Violet by Scott Thomas

I read so many short stories, that sometimes I just need to read a novel. Something that wraps me up in a blanket and warms me up and makes me happy. I had heard a lot about Thomas’s writing. Everyone I had talked to loved what he was writing. So when I was offered a review copy of Violet I jumped at the chance. Thank you Ink Shares for my review copy!!

Synopsis: A woman who suffered a tragic loss goes back to her childhood summer home to heal.

Things I liked: Thomas’ writing is like a warm blanket. It is warm and inviting. The horror aspect was perfect. The creeping dread of having someone breathing on your neck. The writing was nuanced and complex. The characters where three dimensional. The pacing of the story was a slow burn. In a perfect way. The story starts very tight, almost claustrophobic. As it starts to unravel the world of the story grows a little bigger but still has that air of not being able to take a full breath. When you are finally able to take a breath it is too late. You are sucked totally and completely into this world. This really is how fantastic Thomas’s writing is. It is all the emotion that you feel while reading the story.

Things I didn’t like: Nothing

Star Rating: 5 Stars

My Thoughts: Holy crap! This book hit me in the head like a runaway train. It takes you places that you didn’t really think that it would. There is a lot of raw emotion that courses through the story. There is so much hurt throughout the story. So much raw unadulterated pain. The story has so many elements. These elements are woven together so masterfully, the story even with all its elements is perfectly cohesive. This novel was exactly what I was looking for!!

Diabhal by Kathleen Kaufman

I have this weird fascination with cults. I haven’t quite figured out what it is. Maybe it is people being under the spell of this one person and what that can mean. Or maybe it is the fact that one person has that much belief or whatever it is in themselves. That is the part that I really am not sure that I understand about the whole cult thing. I also don’t understand how someone can take something that people really believe in and twist it to their own needs. That is what fascinates me. Also all the weird things that happen in cults is another aspect that I can’t stop wondering about.

Synopsis: A young girl is put in a children’s institution when she is part of an ancient ritual that hurts her mother.

What I liked: I really enjoyed the premise of the story. Kaufman really writes isolation well. Thought the entire story there were aspects of isolation and being alone. I really enjoy these themes in horror. Especially with the isolation of modern society. The pacing in the beginning of the story unraveled very quickly. But towards the middle of the story the pacing slowed down and it was a slight slog to get through a few parts. I understand that it was part of the build up to the main character knowing who she is. But some of the slower parts of the story felt slightly unnecessary. Kaufman’s characterizations were so well written. For awhile you didn’t know who was good or bad. I also liked how Kaufman broke up some of the story with psych reports.

What I didn’t like: As I mentioned I had an issue with the pacing but that really was it.

Star Rating: 4 stars

My Thoughts: What really intrigued me about this story was the interconnectedness that Kufman introduces into the story. She pulls indigenous and gaelic beliefs together. There was also a lot of redemption in the story. Forgiveness is so important and the idea of forgiving yourself runs through the story. Basically learning to forgive yourself, in whatever shape that takes. There are times when the story drags and feels like there maybe some unnecessary parts of the story. But it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of reading the story.

Fierce FairyTales by Nikita Gill

On a relative lovely Sunday in November I left my house for a little jaunt too Starbucks to do some work. I ended up at Barnes and Noble instead. Long story about internet blah, blah , blah. While, procrastinating as you do I came across this little beauty on the shelves. I took it back to my table and the rest is history. I sat there for 2 hours and devoured the entire thing. So thank you Starbucks for not having working internet access.

Synopsis: Poetry and short stories based on fairytales.

What I liked: I enjoyed the fairytales that Gill choose to rework. Many of them she made into empowering stories. One thing I also really enjoyed that she did was take some villains and turn their stories on their heads. Basically, explaining why some villains became villains. It wasn’t necessarily that they were bad; rather they very flawed. She took these villains and made them very human. Instead of them villains that we know of them today. I also enjoyed how she would end some of the stories with a small poem. Just a few lines to make you think. Many of these poems made me think. Think about villainy and human flaws.

What I didn’t like:

Star Rating: 4.5 stars

My Thoughts: I have a belief that some books come into your life when you need them. This is one of those books. For the past couple of months I have really struggled with some ick that has crawled into my brain and taken over. There was one passage that really made me think. It took the last couple of months and kicked it in the head. I would highly highly recommend this collection.

The Need by Hellen Phillips

I am always interested when a book is not marketed. Then you read and it reads like horror. At that point I just want to scream “IT IS HORROR.” Alas, you can’t do that without upsetting the people around you. Horror can be very subjective to the person reading or watching it. However, as a parent these fears can be so deep that some horror can get under your skin. The Need does that very well.

Synopsis: A overworked and under rested paleobotanist finds some weird artifacts which leads to an unraveling of her life.

What I liked: There is so much to like about this story. Philip’s writing was anxiety inducing, in a good way. Her characterizations really made you feel like you had crawled inside the characters head to feel her pain and tiredness. The exhaustion was palatable through out the novel and by the end you are just as tired as the main character. The writing in this novel feels very personal, like it isn’t just a story that is being told but the frustrations and fears of any mother. There were a lot of feelings while I was reading this: anxiety, fear and anger especially when the main character wasn’t doing what you wanted her to do. But the plot was so clever and I can’t wait to read more from Phillips.

What I didn’t like: The artifacts did add a bit of a different angle on the story but we didn’t seem to get to delve too deeply into what their actual meaning was. I understood that they meant that there are other time lines and univereses but I would have liked to know more about t

Star Rating: 4 Stars

My Thoughts: As I was reading this I had a lot of thoughts. A lot! This whole book it about motherhood and being more than one thing. Personally, I find the topic of being more than one thing fascinating. Women have the inherient ability to be: boss, mother, sister, daughter, wife, friend and co-worker. But the question is what about her as a person. What happens when she slips and she isn’t sure who she is anymore. Who is a woman when she is be herself looking at herself in the mirror. I think that is a hard one and can’t be answered in a paragraph. This book also has really strong themes of postpartum depression/anxiety running through it. The what can and what might happen, thoughts that people have when the lights go out. I really hope that more people pick up this book. It was on the National Book Foundation Awards long list and I can see why.

Into Bones Like Oil by Karron Warren

Sometimes there are stories that come into your life and bowl you over. Normally, these are stories that you don’t necessarily see coming. That is until they bite you on the ass. Into Bones Like Oil totally did that. The stories and the characters bit me in the ass and didn’t let go until I finished the story.

Synopsis: A woman moves into a rooming house after she has something really bad happen.

What I liked: Warren’s characters are so well written. The dialog between the characters is very much how you would expect dialog to be in this type of situation. Many of the emotional burdens that the characters are feeling are so well written you actually feel them. Warren doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to the claustrophobic feeling of this novella. The pacing was perfect with the build up to the reveal. This novella killed me folks. The language is beautiful and terrible at the same time. Your brain gets a oily sheen.

What I didn’t like: There is nothing about this novella I didn’t like.

Star Rating: 5

My Thoughts: This novella really got under my skin. It takes the idea of safety and flips it on its head. But you really don’t know this until much later in the story. Warren is so skilled at unravelling the story piece by piece until you arrive at that main nugget of horror. Honestly, in this case I had NO IDEA…..until that slow reveal started. It is like a small sneaking feeling as you are reading and then BAM right there right as you are reading. That is such an amazing talent and skill to be able to do that. Dear loard everyone who loves smart and well written horror need to get this in their hands.

Huge thank you to Meerkat Press for my review copy!!

The Apocalyptic Mannequin By Stephanie M. Wytovich

Poetry. What can you say about poetry? It has the ability to make you feel. Whether it is love, longing or anger, you feel something. However, there is a breed of poetry that can make you feel disgust, anger and even fear. This is my genre of poetry. Horror poetry. But I want to say that even though it is listed as horror the anger and the love in some of the poems shine through. There is beauty in what is horrific and The Apocalyptic Mannequin doesn’t disappoint.

Synopsis: Collection of horror poetry

What I liked: Wytovich is so talented. I mean she is seriously talented. I want to have everything that she has ever written. She plays with words like toddlers play with play-doh. Honestly, she killed me with this collection. The anger and sadness that comes through her words just knocked me down. It was beautiful. I mean seriously. There wasn’t a poem in the collection that made me take pause it was all so beautiful and so haunting.

What I didn’t Like: Not a damn thing.

Star Rating: 5 Stars

My Thoughts: UGGGGHHHHH!! I want everyone to read this. What I really loved was the themes that ran through the collection. Not only was it about the end of the world but being a woman. Being a woman in a time that is uncertain and politically tense. I was reading somewhere once that some of the best art has come at times of political strife. Notice I used the word art. This collection is art. Everything about it screams and claws and rallies. If you haven’t read it yet PLEASE get it. It is amazing, sad and will make you angry. Which in my opinion is the whole reason that art is important.

Thank you Raw Dog Screaming Press for my review copy.

Women in Translation: Body by Asa Nonami trans. by Takami Nieda

I love body horror in any shape or size. It speaks to me on a very visceral level. The idea that you take a bodily function or just something that happens and you can make a horror story about it. You can take it and make something amazing. It amazes me that people can do that. Body is an amazing collection of body horror stories.

Synopsis: Collection of body horror stories.

What I liked: I really enjoyed each of these stories. Each story is unique and deals with a different body horror type story. Her prose is iso sharp and every word feels like it is particularly chosen. Which lends to the brilliance of the original manuscript and the translator. Each story is so unique. There isn’t a bad story in the bunch. I want to shove this book into everyone’s hands. It is so different than many of the other horror books on the market at the moment.

What I didn’t like: That more people aren’t talking about this book.

Star Rating: 5 Stars

My thoughts: I haven’t figured out why I haven’t heard more about this book. Nonami should be on everyone’s radar. There is so many amazing things about these stories that I really loved. The entire collection spoke to me on such a level that I had to read it a second time. This doesn’t happen very often….I want to shove this book in everyone’s hands.