream’s life through Canada and Chicago and finally to London, where new investigative tools called forensics were just coming into use, even as most police departments still scoffed at using science to solve crimes. But then, most investigators could hardly imagine that serial killers existed—the term was unknown. As the Chicago Tribune wrote, Dr. Cream’s crimes marked the emergence of a new breed of killer: one who operated without motive or remorse, who “murdered simply for the sake of murder.” For fans of Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City, all things Sherlock Holmes, or the podcast  My Favorite MurderThe Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream is an unforgettable true crime story a master of the genre.

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Coming Soon: “Fields of Blood”

If you listen carefully, sometimes at half past midnight, you can hear her voice. Florence Wakefield. The ghost of Gold Petal Fields. Her blood is in these fields. It’s why the trees are sick, their roots gnarled. Some say if you cut through the wood, you can see it—her blood in the lumber. They never should’ve used this land for anything, but the modern man rejects folklore, says that it’s mere superstitions, that there’s nothing to be found in these fields but your own shallow breath.

I know you may think that I’m crazy, but if you’re going to heed any lesson from my testimony, it’s this: Don’t tread on Florence’s land, or you’ll be sorry. I saw her ten years ago, it’s why I look like this, so I beg you, don’t go. Don’t go to Gold Petal Fields. That land is cursed.

***

“What do you make of that mumbo jumbo?” I say to Dave as I dip another chip into the bowl of salsa sitting between us.

“I don’t know. We can’t discredit her story as false, something happened to her in those fields to look the way she does.”

I nod, although I’m skeptical of the paranormal. Just because I’ve ventured on this podcast adventure with Dave doesn’t mean that I necessarily believe all the crazy stories we get sent to investigate. Especially since we’ve been able to debunk all of the ghost sightings we’ve investigated so far. Dave and I began our podcast “Agents of Spook” together three years ago, and ever since, our weekly listeners have increased exponentially. Our winning card is having video footage of our ghost hunting to go along with our podcast on our YouTube channel.

“I believe that she had a freak accident,” I concede. “But do I think that a two-hundred-sixty-five year-old ghost is to blame for her blindness? No, I don’t.”

Dave moves the cursor back on the video, rewinding it to the last few minutes and replays it.

“It’s why I look like this, so I beg you don’t go.”

He freezes the frame.

“You see that, Blythe?” He’s pointing to the computer screen, where Amanda Manthis stares blankly, or at least just sits there—I’m not sure how you can describe someone whose eyes are missing.

“What does that prove? Besides, she sent us this video, but then warns us not to go. It’s almost like she’s begging for us to go.” I dunk another chip in the salsa, scooping up a hefty amount before putting it in my mouth

“Maybe she only wants to know if what she thinks she saw was real or if something else happened to her entirely.”

I grab the packets of paper Dave printed earlier. Anything he was able to find about Florence Wakefield are in these papers. Legend has it that Florence Wakefield, the only child of the widowed oil tycoon Beau Wakefield, was brutally murdered by a group of villagers when rumors of witchcraft surfaced. Florence allegedly gave a poisoned concoction to a young teenage girl, Lydia Carson who had sought her herbal services. Modern medicine notes that perhaps the girl, unbeknownst to her, was deathly allergic to “eye of newt” or nowadays known in less Gothic terms as mustard seeds. These seeds were found to be part of the herbal tea that the young Lydia ingested. But Lydia’s father was distraught by his favored daughter’s death and vowed to seek revenge. When Beau Wakefield left town for a business venture to San Francisco, Mr. Carson, along with eleven other men, marched to the Wakefield estate. If Florence were a typical girl of her upbringing, they wouldn’t have been able to do what they did to her. But Florence wasn’t safe at home when they came looking for her. No. She was out in the fields. According to the historical documents and newspaper clippings, the men beat her and then tied her up to a stake where the crows pecked at her eyes. By the time the servants found her, it was too late. Florence was dead.

I set the papers back down on the desk, shaking my head.

“This is so disturbing.”

“Oh, but you haven’t heard it all . Exactly one month after her death, people began to see her ghost in the fields at night. Or as they said, a young woman wearing a pale pink dress. According to legend, it’s believed that if you try to communicate with the ghost, she lets you taste a dose of what she went through.”

“And that brings us back to why Amanda Manthis’ eyes look the way they do.”

“Yes,” Dave says. “That’s exactly it.”

“All of this is very fascinating, but you know that I don’t believe in ghosts.”

“I know you don’t. But that’s why we need to investigate and capture any weird phenomena with our trusty Canons.”

I look back up at Amanda’s freeze-framed face. She doesn’t look much older than thirty. Her brown hair is tied back as freckles adorn her button nose. But her eyes, or at least where her eyes used to be, are hollowed out. Heavy scar tissue now covers what used to be bleeding wounds. A chill runs down my spine, but I ignore it.

“Let’s do this,” I say.

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Review: Skin Inc. Supplement Bar – My Daily Dose of Glow

What It Is: Serum

What It Does: Restores skin suppleness, smooths, and reduces fine lines.

Active Ingredients: Vitamin A, Chlorella, and Hyaluronic Acid

Verdict: You know I’m a huge fan of Vitamin A, so the moment I saw that this serum contained that, I knew it’s promise of better skin would be fulfilled. Vitamin A revives your skin and it’s clinically proven to help restore skin’s youthful appearance, tackle dullness, and combat any environmental aggressors. Chlorella is a form of algae that helps reduce pigmentation and reduce redness. And of course no serum would be complete without hyaluronic acid, it’s basically the ingredient that helps with suppleness and smoothing. Basically this serum is a triple threat to help combat all your skin issues and is proven to give you a better appearance as soon as one day! All you need is three drops daily prior to moisturizer and before you know it you’ll have amazing skin. I really love this product and highly recommend it, especially if you’re trying to turn your skin around and combat dullness, pigmentation, sun damage, and fine lines.

Price: $65

Where To Buy It: https://iloveskininc.us

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Product Review: Ghost Girl Greetings

I’ve been eyeing Ghost Girl Greetings merch for awhile now. I’ve been desperately trying to purchase the mug with the cute Annabelle/Chucky/Jason/Ghostface/Pinhead faces on it, but due to high demand, I always get to the site when it’s already “Out of Stock” (West Coast woes, yo). So, when the makeup bag with the same cute horror face combo became available I decided to snag it asap, and while I was at it, I decided to pick up the Freddy Krueger inspired lip balm I’m Your Chapstick Now in Coffee, because, why not?

Now, I’m very picky when it comes to lip balms because I need them to be a certain type of softness and consistency (meaning not sticky nor pulling a Houdini and disappearing in 20 minutes either). The good news is, that this lip balm surpassed my expectations. The moment I applied it, I felt as though my lips were embraced by a soft cloud of coffee sweetness. It was comforting, smoothing, and just plain blissful. To say that I’m in love with it is an understatement, to say that I wish to replace ALL of my lip balms with this one would be accurate.

It was such a pleasant surprise to be so pleased with the lip balm since my whole reason to purchase from their online store was for me to get the makeup bag (which is utterly adorable and I recommend any horror fan who wishes to carry their makeup or essentials in style to buy it!).

Overall, these won’t be my last purchases from this shop and I’m still holding out hope to some day own the ever elusive mug I pine for. A girl can only dream.

VISIT THE SHOP!

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Coming Soon! & Cover Reveal: Vicious Traditions – Tales of Terror and the Grotesque

After focusing my attention on multi-author anthologies for the past few years, I’ve decided to take a break from that and release a collection of my own short stories.

Most of the stories are new, although there may be a couple that have been previously published in other anthologies.

The stories you’ll find in this collection range from various degrees of dark, twisted, and speculative horror.

If you love vampire, witches, ghosts, and werewolves with a new fresh twist on old tropes, then you might enjoy the stories in Vicious Traditions.

VICIOUS TRADITIONS is due February 1, 2022.

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Review: Glossier – Ultralip in Portrait

What It Is: Hydrating glossy lip balm

Active Ingredients: Hyaluronic Acid, Meadowfoam, Jojoba, and Watermelon oils

Verdict: Nothing kicks off the start of summer like transitioning from a matte lipstick to a shiny glossy one – and now with mask mandates being lifted at most places, you can finally show off your newly minted glossy lips. What I adore about this Glossier formula is that it’s incredibly shiny but without the sticky ickiness that comes from traditional lip glosses – not to mention that the colour selection is PHENOMENAL. The majority of of the hues are universally flattering meaning that you can’t go wrong with any of them! This formula doesn’t bleed at the edges and leaves your lips feeling pillowy soft and nourished while also looking incredibly beautiful. So go ahead and kick your matte liquid lipsticks to the curb – summer is officially here and Glossier’s Ultralip is what should be on everyone’s lips.

Price: $18

Where To Buy It: https://www.glossier.com/

Beautiful glossy soft lips (Glossier Ultralip in Portrait).
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Book Review & Author Interview: Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke by Eric LaRocca

Sadomasochism. Obsession. Death.

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Release Date: June 1, 2021

Publisher: Wierdpunk Books

Price: $11.37 (paperback)

Plot Summary:

A whirlpool of darkness churns at the heart of a macabre ballet between two lonely young women in an internet chat room in the early 2000s—a darkness that threatens to forever transform them once they finally succumb to their most horrific desires.

What have you done today to deserve your eyes?

Grade: A-

Review:

This dark tale begins with Agnes looking to sell an antique apple peeler and Zoe contacting her to buy said peeler. I know, I found the way the two protagonists virtually met strange for a horror novella, but it was very intriguing how their bond slowly grows. As the days go by the two women forge a tight relationship which slowly descends to sadomasochism and careens to absolute horrific madness.

The writing is very engaging and very vivid, creating a visceral rollercoaster that will leave you wondering WTF did you experience. It’s told in epistolary format of email exchanges and IM’s, making the reader feel that extra layer of voyeurism that ramps up the creepiness factor. I recommend reading this book in one sitting – it’s much more impactful that way as the tension and dread increases with each passing page.

The ending is a masterclass of true horror and one that readers won’t easily forget. Read this novella for a violent, wild ride full of debauchery and horror.

*Thank you so much to the author for the digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

SHORT Q & A WITH AUTHOR

What inspired you to write the novella in the format that you did?

I’ve always been fascinated by books with unconventional formatting. I admire any opportunity to tell a story in a way that might be unique for the reader. The reason I chose this particular format for the novella was because I wanted the reader to feel voyeuristic in their reading, as if they were reading something they knew they shouldn’t be reading. That’s profoundly unsettling to me as a highly desensitized lover of horror. I shudder when I think of accidentally stumbling upon something that wasn’t meant for me to see—something horrible, something truly disturbing. I’ve been dabbling in unconventional formatting for many years now and this novella seemed like a natural progression for me and my work.

The novella establishes that the two protagonists are women – but the internet being the internet I was suspicious whether one of them or both were being truthful about their identities and their genders since it was commonplace in the 2000s to find men trying to pass off as women in lesbian chatrooms. The fact that the two protagonists never see each other through webcam nor exchange photos kind of makes you wonder if one of them is being catfished. Was it a conscious decision to create that suspicion in the reader?

That’s a fascinating reaction to the work. I actually had never considered that before and I’m quite disappointed in myself for not thinking of it first. I approached this concept quite literally when I first wrote it. In my head, they were always two women interacting with one another across the infinite gulf of the internet. As I was working on this piece, I definitely wanted there to be a sense of suspicion—a sense of distrust in the reader when considering the two main characters. Who can you trust? Who is telling the truth? Which one of them is the real monster? Of course, Zoe is less than savory for asking Agnes to perform such horrible acts. However, is Agnes a monster as well for being so agreeable?

What are your current fave horror books that you recommend?

Oh, so many to list. I’ll try to be brief. Lately I’ve been recommending Hauntedby Chuck Palahniuk quite a bit to fellow readers. I’ve read that book several times and it always unsettles me. I also heartily recommend Gwendolyn Kiste’s phenomenal The Rust Maidensif you’re looking for truly poignant body horror. Lastly, I usually recommend I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Ian Reid. Such an inspiring tale of existential dread.

Do you have any other projects that you’re currently working on and are going to be released soon?

I’m currently at work on a bunch of different writing projects. Most of them involve contracts, so unfortunately I’m unable to share full details until the publisher makes the official announcement on social media. I’m so happy to report that I’ll have work being consistently published over the course of the next few years and I certainly hope my readers stick with me as I continue to release new material.

Honestly, this is too good not to ask but what have you done today to deserve your eyes?

Nice try, Zoe . . . Just kidding. But seriously. Kindness. The answer is always kindness. Whether it’s showing kindness to another living thing or receiving kindness gracefully, that should be our priority as human beings every day we’re on this planet.

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