The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

I was so excited to receive a copy of The Happy Ever After Playlist from the publisher to read and review. At first, I was a little concerned that I would so willingly take on this challenge after getting my heart ripped out by the first installment, The Friend Zone. But then I remembered that while Abby takes you on a whiplashed tour of all the emotions that you experience in love (including love), she also heals your heart and puts you back together by the end.


In HEAP, Sloane Monroe ends up the pup-sitter for a dog whose owner, Jason, is currently across the world on tour. She cares for the dog and tentatively plans to meet up with Jason when he returns to
 maybe give his dog back. Then it turns out that Jason is actually Jaxon Waters, the musician whose music got her through her fiancé’s death. 


Sloane doesn’t plan on falling for Jason, but fortunately for us Abby oversees her fate. So instead of Sloan playing it safe, we get to play the HEAP on Spotify while we read the book and follow Sloane through her very interesting and entertaining life after loss. And of course, Kristen and Josh are back from the first book as well as cute little Stuntman Mike. This one pulled at my heart strings but thankfully Abby is an expert romance
 and comedy writer so that readers can laugh just as hard as they cry.


This was wonderfully written – I LOVE books that read how I imagine the author talks. That’s how I write and so it really appeals to me. I also love how she weaves together such different elements from drama, to baking, to dog care, to outdoor life, to music, to love, to loss. It makes for a really captivating read. I cannot wait for the third installment, assuming there is one. If there isn’t then I imagine we fans need to immediately start a petition to remedy that.

The Silent Treatment by Abbie Greaves

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

silent treatment 1

Welcome to my stop on the TLC Book Blog Tour for The Silent Treatment by debut author Abbie Greaves- I am so excited to share this with you all!

The Light We Lost meets The Notebook in storytelling. Then throw in some parental nightmares, spousal secrets and the will to not speak to the love of your life…when she’s in the same home.

Maggie and Frank meet fall in love and are married in a whirlwind romance full of secrets neither of them ever suspected the other had. When Maggie and Frank are finally blessed with a child well into their 40s, they both believe the other to be more ecstatic, to be the better parent, the better partner. We follow along as they both realize that if they had said the things they needed to say sooner, they might have avoided so much pain.

When their daughter Eleanor begins to finally act out after 15 years of being the perfect child, her parents believe it to be normal. Unfortunately, the acting out doesn’t seem to be a phase and years later they are left alone at home, out of contact with Eleanor and not speaking to each other. Maggie gives Frank 6 months to come around and to the day, when he doesn’t, Frank finds Maggie face down and unconscious at the kitchen table with an empty packet of pills.

The story of Her Silence and His Silence is more than the literal silence they’ve been enduring the last 6 months, and in a cruel twist Frank is suddenly racing against time to tell Maggie why he shut her out.

Abbie Greaves has an enthralling writing style that hooks you from the get-go and doesn’t let go until the very end. This was an obviously sad story but full of hope and a completely original read. While aspects of it did bring other books to mind (as mentioned at the beginning) it was not in similarities of story as much as small elements of the storytelling itself. As much as this book was an actual race against time for the characters, I didn’t want it to end. I wanted more Frank and Maggie at the end and kept hoping for a secret chapter at the end. Thank goodness for epilogues, am I right?

This was a spectacular debut and I will absolutely be on the lookout for future works from Abbie. Talk about a book hangover, and yet this was completely out of my usual genre. I recommend this to everyone as an important read about many things, but most of all about the enduring nature of love.

silent treatment 2

Purchase here: Harper Collins Amazon Barnes & Noble

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Something She’s Not Telling Us by Darcey Bell

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

SSNTU Darcey Bell

The latest from the author of A Simple Favor: a thrilling page-turner about a woman named Charlotte who has everything until her brother’s new girlfriend shows up and threatens to destroy it all.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t for me. It was a little jumpy and all over the place between characters for me to follow. And the parts of the premise that drew me to this initially (dark secrets, an unreliable narrator, a missing child) didn’t quite give me the shock I was hoping for. However, there were quite a few very interesting threads to follow so let me tell you what I liked about this one!

Charlotte and Rocco are brother and sister who have a rocky (pun intended) relationship with their mother who lives in Mexico. Charlotte is extremely protective of Rocco which he in turn is very annoyed with. They are guilted into planning a trip to visit their mom and Rocco ends up bringing his new girlfriend, Ruth. Charlotte is not into this idea but even worse, neither is her mother. Their mother is supposed to be a wholly unlikeable character that everyone comes together in hating but I LOVED her. Her character reminded me of an aloof and badass grandmother who casually carries around a flask. She had no filter and no problem with telling people she didn’t care what they thought of her. She was awesome and reminded me of my own late grandmother. This is a very minor part of the story but turned out to be my favorite part.

As for major characters, I loved Ruth’s secret. Unfortunately, it was just kind of there and then done. THAT is where there could have used a lot of the detail that went into Charlotte’s perfect life and her “scandal”. In real life her secret would suck but here it was just hyped and hyped and hyped and then was so small comparatively. Ruth is the drama and the key player here. She shows up mysteriously and basically just declares herself Rocco’s new girl. This is a problem because Rocco dates train wrecks so even before Ruth is sniffing around in Charlotte’s secrets, she has a target on her back.

And then Ruth makes fast and easy friends with Daisy, Charlotte’s daughter. This infuriates Charlotte but everyone tries to calm her down telling her to not be so rude, Ruth just likes kids. Then Daisy goes missing from school and who checked her out for the day? You guessed it. A chase ensues and this is when Ruth’s secrets are revealed. Again, loved her secrets, but I would have loved even more focus on Ruth throughout the book. I’ll just say it, I’m #teamruth.

Even though this wasn’t for me, I will still be reading any future works from Darcey Bell as A Simple Favor was a great and entertaining read. She definitely has a way with messed up secrets (as you see in both of her books) and messed up is my favorite kind of read.

*Thanks to Harper Collins for the copy to read and review.*

The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

fow pic

                WOW. I had no idea what to expect with this book. I had never listened to the podcast before reading The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home nor had I read the other books. This was an incredible read. It was weird and fascinating and so well written. I couldn’t tell where this was going for a little bit, but I did figure out the twist because there wasn’t a huge cover up for it. The authors kind of lead you there. However, they did it in such a way that even if you do guess the end game before getting to the end there’s no way to be disappointed because it was 100s of years in the making.

This was Poltergeist meets Pirates of the Caribbean and it was everything I never knew I wanted in a book. The Faceless Old Woman, who is never named, and I will here on out refer to as FOW, grew up on an estate with just her father and his business partner Edmond. When her father is killed by a pirate organization called The Order of the Labyrinth, FOW dedicates her life to revenge and tracking down those responsible. With the help of Edmond, she is trained to be a pirate and incorporated into The Duke’s Own, another organization her father rivaled with before his death.

In alternating time lines between the pirate life of FOW and present day inside a man named Craig’s home, we see the events leading up to how FOW ended up living in multiple homes at once haunting the people of Night Vale, and what exactly she’s doing to Craig. Among other things, putting centipedes in his ears, setting up a meet cute for Craig and his future wife, putting dead animal limbs in his pockets, and setting all his shoes on fire. This read was at times haunting (perfect pun), adventurous, and humorous.

If I go any further into this or I will ruin it for you. Everyone should just go into this basically blind to the premise. It was a magical and wonderful and kind of horrific story that I didn’t want to end. Go read this. It was a delightful spider-filled treat.

*Thanks to the publisher for my copy to read and share.*

The Meat Hunter by Megan Allen

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

The release has been delayed due to corona virus. It should have been out today (03/20/2020) and I am crying (you know, figuratively) because you all have to wait to read it. So, in the meantime, read on so I can tell you more about how much I loved it.

First of all, Megan Allen is a badass and in The Meat Hunter she writes the badass character of Molly Bishop. Her writing style drew me in immediately and I connected right away with the characters. This was such an easy read for it being about such a tough topic. Everything just flowed so well, I could not put it down.

Molly Bishop of The Meat Hunter grew up on a pig farm where she quickly learned that not all animals are pets, and not all farmers are ethical. Molly can’t stop her father from killing her pig friends – who, by the way, are extremely smart and know what is happening to them – so she does the next best thing: she gets an education. Molly is smart and driven and uses her education and background of farm living to get a job with an animal pharmaceutical company where she forces the owner, Carl Monroe, to become her best friend.

Soon, slaughterhouse owners start showing up dead. Molly has access, so could it be her? But Molly is also “just another pretty faced woman”, so how could it be her? This is a fast paced, educational, empathy-teaching, learn-to-be-mindful read and I loved every second of it. I was rooting for Molly, Carl and Detective Lair. Even though none of them were on the same page, they made a great unlikely and, at times, unwilling team.

I’ve seen some reviewers angry that this is pushing veganism on them? I don’t see it that way. I see it as a reminder to be picky about where your meat comes from and to not support companies that don’t treat the animals humanely. She wrote another book with similar criticisms: The Slave Players (pending mail delivery to read) that sent her into hiding as the KKK was so angry at the premise of white people being slaves and Megan Allen “forcing her literature on our youth” that they threatened her life. It’s fiction and yet I still feel the need to remind people to take it with a grain of salt. All fiction is a what-if scenario and Megan is really just out here pushing the bar as high as it can go.

I loved The Meat Hunter. I hope you all buy it and love it too. I hope Megan keeps writing and keeps taking on big what-ifs and keeps makes big waves. I cannot wait to see what she does next.

Huge thanks to Burn House Publishing for my copy to read and review-one of my favorite books of the year now!

Postscript by Cecelia Ahern

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

The long (LONG) awaited sequel to the amazing P.S. I Love You from Cecelia Ahern is here! Yes, you heard that right: the sequel to the book that brought us the movie that brought us Holly and Gerry’s story that brought us Gerard Butler. 20 pages in and I was crying and scolding myself, “THIS is why you don’t read romance.” But it was worth it.

I loved the beginning and the end, the middle was a little slow for me. I was also was a little annoyed with Holly and Gabriel’s attitudes toward each other’s current hobbies. Gabriel upset about Holly getting involved in a club to help people cope with death. Holly upset that Gabriel asked his daughter to move in over her even though she wasn’t sure she wanted to move in anyway. Those two, man. Breaking my heart left and right.

On top of this, Holly and her attitude. She helps her sister out with a podcast episode on dealing with loss of a loved one. Then suddenly there is interest in starting The P.S. I Love You Club for terminally ill patients to leave something of themselves behind for their loved ones. I loved this idea! I thought it was so sweet. Holly did not. She warmed to it and decided to dip her toe into involvement with the club but she had a such a bad attitude at multiple points that that in itself was a little heartbreaking.

I sound like I’m bashing Holly, but I’m not at all. Of course I realize that Holly had a good reason to be wary and upset – she thought she was past Gerry’s death but this club brought it all back to the surface. And then as we get deeper into the book and Holly gets more involved with The P.S. I Love You Club we see what she’s working through and the different feelings coming up due to confronting Gerry’s death again. We also see Holly bring into question Gerry’s motives for leaving her the letters in P.S. I Love You. At first it’s sad. Did he do it more for himself than Holly? Or both of them? Was it completely selfless? And how can Holly use this to ensure her club leaves the best things for their loved ones?

Holly grows a lot in this novel about love, growing up and moving forward, helping others, and loving yourself enough to know when to say no. As I said before, the middle was a little slow for me – due to the flip flopping in emotions for Holly. But ultimately, the book comes full circle from Gerry’s death and Holly moving forward and was a really heartwarming read. Yes, it cracked my heart at certain points, but it was a really good read about love and, sometimes more importantly, self-love.

Fans of P.S. I Love You will love this much anticipated sequel, finding more than a story about the loss of a loved one.

The War Beneath by S.R. Hughes

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

The War Beneath = Chaos Inliterate

In The War Beneath, a former forensic psychologist is slowly spiraling downward. Having hit rock bottom after his daughter’s death and his sudden ability to hear the whispers of dead people, Paul is now living in a boat house in Oceanrest, Maine. Um, where? The broke and broken city on Maine’s coast where those with magical powers are drawn in larger numbers than anywhere else in the world.

Trying to ignore his past (and the voices) he befriends Deirdre who sells him psychological downers from her, let’s face it, magic apothecary. But on his latest visit, an intruder arrives and takes everything Deirdre has worked for. This puts both their lives in danger in more ways than just the obvious as targets of a robbery.

Deirdre and Paul decide they have to get the product back and start to track down Randall, the man who has essentially ruined Dierdre’s life. Of course, there are A LOT more threats than just the wrath of Randall. There’s the company Deirdre works for who want their product. There’s the dead people who are getting more intense every minute Paul doesn’t have his downers (including his daughter’s ghost and an eyeless ghost asking for help). There is the life of Deirdre’s dear friend Razz and other friends pulled in. There is the detective who’s involvement is suspect considering he is intruding on Paul’s off the record investigation into old (and solved) crimes.

This book is action packed. I mean, think of a war movie where every other scene is a bunch of explosions. I’m talking Harry Potter meets [insert intense action war movie you like because I don’t watch those]. Paul is constantly getting knocked down and the only reason he gets back up is for Deirdre.

Deirdre is a complete badass. She is saving everyone left and right and just basically running the show. And because what would a book with magical elements be without a creature, there is a beast. Guess who handles this? There are demons awoken. Guess who handles this? Paul is dying due to gunshot wounds. Guess who handles this? Honestly this might be one of the best and most well-written female characters I’ve seen in a while.

The only thing that would have made it better for me would have been more interaction with the ghosts, namely Cassandra, Paul’s late daughter. There was something happening there and Paul definitely had unfinished business with his daughter. However, this could have also been a genius move on Mr. Hughes’ part as the book was nicely wrapped up but still with a lead into a second book. Is this a series? TBD.

*I received a copy for free from TLC Book Tours and S.R. Hughes in exchange for an honest review.*

***About The War Beneath***

“There is a war going on behind things, beneath them.”

Paul had been a forensic psychologist. But after his daughter’s funeral, he hit the rock bottom of a spiraling addiction. When the spirits of the dead started rasping their wishes in his ears, he fled New York for withering Oceanrest—a flat-broke city barnacled to Maine’s coast. There, he’s spent the last five years scraping by, trying to shake off the burdens of his past, pretending to be a man without context, without history, without the secret ability to speak with the dead. But soon, all of that will be taken away from him.

Deirdre’s spent the past fourteen years as a resident of Squatter City—the most distal and dilapidated of Oceanrest’s gangrenous appendages. Growing and harvesting a hydroponic farm of mystic flora and esoteric plantlife, she’s built a business as a drug dealer and apothecary. After years of relative peace, Deirdre’s life finally seems tenable. But when one of her regular clients double-crosses her, what little serenity she’s discovered quickly unravels.

Deirdre and Paul soon find themselves under attack from criminals and cultists, on the run from Quebecois mobsters, Aryan Nationalists, and a group of young men who seem dedicated to a cause of brutality and destruction on an apocalyptic scale.

S. R. Hughes inhabits the glittering darknesses between dreams but writes from Queens, NY. He’s been published in Sanitarium, the Wild Hunt eZine, and has had stories featured on several podcasts.

Find out more about him at his website, and follow him on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter.

Flower by Safira X

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

Flower 🌸 🌺 🌹

THIS is a short story.

This is an INCREDIBLE short story.

A FEMINIST, TWISTED, BLOODY, HORRIFIC, incredible short story.

I was on the edge of my seat the entire time which is what I expect from thriller/horror stories. And if it’s short? I expect you to pack an explosive story in there. I know I have high expectations BUT Safira X accomplishes that several times over in this 40 page sucker punch.

Murder ✅ Revenge ✅ Torture ✅ Fragile Masculinity ✅ Sexism ✅ Blood & Gore ✅ Animal Abuse (not my fav but works in favor of the story) ✅ Sex ✅ Supernatural ✅ “40 pages? No way there could be any of the back story or character development needed to make it so good.”FALSE.

I am so impressed and I canNOT wait for the next book!

How Quickly She Disappears by Raymond Fleischmann

A BarksBeachesBooks Review

Raymond Fleischmann gives us a beautifully written debut novel with How Quickly She Disappears. Following Elisabeth on dual timelines we witness in one the grooming and taking of her 11-year-old twin sister, Jacqueline, and in the other we watch Elizabeth slowly unravel at the appearance of a mysterious man named Alfred. Alfred, who claims to know what happened to Jacqueline. Alfred, who knows everything about Elisabeth though they’ve never met. Alfred who might be a little bit mad.


Elisabeth is living in remote Alaska with her distant husband and fiercely intelligent daughter, Margaret. When Alfred shows up claiming he needs to rest before a flight, Elisabeth allows him to stay in their guest room. From there things quickly spiral out of control. Even after murder, her daughter’s attempts to get attention, her husband constantly battling her beliefs and actions, and prison (among other things) Elisabeth pursues the truth about her sister. 


This book reads like The Silence of the Lambs watches (I’ve only seen the movie) with a drawn-out cat and mouse chase between Alfred and Elisabeth. Alfred’s quickly changing moods do nothing to quell Elisabeth’s hunt for facts. Repeated attempts from her husband and police to stop her vigilante investigationdoes not deter her. I loved the steady pace of this book and the way Raymond really brings us with him to watch Elisabeth lose herself in her search for her 20-years-missing sister.


This book is dark and beautiful and haunting and I will absolutely be buying Raymond’s next book.

Hot Splices by Mike Watt

A BarksBeachesBooks Review
 
Hot Splices is not a book, it’s a movie. Not to be confused with a book to movie script but more like reading the subtitles while you watch a movie. Mike Watt warns you before reading this:

“If you do not love film…
If you do not wish to devour it as it devours you…If all you seek from film is entertainment…This is not the book for you.

I would have considered myself a cinephile before reading this (at least an amateur one) but wow, this book tests you. And not just in film knowledge but also in genre knowledge. Because of course there are tons of elements to a film considered to be horror from abuse to assault to actual murder but, be honest, were you counting snuff films in there? And no, this isn’t a book about snuff films. I’m just saying this book is HUGE in its 334 pages. You’re reading between a screen play, the daily activities of “The Addicts” and their endeavor to find the great Borgia films, and their not-so-secret guilty pleasure of “flixing” to movies which is basically a drug-trip on actual film to enhance the movie experience.

 This book is intense. Following several characters, we are led through film school days to each character’s work in the film industry and back to the present. But first, we do start with a scene from a snuff film, so well written and disturbing it’s like you’re in the room watching. A Borgia film perhaps? And then present day, meet Chris Balun, who was there for the original Borgia film viewing that drove a mob of angry film viewers so insane that he locked them inside the building and set it on fire. And Alyce who “sold out” to work in Hollywood…until she made enough money to buy the old film school dorm and get all The Addicts back together down the line. And Boone who is working in a film storage facility to locate and steal the long locked away and largely forgotten Borgia films for an Addicts only viewing. Everyone has so much going on but it all leads back to one thing: watching the Borgia films in their horrific gore, in the right order (hint: not numerical), to either go insane or reach cinematic enlightenment. 

 My favorite part was the ending because like most movies it’s what pulls all the craziest aspects together. But more than that, like most films, after the end comes the deleted scenes and these deleted scenes were top notch. From erotic to splicing into other movies to live machines that seduce and consume their operators to B-flick movie stars and their mysterious disappearances. Once I reached the second half of this book, after all the intentionally-all-over-the-place scenes of the first half, I couldn’t put it down. Especially as it goes from set up and character development to the action and horror scenes. I mean, this book has completely affected me from making waking moments to my dreams. Mike Watts has successfully spliced into my dreams and there has been some F-d up stuff. I’ll be honest, that’s normal. But he did add a special horrific angle.

Hot Splices is complicated and enticing and so captivating. It sets you up to follow multiple characters from their film obsession origins to their final actions upon completing their life’s work: finding, watching, living the Borgia films. You are not just reading this book, you are a part of it. You are spliced in and viewing as an extra alongside the main crew. Reading Hot Splices is like learning a new language. You’ll see what I mean when you start dreaming in cinema. How much blood and death will you see when you close this book each night only to close your eyes and continue the story in your nightmares?

Author Bio

Mike Watt is a writer, journalist and screenwriter. He has written for such publications as Fangoria, Film Threat, The Dark Side, the late Frederick Clarke’s Cinefantastique, Femme Fatales and served as editor for the RAK Media Group’s resurrection of Sirens of Cinema.

Through the production company, Happy Cloud Pictures, he has written and produced or directed the award-winning feature film The Resurrection Game, as well as Splatter Movie: The Director’s Cut, A Feast of Flesh, Demon Divas and the Lanes of Damnation and the award-winning Razor Days.

He is the author of the short fiction collection, Phobophobia, the novels The Resurrection Game and Suicide Machine, and from McFarland Publishing: Fervid Filmmaking: 66 Cult Pictures of Vision, Verve and No Self-Restraint. In 2014, he launched the acclaimed Movie Outlaw book series, focusing on “underseen cinema”. He is also the editor-in-chief of the bi-annual publication, Exploitation Nation.

Through Happy Cloud Media, LLC, he edits and publishes 42nd Street Pete’s Grindhouse Purgatory Magazine, as well as Pete’s autobiography, “A Whole Bag of Crazy”.

In 2017, he edited the NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD novelization by John Russo, and the 40th Anniversary printing of Paul Schrader’s TAXI DRIVER screenplay, featuring a new interview with Robert De Niro, published in 2018 by Gauntlet Press.