Book Review: Mayhem by Estelle Laure

mayhem

“One thing I never could stomach about Santa Maria, all the goddamn vampires.”

Release: July 14, 2020

Order on Amazon!

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Price: $18.99 (hardcover)

Plot Summary:

It’s 1987 and unfortunately, it’s not all Madonna and cherry lip balm. Mayhem Brayburn has always known there was something off about her and her mother, Roxy. Maybe it has to do with Roxy’s constant physical pain, or maybe with Mayhem’s own irresistible pull to water. Either way, she knows they aren’t like everyone else.

But when May’s stepfather finally goes too far, Roxy and Mayhem flee to Santa Maria, California, the coastal beach town that holds the answers to all of Mayhem’s questions about who her mother is, her estranged family, and the mysteries of her own self. There she meets the kids who live with her aunt, and it opens the door to the magic that runs through the female lineage in her family, the very magic Mayhem is next in line to inherit and which will change her life for good.

But when she gets wrapped up in the search for the man who has been kidnapping girls from the beach, her life takes another dangerous turn and she is forced to face the price of vigilante justice and to ask herself whether revenge is worth the cost.

From the acclaimed author of This Raging Light and But Then I Came Back, Estelle Laure offers a riveting and complex story with magical elements about a family of women contending with what appears to be an irreversible destiny, taking control and saying when enough is enough.

Grade: B+

Review:

First things first, anyone who knows me knows that The Lost Boys has been one of my favourite movies since I first watched it at 8 yrs old. In fact, I’ll admit that it’s probably my favourite vampire movie ever. And you know there have been a lot of movies made about those alluring bloodsuckers. Having stated that, it was a total no brainer for me to want to join the book tour for this novel as it had been marketed as a cross between The Lost Boys and The Craft. What I hadn’t expected was to find actual characters from The Lost Boys in the novel! What does that mean? It means that we run into the Frog Brothers (notorious for being vampire slayers) and we even get to witness a sax solo by Sax Man (if you’ve seen the movie then you know exactly who I’m referring to). If seeing characters from the movie wasn’t enough, we’re also treated with the exploration of the infamous cave from the movie.

The book is filled with so much 80’s nostalgia that I don’t know if the author was aiming to win the hearts of 30-yrs olds who lived during the ’80s or to make today’s teens (after all this is a YA novel and supposedly teens are the targeted audience) yearn for a time they never got to live through the experience.

I didn’t mind the movie references too much, because like I said I LOVE The Lost Boys. I also liked the protagonist Mayhem a lot. She managed to talk her mom into leaving her abusive step-dad and return to her hometown of Santa Maria. Now if you think that this novel is about vampires, well you’re only halfway right. The novel offers a different perspective on the supernatural, where, much like in the Anne Rice Werewolf series, the supernatural entity uses its powers for the good of the community rather than for evil. But even when you’re ridding the town of evil people, the question that looms over Mayhem’s head is, is it moral to decide who gets to live or die, even if the person they’re killing has done terrible things? The novel tries to grapple with that along with the question of, can one break free from one’s lineage and familial curse? Or does one embrace the curse and view as a gift?

For the vast majority, I enjoyed the novel although I feel as though it moved a bit too slow at first, to truly escalate towards the end. Overall, I felt as though this novel deserved more in regards to delving into the mythology of the Brayburn family and to perhaps do more into depth about the curse that spanned generations of Brayburn women.

Again, because I love The Lost Boys so much, I adored being part of this universe yet again, albeit in a different form. But if you take all the homages to The Lost Boys away, the overall plot is pretty flimsy. That’s not to say that this book isn’t worth your time. It is enjoyable, but it just lacked in certain areas.

Pick this book up if you wish to take a dive into the 80’s nostalgia, or like me, you’re a huge fan of The Lost Boys.

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

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3 Books I’m Excited To Read This Summer

Summer reading usually means picking up the latest thriller and hanging out under a beach umbrella as you feel the summer breeze run through your hair. This year, all of our summer vacations may be different or non-existent because of the current pandemic, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have the opportunity to pick up the latest book that can take you down another dark, twisty route. Travel without leaving your home as you emerge into this unforgettable literary adventures. Here are three books that I’m very excited to read this summer and I think that you will do yourself a favor if you pick up a copy of any of these books, or all three!

mexican gothic

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.

Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.

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Seven Years of Darkness by You-Jeong Jeong

The truth always rises to the surface…

When a young girl is found dead in Seryong Lake, a reservoir in a remote South Korean village, the police immediately begin their investigation. At the same time, three men–Yongje, the girl’s father, and two security guards at the nearby dam, each of whom has something to hide about the night of her death–find themselves in an elaborate game of cat and mouse as they race to uncover what happened to her, without revealing their own closely guarded secrets.

After a final showdown at the dam results in a mass tragedy, one of the guards is convicted of murder and sent to prison. For seven years, his son, Sowon, lives in the shadow of his father’s shocking and inexplicable crime; everywhere he goes, a seemingly concerted effort to reveal his identity as the reviled mass murderer’s son follows him. When he receives a package that promises to reveal at last what really happened at Seryong Lake, Sowon must confront a present danger he never knew existed.

Dark, disturbing, and full of twists and turns.

burning

A Burning by Megha Majumdar

Jivan is a Muslim girl from the slums, determined to move up in life, who is accused of executing a terrorist attack on a train because of a careless comment on Facebook. PT Sir is an opportunistic gym teacher who hitches his aspirations to a right-wing political party, and finds that his own ascent becomes linked to Jivan’s fall. Lovely–an irresistible outcast whose exuberant voice and dreams of glory fill the novel with warmth and hope and humor–has the alibi that can set Jivan free, but it will cost her everything she holds dear.

Taut, symphonic, propulsive, and riveting from its opening lines, A Burning has the force of an epic while being so masterfully compressed it can be read in a single sitting. Majumdar writes with dazzling assurance at a breakneck pace on complex themes that read here as the components of a thriller: class, fate, corruption, justice, and what it feels like to face profound obstacles and yet nurture big dreams in a country spinning toward extremism. An extraordinary debut.

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Review: Tony Moly Moisture Boost Cooling Algae Eye Serum

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What It Is: Eye Serum

What It Does: Hydrates and moisturizes

Active Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, seawater, plankton, and algae

Verdict: I’m a sucker for eye creams, even when other beauty bloggers may deem eye creams to simply be glorified moisturizers, I can’t help but love the luxurious feel of applying eye cream to the lids and outer corners of my eyes. I’ve previously used products from Tony Moly and not only is this Korean company effective, but it also has the cutest packaging ever. Take, for example, this eye serum, the packaging alone made me want to purchase it (I’m also fickle, sue me). Now, perhaps I should’ve been expecting a serum that would feel wet seeing that it is water-based, but for some reason, I thought the consistency of it would’ve been more gel-like such as Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost Gel Cream Eye that I adore using as a primer to concealer. Unfortunately, this serum isn’t thick, but very light, meaning that it’s okay if you’re only going to use it as an eye cream for the night, but if you’re wanting a hydrating barrier to your concealer, then this probably wouldn’t be your best choice. I can’t say this product doesn’t work, because it DOES, it simply didn’t work for my specific needs, which means I’ll be using this cream as a night serum rather than a day one. Again, how freaking cute is that packaging though?!

Price: $22

Where To Buy It: https://tonymoly.us/products/moisture-boost-cooling-eye-serum , Ulta, Macy’s and Target

tonymoly

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Poetry: Fire Effects

We are of Taraxacum.

A volatile genus in duress.

Our heads disseminate, blown from our stems.

Rash thoughts ignite into words and whirl

On the wind,

Take seed in a flash of tongue and slice of eye.

In the young, loamy soils

We till fears deep.

They spring up from the ground and

Spark into being.

Fractured fragments of the whole,

Born from friction, this contempt consumes.

And it is like a wildfire.

Thick, fiery vines twist and coil.

Flowers, stoked to an angry bloom, blaze and burst,

Throwing open petals wide with the backdraft of odium.

It scorches and scars the skin of the earth.

We are barbaric in this unnatural state.

Hearts sterilized by the heat of hate.

Hearts full of bitter sap and brambled embers.

Roiling smoke stings and blinds us,

Chokes away our empathy.

This fury lashes through our humanity

Until there are only blackened sticks and

Smoking patches of ashy dirt.

The afterglow of spent, searing sentiments

Fade from the carpel.

Here, a pistil of arrogance and one of defeat,

And here, a pistil of disgust

And another of ignorant nostalgia.

Fear singes the last delicate cell walls

In a red, luminescent squall line.

And finally, fully charred,

The spent bloom wilts and crumbles.

But their fire has not left me infertile.

In this crackling, wild prairie,

There is a budding, a delicate anticipation

That the rains of my sorrows will sprout new growth.

I must germinate, cultivate

A bright breath of compassion,

Lest the world around me burn out and

Smolder into cold nothingness.

 

By: Erica Ruhe

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Book Review: Survivor Song by Paul Tremblay

survivorsong

 “This is not a fairy tale. It is a song.”

Release Date: July 3, 2020

Pre-Order on Amazon!

Publisher: William Murrow

Price: $27.99 (hardcover)

Plot Summary:

In a matter of weeks, Massachusetts has been overrun by an insidious rabies-like virus that is spread by saliva. But unlike rabies, the disease has a terrifyingly short incubation period of an hour or less. Those infected quickly lose their minds and are driven to bite and infect as many others as they can before they inevitably succumb. Hospitals are inundated with the sick and dying, and hysteria has taken hold. To try to limit its spread, the commonwealth is under quarantine and curfew. But society is breaking down and the government’s emergency protocols are faltering.

Dr. Ramola “Rams” Sherman, a soft-spoken pediatrician in her mid-thirties, receives a frantic phone call from Natalie, a friend who is eight months pregnant. Natalie’s husband has been killed—viciously attacked by an infected neighbor—and in a failed attempt to save him, Natalie, too, was bitten. Natalie’s only chance of survival is to get to a hospital as quickly as possible to receive a rabies vaccine. The clock is ticking for her and for her unborn child.

Natalie’s fight for life becomes a desperate odyssey as she and Rams make their way through a hostile landscape filled with dangers beyond their worst nightmares—terrifying, strange, and sometimes deadly challenges that push them to the brink.

Grade: A-

Review:

I’ll begin this with the admission that I wasn’t a big fan of Paul’s most popular novel, A Head Full of Ghosts. However, there were genius moments in that novel that made me want to check this new book out. The publishing world is slow, so when the author actually wrote this book he was merely speculating on a long-distance future. However, months into a global pandemic and the future that Tremblay describes in his book is suddenly our reality.

In the novel, a new form of rabies virus has made the jump from animals to humans and the effect is devastating. Since the onset of rabies plays much like flu-like symptoms, this feels very eerily similar to what we’re dealing with right now with COVID-19.

The reader can automatically assume which President the author had in mind when he wrote the following: “A president unwilling and woefully unequipped to make the rational science-based decisions necessary.” Especially given the fact of how our current President has managed the pandemic we’re living.

The novel is very fast-paced as all the events take place within the same day, much like how horror movies do. If you wish to read a fast-paced horror with strong female bonds, then this book is for you.

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

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6 Awesome Movies to Celebrate Pride Month

I know it’s almost the end of the month but with so many going around lately (gesturing to the world), it was kind of hard to keep up with everything and remain sane. However, I do wish to acknowledge Pride Month and here are some of my favourite movies to celebrate pride! So grab your popcorn and get ready to ride an emotional rollercoaster.

rocketman

ROCKETMAN

A musical fantasy about the fantastical human story of Elton John’s breakthrough years.

MOONLIGHT

MOONLIGHT

A young African-American man grapples with his identity and sexuality while experiencing the everyday struggles of childhood, adolescence, and burgeoning adulthood.

TANGERINE

TANGERINE

A hooker tears through Tinseltown on Christmas Eve searching for the pimp who broke her heart.

BOYERASED

BOY ERASED

The son of a Baptist preacher unwillingly participates in a church-supported gay conversion program after being forcibly outed to his parents.

BOYS

BOYS DON’T CRY

A young man named Brandon Teena navigates love, life, and being transgender in rural Nebraska.

HEDWIG

HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH

A transgender punk-rock girl from East Berlin tours the U.S. with her band as she tells her life story and follows the former lover/band-mate who stole her songs.

BONUS DOCUMENTARY

MARSHA

THE DEATH AND LIFE OF MARSHA P. JOHNSON

Victoria Cruz investigates the mysterious 1992 death of black gay rights activist and Stonewall veteran, Marsha P. Johnson. Using archival interviews with Johnson, and new interviews with Johnson’s family, friends and fellow activists.

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Book Review: The Girl from Widow Hills by Megan Miranda

girlwidow

Everyone knows the story of “the girl from Widow Hills.”

Release Date: June 23, 2020

Order on Amazon!

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Price: $18.89 (hardback)

Plot Summary:

Arden Maynor was just a child when she was swept away while sleepwalking during a terrifying rainstorm and went missing for days. Strangers and friends, neighbors and rescue workers, set up search parties and held vigils, praying for her safe return. Against all odds, she was found, alive, clinging to a storm drain. The girl from Widow Hills was a living miracle. Arden’s mother wrote a book. Fame followed. Fans and fan letters, creeps, and stalkers. And every year, the anniversary. It all became too much. As soon as she was old enough, Arden changed her name and disappeared from the public eye.

Now a young woman living hundreds of miles away, Arden goes by Olivia. She’s managed to stay off the radar for the last few years. But with the twentieth anniversary of her rescue approaching, the media will inevitably renew its interest in Arden. Where is she now? Soon Olivia feels like she’s being watched and begins sleepwalking again, like she did long ago, even waking outside her home. Until late one night she jolts awake in her yard. At her feet is the corpse of a man she knows—from her previous life, as Arden Maynor.

And now, the girl from Widow Hills is about to become the center of the story, once again, in this propulsive page-turner from suspense master Megan Miranda.

Grade: C

Review:

Let me preface this by stating that I really loved All The Missing Girls, but was sorely disappointed in The Last House Guest. But I was willing to give Miranda another chance and was thrilled when I was selected to review her latest novel.

My biggest issue with this book is that for a thriller, it’s very slow-moving. There’s no sense of urgency and there are a lot of repetitive phrases and rehashing of the same story over and over again, and I don’t know if that was to fill a certain page quota or what, but a lot of the flashback, news clippings, or 911-calls chapters didn’t really reveal anything new. There isn’t even a body until 30% in the book!

Another issue that I had with the book is that I just couldn’t get invested in any of the characters. All the side characters felt shady and the protagonist, Olivia was annoying beyond measure.

Now, there are two major twists, one that I saw coming a mile away and another that I didn’t really expect. Did these two major twists save the novel? Yes and no. It’s always nice when a thriller can throw a surprise ending, but for a novel that was at a snail’s pace with no sense of urgency or threat, it was a little too late.

If you’re more of a cozy mystery sort of reader, then you may enjoy this novel very much. But if you’re a reader who loves fast-paced thrillers, then you may want to pass on this one.

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

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Throwback Thursday: The Return of the Living Dead

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Maybe it’s because we’re in the midst of a Global Pandemic, or maybe because my version of comfort movies is to turn towards horror, but whatever the case may be, the first thing I did whilst under stress from Covid-19 mid-March was to rewatch The Return of the Living Dead. Even as a young child, I always found zombies to be far more comical than scary. Then again, my tune may change if I suddenly were to find myself in an actual zombie apocalypse.

As always, this movie provided the very much needed comical relief that I was seeking but didn’t know how much I was craving. We watch as a group of teenagers have to deal with the undead when a strange acid rain pours upon their small town. The first hing I noticed while rewatching was that as a kid, I never thought these actors were too old to portray real teenagers, but now looking at it with fresh eyes, I can’t help but realize how much those actors resemble me in age than any teens I’ve ever seen.

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Apart from that, the movie is one hell of a fun ride. We get half-body skeleton ladies that reveal the real reason why zombies must devour brains and who can’t help but find the half cut pup horridly adorable? And if you’re anyone with a pulse with a penchant for goth girls, you’re going to simply adore a certain famous grave yard dance scene. Why is the redhead Trash dancing naked? Who knows! But it sure is hot and entertaining to watch!

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There are many other hilarious instances. This movie doesn’t take itself seriously and wants YOU to not take it seriously either. Instead, it wants you to lean back and enjoy the decaying fun. After all, when you look at this way, sure there’s a Global Pandemic, but things could be worse, we could be fighting actual zombies right about now. And I don’t know about you, I still kinda want to keep my brains.

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Review: Bausch + Lomb Lumify

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What It Is: Eye drops

What It Does: Redness Reliever

Verdict: I am someone who suffers from chronic bloodshot eyes. Why you may ask? Probably the fact that I only sleep about four hours a night has something to do with it as I’m lucky enough not to have any eye issues due to allergies. When I was first sent this product in an Allure Beauty Box, I was a bit wary. I’m not a fan about putting an eye drops in my eyes unless they’re prescribed by a doc, but these seemed to promise something that I wasn’t sure they were going to deliver: luminous eyes! I’ll admit that I was a bit skeptical at first, but one drop in each eye was enough to convert this non-believer. It doesn’t take long for the luminous effect to take place, and boy I have never seen the whites of my eyes look SO WHITE AND BRIGHT. It was unreal. Sadly, the effects of these eyedrops only last for about 3-4 hours. So it seems more as something to use if you’re planning on having photos taken (such as closeups of your face) or are going on a big date. I could see this being useful in a wedding prep situation. As for everyday? As much as I loved the luminous effect, I can’t see the point of using a product that will only last three hours at best (esp. for the price). But hey, maybe not everyone has come to terms with their bloodshot eyes and may use this way more often than I would. Bottom line is, this works.

Price: $15.98

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

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Short Story: I’m Coming

photo of couple kissing in hallway

Photo by Flora Westbrook on Pexels.com

….and it’s over before I know it. A brief instant of ecstasy that fills me up to the brim.

Creating rainbow-colored clouds beneath my feet lifting me up to momentary heaven.

I am standing below the stage looking up at you. You stand over me with a regal posture. You own the universe. Your vibrant voice rings in my ears; it slides beneath every single pore to become a part of me. To become one with my essence.

Your eyes dive into mine. I can feel you swimming in my veins. You offer me a smile. I return it. You begin to walk down the stage stairs. The lights following every single minimal move you make.

The air is balmy inside the venue. My black lace top clings to my dewy skin. I try not to pay attention to the pain that shoots up and down my legs like miniature electric bolts. Five hours of standing on eight-inch heels make me realize that I hadn’t thought about the possible torture that I was going to subject myself to when I had pulled my knee-high leather boots over my feet.

You pass by the shouting girls. They are dying for your attention. But your eyes are locked on mine. I don’t look away. I fall into your gaze. I am going down a one-way spiral, and at the end of it, there is only you. I am taken into another realm…

Our bodies compress in a sweaty haze. You cling to my lips, sucking on them. Not wanting to let me go. Brown curls fell carelessly over your eyes. My hand reaches up to move them away. I am breathless. I want to savor the moment, as it was my last.

Breath against breath, lips against lips, naked flesh against naked flesh…

“Don’t forget to keep me alive in your mind,” you sing to me as I jump out of my daydream.

Your movements are graceful, feline. I can only plead that you will come nearer.

“Remember me whenever you feel obscene.”
Your eyes are burning tiny crevices in the center of my irises. My body is all giving. As well as all receiving.

And then you touch me….

That voice…those eyes…my hand traveling down the contours of my body. It runs over my plump breasts, my thumbnail grazing over my nipples. It shifts down to my navel and passes it, lowering itself down a little further. My hand is greeted by softness. My two fingers probe at its entrance that is enveloped in musky wetness.

There’s no need for knocking, a simple push and the door is opened. The two fingers cruise down a dark and humid corridor, a thrilling chill tingles throughout my body. I smile at you.

“Remember me whenever you feel obscene.”

Suddenly I can’t control my fingers anymore. They have a life of their own as they break into a frenzied rhythm. Faster…faster…faster…

I hear a shrill in my ears and my breath gets caught in my lungs but my fingers don’t stop. Faster…faster…faster…

My body is burning. Sweat slithers down like a sensuous snake. I feel a pounding in my head as though my membrane is being nailed to my skull.

I see you. I hear you.

And my body abandons itself to the senses. The wetness around my fingers contracts, tightening its grip on them. The wetness increases. It swells up like water in a dam until the dam is broken and there’s no turning back. Shocks race up and down my body. My vision blurs. Your face becomes a tapestry of vibrant colors. And then it fades to the bleakest black. The wetness releases its iron grip on my fingers. Liberating them in a yielding manner. They slide out of the murky tunnel restless and defeated.

I bring my hand up to my lips. My tongue flickers at the opaque whiteness coated on my fingers. You smile at me. I smile back.

Your hand loosens its grasp on my shoulder. You walk away. I am breathless. My knees feel weak as though they’re going to give in. I see you walking back up towards the stage. You look down at me and smile. I smile back at you, my body pricking from the aftershocks. My breath comes back to me. I am able to breathe again. My heart slows down to a normal sequence. My fingers are coated with your glitter. My tongue flutters at the tiny red specs of luminance. You smile down at me. I smile back. The pain in my feet makes itself be heard again. I look down.

“See you next time!” you shout.

I look up in time to see you smile at me one last time. I smile back and blow you a kiss that you pay no attention to.

My senses go dormant and it’s over before I know it.

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