What’s Ashley Reading?: The Final Girl Support Group

The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix

First line: final girl (n.) – the last and sole survivor of a horror movie

Summary: Lynnette is a final girl. She has spent years keeping herself safe from the monsters that are out in the world. Part of her recovery and routine is the Final Girl Support Group. Once a month she has been meeting with a therapist and other final girls to try to deal with the trauma that has defined their lives. But one day things change and it seems the monsters are back and coming for all the final girls. Lynnette goes on the run. She is determined to survive but also keep her final girl sisters alive too. With each passing moment she sees that they are in more danger than ever before.

My Thoughts: I tried reading a Grady Hendrix book years ago and was just not impressed. I did not finish it even though it seemed to have everything I liked. So when my friend told was telling me about his most recent book I decided to give him another try. I am very glad I did. It was a wild ride. It reminded me of Riley Sager, another author who brings eighties horror movie tropes to his readers in thrilling stories that will keep you reading deep into the night.

Even though I really liked this book, I really did not like the main character. She was so depressing, whiney and crazy. I was constantly rolling my eyes at her thoughts and actions. It is like when you watch a horror movie and the dumb teenager goes into the dark basement rather than the running car. However, this is supposed to be like those campy horror movies making it perfect for the story. One of the best parts were the little additions like police reports, newspaper articles and interviews after each chapter that shows us the pasts of these women or people’s views on them.

There were lots of crazy twists and turns. Characters that seem reliable aren’t and vice versa. I was always expecting a “monster” to jump out at any moment like in the movies. And even when they are “dead” the bad guy comes back for one last scare. But the ending was wonderful. I did not see it coming. It was a great way to wrap up the novel.

I guess I will have to go back and try to read other Grady Hendrix novels now.

FYI: Perfect for fans of the movies Scream and Halloween.

Justin Recommends: The Fisherman

The Fisherman by John Langan

First Line:   Don’t call me Abraham:  call me Abe.


Summary:   The Fisherman is a mythical horror novel about a man named Abe, who after the loss of his wife, takes up fishing to fill that empty hole.  He soon discovers the horror and legend of a creek that leads him into a world of long buried secrets and a mysterious figure known as Der Fisher: The Fisherman.


My Thoughts:   I’ve been on a quest lately to fulfill a need for a quiet horror book if you will.  Quiet meaning, not in your face gore for gores sake, more of a mental throttling.  A book that is unsettling and makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck.  The kind of book that you read alone in a house and every little noise startles you.  The Fisherman is the 3rd book I’ve read hoping it would fit into the category.  

I’m not entirely sure it fulfills that need but it comes close.

I really enjoyed the first half of this book telling the story of Abe losing his wife and his journey to recollect himself through fishing.  It is very quiet and melancholy as it guides you along on his journey into discovering his passion for fishing and later attempting to help a coworker struggle through a similar situation.  Abe’s character is fully drawn and very relatable.  I was onboard with his journey from the very beginning and to be honest.  It was really making me want to take up fishing!

In the middle of the book we begin to learn about the myth of Der Fisher and how it draws Abe into a world you might even call “Lovecraftian”.  Eventually we get drawn completely into the nightmare and while I certainly enjoyed it, I found it a bit weaker than the first half of the book. The world John Langan was creating went just a little off the rails for me.  I won’t go into details but the old adage “less is more” could have been a little more front and center.  Don’t let that deter you though, it was still a really great read and I was very satisfied.  But I’m still looking for that book that just grabs your brain with both hands and wrecks you.  I want it.  I’ll let you know when I find it.


FYI:  Very graphic depictions of fishing.  Oh, and scary things that hide in the shadows.

*This item is available as an audio book on Hoopla or through Interlibrary Loan.*

What’s Ashley Reading?: Every Vow You Break

Every Vow You Break by Peter Swanson

First line: She first spotted him at Bobbie’s Coffee Shop on Twenty-Second Street.

Summary: Just days before her wedding to millionaire, Bruce Lamb, the one night stand from her bachelorette weekend shows up trying to convince her to not go through with the wedding. She tries to ignore his attempts but then he appears at her wedding too. But she thinks that his stalking is over until he appears at the secluded island on her honeymoon. Does she tell Bruce or try to solve the situation on her own?

My Thoughts: When I looked at the rating for this book I was kind of surprised that it was so low. I found the book to be rather enjoyable with lots of dark and twisted moments. I found it to be more like an eighties horror movie than psychological thriller. And part of that can be found that several reveals were rather predictable. But I had a lot of fun reading it nonetheless.

Even though the island is supposed to be secluded and good for getting away from technology it also seems rather scary. You are secluded. On an island. With little communication. What if something bad happens? Well this book answers that question. And it was thrilling and scary.

FYI: Language, death, infidelity.

What’s Ashley Reading?: ‘Salem’s Lot

‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

First line: Almost everyone thought the man and the boy were father and son.

Summary: Ben Mears decides to move back to his hometown of Jerusalem’s Lot in order to work on a book he has been writing. Upon returning to the Lot he sees that not much has changed in the small town. He sees that the Marsten House is still standing but when he tries to rent the old house he finds that it has recently been sold to a couple of antique dealers.

‘Salem’s Lot is a small town that notices when new residents move to town. And then when suspicious events start to affect the town’s people they are the first ones people look at. What is going on in this small Maine town? And who is behind it all?

My Thoughts: I enjoyed this book but it was not my favorite King novel. I liked the premise and the ending was really fast paced and fun but the beginning was a little slow as we got to know the town and the characters. And maybe part of it was that I had an idea of what may be coming from watching Castle Rock on Hulu.

I really liked the character, Mark. He is a young boy with lots of knowledge about what is happening in the town. He seems to be able to handle anything that is thrown at him. A tough boy for sure! I was definitely rooting for him the whole time.

I liked the ending. It was much better than the 2004 movie adaptation. I watched it but didn’t have high hopes because King’s novels never seem to be translated on to the screen well with the exception of Carrie and Doctor Sleep.

This would be a good novel to read around Halloween. It has lots of spooks and scares. And maybe leave the lights on!

FYI: I would highly recommend Pet Semetary for another Halloween read!

What’s Ashley Reading?: Home Before Dark

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

First line: Every house has a story to tell and a secret to share.

Summary: Maggie Holt has lived in the shadow of the book, House of Horrors, written by her father about the time they spent living at Baneberry House. She has no memories of their time there and cannot get answers about what really occurred there twenty-five years earlier. When she learns that she has inherited the house from her father she decides to go back, against the dying wish of her father, and try to find some answers.

My Thoughts: I think this is one of my favorite books by Riley Sager. He does a phenomenal job of creating a tense and thrilling story. I find it interesting that he always writes women but he does it so well.

From the very beginning I was hooked on Maggie’s story. I needed to know what happened just as much as she did. I could not turn the pages fast enough. I liked how the chapters alternated between “the Book” and Maggie in present day. The parallels made me want to keep reading with all the foreshadowing. There were several scenes where I had to set the book down and breathe a little bit to get past it.

This definitely has a The Haunting of Hill House vibe to it. A big scary house where a family it tormented. What could be better? But Sager does a great job of making this story his own. He has his classic twists and turns. I could not recommend this enough to anyone who loves a good thriller/ghost story.

FYI: Perfect for fans of The Haunting of Hill House, the Netflix show and book.

What’s Ashley Reading?: The Shining

The Shining by Stephen King

First line: Jack Torrance thought: Officious little prick.

Summary: When Jack Torrance gets the job as caretaker of the Overlook Hotel it seems to be a dream. A gorgeous hotel with few distractions where he can finally finish his play. However, when the Torrance family move into the famed lodging they begin to notice that something is wrong with this place, especially their son, Danny.

Danny has always had a knack for knowing things no one else does. But life at the Overlook is more eerie than anything he has encountered in his five years. As the months pass while in isolation in the mountains of Colorado the Torrance family are finding out that the Overlook wants more from them then care taking.

My Thoughts: This is probably King’s most well-known novels. I read it several years ago and enjoyed it but I thought it needed a reread after reading the sequel, Doctor Sleep, this last fall. It was well worth it. I had forgotten many of the events of the book and how scary the story truly is. I really wish that they could make this into a movie or miniseries that would do the story justice. I think my favorite and the scariest scenes were the hedge animals. I do not think I will be able to look at any again without worrying about them coming after me.

And this is maybe a perfection book for quarantine. The Torrance family is isolated like many of us are in these uncertain times. It can be terrifying. King’s novel is one that will suck the reader in and make it easy to let the hours fly by.

FYI: After finishing definitely check out the movie starring Jack Nicholson.

*This is my pick for category #6 (A book that has been (or is being) adapted to the screen) for the ReadICT challenge.*

What’s Ashley Reading?: The Return

The Return by Rachel Harrison

First line: “What do you mean she’s missing?”

Summary: When one of their friends goes missing they are all shocked but Elise does not believe that Julie is dead. Even after a year and a funeral she still holds out hope that she will return. Then suddenly after two years she reappears with no memory of what happened to her.

In the hopes of learning what happened and reconnecting the friends decide to get together for a long weekend in a swanky new hotel in the mountains. Upon arrival they notice that something is wrong with Julie. She looks different. She acts different. But no one wants to bring up these changes. As the weekend continues Elise starts noticing strange happenings around the hotel. She cannot decide if it’s her imagination or something truly odd is occurring.

My Thoughts: I do not know how to feel about this book. I like it but something is not sitting well with me too. At the beginning I compared it to The Shining and Pet Sematary but as the story progressed it verged away from this. I liked the little hints of creepiness. I loved the strange hotel. But the ending was just not what I expected. It became more gory than spooky. And the final chapter was just kinda dumb.

The characters were a little bland. I liked Elise. I could relate to her. But I got two of the friends constantly confused and the fact that their names both start with M made it even more confusing.

FYI: A good start for a debut author.

What’s Ashley Reading?: Gwendy’s Button Box

Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar

First line: There are three ways up to Castle View from the town of Castle Rock: Route 117, Pleasant Road, and the Suicide Stairs.

Summary: Gwendy is a twelve year old girl from the town of Castle Rock. One day while running up the stairs to Castle View she is stopped by a gentleman in a black hat. During their conversation he gives her a box. The box has buttons. Some are harmless but others are not. He tells her that the box is her responsibility and to keep it secret. As the years go by Gwendy notices changes in herself and the world she lives in. Is it the box? And what price does she have to pay for its gifts?

My Thoughts: I had no idea what I was getting in to when I started this book. It seemed to walk the line between a sweet little story and a nightmare. I listened to the audiobook while cross stitching on a Sunday morning. I was completely engrossed in the story. I even gasped and set my stitching down at several points so that I could focus on the story.

When Gwendy first gets the box it appears to be a dream come true. The box spits out silver dollars and chocolates that suppress cravings. Everything in her life starts going better. What’s not to like? But when she starts getting curious about the other buttons I knew something bad was coming. Books like this show how great of a writer Stephen King truly is. He can mix the genres and write an excellent story in less than 200 pages.

FYI: There is a sequel written by the co-author called Gwendy’s Magic Feather.