Book Review: The Soul City Salvation by Jonathan LaPoma

***I received a free copy and am voluntarily giving an honest review***

Ten months–that’s how long twenty-six-year-old writer and aspiring actor Jay Sakovsky decides to stay and teach in the bohemian beach town of Soul City, California, to save up cash and overcome his anxiety before moving on to Hollywood.

But after several “friendly chats” with the vice principal about hangover sweats and black eyes from barroom brawls, Jay sees a therapist who helps him connect his self-destructive tendencies and artistic blocks to his undiagnosed OCD, setting him on a ten-year healing journey that drives him to near madness as he explores the limits of his heart, creativity, and psyche.

A surreal, darkly comic, and psychologically epic novel, The Soul City Salvation explores mental illness, friendship, aging, masculinity, modern love, the creative process, spiritual awakening, and fighting for respect in an uncaring world.

*The Soul City Salvation is the fifth book in a loosely-linked series, with Hammond, The Summer of Crud, Understanding the Alacrán, and Developing Minds: An American Ghost Story as books one-four. Each novel can be read independently of the others.

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I enjoyed this contemporary drama. It was written in Jay’s first-person point of view. Jay had OCD, anxiety, and depression—things I could relate to as a reader. In fact, some scenes when he was younger helped me understand the actual things I had been going through as a kid and teenager. My moodiness and “dark” thoughts could be linked to my OCD back then.

Jay stayed on Doug’s couch in California to live out his dreams as a musician or actor. Instead, he ended up becoming a teacher. When Jay and Doug had a fallen out, I was curious to see if they would repair their friendship. I was disappointed when that storyline sort of fizzled out. Doug had a temper. I had been expecting more conflict.

My favorite lines: 1) “I knew that the old me had to die.” 2) “Our dreams consumed the reality of our love.” 3) “Just as I’d had to make peace with death, I also had to make peace with isolation.” 4) “A part of me wanted to self-destruct. It was easier that way.” 5) “You shut them all out. You think anyone’s ever gonna give a fuck about you again?”

I loved when Silas, an old childhood friend, visited California to see Jay. It was nice to see Jay have good moments in his life instead of focusing on just the bad. The story sort of read like a journal. There was a lot of telling instead of showing when it came to character interactions. I would have loved to see the full extent of Jay’s romantic dates or his friendships in Mexico. I felt bad for Jay how his coworkers bullied him. Usually I love bittersweet or depressing endings, but I was really hoping for Jay to get the last laugh. Did he? You’ll have to read to find out.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Book Review: Curmudgeon Avenue #1 by Samantha Henthorn

You do know that walls have ears, don’t you? When sisters Edith and Edna Payne move into Curmudgeon Avenue, their presence is not welcomed by the proud, yet grouchy Victorian terrace. This delightful comedy-drama is narrated by the house itself and tells of quarrels, romances and dramas of the intertwined nincompoop residents.

Widowed Edith is looking for love and dates one of Edna’s ex-boyfriends, Maurice – wait until you find out what happens there! Edna is heartbroken after her long term partner moved to France. Unhappily cohabiting with her idiot sister, Edna dislikes her nephew, Ricky Ricketts, who permanently hangs around Curmudgeon Avenue with his on/off girlfriend Wantha, her sister Toonan and all the tomfoolery they bring…
The sisters decide to advertise for a lodger – enter the notable Harold – yet another of Edna’s exes! Still vulnerable from the Maurice incident, Edith falls for his charms… what will happen at Curmudgeon Avenue?

This novella is the first in the series of the quirky comedy-drama series, Curmudgeon Avenue.

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I enjoyed this comedy. The opening line: “On the day this all started, the sky was full of August apologies for a summer undelivered.” I loved that the main character happened to be the house. It was not a fan of Edith or Edna, which I found funny. I will say the ending happened quite abruptly, and I wasn’t prepared for that. It was a nice cliffhanger though.

My favorite line of the book was: “If I have to contend with the bunch of nincompoops that replaced Mr and Mrs Payne, then so should you…” This summed up everything perfectly lol. I enjoyed the lighthearted tone of the book. It’s not a genre I typically read, but I’m happy I gave it a chance for #DectheShelves. The entire time I was reading, I pictured everything as a play with over-the-top characters and funny situations to force everyone to interact.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Book Review: Hollow Heart by Ben Eads

***I received a free copy from Ginger Nuts of Horror and am voluntarily giving an honest review***

Welcome to Shady Hills, Florida, where death is the beginning and pain is the only true Art…

Harold Stoe was a proud Marine until an insurgent’s bullet relegated him to a wheelchair. Now the only things he’s proud of are quitting alcohol and raising his sixteen-year-old son, Dale.

But there is an infernal rhythm, beating like a diseased heart from the hollow behind his home. An aberration known as The Architect has finished his masterpiece: A god which slumbers beneath the hollow, hell-bent on changing the world into its own image.

As the body count rises and the neighborhood residents change into mindless, shambling horrors, Harold and his former lover, Mary, begin their harrowing journey into the world within the hollow. If they fail, the hollow will expand to infinity. Every living being will be stripped of flesh and muscle, their nerves wrapped tightly around ribcages, so The Architect can play his sick music through them loud enough to swallow what gives them life: The last vestiges of a dying star.

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I loved this horror book. The opening sentence “Making deals with the dead had to stop” had me hooked right away. The author did a great job with setting and description at the beginning. I could picture the bad conditions Harold and his neighbors lived in very vividly.

My favorite lines: 1) Pain is just one of my hobbies. A hobby the world will soon know. 2) No one leaves. Never has. Never will. 3) Everything went dark as they descended like an elevator with its wires cut.

I appreciated that the plot was pretty fast paced. There weren’t any dull moments in the book, but I wished the author would have slowed down at certain parts, especially towards the end…

To read the full review, please visit: https://gingernutsofhorror.com/fiction-reviews/book-review-hollow-heart-by-ben-eads

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Getting International Love for Plenty of Fish #WomenInHorror #WIHM

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I got a pleasant surprise this month, which is awesome because it’s Women In Horror Month. My dark suspense short story, Plenty of Fish, got a 4-star review from Deborah J. Miles who lives in the UK. Thank you so much 🙂

This is another well-written, short, dark tale from Ms Hosby, where I found myself holding my breath, expecting the worst, while still hoping to be wrong.”–Deborah J Miles.

Check out her blog (Against the Flow Press) to read the rest of her review.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Book Review: The Dead Girls Club by Damien Angelica Walters

***I received a free copy from NetGalley and am voluntarily giving an honest review***

One of Refinery29’s and POPSUGAR’s Favorite New Books of December 2019!

A supernatural thriller in the vein of A Head Full of Ghosts about two young girls, a scary story that becomes far too real, and the tragic–and terrifying–consequences that follow one of them into adulthood.

Red Lady, Red Lady, show us your face…

In 1991, Heather Cole and her friends were members of the Dead Girls Club. Obsessed with the macabre, the girls exchanged stories about serial killers and imaginary monsters, like the Red Lady, the spirit of a vengeful witch killed centuries before. Heather knew the stories were just that, until her best friend Becca began insisting the Red Lady was real–and she could prove it.

That belief got Becca killed.

It’s been nearly thirty years, but Heather has never told anyone what really happened that night–that Becca was right and the Red Lady was real. She’s done her best to put that fateful summer, Becca, and the Red Lady, behind her. Until a familiar necklace arrives in the mail, a necklace Heather hasn’t seen since the night Becca died.

The night Heather killed her.

Now, someone else knows what she did…and they’re determined to make Heather pay.

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I really enjoyed this supernatural novel. It was told through Heather’s first person point-of-view.  She was a child psychologist to make up for what happened when she was a kid. I definitely liked the “then” chapters better than the “now;” however, the ending really started to pick up, leaving me engrossed in the story.

My favorite lines: 1) Guess I’ve always been better at keeping secrets. Even from myself. 2) You can’t unopen an envelope. Can’t undo the damage you’ve done. 3) This is a private apocalypse. 4) I refuse to believe the dead can buy postage stamps. 5) An apology lingers on my tongue but it’s bitter and sharp and I keep it to myself.

The beginning was very slow and drawn out, for me as a reader. I started to enjoy the story better when it introduced the “then” sections. As little girls, Heather, Becca, Rachel, and Gia took part in the dead girls club. They talked about serial killers, dark topics, and the Red Lady. I loved the twists at the end. I hadn’t seen any of that coming!

I was hooked the second Heather announced she had killed Becca, and no one had ever found the body. I’m a sucker for a good mystery, so I was excited to see who was behind taunting Heather. The ending did not disappoint.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Book Review: How To Kill Your Friends by Phil Kurthausen

***I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review***

Who needs enemies?

There’s something about Meredith…

Meredith is a young underachiever, living in a squalid apartment, struggling to stay one step ahead of her landlord and the law when she meets a man from her past who offers her a way out and a chance to start over.

Having worked her way into the lives of the rich and privileged, Meredith will do just about anything to preserve her new lifestyle.

But just how far is she prepared to go? 

Phil Kurthausen is also the author of the unmissable psychological thriller, Don’t Let Me In. How To Kill Your Friends is a fast-moving psychological thriller which will keep you on the edge of your seat. It’s the perfect read for fans of authors like Rachel Abbott, Kerry Wilkinson and Mark Edwards

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I really enjoyed this suspense book even though I thought it’d be more dark, with more suspense, because of the title. The opening sentence: “Meredith couldn’t be sure, but she felt like she was being watched.” had me on the edge of my seat. Who was watching her? The story was written in Meredith’s third person point-of-view. However, the old friends she reconnects with knew her as Nancy. I loved the backstory regarding what happened to her dad.

My favorite lines: 1) Meredith nodded and looked again at the image. It made her stomach twist with excitement and fear. 2) Olivia would be furious and this made Meredith smile.

There was a cute scene when Meredith met Edu at a bar for the first time. I liked that the characters were somewhat unlikable, especially Olivia. It made them seem more relatable. There definitely weren’t any Mary Sues in this book. Amy was a famous fashion vlogger who was quite flaky at times. I probably liked her the most. It seemed like she was more accepting of things than the others in the group.

For the title, I was expecting a bloodbath, but that definitely wasn’t the case. I will say though, the story really picked up for me towards the end. Meredith was in a few nasty predicaments (can’t spoil it for you). And, I loved the ending. I wasn’t expecting that outcome. It was a nice twist.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Book Review: Tryst (Based on Actual Events) by Aaron Eldritch

Based on real events, this dramatized nonfiction describes the paranormal events experienced by four young men during a transformative period in their lives. What starts as youthful innocence grows darker and more sinister as the question of malicious forces and even trickery emerges. Will the bond of these four withstand the trials of fear and doubt that await them?

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I really enjoyed this book. It got pretty suspenseful towards the end. Maybe I liked it because I’m a believer. The world is too huge to only have humans, I think. So, it was fun to speculate if these paranormal/supernatural events really happened or if the author exaggerated to make his book more interesting. I thought it was cool that the main character had the same exact name as the author; that’s why I’m assuming the book is about his own experience.

My favorite lines: 1) “You’re not crazy, Greg,” Derik insisted. “It’s his house, remember? Not you.” 2) “It seems so…intentional.” 3) “He hoped that Aaron had somehow done it, even if it meant that Aaron was capable of such a cruelty.” 4) “Sometimes you just want so much to be something special…To stand before the unknown, one amongst the lucky few.” 5) “He had never stood before that house alone in such darkness and took this as a sign of grim things to come.”

I didn’t know why the expression “in disgust” was used often. I didn’t really know what the characters were feeling with that description: shock? confusion? anger? Since the omniscience point-of-view was used, readers got a glimpse of the whole picture. Yet, I still want answers (that’s just my INTJ curiosity taking over haha). Was everything caused by aliens? Demons? A supernatural game? I could definitely picture this as a sci-fi movie as I was reading.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby