Blog Tours

Blog Tour: The East End by Jason Allen

Blog Tour: The East End by Jason Allen

BOOK SUMMARY

THE EAST END opens with Corey Halpern, a Hamptons local from a broken home who breaks into mansions at night for kicks. He likes the rush and admittedly, the escapism. One night just before Memorial Day weekend, he breaks into the wrong home at the wrong time: the Sheffield estate where he and his mother work. Under the cover of darkness, their boss Leo Sheffield — billionaire CEO, patriarch, and owner of the vast lakeside manor — arrives unexpectedly with his lover, Henry. After a shocking poolside accident leaves Henry dead, everything depends on Leo burying the truth. But unfortunately for him, Corey saw what happened and there are other eyes in the shadows.

Hordes of family and guests are coming to the estate the next morning, including Leo’s surly wife, all expecting a lavish vacation weekend of poolside drinks, evening parties, and fireworks filling the sky. No one can know there’s a dead man in the woods, and there is no one Leo can turn to. With his very life on the line, everything will come down to a split-second decision. For all of the main players—Leo, Gina, and Corey alike—time is ticking down, and the world they’ve known is set to explode.

Told through multiple points of view, THE EAST END highlights the socio-economic divide in the Hamptons, but also how the basic human need for connection and trust can transcend class differences. Secrecy, obsession, and desperation dictate each character’s path. In a race against time, each critical moment holds life in the balance as Corey, Gina, and Leo approach a common breaking point. THE EAST END is a propulsive read, rich with character and atmosphere, and marks the emergence of a talented new voice in fiction.

MY REVIEW

The East End is an interesting kind of story as it doesn’t exactly lead to the places you might expect. I was surprised by how emotionally charged the story was although I admit I got lost in the middle as it felt like the book was trying to cram way too much into one story. Some of the characters weren’t all that likable, like Leo’s wife, Sheila.

But there is a compulsive element to the story. Even though it isn’t exactly a thriller, you are compelled to push through to figure out what end these characters will meet. The emotional complexity of the story is definitely one of the highlights.

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Author Bio: Jason Allen grew up in a working-class home in the Hamptons, where he worked a variety of blue-collar jobs for wealthy estate owners. He writes fiction, poetry, and memoir, and is the author of the poetry collection A MEDITATION ON FIRE.

He has an MFA from Pacific University and a PhD in literature and creative writing from Binghamton University, and currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia, where he teaches writing. THE EAST END is his first novel.

AN EXCERPT FROM THE EAST END

After sunset, Corey Halpern sat parked at a dead end in Southampton with his headlights off and the dome light on, killing time before the break-in. As far as he knew, about a quarter mile up the beach the owners of the summerhouse he’d been casing for the past two weeks were busy playing host, buzzed from cocktails and jabbering beside the pool on their oceanfront deck, oblivious that a townie kid was about to invite himself into their mansion while they and their guests partied into the night.

Smoke trailed up from the joint pinched between Corey’s thumb and forefinger as he leaned forward and picked up a wrinkled sheet of paper from the truck floor. He smoothed out his final high school essay, squinting through the smoke-filled haze to read his opening lines:

In the Hamptons, we’re invaded every summer. The mansions belong to the invaders, and aren’t actual homes—not as far as the locals are concerned. For one thing, they’re empty most of the year.

The dome light flicked off and he exhaled in semidarkness, thinking about what he’d written. If he didn’t leave this place soon, he might never get out. Now that he’d graduated he could make his escape by taking a stab at college in the fall, but that would mean leaving his mother and brother behind, which for many reasons felt impossible, too abstract, the world outside this cluster of towns on the East End so unimaginably far away….

If only he could write as he saw things, maybe this place wouldn’t be so bad, though each time he’d put pen to paper and tried to describe these solo hours at the ocean, or anything else, the words remained trapped behind locked doors deep inside his head. Sitting on his heels, he reached up and pressed the faint bruise below his right eye, recalling the fight last weekend with that kid from North Sea and how each of them had been so quick to throw punches…

_________________________________________________________________________

A few miles later, with Iggy Pop and The Stooges blaring from his door panel, it made perfect sense to take the night to a whole new level and rob his mother’s bosses before they came out from the city; before Gina came home crying after one of the longer, more grueling workdays; before he joined her for the summer as the Sheffields’ servant boy. Iggy reinforced the necessity of the much higher risk mission—the need to do it now—as he belted out one of his early-seventies punk anthems, the lyrics to “Search and Destroy” entering Corey’s brain and seeping much deeper inside his chest as a truth he’d never been able to articulate for himself. His fingers tapped steadily on the wheel when he turned off Main.

He drove slowly for another block or two, his pulse beating in his neck as he turned left at the pyramid of cannonballs and the antique cannon on the edge of town. A couple blocks later, he downshifted around the bend, rolled to a stop and parked beside a wooded section of Gin Lane. From there he didn’t hesitate at all. He hustled along the grass bordering the roadside, past hedgerows and closed gates and dark driveways, until the Sheffields’ driveway came into view. A life-size pair of stone lions sat atop wide stone bases and bookended the entrance, two males with full manes and the house number chiseled onto their chests. Corey knew the lions held a double meaning. His mom’s boss put these statues out here partly because they looked imposing, the type of decorations kings used to choose, but also because they stood as symbols of August birthdays, the same astrological sign as Mr. Sheffield’s first name—Leo.

He stood still for a moment, looking between the bars of the tall iron gates crowned with spikes. Beginning tomorrow morning, and then all throughout Memorial Day weekend— just as he had the past few summers—he’d spend long days working there. Gina would be so pissed if she could see him now. She’d at least threaten to disown him if she ever found out he’d broken in, but that would be a hollow threat anyway, and he’d already convinced himself that she’d never know. The Sheffields should have paid her more to begin with, even if she didn’t have a deadbeat husband like Ray pissing her meager savings away on his court fees and gambling debts. But the memory that sealed Corey’s decision tonight had been replaying in his mind for almost a year—the dinner party last summer, when Sheila Sheffield yelled at his mom right in front of him and about ten guests, berating her for accidentally dropping a crystal chalice that she said cost more than Gina’s yearly salary. While Leo and the grown Sheffield kids looked on dumbly and didn’t bother to make a peep, Corey had followed Gina into the kitchen and stood a few feet away from her, unable to think of what to say to console her while she cried. Ever since then, he’d wanted to get back at them all.

Fuck these people, he thought.

He would rob them, and smash some windows on his way out so they wouldn’t suspect anyone who worked there. All he had to do was make sure not to leave any evidence behind, definitely no fingerprints, and he’d take the extra precaution of scaling the gates rather than punching in the code.

He wriggled his fingers into his gloves. Crickets chirped away in the shadows, his only witnesses as he looked over each shoulder and back through the bars. He let out a long breath. Then he gripped the wrought iron and started to climb.

Moonlight splintered between the old oak branches and cut across his body like blades. It took only a few seconds to grapple up the bars, though a bit longer to ease over the spear-like tips while he tried to shut out a nightmare image of one of them skewering his crotch. Relieved when his legs reached the other side unharmed, he shimmied down the bars like a monkey and dropped, suddenly hidden from the outside world by the thick hedge wall. Poised on one knee, he turned to his left and scanned the distant mansion’s dark windows, the eaves and gables. The perfectly manicured lawn stretched for acres in all directions, a few giant oaks with thick limbs and gnarled trunks the only natural features between the faraway pines along the property line and a constellation of sculptures. A scattered squad of bronze chess pieces stood as tall as real-life soldiers, with two much larger pieces towering behind them—a three-ton slab of quartz sitting atop a steel column and a bright yellow Keith Haring dog in mid stomp on its hind legs, each the size of an upended school bus or the wing of a 747, all the sculptures throwing sharp shadows across the lawn when Corey rose to his feet, leapt forward and ran toward the Sheffields’ sprawling vacation home.

His sneakers crunched along the pebble driveway, his steps way too loud against the quiet until he made it across the deeper bed of beach stones in the wide parking area and passed through an ivy-covered archway, still at top speed while he followed the curved path of slate down a gentle slope, and then pulled up at the corner of the porch. Breathing heavily, he grappled up the post and high-stepped onto the railing, wiping sweat from his forehead when he turned to face Agawam Lake. The moon’s light came ladling down onto the water like milk and trailed into the darkness of the far shore, while in the reeds beside the nearest willow tree a pair of swans sat still as porcelain, sleeping with their bills tucked at their breasts.

No one will know, he thought. The crickets kept making a soft racket in the shadows. The swans seemed like another good omen. But then a light went on inside one of the mansions directly across the water, and Corey pulled his body up from the railing, thinking he should get inside before someone saw him. He quickly scaled the corner porch beam and trellis while trying to avoid the roses’ thorns, even as they snagged his sleeves and pant legs. Then, like a practiced rock climber, in one fluid motion he hoisted himself from the second-story roof up to the third-floor gable. He crouched there, looking, listening. The house across the water with the light on was too far away to know for sure, but he didn’t see any obvious signs of anyone watching from the picture windows. Probably just some insomniac millionaire sipping whiskey and checking the numbers of a stock exchange on the other side of the world.

Confident that he should press on, Corey half stood from his crouch and took the putty knife from his back pocket to pry open the third-story bathroom window, the one he’d left unlatched the previous day when he’d come there with his mother. The old window sash fought him with a friction of wood on wood, but after straining for a few seconds he managed to shove the bottom section flush with the top, and was struck immediately by the smells of Gina’s recent cleaning— ammonia, lemon and jasmine, the chemical blend of a freshly scoured hospital room. Balanced at the angle of the roof, he stared down at the neighboring properties once more. Still no sounds, no lights, no signs that anyone had called the cops, so he turned and stretched his arms through the window and shimmied down until he felt the toilet lid with both gloved hands and his sneakers left the shingles, all his weight sliding against the sill as he wriggled in.

Although he hadn’t been sure whether he’d ever go through with it, he’d plotted this burglary for weeks, the original iteration coming to him during Labor Day weekend last year. The first step had been to ask Gina if he could clean the Sheffield house with her for a few extra bucks before the summer season began. She’d raised an eyebrow but agreed, approving at least of her teenager’s out-of-character desire to work, and throughout the past week, whenever she’d left him to dust and vacuum the third floor, he’d had his chance to run recon and plan the point of entry. He knew she wouldn’t bother to check the latch on a closed window three stories off the ground, not after she’d scrubbed and ironed and Pledged all day. And more important, by then he knew those upper-floor windows had no seal-break sensors. He knew this because a few days earlier he’d left this very same window open before Gina armed the alarm, and afterward nothing happened—no blaring sounds before they pulled away, no call or drive-by from a security officer. So tonight, again, the security company wouldn’t see any flashing red lights on their computer screens. Not yet anyway, not until he smashed a window downstairs and staged a sloppy burglary scene on his way out.

Despite knowing that nobody would be out till Friday, his footsteps were all toe as he crept from the dark bathroom and into the hazy bluish hall, and yet, even with all this effort to tread lightly, the old floorboards still strained and creaked each time his sneakers pressed down. Trailing away from him, a black-and-white series of Ansel Adams photos hung in perfect rows, one on either side of the hall, hundreds of birch trees encased in glass coverings that Corey had just recently Windexed and wiped. Every table surface and light fixture and the entire length of the floor gleamed, immaculate, too clean to imagine the Sheffields had ever even set foot in here, let alone lived here for part of the year. He’d always felt the house had a certain coldness to it, and thought so again now, even though it had to be damn near eighty degrees inside with all the windows closed.

After slowly stepping down one set of stairs, Corey skulked along the second-floor hall, past the doorway to Mr. and Mrs. Sheffields’ master bedroom and then past Andy’s and Clay’s rooms, deciding to browse Tiffany’s bedroom first, his favorite room in the house. The Sheffields’ only daughter had a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf full of hardcover novels, stage plays and poetry collections, a Super 8 projector, stacked film reels and three antique cameras. He’d spent as much time as possible in this room during his previous workdays, mainly staring at the paintings mounted on three of the walls, and now lingered once more looking at each textured image, surprised all over again that a rich girl had painted these shades of pain, these somber expressions on the faces of dirty figures in shabby clothes, compositions of suffering he’d have expected from a city artist teetering between a rat-hole apartment and a cardboard box in an alley. They all had something, that’s for sure, but one portrait had always spoken to him much more than any of the others. He stood before it and freed it from its hook.

At the window he noticed the light had gone off at the mansion across the lake and figured the insomniac must have drunk enough for sleep. Although he knew he shouldn’t, he flicked on Tiffany’s bedside table light to get a better look at the girl in the painting, her brown eyes, full lips, caramel skin, her black hair flowing down to divots between her collarbone and chest. He knew Tiffany had painted it, but also that it wasn’t a self-portrait. She looked nothing like the girl she’d painted. Anorexically skinny, Tiffany had dyed-blond hair and usually wore too much makeup. In one photo with her parents and two older brothers, while the rest of the family had dressed in country club attire, she had on a tank top and frayed jean shorts, dark sunglasses, the only one of them with any tattoos, the only one barefoot on the grass.

Corey searched her shelves until he found the photo of Tiffany’s best friend, the girl from the painting, Angelique. He’d seen her at the estate plenty during the previous summers, and last Labor Day weekend they’d talked many times, their conversations lasting longer and seeming to have more depth until finally he summoned the courage to ask her out. Her long pause had made him wish he could disappear, and then those four awful words, I have a boyfriend, had knocked the wind out of him just before he nodded with his eyes to the ground and walked away. Reliving the disappointment, he killed the lamplight and lay on the bed with her photo on his chest, and then, stupidly, closed his eyes…
Excerpted from The East End by Jason Allen, Copyright © 2019 by Jason Allen. Published by Park Row Books.

Film/Television

Smart Justice: The Jayme Closs Case: Survivors offer words of wisdom

Elizabeth Smart unites a group of women survivors to give hope to Jayme Closs, and others like her, in Smart Justice: The Jayme Closs Case.

Lifetime takes a break from its typical Saturday night thrillers to offer up a different kind of television special regarding the Jayme Closs case. If you aren’t familiar with the Jayme Closs case, it occurred in October last year.

Closs witnessed her parents murdered in front of her before she was abducted and kept in captivity for 88 days. The perpetrator was a 21-year old man named Jake Patterson. In January of this year, Jayme Closs was discovered and reunited with her family.

Continue reading on Hidden Remote.

Uncategorized

What it’s like to live with a monster

Anxiety. Anxiety is a monster.

I thought I would write a little about what it’s like to live with chronic anxiety, both to maybe alleviate some of it for myself and perhaps to help someone else who needs to know they aren’t struggling with it alone.

People who don’t struggle with anxiety cannot know what it feels like. The amount of times I’ve been told, “well stop worrying,” or “chill out,” or “just stop thinking about it!” or any other similar phrase is far more than I could ever count. I’m always like, WOW THANKS! Why didn’t I think of that before?! I’m cured now!

It’s not that simple! I wish it was. What people don’t understand about anxiety, especially when you’re in a really bad funk, is it’s almost like a mythical hydra. Even if you manage to kill one head or one worry, there’s 6 more waiting in the wings.

Having anxiety is having a daily, sometimes momentary, battle to purge your brain of alarming, paranoid, toxic and damaging thoughts. On my worst days I have to consciously redirect every single thought away from me. Anxiety is intrusive. It can eat away at you. To be constantly on guard, trying to divert every negative thought and worry, is absolutely exhausting mentally and sometimes physically too.

Lately I started having a lot of stomach issues, in the form of gastritis and acid reflux, and I’ve done research on its ties to anxiety. Doctors sometimes refer to the gut as your “second brain” because it is so tied in to your hormonal levels. So when you’re stressed out, it’s very common to have stomach problems.

Of course, having anything wrong physically only increases my anxiety which then leads me to a vicious cycle. I’m stressed about being stressed which makes me sick which makes me more stressed.

Where does it end?

I’ve been trying so hard lately to get better. I’ve been to several doctors about various physical problems. I’ve been on and off Lexapro. I’m back in therapy (just beginning), and I’m even seeking out anxiety support group. I’m in a big transitional phase in my life, which I’m sure is doubly impacting everything I do, but it’s rough.

I want to get better. I want to be in control. Every day I take it one day at a time. I have some days that are really bad and others that are better. Everyone keeps telling me “you’re doing everything you’re supposed to do!” But then my anxiety whispers to me that my doctors have missed something, or I notice a weird bump, or something starts acting weird on my body that shouldn’t and the spiral starts all over again.

I’m not going to give up on getting it all under control but I felt like expressing it on here, where I know other people deal with similar issues, would help, at least a little bit.

Uncategorized

The Curse of La Llorona: Does the ending hint at a potential sequel?

Courtesy of Warner Brothers Pictures

The final seconds of The Curse of La Llorona may actually mean something quite sinister for one of the film’s main characters.

Easter weekend’s biggest new film release is the latest entry into The ConjuringuniverseThe Curse of La Llorona. The movie focuses on the legendary story of La Llorona, also known as the “weeping woman”. She is a central figure in Latin American folklore and her story has been spun into many different variations over the years.

The main similarities through these differing fables is that a woman is overcome with a jealous rage after finding out her husband has been having an affair. She decides to steal from him that which is most precious and drowns their children. In most versions, she is unable to deal with the grief and guilt afterwards and commits suicide.

Continue reading on 1428 Elm.

Book Reviews

Book Review: Fruit of the Gods by William C. Tracey

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Fruit of the Gods by William C. TraceyFruit of the Gods by William C. Tracey
Genres: Fantasy, LGBTQ+, Fiction
Links: Buy on Amazon | Goodreads
Format: ARC

Source: NetGalley

Sisters Kisare and Belili uproot an ancient box in their owner’s orchard and find a miracle inside: a fifth godfruit in a society that knows only four. It is punishable by death to eat godfruit, so the sisters hide the discovery and plot to escape servitude for good. With the power represented in the box, they could live as nobles themselves.

But Kisare finds her new freedom more difficult than she imagined, and Belili has many secrets she strives to keep hidden. With the help of a people slowly losing their culture and technology to the powerful nobles, the sisters lead an infiltration of the highest levels of noble society.

While Kisare finds she cares for the captured leader of the people helping them, Belili comes to love her noble suitor’s guard—a fierce woman with a similar past to her own. In the end, the fifth godfruit may bring harmony to the world, but the sisters’ only hope of succeeding lies in deciphering ancient mythologies surrounding the gods’ original plan for their people.

Fruit of the Gods is a unique fantasy novel with a surprisingly complex system of magic. It navigates the tropes of the genre with relative ease, delivering a story that bypasses overly predictable beats. For the most part, I was immersed in Kisare and Bel’s world, enriched by the imaginative culture the author created and surprisingly delighted by the fact one of the main characters was gay.

But still, I felt some parts of the book were too dense and it slowed the pacing down to a slog at times. The characters too, were not always as fleshed out as they needed to be. The alternating perspectives between the sisters also made the book far more confusing than it should have been. I wish the chapters were marked with the name of whichever sister would be narrating each passage instead of it randomly switching back and forth.

Still, I appreciate the novel’s ingenuity and I enjoyed myself reading it.

Interviews

Interview with Black Summer’s Justin Chu Cary

Courtesy of Netflix

Justin Chu Cary, who plays Spears on Netflix’s latest high-octane zombie thriller, Black Summer, chatted with Hidden Remote about the show.

If you haven’t had the chance to watch the new Netflix zombie show, Black Summer, a prequel to Syfy’s Z Nation, then I recommend YOU STOP READING NOW! SPOILERS ARE AHEAD! And also, what are you doing!? Go watch the show right now! It’s a super realistic, gritty and thrilling foray into the zombie genre with a unique spin that sets it apart from other series.

We had the chance to chat with Justin Chu Cary, who plays Spears on the show. You may recognize Cary from his roles on shows like Jane the VirginS.W.A.T., and Lucifer or the 2018 film, Blindspotting.

He chatted with us about his character, Spears’s relationship with Rose, what he hopes for moving forward should the show get renewed (fingers crossed) and lots more!

Continue reading on Hidden Remote.

Book Reviews

Book Review: Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Beautiful Bad by Annie WardBeautiful Bad by Annie Ward
Published on March 19, 2019
Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Links: Buy on Amazon | Goodreads
Pages: 384
Format: ARC

Source: NetGalley

Maddie and Ian's romance began with a chance encounter at a party overseas; he was serving in the British army and she was a travel writer visiting her best friend, Jo. Now almost two decades later, married with a beautiful son, Charlie, they are living the perfect suburban life in Middle America. But when a camping accident leaves Maddie badly scarred, she begins attending writing therapy, where she gradually reveals her fears about Ian's PTSD; her concerns for the safety of their young son, Charlie; and the couple's tangled and tumultuous past with Jo.

From the Balkans to England, Iraq to Manhattan, and finally to an ordinary family home in Kansas, sixteen years of love and fear, adventure and suspicion culminate in The Day of the Killing, when a frantic 911 call summons the police to the scene of a shocking crime.

Beautiful Bad had all the makings of the tense domestic thrillers I typically love. I’m fond of the alternating timelines and Annie Ward is a beautiful writer.

I was captivated from the early pages but then the novel and the plot lost me as it descended into a war-torn story spanning across a decade between a pairing that never had any good reason to be so in love with one another. I mean why was Ian so infatuated by Maddie?

I understand the idea of “love at first sight” but we were given so little to go off of. I was so confused by several parts of the novel that depended me to believe on the emotional connection between the two because their relationship always seemed shallow at best.

Then the story simply dragged on for hundreds of pages without adding to the actual mystery. Large swathes of the writing and scenes could have been trimmed down or cut out altogether in favor of scenes that would have built on the relationship in a more realistic way.

Needless to say, I got bored and Beautiful Bad ultimately failed to leave an impression.

Essays

The TV glut: An era of cancellations is upon us

One Day at a Time
One Day At A Time – Courtesy of Netflix

While we’re currently living in the golden age of television, we’re also living in an era of the streaming wars. What does that mean for your favorite shows?

Obviously, television is not the same as it used to be. With streaming being the way of the future, much has changed in terms of how our favorite television shows are delivered to us and viewed by audiences. That means there is also an influx of content, and as they say, too much of a good thing is never actually a good thing.

Recently, Netflix cancelled the critically beloved sitcom, One Day at a Time. It caused quite the uproar on social media with countless hashtags being started in support of the series.

The same thing happened not too long ago when Freeform cancelled Shadowhunters. With the clamoring fans being so intense (the Shadowhunter fandom is perhaps, one of the most impressive fandoms I’ve ever seen in the modern era – even managing to crowdfund their own billboard) why would the shows be cancelled in the first place?

It’s simple, passionate fandoms do not always equate to huge viewership. Often times a show can breed an intense following but it will be still be a small one. As sad as it is, most media conglomerates cannot justify paying for a show just for a vocal minority.

Occasionally it does happen. Lucifer and Brooklyn Nine Nine are great examples of series that were rescued by other networks to be given a second chance at life despite having low ratings. Sometimes it works out and that’s awesome!

But I fear we are coming upon an era that will be rife with one-season wonders or shows being cancelled on cliffhangers. Why? Because there is simply too much television being made.

Continue to read on Hidden Remote.

Book Reviews

Book Review: Silent Sisters by Joanne Lee

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Silent Sisters by Joanne LeeSilent Sisters by Joanne Lee
Published on April 18, 2019
Genres: Nonfiction, True Crime
Links: Buy on Amazon | Goodreads
Pages: 205
Format: ARC

Source: NetGalley

A deadly secret. A horrifying discovery. For over 20 years, Joanne Lee's mother kept the remains of not one, but three newborn babies hidden in a bin in her wardrobe. She had buried a fourth baby in newspaper and rags in St Helens Cemetery.

For the first time since exposing her mother's crimes, Joanne breaks her silence over her family's horrific ordeal and her fight for justice for the siblings she never knew.
Growing up in chaotic circumstances on Merseyside, Joanne suffered at the hands of a violent boyfriend and controlling relatives, as her mother lapsed into a downward spiral of drinking and casual sex following the break-up of her marriage. But the consequences of her mother's messy lifestyle turned out to be far worse than Joanne could ever have imagined.

She already knew about the baby buried in a shallow makeshift grave next to the family plot. But when Joanne came across a red plastic bin in her mother's wardrobe in 2009, she realized that the family home held an even more sinister secret.

In Silent Sisters, the daughter who was falsely accused of murdering her own baby sister will tell her full story for the first time, detailing her struggle to understand her mother, to piece together the truth and to give the four babies the proper burial they deserve.

Joanne Lee bravely pens the harrowing true story about growing up with a woman capable of hiding dead babies in a garbage bags. If the brutality of that statement startles you, then this non-fiction novel will haunt you as the real tragedy has haunted Joanne Lee for all these years.

If you have heard the name Berndatte Quirk, odds are you are familiar with this story. Bernadette hid four babies in red bin at her home. She claims each one was stillborn, but regardless, hiding their births and keeping their corpses stuffed away like trash is a monstrous act.

I found Lee’s story a heart-breaking and tragic tale of motherly deceit and betrayal. Clearly, Lee has lived both an extraordinary and daunting life. I can’t imagine growing up in those circumstances and I commend her for her bravery in telling the world the truth about her trauma and the trials of living with a woman like Berndatte.

As far as the actual novel goes, it was a pretty quick and engaging read. I did find some segments and stylistic language choice got to be repetitive at times but the material is fascinating, albeit often grotesque. Joanne Lee does not shy away from the gruesome details, but as this is her own experience she is trying to convey, it’s not for me to say if they were necessary or not. It certainly does paint a vivid picture and I feel like she was being true to the horrors she faced in her life.

Film Reviews

Bird Box vs. The Silence: Which one comes out on top?

Courtesy of Netflix

Netflix’s latest horror film, The Silence, follows a family as they try to survive an infestation of monsters attracted to sound.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina stars Miranda Otto and Kiernan Shipka lead the cast of the new Netflix horror movie, The Silence. The film follows a family as they try and survive a group of prehistoric bat-like creatures known as “vesps” which do not have eyes, but hunt through sound.

Sounds familiar, right? Actually, it’s kind of funny that everyone is calling The Silence a rip-off of A Quiet Place when, ironically, A Quiet Place’s plot is eerily similar to the book The Silence was based on.

The Netflix horror was adapted from the book written by Tim Lebbon, which was published in 2015 — predating A Quiet Place by several years. There were even rumblings of a lawsuit at one point. That said, A Quiet Place is clearly the superior film.

But what about the other Netflix horror film that deals with a civilization being stalked by monsters that limit a key sense, Bird Box? How does The Silence measure up?

Continue reading on Hidden Remote.