[Roxie Reviews] | ‘The Remnant’ by Channing Whitaker


‘The Remnant’ by Channing Whitaker
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4/5
Finished on September 10, 2018
$.99 on Kindle | $5.50 in Paperback | $6.08 on Audible

Gene Winfield, an author, discovers a creepy, handwritten book among his late aunt’s belongings when he comes to take care of her estate. The book’s telling of an unearthly creature immediately captivates him and sets him off on his own storytelling. But what he doesn’t realize is that his story is unleashing more than his vivid imagination.

I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I really enjoyed this novelette. It’s a quick and easy read but delightfully creepy. I read it in a single sitting, and my only real complaint is that I wanted more. I think this story has the potential to be a full-length novel.

I think there’s a lot to be said for being able to tell a good monster story. One that isn’t too cliche or overdone, and Whitaker has done a good job with this one. The monster in this story is familiar but still all its own.

This was my first time reading Whitaker’s work, but I would read more of it in a heartbeat. If you’re in the mood for a fast, spooky, monster story, pick this up!

[Roxie Reviews] | ‘Every Single Secret’ by Emily Carpenter


‘Every Single Secret’ by Emily Carpenter
⭐️⭐️⭐️ 3/5
Finished on September 8, 2018
Read with Kindle Unlimited Subscription
FREE on Kindle Unlimited | $4.99 on Kindle | $10.37 in Paperback | $1.99 on Audible

Daphne Amos guards her emotions like a vault, but when she meets Heath she believes she’s found her kindred spirit. Both of them keep their pasts hidden, even from each other, but Heath’s increasingly violent nightmares put a strain on their lives and their relationship. Heath insists the two of them attend a week-long couples retreat with Dr. Matthew Cerny. Cerny is renowned for getting to the bottom of people’s repressed memories. Daphne does not want to attend, but it’s that or lose Heath forever.

The retreat’s isolated and forbidding location increases her unease, as do the doctor’s rules: they must relinquish their keys and phones, they’ll be monitored at all hours by hidden cameras, and they’re never to socialize with the other guests.

Soon, Daphne discovers the retreat is not what it seems and neither are Heath’s secrets.

This is a fun, quick read.

Set in the south, the characters felt familiar to me.

I particularly liked Daphne’s story. I think it, in itself, could have made a compelling novel. The overarching narrative between she and Heath was interesting, but it wasn’t the highlight of this book for me. In fact, at some points, it felt like shock for shock’s value which is not something I care much for in my horror/thrillers. The novel’s climax was not predictable, but what it led to was.

That being said, it’s still an enjoyable read. Carpenter’s writing is crisp and concise, and she’s created intriguing characters. I only wish the story had been more about Daphne and less about Heath.

[Roxie Reviews] | ‘Dear Sgt. Sherlock’ by Mike Hershman


‘Dear Sgt. Sherlock’ by Mike Hershman
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4/5
Finished on September 7, 2018
FREE on Kindle Unlimited | $2.99 on Kindle

It’s 1942, and young Kenny Ferris writes to his brother, a Marine, somewhere in the South Pacific and his friend Tommy Noguchi who’s being kept in a Japanese internment camp. Through a series of letters, Kenny tells the tale of a perplexing murder back home on Hamilton Island. His brother and his friend speculate what could have happened and send Kenny and his friends on missions to solve the case.

I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

While I enjoyed this book, it was more of a 3.5-star for me. There were a lot of grammatical errors that could easily be remedied with another round of edits. It actually sort of confused me because at some points I speculated that maybe they were intentional. The sort of snafus a group of young people might actually make when writing to one another. Then, at other points, I doubted that to be true.

Aside from that, this is a lovely and heart-wrenching story. Told through the points of view of several young people trapped in awful, uncontrollable, situations, it tells a tale of love, faith, and friendship.

Hershman really has a knack for crafting vibrant young characters. He seems to have held onto the experience of being a teenager/young adult with an iron grip. His characters and their experiences are so pure, it’s easy to forget you’re only reading about them.

This is a quick read, but it sticks with you long afterward. WWII seems so very long ago now, but it wasn’t, and this is the sort of story that makes it seem a whole heck of a lot closer.

[Roxie Reviews] | ‘The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell’ by Robert Dugoni


‘The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell’ by Robert Dugoni
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5/5
Finished on September 6, 2018
Read with Kindle Unlimited Subscription
FREE on Kindle Unlimited | $5.99 on Kindle | $10.37 in Paperback | $14.95 in Hardcover | $1.99 on Audible

Sam Hill was born with ocular albinism giving him red pupils. His highly Catholic mother insists his eyes were “God’s Will”, but it was hard to believe when his classmates called him “Devil Boy” and “Sam Hell”. Still, her unwavering faith and dogged personality gave Sam strength. The unwavering love of his parents and the friendship of two other misfit kids helped to get him through his formative years and beyond.

Sam believed it was God who sent Ernie Cantwell, the only African American kid in his class, to be the friend he so desperately needed. And that it was God’s idea for Mickie Kennedy to storm into Our Lady of Mercy like a tornado, uprooting every rule Sam had been taught about boys and girls.

Sam grows into a kind and generous man and becomes a small-town eye doctor but, along the way, he begins to wonder about the staunch faith he grew up with. After a terrible tragedy, he runs from his faith, his friends, and his feelings.

I loved this book. While the plot relies heavily on faith and religion, two topics I don’t typically have much of an interest in, this book still captured my attention and my heart. It’s not preachy despite the characters’ strong beliefs. Their faith does well to bolster their stories and to craft a touching tale.

Sam Hill is an endearing character. Born with a peculiar set of circumstances, Sam could have grown up full of self-pity and bitterness, but he doesn’t. Sure, he has his moments, but for the most part, he keeps a soft and open heart and only wants to live a normal life.

His friends and family help keep him grounded, I think. They love him unabashedly and never, for a second, allow him to think he’s anything but exactly who he needs to be.

His mom tells him from the moment he can understand that he’s destined to live an extraordinary life. He spends most of it feeling like she believes in him too much but, eventually, he realizes she was right all along.

This is a heartwarming, delightful book. I am glad I stumbled across it. It just may be one of my favorites of 2018.

[Roxie Reviews] | ‘Pancake Money’ by Finn Bell


‘Pancake Money’ by Finn Bell
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4/5
Finished on September 5, 2018
FREE on Kindle Unlimited | $.99 on Kindle

Detective Bobby Ress loves his family, and he believes in doing the right thing. Often, things are black and white for him — good and evil — but when Catholic priests start being mutilated and murdered, his perceptions begin to change.

If you hurt someone bad enough for long enough then there’s nothing, absolutely nothing, they won’t do.

I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I really enjoyed this book. All of the characters are almost instantly likable, even the most despicable ones, but none more so than Bobby and Pollo. They make a great team and complement one another in just the right ways.

Bobby is a stand-up family man who wants nothing more than to make the world safe and okay for his troubled daughter and his loving wife. His life as a cop doesn’t always make it easy for him to help them feel safe, but he does everything in his power to make it so.

Pollo is seasoned, funny, and a downright good man. He has an inherent understanding of people in general. Pollo is one of those characters that makes you wish you could be their friend.

I liked being given a slice of New Zealand with this book, too. As an American, I don’t know much about their police procedure or the intricacies of the many native cultures, but I felt like I was given a good look at them both.

There were a couple parts in which I felt it got a little repetitive surrounding the psychology behind the means and motive of the crimes, but it wasn’t too bad. I have definitely read worse. I don’t like it when books repeatedly explain a bit of information as if I didn’t understand it the first time.

Overall, this is a fun, exciting and, at times, a heartbreaking book. I will absolutely read more of Bell’s work in the future.

[Roxie Reviews] | ‘Obscura’ by Joe Hart


‘Obscura’ by Joe Hart
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4/5
Finished on August 31, 2018
Read with Kindle Unlimited Subscription
FREE on Kindle Unlimited | $4.99 on Kindle | $14.95 in Hardcover | $10.84 in Paperback | $1.99 on Audible

It’s 2028, and an aggressive and terrifying form of dementia is ruining the lives of people of all ages. Dr. Gillian Ryan is desperate to find a cure. She lost her husband to it, and now her young daughter is showing similar frightening symptoms. She’s given the chance to expand her research when asked to travel with NASA to a distant space station where crew members are experiencing strangely similar symptoms.

Crippled by a secret addiction and suffering from creeping paranoia, Gillian finds her journey becoming a nightmare as unexplainable and violent events plague the mission. With her grip weakening on reality, she starts to doubt her own innocence. And she’s beginning to question so much more—like the true nature of the mission, the motivations of the crew, and every deadly new secret space has to offer.

Sci-fi isn’t a genre I read often, especially if it surrounds outer space. Most of the time, it’s just not my jam. But I have thoroughly enjoyed Hart’s work in the past, so I decided I’d give this a go. I was not disappointed.

What I enjoy most about Hart’s work is his ability to create suspense that creeps up on you. The tension and creep-factor are not blatantly in your face as seems to be a growing trend in horror/suspense fiction. I find the subtly much more frightening than immediately seeing the monster. Hart does a phenomenal job of this.

‘Obscura’ is no different. Dr. Gillian Ryan only wants the opportunity to save her daughter, even if it means potentially missing out on six months of her already tenuous life-expectancy. Gillian’s addiction combined with being thousands of miles away from home makes for an extremely difficult experience.

I liked how Hart didn’t use Gillian’s drug problem as a way to bring her down as a character. It wasn’t used as the character’s defining trait. Too often we see the character with a drug problem as nothing but that. A screw-up, someone who has brought their fate upon themselves, but I felt like Gillian was a more accurate depiction of someone battling a prescription drug addiction. She is multi-faceted, both as a person and as to why she became addicted.

This is a frightening novel with a cast of really great characters. Even if you aren’t typically a fan of sci-fi, like myself, give this book a go. It just might surprise you.

Let Me Tell You Something About Grief

Let me tell you a little something about grief. It doesn’t just go away, no matter how long ago it happened. Yes, the sharpness of its edges will dull down, but it can still slice you wide open. Most likely when you least expect it.

Every happy moment in your life will be tinged with a poignant kind of darkness. It dampens every triumph and every joy.

They should have been here to see this. They should have been here to do this. They should have been here, period.

That darkness leaves an aftertaste of lingering guilt.

I shouldn’t be happy about this because they aren’t here. I shouldn’t enjoy this because they weren’t given the chance.

It even makes you jealous of other people’s joy.

Why do they get to still have [that person] and all their experiences together? Why are they so lucky when I was so very robbed?

It can make you detach or be reluctant to foster new relationships in your life.

I never want to hurt like this again, so I’m better off alone. Everyone eventually leaves anyway.

Grief changes you.


There is no experation date. It becomes as much a part of you as your laugh or the way your nose wrinkles when you think really hard.

So, don’t let anyone make you feel like you need to “just get over it”. You will have good days again, but you will never “just get over it”.

That’s okay. Wherever you’re at, that’s okay.

I lost both of my parents and my brother before I was eighteen. It’s been 26 years since I first became intimately acquainted with grief, and I am still grieving. I will always be grieving. There will always be moments which suck the air from my chest. There will always be moments that hurt.

And there will always be people who don’t understand. Who can’t understand because it hasn’t happened to them.

While I can’t stop the longing I have for everything my family should have had but didn’t — but won’t — I can allow myself to feel what I need to feel without the added weight of someone else’s failure to understand.

I can choose who I allow into my life, my head, and my heart. I can choose to no longer devote my emotional energy to those who make me feel badly about my grief.

You can, too.

My experiences are my own, and yours are yours. All we can do is the best we know how, and if that isn’t good enough, then that’s on them.

And if you’re of the “just get over it” sort, I’m glad you’ve had the privilege of never experiencing what it’s like, but I hope you’ll take a few steps back and do your best to empathize. I hope when the urge to tell a grieving person to move on, that it’s been x amount of time, overcomes you, you’ll just shut up and be thankful instead.