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review 2019-01-10 14:22
Girls of Steel
Dare Me - Megan Abbott

Megan Abbott takes the Mean Girls trope to extremes in her novel Dare Me, about a team of high school Cheerleaders who revel in their sense of entitlement and perceived immortality.  Addy Hanlon is the sixteen-year-old narrator who identifies herself as the “lieutenant” to her best friend and Team Captain, Beth.  Even as she kowtows and follows Beth’s every command, Addy recognizes how cruel and ruthless her idol can be. The alpha-beta balance of their relationship is threatened however, when the squad comes under the leadership of a new coach.  Colette French is not about to be dazzled or overtaken by Beth. Coach French is also a domineering force with a magnetic personality that upsets the team’s hierarchy and engenders loyalty and adoration from the girls, including Addy.  Beth is so furious with this competition for Addy’s affection that she embarks on a campaign to sabotage the interloper at any cost.  That includes implicating the coach in the suspicious death of a young Guardsman recruiter working at the school.  It is also possible, however, that Beth’s theory is correct- that their Coach is as guilty as she would like her to be.  Addy is torn between the two possessive women, the focus of their power struggle and a pawn susceptible to their deceit.  In this novel, all of Abbot’s female characters are depicted as either rapacious and cruel or passive and vulnerable.  Still, the women fare better than the men, who are mostly shadows in the background- all apparently weak and completely clueless. The themes of domination/submission are omnipresent, with no representation of a healthy relationship in any form.  Still, Dare Me is a well-written and gripping read, with some decent (if implausible) plot twists.  Wicked fun if a reader likes their thrillers dark and does not require likeable characters to root for.

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text 2019-01-01 12:45
Char's Horror Corner: Top Ten Novels of 2018
Creature (Fiction Without Frontiers) - Hunter Shea
The Woman in the Woods - John Connolly
The Listener - Robert R. McCammon
Give Me Your Hand - Megan Abbott
We Sold Our Souls - Grady Hendrix
Providence: A Novel - Caroline Kepnes
Behind the Door - Mary SanGiovanni
Husk - J. Kent Messum
Cold in July - Joe R. Lansdale
Tarnished City (Dark Gifts) - Vic James

Welcome to my Top Ten Novels List!

 

I read 157 books over the course of this year and here's what I thought were the best of the best novels.

(These are books that I read this year, not necessarily published this year.)

Click on the cover to read my review.

Let's get started!

 

 Creature (Fiction Without Frontiers) - Hunter Shea  

 

CREATURE was not what I expected at all. 

Hunter Shea is great for creature feature novellas, and that's what I expected from this book. Instead, I got punched in the gut and my heart was torn out!

 

The Woman in the Woods - John Connolly 

 

The Charlie Parker series continues with what I think was the best entry yet!

Sixteen novels in and at this point, I can't imagine a world without a new Charlie Parker book every year. 

 

The Listener - Robert R. McCammon

 

Robert McCammon, author of BOY'S LIFE, (my favorite book of all time), crushes my heart again with this book about an exceptional young black man. (Technically, I read this book in 2017, but it didn't come out until 2018. So sue me!) This book is beautiful and brutal all at once, and features characters both good and bad, that you'll never forget. (I love you, Curtis!)

 

 

Give Me Your Hand - Megan Abbott 

 

Megan Abbott is a recent discovery of mine thanks to author Randy Chandler. Now I'm lined up every time she has a new book out. She writes about women like no one else. 

 

 

We Sold Our Souls - Grady Hendrix 

 

With this entry Grady Hendrix became one of my favorite authors. MY BEST FRIEND'S EXORCISM was great, but this book knocked me out. Maybe because I loved Metal back in the day, and also because the protagonist reminded me of Joan Jett. Whatever the reasons, I LOVED this book!

 

Providence: A Novel - Caroline Kepnes 

 

 

Caroline Kepnes hit my list of favorite authors in 2018.

I listened to both YOU and HIDDEN BODIES, (both of which are on my TOP TEN AUDIOBOOKS of the year list), and then I read this one back in June. All I can say is I know that I will read anything she puts out. She could write out a grocery list and I would read it with pleasure!

 

 

Behind the Door - Mary SanGiovanni

 

 

After reading BEHIND THE DOOR this year, I know that I will be catching up on more of Mary SanGiovanni's  backlog while staying up to date with her latest releases. With a distinct voice and style, she causes me to think-and her characters in this one are quite memorable!

 

Husk - J. Kent Messum  

 

This is probably my most recent read that made it to this list. Fast paced, imaginative and adventurous, this book has more of a science fiction base, but there are horrific aspects as well. I was really impressed!

 

Cold in July - Joe R. Lansdale 

 

The Champion Mojo Storyteller strikes again!

 

Tarnished City (Dark Gifts) - Vic James 

 

This was more of a dark fantasy than horror, but I don't really care for labels as much as I care about a good story and mark my words this was one.A follow up to the previous year's GILDED CAGE, I thought this was an imaginative story about young adults, but so, so dark that it surprised me. Who doesn't love a good surprise?

 

 

Thanks for staying with me this far if you're still here. I appreciate you!

I hope you'll join me again at the end of 2019 for another list of my favorite books of the year. I hope that your New Year is also filled with outstanding and amazing reads!

 

 

 

 

 

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text 2018-07-31 12:45
July 2018-That's A Wrap!
Darkest Hours - Mike Thorn
Give Me Your Hand - Megan Abbott
Cold in July - Joe R. Lansdale
Broken on the Inside - Phil Sloman
The Moore House - Tony Tremblay
Hope Never Dies - Andrew Shaffer
The Unredeemed - Luke Walker
Rattus New Yorkus - Hunter Shea
Hysteria: A Collection of Madness - Stephanie M. Wytovich,Steven Archer,Michael A. Arnzen,Teagan Gardner
The Republic of Thieves - Scott Lynch,Michael Page

I read 13 books this month!

 

Graphic Novels

 

Lucifer, Book 2 by Mike Carey 5*

Total: 1

 

Novellas

 

Broken on the Inside by Phil Sloman 4.5*

 

Total: 1

 

Audiobooks 

 

White Death by Christine Morgan, narrated by Matt Godfrey 4*

The Shining, by Stephen King, narrated by Campbell Scott 5*

Hysteria by Stephanie M. Wytovich, narrated by Teagan Gardner (Poetry) 5*

The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch, narrated by Michael Page 5*

 

Total: 4

 

ARCS/Reads for Review

 

Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott 5*

Cold in July by Joe Lansdale 4.5*

The Moore House by Tony Tremblay 4*

Hope Never Dies by Andrew Shaffer 3.5*

Darkest Hours by Mike Thorn 5*

The Unredeemed by Luke Walker 3.5*

Rattus New Yorkus by Hunter Shea 5*

 

Total: 7

 

 

Horror Aficionados Mount TBR Challenge:

Challenge: Read 40 Books Already on my TBR

(I'm failing miserably)

 

1. City of the Dead by Brian Keene

2. The Warblers by Amber Fallon

3. October by Michael Rowe

4. It's A Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad World by Curtis Lawson

5. Bad Pennies by John Leonard

6. Cold in July by Joe Lansdale

7. Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill

 

 

Running Total: 98

 

 

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review 2018-07-27 15:16
3 Out Of 5 "something was lost in translation" STARS
Give Me Your Hand - Megan Abbott

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~BOOK BLURB~

Give Me Your Hand

Meg Abbott

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A mesmerizing psychological thriller about how a secret can bind two friends together forever...or tear them apart. 

Kit Owens harbored only modest ambitions for herself when the mysterious Diane Fleming appeared in her high school chemistry class. But Diane's academic brilliance lit a fire in Kit, and the two developed an unlikely friendship. Until Diane shared a secret that changed everything between them. 

More than a decade later, Kit thinks she's put Diane behind her forever and she's begun to fulfill the scientific dreams Diane awakened in her. But the past comes roaring back when she discovers that Diane is her competition for a position both women covet, taking part in groundbreaking new research led by their idol. Soon enough, the two former friends find themselves locked in a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse that threatens to destroy them both.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~๏~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
~MY QUICKIE REVIEW~
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~๏~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 

 The characters are written so well they are smart and driven, and flawed.  But I just felt underwhelmed by their story, and the ending felt anti-climatic.  I felt confused from the time that Diane reveals her secret to Kit and I kept waiting for something to clear it up, but I must have missed it.  I probably should have rewound the book and relistened, but I wasn't invested enough in their story to do so, and I always think it will get cleared up eventually.  So I kept listening and I only became more confused.  Basically, most of my issues with this can't be said without spoiling the story, and since I try not to do that, all I can say is others seemed to like this…maybe this is another case of it's not you, it's me...

 

๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏

~MY RATING~

3STARS - GRADE=C

๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~BREAKDOWN OF RATINGS~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Plot~ 3/5

Main Characters~ 4.5/5

Secondary Characters~ 3.5/5

The Feels~ 3/5

Pacing~ 2.7/5

Addictiveness~ 3.5/5

Theme or Tone~ 3/5

Flow (Writing Style)~ 4/5

Backdrop (World Building)~ 3/5

Ending~ 2.3/5

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Book Cover~ It could be better...

Narration~ 4.5 for Chloe Cannon, she was quite good

Source~ Audiobook (Library)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

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review 2018-07-24 16:50
Another Great Thriller From Megan Abbott
Give Me Your Hand - Megan Abbott

Megan Abbott has received rave reviews for her previous novels especially You Will Know Me and The Fever. Her knack for creating engrossing plots with complex characters is evident again in her newest work, Give Me Your Hand. Abbott manages to weave a taut, addictive tale while also addressing many timely themes and contemporary issues.  In this book, just some of the topics she touches upon: symbiotic/parasitic friendships, the stigma of mental illness, guilt and self-punishment, gender inequality in the STEM fields (both as a focus of research and in workforce representation), lack of NIH funding, class privilege and cronyism, and competition between women.  Give Me Your Hand takes place in a medical research lab staffed primarily with male post-docs. Kit, the main character, and their boss Dr. Severin are the only women, even though the focus of the study is PMDD (Premenstrual Dysmorphic Disorder).  The staff are vying for spots on Dr. Severin’s special team, an opportunity that could cement their careers.  They are all dismayed to see a new female employee entering their fold, especially Kit.  It turns out that Diane Fleming is not only fierce competition for the limited slots, she and Kit have a shared history that contains a disturbing and life-altering secret.  The novel pivots back and forth in time between the drama in the lab and the background story of how Kit and Diane met and became enmeshed as teens.  Abbott cleverly keeps the reader guessing and glued to the pages.  She challenges traditional ideas of ethics, especially for women who have been marginalized and forced to fight for advancement and recognition.  A page turner that also provokes deep contemplation, Give Me Your Hand is a great pick for the summer.  It will certainly reaffirm Megan Abbott’s deserved popularity and create anticipation for her next endeavor.

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