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Review of “The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires”

It’s that time of the year again.

It’s spooky season.

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, and this year it holds extra special sentimental value. This time a year ago, I was preparing to launch this blog. Even though it was a soft launch and even a softer year as I don’t post much, this blog has brought me back to reading. It has helped me carve out a space on the internet where I can write what I think to my little hearts content and that’s something to celebrate.

As a form of celebration, I finally sat down to share with you guys one of my favorite books from this year. It’s the perfect book for October, and I’ve been recommending this book nonstop online. “The Southern Book Clubs Guide to Slaying Vampires” by Grady Hendrix is a contemporary masterpiece.

There, I said it.

Do not get me wrong, he has a few authors he holds the spotlight with this season. Sophia Moreno-Garcia is another exceptional horror writer I’m recommending this season and Ali Hazelwood knocked it out of the ballpark with her academic romance novel. But Grady Hendrix brought vampires back for me, just as “Midnight Sun” was prepared to crush my hopes and dreams.

First Impressions

I picked this book up when I was shopping at my local Barnes & Noble. What attracted to me first was of course the name. I love a chunky name if done right, and something about “The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires” had my curiosity peaked. The book cover was a close second.

The southern peaches with blood dripping from gaping bite wounds was a “hidden between the lines” temptation for me. This book was daring me to imagine what it was trying to say by just the cover. Was a handsome vampire going to swoop into a southern belle’s heart (and bed…) while the reader begs her to understand what he truly is? Was the book club a clan of hardened criminals living on the edge of society and slaughtering vampires while reading smutty fanfiction?

During Reading

This is the first book I’ve read by Grady Hendrix, although I’ve had “My Best Friend’s Exorcism” in my mental TBR reading pile for a couple of months. I’ve heard this book is pretty mild as far as his other works are concerned, but I cannot attest to that. I do enjoy the book clubs reading lists for the timespan taking place in the book, and I do enjoy the rudimentary maps that were included in my copy as well. I am a visual person, and I always love when authors include extra materials in their books to help the readers better disappear into their world.

This book follows a group of 90s housewives as they find out the mysteries surrounding their neighbor and fellow book club member, James Harris. What follows is some female badass-ery as these housewives navigate the dark waters of what happens behind the closed doors in a sleepy Southern town. I don’t want to get into too much detail because I know I’ll end up spoiling something, but this book is going to be great for someone who:

1.) Doesn’t mind dark themes including – child murder, rape, suicide, kidnapping, domestic abuse and violence.

2.) Graphic content being drawn out figuratively across the page

3.) Likes novels with contemporary historical themes (it takes place in the 90s)

4.) Dislikes complex plots; this book is pretty clean cut, and is not for someone who likes longer length narratives.

Honestly, to me this book was pretty mild as far as language goes and content, but I would say it does have some pretty mature content that wouldn’t be suitable for younger readers.

After Reading & Star Rating

I really liked this book. The author tackled pretty hard hitting topics such as classism and sexism, and overall Grady Hendrix did a great job. I never thought I needed a book where housewives take on a creature of the night, but lo and behold here it is.

My biggest gripe with this book would be that we aren’t introduced to some of the background characters as much as I would have liked to be. Most of the book clubs family members are just mentioned in passing, and much of the husbands characters can be summed up in a descriptive word or two. I think if he had made these characters more complex he could have expanded further on sexism. Where it stands, most of the husbands I could either cared less about or they were just so self-centric it was easy to hate them.

Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Overall I give this book a 4/5 stars and highly recommend you reading this book during the month of October.

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Why I Dislike Stephen King

Since I’ve been on a roll this month with controversial topics, I figured I’d go into a little more detail on my dislike primarily on the known King of Horror, and that’s Stephen King. Most people find this the most shocking about myself personally because I am such a horror buff, one would automatically assume that my love for the horror genre would just automatically translate to the book world. In most cases I’d say you’d be correct, however not in all cases, as I have a love/hate relationship with this author. 

Photo credit here.

I cannot remember the first horror movie I ever watched, but I’m sure it was probably a movie based around a Stephen King book. I can say this with almost positive certainty because my parents VHS tape collection is vast, and one of the movies I remember them both jointly liking in my younger years was Stanley Kuberick’s “The Shining”.

Photo credit here.

Believe it or not, this version of “The Shining” is extremely different from the book and highly saturated with content that was made up for your viewing pleasure. A lot of scenes from the book has been left out in the movie version or has changed to be more exciting for visual purposes. If you’re planning on watching a better adaption from book to movie then I’d recommend getting your hands on the 90s television version of “The Shining”. My parents had a bootleg copy of this version on VHS at one point, and it was so uniquely different from Kubrick’s version that I had to read the book after watching both screen adaptations.

So I started to read “The Shining” when I was probably around 12 (parents didn’t care what I read, yes they owned bootlegged VHS tapes, let’s continue) and the book most closely identifies with the TV series. I ended up not being a fan of either the book nor the movie, and both will eventually give us the dumpster fire that Doctor Sleep is many decades later, I’m sure.

Even though I didn’t like The Shining”, I decided to try and start reading other books by Stephen King because I had liked most of the movies I was watching. I have tried to read “Christine”, “It”, “Firestarter”, “Pet Semetary”, “Salem’s Lot”, “Doctor Sleep”, “Duma Key”, and “The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon”. To this day I can say I successfully have finished one of his books and that was “On Writing”, which ironically is one of my favorite books. 

When I picked up Firestarter, it had me interested until about the last quarter of the book where the one guy droned on about his military knowledge for the next six pages. Sometimes I feel as if his writing gets sidetracked and he spends the next five pages talking about a tree, and that loses it’s charm easily. 

Most of Stephen King’s books to me are very bland and have been an outdated concept by the time I’ve begun to read them. Nothing in his books pull me in or decidedly give me chills, and I expect more from a horror novel than what Stephen King’s books deliver to me. Perhaps it’s because his books have been over done by everyone else in the horror genre by this point, but I’m pretty certain a tale such as Cujo isn’t just an original thought he came up with (Old Yeller) and don’t get me started on Salem’s Lot (vampire weirdos living in crawlspaces? Yeah okay). 

However, despite my harsh criticism thus far of his work, I hold a certain respect and admiration for Stephen King. Even though I have not been able to find much enjoyment in his books, I cannot deny someone who has talent when I see it. There is a reason everyone knows his name, and knows some plots as being associated with his name. All I have to say is “kids battle an evil clown. Name that title,” and arguably everyone who is reading this will automatically assume I’m talking about “It” by Stephen King. The fact that he has full plots that we associate only as being a Stephen King novel says something, especially when a rare few contemporary novelists have reached the same height in recent decades.

Photo credit here.

There is no denying that Stephen King is truly a master when it comes to his craft, even if his craft is not necessarily my cup of tea. A few contemporary authors have created works of fiction that will withstand the test of time as his work surely will. However, it’s still going to take some time for me to get into reading another book of his.

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8 Horror Movies I Recommend

Finally, I have compiled a list of movies that I recommend watching to finish this holiday season. Originally, I started compiling a list of my favorite movies of all time for Halloween…but let’s be honest, that list would be immense. This time I didn’t limit myself to just Netflix but I picked out 8 movies from my first list of about 40 that I would love to talk about eventually.

These movies are not in order beyond being movies I had watched recently and enjoyed. I’m sticking to the actual horror genre still and I stayed within a 30 year period because I’m hoping there’s something for everybody to watch, both classics and maybe a lesser known here or there.

Lavender

I want to list a trigger warning regarding rape and sexual abuse. This movie is psychological horror film and had a plot twist

You can watch this movie on Netflix. It’s also currently $4.99 to rent or buy on Amazon.

Lavender

Silence of the Lambs

A classic, and a classic movie I still have high regards for, years after we were first introduced. For years growing up my parents thought Hannibal Lector was a real person. No, seriously. You can stream this on Netflix still, or if you love this cult classic as much as I do you can buy it on Amazon currently for $3.99:

The Silence of the Lambs

American Psycho

It’s Christian Bale as a maniac. This 2000 movie will forever stand the test of time in my book. Speaking of books, it’s actually based off a book of the same name, which can be found for sale here. That’s going to be a paperback edition at $11.49, but I’ve seen used versions for less than $4.00.

Also available on Amazon for a whopping $3.99

American Psycho

Oculus

I had low hopes for this movie when it had first came out, but I was wrong. Those eyes in it had me freaked. The thought of eating an apple and knashing teeth onto glass will probably have even the most macho man wincing. 

You can find this movie going for $5.99 currently on Amazon:

Oculus

1408

I loved this movie’s madness. It kept me engaged throughout watching and it’s one of those horror movie’s that I’ve held onto the beat up DVD for so long and pull out when I’m bored. You’re probably not going to luck out on streaming this one, but feel free to to rent for $3.99

1408

Ginger Snaps

I originally watched this series backwards when I was a teenager and flipping through DirectTV. I saw Ginger Snaps finally when I was over at a friend’s house and it really spoke to my little teen black heart. The humor in it was twisted and funny and I had a girl crush on Ginger. You can stream this on IMDbTV for free.

Ginger Snaps

Raw

This foreign film was passed over by me so many times when it was on Netflix before I finally gave in. It is a gore film, but it takes a less traditional take on the cannibalism genre. It’s not back on Netflix quite yet, you can find it on Amazon for $3.99.

Raw

The Green Inferno

I made my boyfriend watch  it this October and he had to watch it in three sittings, which I think is a little bit extreme, but to each their own. This is a gore movie, and it’s based off of another movie– Cannibal Holocaust, which had been banned from quite a few countries during an investigation into someone being killed during the filming. It was later debunked when the woman showed up to the movie’s court hearing. 

You can watch the movie on Netflix or buy on Amazon for $9.99

The Green Inferno

Let me know what you think. Leave a comment if there was movies you hadn’t watched prior. Next time I’ll make a list less broad and general.

Editorial use only. No book cover usage. Mandatory Credit: Photo by Lions Gate/Kobal/Shutterstock (5884226z) Christian Bale American Psycho – 2000 Director: Mary Harron Lions Gate USA Scene Still Suspense/Thriller
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5 Horror Movies to Avoid on Netflix – The 2020 Edition

Like everyone else since March, I’ve been stuck at home. It’s especially hard with the consideration that Halloween this year FALLS ON A SATURDAY. Everybody’s been complaining about how 2020 was going to be the best year, so I’m not going down that tangent in this post. But instead of me being a basic witch and going to the pumpkin patch I’ve been spending most of the time curled up on the couch with my boyfriend and cat, eating those sheets of cookie doughs from my childhood and just being a fat ass with the best of them. If you’re like me you’re probably looking for movie recommendations, and why not throw in some awful and mediocre ones? Maybe don’t even watch them. Put them on as background music as you eat whipped cream straight from the can instead of putting it on your 3rd piece of apple pie.

Without further ado, this is my list of horror movies to avoid watching. Not all of these movies are bad, some of them were just a little underwhelming. 

6.  In the Tall Grass – I have this movie listed on both lists I have made on a draft sheet because I’m still unsure on how I feel about the movie, and this may be because of so many factors going on with it. I enjoyed how all the characters interconnected and the movie had unfolded in a neat and organized manner, like unfolding a napkin.

But I ended up feeling as if this was a waste of time. I didn’t like the ending, and bad endings can ruin an entire movie for me. I don’t have to agree with it, but I at least expected something more after two hours of viewing a movie that was repetitive of the psychological horror genre. 

This Movie’s Scoreboard:

Gore: Mild. Barely gory, this movie focused a lot on the psychological side of horror. The gory parts are going to be expected and you’re going to be expecting them.

Jump Scares: Predictable and not scary. This isn’t a scary horror movie. 

Main Character: You have quite a few and they’re all fleshed out. They all have motives, feelings, and demons in their lives to deal with. 

Build-up: Slow, and once you have realized what’s going on, it’s left up to the main characters which just feels like an overdone concept to me at this point. 

Ending: I didn’t really like it. At the time of watching, I was frustrated by the ending. I can’t put it to words yet on why I was frustrated because I don’t want to give too much away. 

My Score: 2.5

5. Demonic – It wasn’t bad, and this movie had a plot twist. Not my original thoughts on it however, and I said it was not believable to me that the ex-boyfriend and current bae would just go on a little field trip without something happening. Especially since the ex-boyfriend has a volatile temper and wants to be an absolute jerk the entire time. I would seriously be questioning why the hell my girl would be wanting to still work with her ex-boyfriend like that, too. Especially with the overlapping premise of the story. 

This Movie’s Scoreboard:

Gore: Mild-moderate gore. There’s scenes that are gory. Compared to some other movies in the horror genre I’d consider this movie being moderately gory, but it’s not a slasher film by any means. No cannibalism, and I’d consider a lot of the gore scenes to be easy to get through or avoid altogether by just fast forwarding through some of them.

Jump Scares: High amount. The amount of jump scares had me on the edge of my seat at some points. You would be expecting a scare at one point just to be dragged along for another 3 minutes. 

Main Character: Well formed, considering that it is a supernatural horror movie. I’m labeling the main character as John. John has a backstory, a purpose, and a motive. He isn’t just there to serve as somebody to be killed off.

Build-up: Moderate. The movie starts present day and then goes backwards. You know what you’re getting into with a set up plot. I would say you’re going to reach the turning point when all hell breaks loose midway, so not too bad. 

Ending: Good. I liked the twist, I think. I guess that’s a good thing because knowing how the genre works there’s probably going to be a sequel coming, and I can’t imagine the ending being good again. Kevin on the other hand thought the ending was a cop-out and the plot was trying to cover too much ground at once, so we’ll see. 

My Score: 3/5

4. The Babysitter- 😂 I liked this movie. I liked the sequel. I think I’m insane for liking either of them. It was quirky, and the sequel is non-cohesive to this one. They’re both more comedies than anything, and the gore is funny. 

This Movie’s Scoreboard:

Gore: Moderate. It’s moderately gory, AS a slasher film. Meaning compared to the last two it is gory. But I laughed through it, and I really hope if you watch this movie you laugh as well.

Jump Scares: Not really. Mildly intense moments but that’s about that.

Main Character: Cole is beyond words because I have no words for him. I thought he was stated as being 14 in the first one, but I’m pretty sure the second one states him as being 12. He’s your archetypal nerd who likes nerd things. 

Build-Up: Mild to moderate.

Ending: Dumb. 

My Score: 2/5

3.  The Babysitter: Killer Queen- Was there even a queen in this? I’m pretty sure if we’re comparing body counts from the first movie, the award is going to the protagonist for that one. My expectations were very low for this one too; I’m pretty sure that for both movies I wasn’t paying full attention to them since my final two on the lists I remember clearly as being awful. The Babysitter had me laughing.

This Movie’s Scoreboard:

Gore: Moderate. Just like it’s predecessor, it should be funny to you.

Jump Scares: Mild.

Main Character: Cole is still doing nerdy Cole things, joined by his friend. He ends up being more of a side kick than a true plot conqueror. Bee is fleshed out into something more than what she just was in the first, which makes me happy.

Build-up: It’s there, and you’re going to laugh throughout this. Some points will have you remembering it’s a horror movie.

Ending: Better than the last one but isn’t cohesive, but neither is the rest of the plot. 

My Score: 2.5/5

2. Would You Rather? – This started off pretty typical as far as character tropes and plot premises go, and kept only mildly interesting moving forward. The characters were not funny or redeemable and their motives did not make sense. I love bad horror too and the murders were not believable or bad in a funny way.  Even the ending was predictable and that makes this the moldy remains of a pizza purposely fucked up by two employees at Dominos. Nobody likes predictable endings and not a single believable death. 

This Movie’s Scoreboard:

Gore: Moderate but doesn’t make much sense. It would be the dramatic equivalency to me getting a splinter and needing my arm amputated.

Jump Scares: None.

Main Character: Iris should stick to getting revenge on John Tucker. It’s not her fault; nobody here is redeemable. I think someone wanted to set this up as a commentary on how the road to hell is paved with good intentions and even the most innocent person can do bad things…no idea. 

Build-up: Quick. I think we have the full scheme of the rest of the movie in the first 30 minutes. 

Ending: Predictable till the end. Nothing about it was a surprise.

Score: 

1.5/5

1. Truth or Dare – Not the movie that was in theatres, this movie used to be a Syfy original horror movie in the United States. This is two rats fighting over an empty pizza box because it has grease stains and sauce stuck to the bottom of it. This is a trash can of burning dog shit rolling down the hill out of the dog park. An absolute dumpster fire. 

I thought this movie was going to be alright when the first character at the beginning was Heather Lagenkamp but no. She wasn’t even in it for more than a few minutes. 

This Movie’s Scoreboard:

Gore: Moderate and awfully concepted. Maybe one scene if you suffer from entomophobia. 

Jump Scares: Mild. I’d consider some scenes potentially intense for some viewers, but that’s about it. If you’re not new to horror, you’ll do okay.

Main Character: They aren’t fleshed out. Some of them I hoped for their demise because they were annoying. 

Build Up: There, I guess. The beginning starts off with a group of teens heading to a haunted house…hmm. I wonder what’s going to happen.

Ending: Predictable and stinks

Score: 1/5