Women In Translation: Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo trans by Jamie Chang

My father was stationed in South Korea at the end of the Korean War. To this day he still has a love of Kimchi. Which has been passed on to me. He didn’t really talk about what South Korea was like when he was there. Most of what I know are from books, TV shows and movies. If you didn’t know South Korea has an absolutely amazing horror movie culture. My favorite horror movie is a South Korean horror movie called Train to Busan. But I don’t really know a lot about the culture. I don’t listen to K-Pop or watch K-Drama. So when my hold for this amazing little book came up I immediately went to the library and picked it up. FYI…there are sources for much of the information and statistics in the book. Which is super interesting.

Synopsis: A women starts speaking in voices and phrases from dead and living women.

What I liked: This little book holds so much information about how women are treated in South Korea. There are tons of footnotes in the book with sources regarding the statistics that are being presented. Nam-Joo weaves the non-fiction aspect of the story with non-fiction aspects seamlessly. The book is only 162 pages. But there is A LOT of story in those pages. The story covers the main character early years and follows her through to her marriage and having a child. Nam-Joo is able to pack the story in. There is no lag. I never felt like anything was just filler. It all had a purpose and intention. The pacing is perfect.

What I didn’t like: There isn’t anything that I didn’t like.

Star Rating: 4

My Thoughts: I had thoughts. I was mad. I was pissed that women are still putting up with the same bullshit that our grandmothers have. That a the main character was so lost in who she was that she started doing the things that she was (yes cryptic I know but I don’t want to spoil the book). I am enraged that much of this behavior is still happening all over the world. So I was pissed when I finished this book. But it wasn’t the story that pissed me off. It is that there was no accountability in the story for the bad things that happened. I want to shove this little book into so many people’s hands. Now, I do want to say that it isn’t Horror, however, I found many of the things that happened horrific. I also find that the behavior that Nam-Joo mentioned in this book is being normalized is horrific.

The Ghost Tree By Christina Henry

I was a child growing up in the 80s. I still listen to much of the music and watch the movies. It just takes me back to getting strangled by the super long phone cords, not wearing seatbelt, and drinking out of the outside hose. Yes, the water from the outside hose tasted a bit like a metal; but when you were told to stay off the wet floors that is where you got a drink of water. And it wasn’t always your hose it could have been any number of neighborhood hoses. Today this wouldn’t fly with the pandemic and the creation of the HUGE water industry no longer are thirsty children expected to drink out of hoses. The Ghost Tree made me feel a tinge of nostalgia while I was reading it.

Thank you to Pima County Library for allowing drive through pickups during the pandemic. You all have been awesome!!

Synopsis: Some girls get murdered in a small town. While another girl starts to grow up.

What I liked: I am a big fan of Christina Henry’s writing. Henry’s writing draws the reader in and doesn’t let go. I have had the same experience with all the books she has written that I have read. Her characterizations are three dimensional and believable. There are characters which you won’t like. There are other characters that you will totally love. The pacing of the stories are perfect. It goes faster and slower in the right parts.

What I didn’t like: There wasn’t anything that I didn’t like.

Star Rating: 4.5 Stars

My Thoughts: I truly enjoyed this entire story. I loved the fact that it was set in the 80s. That there was an arcade, small town and a secret. For some reason stories with a secret is something that I have really been enjoying lately. The story just floats along and BAM the secret is something that is known but unknown to most of the people in the story. There is actually a technical literary term for it. I loved many of the ideas in the story and they were cohesive. One of the things I really appreciate about Henry’s writing is how she writes young women. They are never a damsel in distress and that is something I truly love in her stories. They rescue themselves and that is truly refreshing. Something that I thought was really great in The Ghost Tree was the fact that the main character was on the cusp of being a teenager but still had some of the child in many of the things that she did. Female friendship was also a topic in this book. When you are that young your friendships can be weird. Especially when girls start puberty at different times; not just physically but mentally as well.

Women in Translation: The Housekeeper and The Professor by Yoko Ogawa trans. by Stephen Snyder

Quirky little books soothe my soul. Sometimes you just don’t want a novel but you want something that is longer than a short story. The novella is perfect to feed that need. (oh lord I just sounded like a slim Jim commercial, sorry about that). But you get my point. The quirkier the better. I had heard about this novella by Yoko Ogawa a couple of years ago but hadn’t been able to find it. However, around Christmas I was wandering around Barnes and Nobel and spotted it on the shelf. One lone copy…..I did what any self respecting book nerd does. I snatched it up and carried it around with me. (Before you say gasp and say omg you were out and about….let me just put that in perspective….I have been stuck in the house with my family since last March. I was masked and have hand sanitizer in my bag at all times.) It called to me as I carried it around the store. So it came home with me and satisfied my hunger.

Synopsis: A story of friendship with a interesting twist.

What I liked: The premise of the story is fantastic and I loved it. The writing and the characterizations are something Ogawa really shines. As you are reading you can picture them in your minds eye. The interesting twist is something that I haven’t personally read yet. I really appreciated how Ogawa wove that throughout the story.

What I didn’t like: Nothing!!

Star Rating: 5

My Thoughts: This isn’t a super dark story. It was melancholy in places but in other places it was pure hope and light. The friendship was lovely. It was just pure. The main characters relationship just was lovely. Honestly, this novella is a pick me up. Especially, the end. The end was lovely and I had the sniffles because of it.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

I am absolutely late on this book. I have listened to the audiobook multiple times and watched the documentary a couple of times. However, I hadn’t read the book until my brain became unblocked toward the end of December. There seems to be a correlation between people who enjoy horror and people who enjoy true crime. I just happen to be one of those people. However, I’ll be Gone in the Dark isn’t just about the killer. It is also about the author and her obsession.

Synopsis: The true crime book outline the hunt for the Golden State Killer.

What I liked: I truly enjoyed the writing in this book. It was accessible and easy to read (for the subject matter). I also appreciated the editors notes through out the book. Even though many parts of the book were pieced together from her notes the voice never changed. It read like it was written in one continuous story. (This really says a lot to McNamara’s writing style). The book reads like you are having a conversation with a friend. Not like you are reading someone’s words posthumously. Her writing style is very much like a chat. In the documentary this is something that is mentioned. That people liked to talk to her. She seemed to get people to open up to her. That is very evident in her writing style. I normally have a hard time with time shifts, even in non-fiction. But McNamara’s time shift where perfect. Each time there was a chapter about the past it linked with the chapter immediately before it. It was a perfect way to tie the two together. The pacing was perfect. I really appreciated the last chapters about the use of DNA in the hunt as well as geo profiling. It is something that always fascinates me.

What I didn’t like: Nothing

Star Rating: 5

My Thoughts: This book was so much more than the hunt for a prolific killer. It was also about the author. Her thought process, her hunt and her life. That was the part of the book that made me sad. Her death. She didn’t live long enough to see the monster put into a cage of his own making. I always wonder if he was on the long list of suspects that she had. If somewhere in her notes there is a scribble about this man specifically. I feel badly for Patton Oswalt and her daughter as well. But there is a deeper sadness there. A sadness that I wonder if seeing this man caught would have ever gone away. There was a part in the documentary that discussed Michelle herself. She sounds like so many of us in the book community. We just want to get in our comfy clothes and read a good book. I might have been late to the party with this book, but what I experienced was one helluva a party.

The Cipher by Kathe Koja

There is something that I have always wondered. Does anyone else have stress dreams? Like a dream that you have when you are super stressed out and it doesn’t change no matter when you have it. It is exactly the same every time you have it? I do. No it isn’t the naked in school dream or anything like that. It has to do with Zombies, hiding and running. There is probably something wrong in my wiring but that is okay. The Cipher reminded me of one of my stress dreams. It was really intense. It wasn’t a book that I could just put down, I felt draw to sit and had to sit and finish it.

Thank you to Meerkat Press for sending me a review copy!!!

Synopsis: Someone plays with a hole and it doesn’t end well.

What I liked: Koja’s writing…..all of it is wonderful. The words are like oil. They weave around your brain mass and burrow into it. The pacing of the story is spot on. Not too fast and not too slow. The secret and mystery just unravels as you are reading. The characters are written in such a way that the reader either loves them or hates them. There is a cultish aspect to the story that thrilled me to no end.

What I didn’t like: There was nothing I didn’t like

Star Rating: 5 stars

My thoughts: This is a darkly fun and deeply disturbing read. I found myself wondering what I would do if this void opened up in a room or closet in my house. I have no idea what I would do. Honestly, it reminds me of the vortex in Poltergeist and that freaked me out as a kid. The lesson here is not to mess with some black void that you become obsessed with. But isn’t that the point of the story obsession? Cultism? (no spoilers) It is a book that I think about when there is nothing else going on. I just sit there and think about WHY?! Once you read it you will totally understand what I am talking about. This is one of those books that long time horror readers talk about.