Book Review: Teen Killers Club by Lily Sparks

One goal, get out alive.

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Release Date: November 10, 2020

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books

Price: $18.99 (hardcover)

Plot Summary:

Seventeen-year-old Signal Deere has raised eyebrows for years as an unhappy Goth misfit from the trailer park. When she’s convicted of her best friend Rose’s brutal murder, she’s designated a Class A–the most dangerous and manipulative criminal profile.

To avoid prison, Signal signs on for a secret program for 18-and-under Class As and is whisked off to an abandoned sleep-away camp, where she and seven bunkmates will train as assassins. Yet even in the Teen Killers Club, Signal doesn’t fit in. She’s squeamish around blood. She’s kind and empathetic. And her optimistic attitude is threatening to turn a group of ragtag maniacs into a team of close-knit friends.

Maybe that’s because Signal’s not really a killer. She was framed for Rose’s murder and only joined the program to escape, track down Rose’s real killer, and clear her name. But Signal never planned on the sinister technologies that keep the campers confined. She never planned on the mysterious man in the woods determined to pick them off one by one. And she certainly never planned on falling in love.

Signal’s strategy is coming apart at the seams as the true killer prepares to strike again in Teen Killers Club.

Grade: A-

Review:

This YA was unique, as it was about a group of teen killers that are training to become assassins. The only caveat? Our protagonist Signal Deere didn’t kill her best friend, although she was framed for her murder. She’s innocent. The group is taken to a camp where they must train to take out other murderers, and the cast of characters we get are all uniquely different from one another. I really enjoyed the fast neck break pace, there was never a dull moment! Yes, the book is a little campy but once I found out that the author had penned the script for the new Heathers TV show (that sadly never aired) it all made sense. If you can simply sit back and enjoy the ride, then you’ll find this book entertaining, if you happen to nit-pick about how credible it could all be, then you Downer Debbie are gonna be sourly disappointed! The murder mystery was fun and the twist was something I didn’t suspect and it actually worked (I despise twists that just come out of the left-wing with no context). And for being someone that always complains about how books end, this one actually ended with a bang!

I couldn’t recommend this book enough if you love thrillers with a satirical spin.

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

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Film Review: Host





I’m not a fan of the found-footage sub-genre in horror. In fact, I didn’t like The Blair Witch Project or Paranormal Activity (two films famous for being ground breaking for the sub-genre). So I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy Host, since it’s a found footage movie directed solely via zoom during the COVID-19 pandemic quarantine. I’ll have to admit that Rob Savage managed to create a very suspenseful and scary movie with the limited resources he had available.

The whole premise of the movie is that a group of friends decide to engage in a séance guided by a medium through zoom. But this being a horror movie, things obviously go wrong. The first fifteen minutes you’re wondering if anything is going to happen and when, but soon strange things begin to happen and the chill-factor rises exponentially.

This film was best made to be viewed using your phone or tablet (although I used my notebook), it won’t have the same claustrophobic chilling effect on a large screen TV. I really enjoyed Host, and at only 56 minutes it doesn’t overstay its welcome by trying to hit the 90-minute mark, which is something many horrors should do instead of trying to fill the last 30-minutes with filler.

Host managed to make me reconsider the found-footage subgenre, and I am curious what Rob Savage will come up next now that he has scored a three-movie deal with Blumhouse. The scariest is yet to come.

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Review: Murad Essential-C Cleanser

What It Is: Energizing cleanser

What It Does: Washes away dirt and impurities without over-drying skin.

Active Ingredients: Vitamins A, C, & E and Allantoin and panthenol (to help soften skin)

Verdict: I’m not someone who is exclusively married to one skin cleanser, so I’m always switching mine up depending on what I receive or am gifted. This particular skin cleanser was part of a Fab Fit Fun subscription box. What I love about this cleanser is that it feels luxuriously silky and it has an incredible scent. I feel as though my skin is getting fully cleansed but at the same time it doesn’t feel stripped of its natural oils. I’m really enjoying this cleanser a lot and will definitely purchase it when I’m done.

Price: $40

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

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3 Tips That Will Make You A Better Writer

There are many books that explore the craft of writing but these tips are what will really change the way you work and write.

ONE. WRITE EVERY DAY.

By this, I don’t mean that you have to write a specific word count every day, because many people will feel a sense of failure if they don’t accomplish what most professional writers do. But since many of us that are writing have day jobs, trying to crank out 1,200 words daily is almost impossible. The secret is, there is no magic number. Write every day, even if all you can write for that day is ONE SENTENCE. But slowly, if you continue, in a year you’ll finally have a rough draft of a novel.

TWO. COMPLETE ONE PROJECT.

The problem I see with many writers is that they never complete a short story or novel. Instead, they begin a project, and once they struggle they let go and begin another. In the end, many of them end up having ten unfinished projects, and no single finished project to show for their efforts. Focus on completing ONE project so that you can then have something to edit once you’re done. You’ll never see your writing career launch if you’re always in the phase of starting new projects and never completing any of them.

THREE. READ BOOKS IN THE GENRE YOU WRITE.

Publishing is a business, which means that in order to see what is selling in your given genre, you have to read books from that genre. I don’t mean just one or two. I mean, A LOT. You should aim to read at least one book a month. Reading should be seen as a way to study the craft of writing. This will be way more helpful to you than dishing out hundreds of dollars for a writing workshop that lasts three days where you accomplish nothing.

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Review: Colourpop Candyland Candy Castle Eyeshadow Palette

Colourpop always releases very exciting collabs, but like any makeup junkie there is, trying to collect them all would mean that we’d be drowning in eyeshadow palettes. As a kid, I loved the whimsical magical world that the Hasboro game Candyland provided. It wasn’t a board game that required much skill, but rather relied more on the luck of the draw. But it was a board game that even my mum who hates board games was agreeable to want to play with me.

So when Colourpop decided to collab with Hasboro for Candyland inspired makeup, I was totally onboard! I decided to snag the eyeshadow palette and Queen Frostine Highlighter (unfortunately, I was later informed that I would be reimbursed for that product as they sold out before they could fulfill all their orders).

Now, I’ve used Colourpop products before, and my personal experience with their products is so-so. There are some products that they certainly nail, and then there are some that aren’t as remarkable, but for the cheap price tag, one can’t really complain. My biggest issue with Colourpop eyeshadows is that the matte shadows always tend to result in a patchy application, the final result isn’t always universally pigmented. Of course, this can only be noticed if you’re looking with a close-up mirror in good lighting. Most people on the street won’t notice this inconsistency just by looking at you.

The colours for this palette are very reminiscent of the whimsical magic that Candyland represented, so for tht it gets a thumbs up from me. All the colours are very pretty. Now, my only complaint is the application for the matte ones. Like previous matte shadows from Colourpop, these too result in a patchy application even using eyeshadow primer beforehand. Meanwhile, the top-performing eyeshadows tend to be the glittery or frosty ones.

If you love pastel colours, I definitely recommend checking this palette out, or if like me, you’re nostalgic for the whimsical carefree days of your childhood, then that’s also a good reason to pick this palette up, or anything from the Candyland collab, as they’ll whisk you back to a time when makeup meant you wanted to be Princess Lollipop or Queen Frostine.

Price: $18

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Book Review: Even If We Break by Marieke Nijkamp

Are you ready to play?

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Release Date: September 15, 2020

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Price: $14.99 (hardback)

Plot Summary:

FIVE friends go to a cabin.
FOUR of them are hiding secrets.
THREE years of history bind them.
TWO are doomed from the start.
ONE person wants to end this.
NO ONE IS SAFE.

For five friends, this was supposed to be one last getaway before going their separate ways―a chance to say goodbye to each other, and to the game they’ve been playing for the past three years. But they’re all dealing with their own demons, and they’re all hiding secrets.

Finn doesn’t trust anyone since he was attacked a few months ago. Popular girl Liva saw it happen and did nothing to stop it. Maddy was in an accident that destroyed her sports career. Carter is drowning under the weight of his family’s expectations. Ever wants to keep the game going for as long as they can, at all costs.

When the lines between game and reality start to blend with deadly consequences, it’s a race against time before it’s game over―forever.

Grade: C

Review:

I had written a longer review, but somehow I lost it and now you’re going to receive the condensed version of what I originally wrote.

Pros: Diverse representation. There is a non-binary character, a trans, someone with autism, and two characters that aren’t fully able-bodied. I liked that there was diversity, but it also felt a little forced. A group of misfits play a compelling live-action RPG game.

Cons: This book was touted as a thriller. There are no thrills. Someone is murdered and yet the murderer is so freaking obvious that you have to be kinda slow to NOT catch it. Also, I hated that it took forever to get to an ending after there was an essential ending four chapters prior. I read a previous book from this same author (This Is Where It Ends) and it was full of obsessive thoughts, exaggerated feels, and just drama for the sake of drama.

Overall, this book would be best suited for actual teens, because the overdramatization and overload of angst can only be tolerated by teen readers since they’re going through similar feelings. An adult reader will just roll their eyes and exclaim, “Get over it!” way too often.

The author is a talented writer, but I don’t think I’ll be picking up her next book.

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

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Poetry: Beautiful Disaster

Photo by Diego Rezende on Pexels.com

I knew it was going to be a beautiful disaster,

And yet I pursued him—not caring if I was stepping into the eye of the tornado.

I wanted him.

He would be mine.

Or….

There was no or.

Just a certainty that my life wouldn’t ever be the same without him.

***

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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Book Review: These Vengeful Hearts by Katherine Laurin

vengeful

A thrilling novel about a secret society and the dangers that lie in wait for anyone brave enough to join.

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Release Date: September 8, 2020

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Price: $16.99 (hardback)

Plot Summary:

Whenever something scandalous happens at Heller High, the Red Court is the name on everyone’s lips. Its members deal out social ruin and favors in equal measure, their true identities known only by their leader: the Queen of Hearts.

Ember Williams has seen firsthand the damage the Red Court can do. Now, she’s determined to hold the organization accountable by taking it down from the inside. But will the cost of revenge be more than she’s willing to sacrifice?

Grade: B-

Review:

When I read the premise of this book, I thought I was going to get a dark, twisty novel about a secret society. Instead, what I got was a secret society that functioned more along the lines of the Burn Book in Mean Girls. This novel never got as dark as I hoped it would, and without many characters revealed to be in the elusive Red Court, it was pretty obvious who the Queen of Hearts really was all along. The book was fast paced but overall it wasn’t the kind of thrilling ride I was hoping for.

The moments that I did enjoy were when Ember struggled between doing the right thing and loving the feeling of power she got over accomplishing her assignments.

The romance in the novel between Ember and Chase wasn’t that interesting either. The whole time we’re told that they’re rivals and hate each other, although we’re never shown this rivalry at all. In fact, Chase seems very courteous with Ember from the very beginning so perhaps the rivalry was more on Ember’s side than a shared one.

Ultimately, Ember never suffers any consequences for all the pain she causes and terrible decisions, which made pages of agonizing and teen angst worthless if everything was going to get wrapped up so nicely. And if you’ve seen Mean Girls, then you can easily guess how this book will end. In the end, it seems like all of Ember’s sweat and tears put into trying to dismantle the Red Court didn’t pay off. I recommend this book if you’re into the movie Mean Girls (but without the amazing quotes) or if you simply like the premise of a dark YA but in the end, isn’t really dark at all, but very PG vanilla.

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

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Poetry: Runner-Up

woman in brown wedding gown and winter landscape background

Photo by John Ray Ebora on Pexels.com

Whenever I watch a beauty pageant

I never relate with the winner

But rather with the almost queen

So close to wearing the tiara

Like her,

I’m like that hapless poker player

Always holding the winning card too late.

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Book Review: Unboxed by Briana Morgan

unboxed

What would you do for fame?

Release Date: July 25, 2020

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Price: $9.99 (paperback)

Plot Summary:

Greg Zipper is a paranormal vlogger whose livelihood relies on his online popularity. When a fight between him and his girlfriend goes viral for all the wrong reasons, Greg purchases a dark web mystery box in hopes of restoring his audience’s faith in him and hitting one million subscribers. But when Greg opens the box, he gets much more than he bargained for, including a Boxer who’s determined to stop him from taking his loved ones for granted. Now Greg must do all he can to stop the Boxer, or else he’ll lose his livelihood—along with the woman he loves.

Grade: A

Review:

I’ve previously read other works from Briana Morgan, but I strongly believe that she excels as a playwright. Unboxed has everything you’d want a traditional horror movie to have, the anticipation of dread, creepiness, and an overlying lesson meant to be learned the hard way. Although this is a play, I can see it becoming a movie in the vein of many Blumehouse movies (putting this thought out into the universe cause you never know if wishing about it will make it happen!).

First of all, I’m not well-versed in the world of the dark web, but I enjoyed how Zipper explained it in the play to his girlfriend. I enjoyed the fact that the dialogue felt very realistic to how people speak and weren’t clunky or awkward at all.

The premise of the play is that a paranormal vlogger is so obsessed with reaching 1 million subscribers that the decides to film himself unboxing a mystery box bought from the dark web. Everything you can imagine about what could possibly grow wrong does in this play. It was a dark and twisted, but also packed an emotional punch where the protagonist had to learn a very difficult lesson, and would he be willing to lose everything he cared about for fame and fortune?

I enjoyed this very much and I don’t usually reach out to purchase plays, but the premise was intriguing and I wasn’t disappointed in the execution. Pick this up if you want to spend 45 minutes exploring the dark and twisted realms of the supernatural and the underbelly of notoriety.

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