Posted in Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Till We Become Monsters by Amanda Headlee


*No Major Spoilers*

Monsters exist and Korin Perrin knew this as truth because his grandmother told him so. Korin, raised in the shadow of his older brother Davis, is an imaginative child who believes his brother is a monster. After the death of their grandmother, seven-year-old Korin, blaming Davis for her demise, tries to kill him. Sixteen years following the attempt on Davis’ life, racked with guilt, Korin comes to terms with the fact that Davis may not be the one who is the monster after all.

Past wrongs needing to be righted, Korin agrees to a hunting trip with his brother and father. But they, along with two friends, never make it to their destination. An accident along the way separates the hunters in the dark forests of Minnesota during the threat of an oncoming blizzard. As the stranded hunters search for each other and safety, an ancient evil wakes.


Rating: 5 out of 5.

I am a big fan of cryptids and other mythological creatures. Since I live in Oklahoma which may not be the epicenter of Bigfoot sightings, this state does have more than a few known Bigfoot hunting grounds. However, there is no Bigfoot in this story, Till We Become Monsters is focused on the Wendigo.

For those unfamiliar with the Indigenous Peoples’ Mythologies, a Wendigo is a creature that is created from the dire straits people in the northern areas can find themselves in if they get caught in a snowstorm unprepared. They say once someone gets a taste of human blood, the never-ending hunger grows and morphs the person into a monster.

Back to the book, we meet Korin who we watch grow up feeling emotionally neglected by his parents. His big brother Davis has both of his parents’ attention and love throughout childhood and into adulthood. Seeing the events from mostly Korin’s perspective makes you feel bad for him.

“We never know how far we have fallen until we become monsters.”

Amanda Headlee; Till We Become Monsters

After about halfway into the book, we see Korin’s childhood from both parents’ and Davis’ perspectives. It doesn’t negate how his parents neglected Korin and that they spoiled Davis to the point where the whole family dynamic is toxic and borderline abusive. It just provides context for the reader that the parents fumbled the parental football to the detriment of the family.

Even though no one in the family is worth rooting for, you can’t help rooting for all of them to survive the aftermath of the car accident. I think this shows that the author took the time to give each character a slight redeeming quality. I think if everything was left in Korin’s perspective, we’d want all the family to fail.

Overall, this was a good book. I got swept up in the action, and the building of Korin’s character. I think the mythological aspect of this novel was pulled off really well. I also think if you are interested in cryptids, survival horror, and just all around spookiness, then I would say give this novel a try.

Posted in Book Reviews

REVIEW: Mastodon by Steve Stred

*No Major Spoilers*

*Trigger Warning for body horror, animal death/cruelty, and death of a parent*

17 years ago, Tyler Barton was born in the Rocky Mountains, while his parents were on a hike.

On that day, his mother disappeared, never to be seen again.

Now, history repeats itself.

On the 17th anniversary of her disappearance, Tyler’s father is flying home when the plane he’s on disappears – in the same area where his mother was last seen.

Undeterred by officials, Tyler decides to hike into the area in search of his father, hoping to find him alive and bring him back to safety.

But there’s a reason that area is prohibited to enter and even though Tyler doesn’t care, he’ll soon find out that the wilderness can hide some of the deepest, darkest fears known to man.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I remember when I saw the promo for this book, I was so excited because the cover reminded me of a Wendigo, an Indigenous mythological creature. I couldn’t wait to dive in to it. After some time to read it, digest it, and gather my thoughts, I’m ready to explore this review of Mastodon.

This valley was wearing his rational mind down to the point of not believing anything he saw, but also accepting that anything was possible.

Steve Stred, Mastodon

This novel isn’t at all what I thought it was going to be. Not that the summary led me astray, it didn’t. It was the cover on top of my assumptions that left me unprepared for this mind-twisting read. What I thought was a simple answer, turned into something I never saw coming until it was too late.

Tyler reminded me of Brian from The Hatchet in the way there’s not much personality there so we, as the reader, can get a more fulfilling experience seeing the world through his eyes. However, there’s not much to his character other than his parents being missing and all of the hiking and camping trips he and his dad went on throughout his life.

One thing that adds to the mystery surrounding this restricted military compound is how the scale seems to shift and change to fit the current moment or situation. It felt like months for Tyler to reach the spot where his dad’s plane crashed even though it had only been three or so days.

One small gripe I have about this story is how bland and boring Kyle is as a character. Like I said previously, that might have been to give us a more open view of his world and experiences. However, it made the story drag a bit.

Another critique I have is how rushed the ending feels. It’s like the author wrote the main scene(s) that he wanted to write and then the rest was rushed just to finish writing. The final twist ending left me unsatisfied and disappointed.

Overall, this was an okay read. There’s plenty of horror elements to last you a lifetime as well as disturbing imagery. I think you’d like Mastodon if you like the horror subgenre splatterpunk, as well as those who enjoy monster tales and Kaiju stories.

Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: Infinite (Ghostland #3) by Duncan Ralston


*No Spoilers*

Ghosts wreak havoc in the streets of Duck Falls, and Lilian Roth has gone underground, hiding in the Laramies’ backyard bunker. With the town under military quarantine, the death toll continues to rise. And Hedgewood’s massive infrasound array stands to wipe out every “ethereal” within its radius, Ben Laramie and his friends at the Temple among them.

Setting the ethereals free from Ghostland was only the beginning for Rex Garrote. He’s returned to the remains of his house to tear open the Dark Rift – a realm of terrifying impossibilities between the living and ethereal planes – and unleash its nightmare creatures upon the world.

The End of Everything is on the horizon, and Lilian and Ben are humanity’s last hopes. Facing their greatest fears and insurmountable odds, they must return to Ghostland through the Dark Rift’s deadly, ever-changing landscape for a final confrontation between good and evil, to stop Rex Garrote once and for all.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I can’t begin to describe the exhilaration I felt when I started this audiobook. It is quite rare for me to finish a series/trilogy these days with books to distract me. So, let’s dive into the long-awaited Ghostland finale, Infinite.

One thing I’d like to mention, I would recommend reading Afterlife and Infinite back to back, or at least not a month apart like I did. This book picks up more or less where we left off, and it can be jarring at first. However, it didn’t take too long to get my sea legs back (or should I say my Ghost legs haha) and we’re off to the final battle between Rex Garrote, Ben and Lillian, and the Hedgewood Foundation.

I also advise note taking, not on the characters per say, but more of the rules of how this supernatural world works. I listened to Infinite on audio, and I suggest not multitasking while listening. This needs 100% of your attention.

Still more perplexing was that this cadaver smelled not of smoke but of the foulest stench of rot and putrescence I have ever borne witness to, as if his remains had been excreted from the very bowels of Hell.

Duncan Ralston, Infinite

But, I feel like I’m critiquing myself more than I am this novel. This novel is fast-paced, and rewards you for reading Afterlife. The dominos continue to fall as all the characters are seemingly and unknowingly playing right into Rex Garrote’s plan.

However, Ben, Lillian, and Ghosts are People Too aren’t going to take this laying down. Seeing everyone fight for what they perceive as right is moving. Seeing the leader of the Ghosts are People Too realize how much she messed up and how she was possibly betrayed was satisfying.

Overall, I enjoyed Infinite. The final battle is epic and the anticipation while getting there is palpable. I am thrilled to finally say I finished a trilogy! This has been an amazing ride, and I can’t wait to dive into Duncan Ralston’s other works *cough* Woom *cough*.

Posted in Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: London (Surviving the Evacuation #1) by Frank Tayell


*Minor Spoilers*

Trigger Warnings: Violence, Gore, and Blood.


The outbreak started in New York. Within days the infection had spread to every corner of the world. Nowhere is safe from the undead…

Bill watched from his window as London was evacuated. His leg broken, he is unable to join the exodus. Turning to his friends in the government, he waits and hopes for rescue. As the days turn into weeks, realising inaction will lead only to starvation and death, his thoughts turn to escape.

Forced to leave the safety of his home he ventures out into the undead wasteland that once was England, where he will discover a horrific secret.

This is the first volume of his journal.


Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I have had my eye on this series for a couple of years now. The fact that you get to see what a zombie apocalypse would look like to someone who wasn’t in the military was interesting. However, you soon realize why most zombie apocalypse survivors are ex-military, or currently enlisted.

He missed most of the beginnings of the end of the world because on the day news got to London about the outbreak, he fell down the stairs and broke his leg. So he was in a coma during all the action and deterioration of London and the United Kingdom as a whole. Nukes got launched, Missiles flew, and yet it seems like all the governments has collapsed.

It’s an oddly disquieting experience being surrounded by coffins inside while the undead are outside.

Frank Tayell; London (Surviving the Evacuation #1)

The only other person Bill, aka our protagonist, has ever known in his life it seems is his best friend Jen. He talks about her a lot. I understand that she is involved in the government and is the one who tried to send him care packages to hold him over until she was able to send someone to help him evacuate, but it seemed like she was the only thing in Bill’s entire universe.

The amount of pure dumb luck this character has, is ridiculous. He is trying to creep around London with a full cast and crutches. By the way, he loses one of them during his adventures along with a bunch of other stuff that the author forgot about. I think it would’ve helped everyone involved if Bill had kept an inventory, and not just how much food and water he has. I don’t know, this just frustrated me.

Overall, this novel was okay. I was disappointed with the ridiculousness this story had. Not the best zombie apocalypse books I’ve ever, read, but it scratched the itch for now. I would recommend this novel for those looking for a more fun zombie story.

Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews

REVIEW: Nothing but Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw

*Spoilers Probably*

A Heian-era mansion stands abandoned, its foundations resting on the bones of a bride and its walls packed with the remains of the girls sacrificed to keep her company.

It’s the perfect wedding venue for a group of thrill-seeking friends.

But a night of food, drinks, and games quickly spirals into a nightmare. For lurking in the shadows is the ghost bride with a black smile and a hungry heart.

And she gets lonely down there in the dirt.


Rating: 2 out of 5.

I was hearing mixed reviews about this novella, so when I saw this at my local library I thought I’d give it a chance to see what was in store. So let’s creep into this review for Nothing But Blackened Teeth.

First off, I hate this trope in horror where all the characters are unlikable. Even our main character is unlikable. I wish she was more fleshed out because I wanted to learn more about her. Everyone else seemed like a jerk with no justification for being that way.

This is trying to be visceral by making us question our main character’s perception of reality. I feel like a lot of it is wasted because we don’t know about our main character. She says she was in the mental hospital for exhaustion or something like that, but doesn’t go into more detail.

It wasn’t charitable but apologies didn’t exonerate the sinner, only compelled graciousness from its recipient.

Cassandra Khaw, Nothing But Blackened Teeth

When the horror kicks in, I felt like it wasn’t all earned. Sure, we get the typical urban legend, a bride who got left at the alter and was so heartbroken she asked her wedding party to bury her alive in the palace she was going to live with her future husband. However, the book admits that they aren’t even sure if that’s the urban legend to go with the palace they were spending the night. Ergo, it makes me think that by them being drunk they willed this legend into being.

Like I stated earlier I’d like to know more about our main character’s relationship to her friends. Why is she so loyal to these people who seem to treat her poorly after her hospital stay? No one’s motives and reasonings are fleshed out other than “I need to save them because they’re my friends”. Unless she is that type of person who attracts poltergeist activity, then I’d ditch them as soon as they showed their true colors.

Overall, to keep from beating a dead horse. I wasn’t impressed with Nothing But Blackened Teeth. The characters are jerks, no one really gets their comeuppance. I just felt like this was a waste of time. Maybe if negative or mixed reviews make you more determined to read a book then I’d check it out from the library.