Book Review: If I Die Before I Wake: Tales of Deadly Women and Retribution

Title: If I Die Before I Wake: Tales of Deadly Women and Retribution (Better off Dead Series #3)

Authors: Steven Pajak, Cara Fox, Chris Contreras Bahnsen, Scotty Milder, J.H. Moncrieff, Scott Harper, Bridgett Nelson, Spencer Richard, Mark Young, Claire Brown, Nikkolas James, Lee Rozelle, Natalie Sierra, R.E. Sargent, Red Lagoe and Renee M.P.T. Kray.

Link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B084HFF6KC

Summary

Go ahead, run. Hide, even. No matter. There’s no place you can go that she won’t find you.

A woman scorned. The sanctity of her sanctuary threatened. The betrayal of trust…even loyalty. Don’t ever tell her not to take it personally, because that’s exactly what it is. Personal. Your first blunder was mistaking her kindness for weakness. Your second was betraying her. The third? Underestimating her. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Take the plunge into these tales of deadly women who will stop at nothing until vengeance is theirs.

The Better Off Dead series delves into the farthest corners of your mind, where your deepest, darkest fears lurk. These masters of horror will haunt your dreams and stalk your nightmares, taking you to the edge of sanity before pushing you to the brink of madness!

My Review

5/5 Stars

“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”

A perfect way to sum up this anthology of 16 kickass stories. Women will do what it takes to protect those they love, and these stories take that to the extreme. Murder, mystery, and revenge flows throughout this collection. Even though every story is dramatically different, the theme of a strong female ensures that every story is connected in a way.

I tried to compile a top five favorites, but it was tough to choose so I whittled it down to my top six (in no particular order):

  1. The Long December by Steven Pajak: A daughter is determined to get revenge on the people responsible for her mother’s suicide. This was an emotional rollercoaster.
  1. Predator by J.H. Moncrieff: “Not my son. Not my child.” When a detective finds pictures of her son deep on the Dark Web, she takes on a special mission: protect him at all costs. It was easy to lose myself in the details of this one. The emotions were raw and, as a parent, very easy for me to relate to the MC.
  1. Political Suicide by Bridget Nelson: A beautiful story of Karma at its finest. After a politician cuts funding to a much-needed medical program, the MC’s son dies of cancer. In a desperate move to avenge him, she comes up with the perfect plan of an eye for an eye. The plot in this one was very original.
  1. To Hell and Back by Mark Young: In order to save her daughter, a woman must make a trip to the underworld. Very cool themes of paranormal, horror, and suspense. Not to mention a kickass MC.
  1. Forget Me Not by Claire Brown: When a woman wishes her children away, the wish is granted. Be careful what you wish for! This one was another emotional rollercoaster. Mixed with the suspense of the paranormal, it had me on the edge of my seat. Not to mention that ending.
  1. Lucy by R.E. Sargent: A woman enlists help from a stranger to escape her abusive husband. Thing is, her plans go much deeper than that. I always love R.E. Sargent’s stories for his awesome way of writing strong woman with dark plans.

Even though I’m not mentioning every story in my review, I enjoyed them all. Each of them spoke of the depths of human nature and what exactly can happen when a person is pushed too far.

Perfect collection of stories to invoke a range of emotions in readers across the board.

This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this voluntary review.

Character Interview: Rhys Rivera

Meet Rhys Rivera.

One of the characters in the story Dungeons and Demons, coming to the Soul’s Day boxset 10/20/2020.

  1. Your name?

Rhys Rivera

  1. Your role in the story?

I am the antagonist, definitely. It’s my job to find the obstacles that Shawn, Milo, and Jack will face with the hopes of them earning redemption at the end.

  1. Tell us a bit about yourself?

A bit about me? I’m not human. I’d tell you more than that, but it would give away the story.

  1. What are your dreams and fears?

I don’t necessarily have dreams. Ambitions, maybe. Fears? That’s a different story. I’m worried that perhaps some of the humans will overcome my challenges, that they won’t succumb to the obstacles that I’ve created for them.

  1. What is your favorite food?

As a paranormal creature, I don’t require food in the sense that humans do, but occasionally, I do enjoy a good pizza or burger.

  1. What do you love about your life?

I like being the last person that someone suspects of being what I truly am. I blend into the shadows, not really making an impact on anyone until it matters.

  1. What do you wish you can change about your life?

Sometimes, I envy the humans, and their ability to just so effortlessly love one another.

  1. Where do you come from?

From the bowels of Hell.

  1. Your strong points?

I am confident, quick on my feet, and intelligent. I can plan for the long game, and once I put my all into something, I rarely, if ever fail.

  1. Your weak points?

Confidence is unfortunately a double-edged sword. While it might raise me up, it might also make me fall.

  1. Where do you fit in your family?

I am the black sheep of my family. Not really one to make anyone proud, but I’m a trailblazer in my own way.

Want to learn more about Rhys?

Don’t miss out on his story.

Preorder the Soul’s Day Boxset now, and be eligible to score free digital goodies.

Details can be found here: https://soulsdayboxset.com/pre-order-gift/

Book Review: Carnival of Dead Girls

Title: Carnival of Dead Girls (Flocksdale Files #3)

Author: Carissa Ann Lynch

Narrator: Samantha Desz

Link: https://www.audible.com/pd/Carnival-of-Dead-Girls-Audiobook/1705241980

Summary

When a traveling carnival stops in the sleepy countryside, sixteen-year-old Josie Crowley is psyched to go with her new friend, Freya. But what started out as a fun-filled night of games, candied apples, and ferris wheel rides quickly spirals into a gut-wrenching encounter with one of the carnival attractions.

Once the excitement is over, Lamison is missing one of its residents.

When Freya is nowhere to be found, Josie suspects the carnival has something to do with her disappearance. Her goal to track down the elusive show leads to an alarming revelation-there is no record of it ever existing. And as she digs deeper, Josie is led to a mysterious town with a tainted past-Flocksdale.

Buried in Flocksdale’s sick, twisted history is where Josie may find the truth

Creepy clowns, disfigured freaks, and a terrifying haunted house are the least of Josie’s problems . . . now she has to deal with a group of real-life monsters, otherwise known as the evil Garrett family and new, rising generation of hell-bound freaks.

If Josie is pulled into their world, she may become another member of a carnival of dead girls, where she goes in, and never comes out .

My Review

5/5 Stars

Josie is a lonely girl. All she wants is a friend. She thinks she’s found that in a girl named Freya. After an altercation at the carnival, she realizes that Freya doesn’t feel for her the way Josie does for her. Then Freya disappears. The carnival disappears the next day, and Josie goes on a hunt to find out the truth of what happened. What she discovers ties into her own dark past, and she learns new things about herself. Things she wished she never knew.

I liked Josie. She was down to Earth and easy to relate to. The struggle to find acceptance was a driving force behind a lot of her actions, and that’s something a lot of us went through as a teenager.

I loved the twists and turns in this story, and the way the author brought in the MCs of previous books, Wendi Wise and Marianna, to tie into the book and give the entire ending of the trilogy a perfect wrap up. I have to say that I didn’t see any of the ending of this book coming, and I bawled my eyes out. It was all wrapped up so perfectly.

Narration was wonderful.

This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this voluntary review.

Book Review: House of the Lost Girls

Title: House of the Lost Girls (Flocksdale Files #2)

Author: Carissa Ann Lynch

Narrator: Samantha Desz

Link: https://www.audible.com/pd/House-of-the-Lost-Girls-Audiobook/1705241964

Summary

Flocksdale has an evil, ugly past-and history has a way of repeating itself . . .

Not only did her father abandon her five years ago, now Seventeen-year-old Marianna Bertagnoli is being uprooted and forced to move with her mother and new stepdad to a creepy Victorian house they inherited in the even creepier town of Flocksdale.

Marianna notices some strange qualities about her new home, and soon realizes she’s living in none other than the infamous House of Horrors. The very house where the demented Garrett family ran a drug ring, leading to the kidnappings and murders of forty young girls.

Within a week of moving in, Marianna’s mother disappears, one of her small group of new friends is found murdered, and she’s attacked by a man wearing a hideous clown mask. As she searches for answers, Marianna wonders if the malevolence still lingers, somehow alive . . . and how her stepdad came to own the House of Horrors.

Caught up in twisted family ties and surrounded by deceit, Marianna is targeted by a new generation of evil. Will Marianna survive long enough to bring the evil to light?

Or will she be trapped in the house of the lost girls forever?

My Review

5/5 Stars

Marianna is an angry girl. When her father disappears, she hates him for it. Hates him more for leaving her and her mother with her stepfather, George. When one of George’s relatives pass, they move into the infamous house of horrors. As Marianna learns about the truth of the town, and her own stepfather’s family roots, her mother disappears. Marianna’s entire world is turned upside down when she realizes she didn’t know her family at all.

There were so many ups and downs in this book it was like a rollercoaster. I didn’t know who to root for and who to boo! At first, the petty rivalry between Lou and Sam seemed so simple, but it got so much more complex.

The mystery of who was actually the killer had me unable to put this book down. I love the way the author introduced the main character of book one into the story, making her a secondary character in this one. The way she and Marianna teamed up against the house of horrors, and Flocksdale, was such a sweet moment.

This book gave us a new look at Wendi Wise, and it was glorious.

Narration was wonderful.

This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this voluntary review.

Book Review: Have You Seen This Girl?

Title: Have You Seen This Girl (Flocksdale Files #1)

Author: Carissa Ann Lynch

Narrator: Samantha Desz

Link: https://www.audible.com/pd/Have-You-Seen-This-Girl-Audiobook/1705241948

Summary

Wendi Wise is a troubled young woman who snorts her breakfast through a straw and spends more time in rehab than in the real world . . .

Her life is seemingly out of control. But now she has a plan. That plan involves a sharp set of butcher knives. She’s going back to where all of her troubles began . . . Flocksdale.

Wendi was lured away from a local skating rink, at the age of thirteen, and held captive in a place she calls ‘The House of Horrors.’ Dumped off blindfolded on the side of a dirt road, Wendi soon discovered that she was addicted to the drugs they fed her while she was captive.

Too scared to go home, and having a new habit to deal with, she hopped on a bus, vanishing from the family she loved. Vanishing from Flocksdale . . .

The town of Flocksdale is littered with fliers with a grainy image of young Wendi, and the words ‘Have You Seen This Girl?’ written below.

Now, eight years later, she’s on a mission-a mission to find the mysterious house from her youth and the monsters who dwell inside it.

My Review

5/5 Stars

When Wendi turns thirteen, she and her friend, Claire, meet two boys. They’re older, and their interest is something that Wendi has never experienced before. After being banned from hanging with them, Wendi and Claire find ways to sneak out and see them anyway. Except their disappearance becomes longer than a few hours. When Wendi finds herself in a sex trafficking ring, she feels too ashamed to go home to her family when she’s released. Instead, she flees vowing revenge on the monsters who turned her life upside down.

I absolutely adored Wendi’s character. Even though she has an immense amount of self-doubt, she is strong and ruthless. She did what she needed to do to take down the monsters who nearly destroyed her, fighting through her own demons to do so.

I was so caught up in Wendi’s story, that I found this book nearly impossible to stop once I’d started. By the time it came for Wendi to get her revenge, I thought I had the ending of the book figured out, but I was so wrong. Every chapter of this book has its own twists and turns. The ending was beautiful.

Overall, I thought this was a good cautionary tale about what can happen when a girl isn’t careful about who she picks as her “friends.”

Narration was wonderful.

This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this voluntary review.

Book Review: Caught

Title: Caught (Oneiros Log #1)

Author: M.L.S. Weech

Narrator: Shawn Compton

Link: https://www.audible.com/pd/Caught-Audiobook/B07J2W94J6

Summary

Nothing is at all what it seems, and for four strangers, they’ll have to discover why before they’re driven over the edge of madness. Within them are the keys to free themselves. They’ll need to traverse a landscape of horrors and fettered secrets.

Unknown to these prisoners, another four desperately hunt for their own freedom – a freedom denied them by the tormenting existence of a monster. They will have to rely on all of their talents and each other to defeat the beast.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to all of them, the spider huddles at the center of its web, plucking its many gossamer strands as it waits…ready to pounce.

My Review

5/5 Stars

Four strangers with seemingly nothing in common are pitted against one another using their nightmares as fuel. While they must struggle to face their internal demons, what’s waiting for them upon waking is far worse.

While the book was a little slow in the beginning, I stuck with it, and I’m glad I did. When the action picks up, it really picks up and I found it nearly impossible to put down. There were so many twists and turns that a few times I had to pause the book to just think about what I had just heard. The characters are well-developed and immersive. The author writes people who feel real, ones that you actually start to care about by the time the book comes to an end. Not to mention the mystery and intrigue carefully woven throughout the story.

I also love stories that mix dreams with reality. I think they’re creepy, and this fit that to a T. If you’re looking for something outside of the box, this would be it.

Narration fit the story perfectly.

This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this voluntary review.