what I’ve been reading

by Kaylah Stroup
Dear Laura book review

Dear Laura by Gemma Amor.

‘Every year, on her birthday, Laura gets a letter from a stranger. That stranger claims to know the whereabouts of her missing friend Bobby, but there’s a catch: he’ll only tell her what he knows in exchange for something…personal.So begins Laura’s sordid relationship with her new penpal, built on a foundation of quid pro quo. Her quest for closure will push her to bizarre acts of humiliation and harm, yet no matter how hard she tries, she cannot escape her correspondent’s demands. The letters keep coming, and as time passes, they have a profound effect on Laura.’

One hundred and nineteen pages that I devoured in one sitting! I couldn’t put it down. I feel like this is a great one if you’re in a reading slump and need a quick push out of your rut. Highly recommended!

The Glassy, Burning Floor of Hell by Brian Evenson.

‘A sentient, murderous prosthetic leg; shadowy creatures lurking behind a shimmering wall; brutal barrow men―of all the terrors that populate The Glassy, Burning Floor of Hell, perhaps the most alarming are the beings who decimated the habitable Earth: humans. In this new short story collection, Brian Evenson envisions a chilling future beyond the Anthropocene that forces excruciating decisions about survival and self-sacrifice in the face of toxic air and a natural world torn between revenge and regeneration. Combining psychological and ecological horror, each tale thrums with Evenson’s award-winning literary craftsmanship, dark humor, and thrilling suspense.’

I’m a quick reader. A lot of the times with anthologies I will read a handful of stories per reading session. This one took me some time to get through though but it’s not what you might be thinking… These stories took time for me to digest. I didn’t want to run to the next one right away, I wanted to keep pondering what I just read. Each story felt like it had so many layers I needed to peel away to really understand what I was reading. I really enjoyed this book. I feel like this would be a fun one to read along with a friend or book club so you can chat about what the heck you just read.

I Found a Circus Tent in the Woods Behind My House by Ben Farthing.

‘Dave and his four-year-old, Jacob, find a circus tent in the woods behind their house. A strange voice invites them through the dark doorway.
When they refuse, the tent swallows them…’

I am generally not frightened by horror books. Ghosts? Whatever. Murders? Meh. This book though? It got me, not even because of clowns! I don’t mind clowns. I just loathe the idea of finding something in the woods that shouldn’t be there. I loved this book. It was fun, tense and totally unique.

Fun little tip; listen to creepy carnival music quietly in the background while you read! I listened to this. It just adds to the atmosphere.

The author also wrote I Found Puppets Living In My Apartment Walls which I absolutely need to pick up as well!

On the theme of finding things in the woods that shouldn’t be there – The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher comes to mind. I loved that book and still think about it while I’m in my woods.

Camp Damascus by Chuck Tingle.

‘Welcome to Neverton, Montana: home to a God-fearing community with a heart of gold.
Nestled high up in the mountains is Camp Damascus, the self-proclaimed “most effective” gay conversion camp in the country. Here, a life free from sin awaits. But the secret behind that success is anything but holy.
And they’ll scare you straight to hell.’

I’ve followed Chuck Tingle on social media for some time now but had yet to read one of his books until his horror debut, Camp Damascus. Queer horror? Count me in! I loved this book. I even made my husband read it right after I finished. (He enjoyed it too!) It was a quick and easy read!

Hide by Kiersten White.

‘The challenge: Spend a week hiding in an abandoned amusement park and don’t get caught.
The prize: enough money to change everything. Even though everyone is desperate to win—to seize a dream future or escape a haunting past—Mack is sure she can beat her competitors. All she has to do is hide, and she’s an expert at that. It’s the reason she’s alive and her family isn’t. But as the people around her begin disappearing one by one, Mack realizes that this competition is even more sinister than she imagined, and that together might be the only way to survive.Fourteen competitors. Seven days. Everywhere to hide but nowhere to run.
Come out, come out, wherever you are.’

Loved this one. Suspenseful and unique! I’m already looking forward to reading more from Kiersten White based on this book.

The Toll by Cherie Priest.

‘Titus and Melanie Bell are on their honeymoon and have reservations in the Okefenokee Swamp cabins for a canoeing trip. But shortly before they reach their destination, the road narrows into a rickety bridge with old stone pilings, with room for only one car.

Much later, Titus wakes up lying in the middle of the road, no bridge in sight. Melanie is missing. When he calls the police, they tell him there is no such bridge on Route 177…’

Okay, how great does that sound?! LOVE the idea a bridge or area you’ve been to not actually existing. That’s just really unsettling to me. This book was fantastic. I truly enjoyed it. Very atmospheric! You meet a lot of characters but they’re all quite memorable so unlike some books with lots of characters, I had no problem keeping them all straight!

Interestingly enough, a lot of reviews of this book call it out as being one of the author’s weakest books so I am very curious to check out her others if this one was “bad”.

Peruse the ‘books‘ category here on the blog for similar posts. Keep an eye on my instagram stories if you’re looking for even more recommendations!

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