Blog Tour: Bird of Paradise by Oliver K. Langmead

As always I am thrilled when Titan books asks me to be part of a blog tour. Especially, when I have an excerpt to share!!

Thank you Titan Books!!!

Excerpt From Birds of Paradise by Oliver K. Langmead

Two days later, Adam is moved. 

Men in dark suits and dark sunglasses put him into the back of a black armoured van, and he is chained down opposite an armed guard. The guard’s name is Tom, and he’s talkative. So, as the van rattles away through LA, and the palm trees they pass make the white sky strobe through the small slotted windows at the top of the van, Adam listens to Tom’s story. 

For a while, Adam forgets that he is Adam, and becomes convinced that he’s Tom. He marries Tom’s wife, and the wedding is bright and beautiful in his mind. He has his first child, and then loses her at the age of three during the hurricane that ravaged the East Coast back then. But he and his wife remain together, and battle on through their grief, and move to the West Coast to start anew. They have a second child, and he’s fifteen now, and while they do struggle – working for the FBI doesn’t pay as well as it used to – they are happy, happier than they’ve ever been. Tom is happy, and Adam is happy, and he doesn’t want the story to end. 

Yet Adam’s absorption is interrupted by a distant noise, which Tom doesn’t seem to notice. 

The slotted windows are bright across Adam’s face as he returns to reality, and he stares through them, trying to see what it is that has broken his concentration. It was a sound so familiar. There is nothing but the white sky, at first. But there – something dashes across, too quick to see. It might have been a bird. An enormous, monstrous bird. 

There is a scream cut short from ahead, barely audible over the engines of the van’s escorts. Tom is at once alarmed, gripping his shotgun tight. “What’s going on?” 

Suddenly, his radio blares into life – confused voices yelling over each other – and from outside the van, cackling gunfire is audible. Tom stands shakily and swings his shotgun around, trying to see through the slots. “What’s happening?” he shouts into his radio. “Tell me what’s going on!” 

There’s an inhuman shriek, and claws the size of pickaxes come through the roof of the van. Tom is thrown to the floor. Blinding daylight flashes through the slashes raked through the steel, and the van shudders, tottering on two wheels before slamming back down to four. 

Adam breaks free of his chains. Tom, panicked, aims his gun, but Adam grabs it by the barrel and red lines are slashed across his face as the blast skims him.

There’s another animal shriek, and claws strike the side of the van. This time, it teeters and then tumbles – hits the side of the bridge and falls from the edge. 

Grabbing Tom, Adam cradles him like a father with a son. Sunlight whirls around them as the van spins, plummeting. Tom is screaming, and struggling, but Adam holds tight. They hit the water, and it’s sudden and cold, filling the van and filling Adam’s lungs as the impact pushes his breath from him. They sink, in a rush of torn metal and froth. 

The gaps in the roof aren’t big enough for Adam to escape through, so he breaks the lock on the back door, struggling against the icy water making his fingers clumsy. Grabbing hold of Tom, he swims; powerful strokes, free of the van. He can see motorbikes and cars hitting the river around them; ragged bodies tugged away by the strong current, red rushing from them and mingling with the debris of the motorcade. 

There are fish in the water. Silvery fish, that dart to avoid the falling wreckage. 

Suddenly, Adam remembers. 

There was a valley. A mountain valley, in a country a long way away from here, back when it wasn’t even really a country – just the edge of a continent – where he and Eve lived, and made their own little paradise. There was a waterfall that beat his shoulders when he bathed beneath it, and there were so many birds in the trees that there was never a moment of silence, and there were the soft songs that Eve sang when she floated in the lake, gently rippling the waters with her fingers. Crane lived with them there, and she would often be seen circling the  big blue sky, or stalking the edges of the lake; and so too did Pike, the lake his kingdom, his brilliant silver scales each a tiny mirror reflecting lost Eden.

About Oliver K. Langmead

Oliver K. Langmead lives and writes in Glasgow. His long-form poem, Dark Star, featured in the Guardian’s Best Books of 2015, and his new book, Birds of Paradise, is arriving March 2021. Oliver is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Glasgow, where he is researching terraforming and ecological philosophy, and in late 2018 he was the writer in residence at the European Space Agency’s Astronaut Centre in Cologne.

Blog Tour for: All The Murmuring Bones by A.G. Slatter

There is nothing more beguiling than the Ocean. The sound of the waves weave a magical song for those that choose to listen. However, there are things that haunt deep waters. (Which is why I don’t go in the ocean…knowing my luck I would get eaten by a shark or something). However, for tens of thousands of years people have flocked to these bodies of water that cover most of the earth. I always wondered what we were looking for. I would imagine it is similar to what modern humans are seeking at the beach minus the cocktails. There is one piece of folklore that seems to remain constant even today…and that is mer people. One of the highest watched shows ever on The Animal Plant was a mockumentary about mer people. Even today there are still sightings of mer people. What I really and truly enjoy about this piece of folklore is that it isn’t just a western phenomenon. All over the world there are mer people sightings. One of the most popular stories about mer people is the story of The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Anderson, but there are so so many other stories about mer people. Now we can add All the Murmuring Bones by A.G. Slatter to that list.

A HUGE THANKS to Titan Books for sending me a review copy!!!

Synopsis: A girl whose family fortune has been lost takes to an adventure to find her past before her present becomes her prison.

My Thoughts: I always love when the backbone of a story is hinged on folklore. Especially, when that folklore is so well known throughout the world. Personally, I think that it makes the story so much more accessible to readers worldwide. Slatter really hit the nail on the head in regards to the Mer people and the stories which surround them. This story is truly grounded in fairytale. From the family whose fortune was made and lost at sea to the damsel saving herself. I enjoyed the backbone of the story and I am so very glad that the mer people were left alone, in the respect that Slatter didn’t try to make them pretty or ethereal. They were true to form and dangerous. I am so glad Slatter wrote the mer people exactly the same way that they are in folktales. The damsel and the other characters were really well written. One of the best things about this story was that the damsel didn’t wait to see what fate awaited her. She took her fate into her own hands. That for me was the most important part. It is like taking back many hundreds of years of the damsel being saved instead of saving herself. There was one character I wanted to know more about however, their backstory wasn’t explored. The ending felt a bit rushed to me, but the pacing of the rest of the story was spot on for me. One aspect of the story I really appreciated was that the world that Slatter created had it’s own folktales, which were rooted in our world folktales. That was perfect….it was a beautiful melding of the two worlds.

About A.G. Slatter:

Angela Slatter is the author of the urban fantasy novels Vigil (2016) and Corpselight (2017), as well as eight short story collections, including The Girl with No Hands and Other Tales, Sourdough and Other Stories, The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings, and A Feast of Sorrows: Stories. She has won a World Fantasy Award, a British Fantasy Award, a Ditmar, and six Aurealis Awards.

Angela’s short stories have appeared in Australian, UK and US Best Of anthologies such The Mammoth Book of New Horror, The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror, The Best Horror of the Year, The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy and Horror, and The Year’s Best YA Speculative Fiction. Her work has been translated into Bulgarian, Russian, Spanish, Japanese, Polish, and Romanian. Victoria Madden of Sweet Potato Films (The Kettering Incident) has optioned the film rights to one of her short stories.

She has an MA and a PhD in Creative Writing, is a graduate of Clarion South 2009 and the Tin House Summer Writers Workshop 2006, and in 2013 she was awarded one of the inaugural Queensland Writers Fellowships. In 2016 Angela was the Established Writer-in-Residence at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre in Perth.

Her novellas, Of Sorrow and Such (from, and Ripper (in the Stephen Jones anthology Horrorology, from Jo Fletcher Books) were released in October 2015.

The third novel in the Verity Fassbinder series, Restoration, will be released in 2018 by Jo Fletcher Books (Hachette International). She is represented by Ian Drury of the literary agency Sheil Land for her long fiction, by Lucy Fawcett of Sheil Land for film rights, and by Alex Adsett of Alex Adsett Publishing Services for illustrated storybooks.

A Complex Accident of life by Jessica McHugh

I have a deep and unwavering love for Frankenstein. It is a story that holds so much sadness and some hope. I personally think that everyone should read it. It fuses horror and science. But it is mostly about humanity. How horrible we can be. With this in mind and my love for horror poetry my amazing friend Jen from over at Book Den (If you don’t read her blog you really should it is amazing) was reading this lovely collection of black out poetry inspired by Frankenstein and told me that I had to buy it. So I did, she know my taste better then I do. If you don’t know what black out poetry is. It is poetry made from taking words from a texted and highlighting them by blacking out the other words.

Synopsis: Blackout poetry inspired by Frankenstein.

My thoughts: This collection is a freaking mazing. There is so much beauty in this collection. There is a lot of pain as well. It hits so many of the notes that I love in a poetry collection. What I really loved was the scanned pages of Frankenstein with the blackout art. Some are true art pieces….some are sparse as just crossing the words out. But each piece suits the poem. The poem itself is on the next page. It gives the entire collection a visually tactile feel. I am so glad that I ordered the actual book. I don’t think e-book would have done the art justice. The flow of the collection is so perfect. It starts with a poem titled a Girl of Twenty and it ends with a poem titled Vanish. You get this feeling like you are following this girl through a journey. Sometimes this journey is good and sometimes it is bad. But it is beautifully hers. Which is why this collection was so beautiful. Our journeys are never entirely good or entirely bad. They veer all over the place. I feel that this collection is really about the poets journey. I really hope that we see more blackout poetry. It is an art form which give texture to the words. My favorite poem was Be. McHugh is truly a gifted poet and artist. I truly love this collection and I hope that I get to read more from Jessica McHugh.

Star Rating: 5

Women In Translation: Tender is the Flesh by Augustina Bazterrica trans by Sarah Moses

The week that I finished this book, the little dude said to me that he was watching this crazy anime and told me the plot. I was like that is weird because I am reading a book where humans are breed and raised for food. Now if that isn’t enough coincidences for you I was also watching Hannibal while I was reading this book. It is super crazy how things like that happen. Also we are in the middle of a pandemic which is also mentioned in this book. BUT, not in the little dudes anime. He thought it was super cool that he was watching an anime where people were going to be food. However, I think it was inspired by Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro actually. Anyway, back to this amazing little story.

Pssttt……I am trying a different format for my review. I am just writing my thoughts out, with NO SPOILERS.

Synopsis: Dystopian future where humans are raised as meat.

My thoughts: Holy Moly!!! There is a lot to really like about this story. The horrific nature of the writing is defiantly one of those things. It was straight forward. This is one of those stories where you don’t get to read every single internal thought the main character is thinking. There are sparks of what he is thinking but it is still from an outside perspective. I don’t read many reviews for books. But I wanted to see what other people had to say when I finished and this book is really polarizing. Honestly, I was really surprised at some people’s reactions. I understand that cannibalism is a subject that people aren’t entirely comfortable with. However, if you look at the history of cannibalism humans have been partaking of other humans for as long as there have been humans. Yes, it is a tabor’s subject but the way the story was wrapped up it was defiantly necessary.

What I do find interesting is the comparisons drawn between modern meat farming and what was happening to the humans in the book. The discussion of using hormones and other chemicals. The selective breeding to increase yield. That to me is grotesque and barbaric. I felt the same disgust when I was reading The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. Do I still eat meat? Yes I do. However, my eyes are completely open to what happens in factory farming. I choose my meat carefully. I loved this about the story. It flips the whole factory farming premise on its head. Would society allow factory farming on humans?

Personally, I truly loved this book. Bazterrica, took the premise of the story and really made it her own. There is a huge twist that I didn’t see coming. The pacing was fantastic. It is a really quick read that grabs you and doesn’t let go. I love Bazterrica’s characters as well. It wasn’t that they were nice or anything like that. But you really got a cringe when you were reading some of them. This is so telling about how well Bazterrica writes. If you are looking for something different to read please pick this up. It really is a wonderfully written book.

Star Rating: 5 Stars all the way around!!

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.

The Forgotten Girl by India Hill Brown

“The Officer in charge shall not bury, or allow to be buried any colored person upon ground set apart or used for the burial of white persons”

Jim Crow Law regarding burial

I looked up the Jim Crow law……I wrote the words, then I cried. When I finished reading The Forgotten Girl I fell down the rabbit hole of the internet. I wanted to read everything that I could find about abandoned segragated graveyards. I needed to know that something was being done to help find all the people that had been lost and forgotten in time. The African-American Burial Grounds Act was introduced to the house on 02/13/2019 as of 12/22/2020 it is being held at the desk. I have no idea what that means. While I was researching the lost segregated graveyards, I thought about my uncle. I am know where he buried, it is a beautiful military cemetery, with lush green grass and large trees. There are soldiers of every race around him. I don’t know what I would do if he was lost. But if he had passed during the time of Jim Crow there is a good chance he would have been. You see my uncle is black. The idea that he couldn’t be buried near my aunt by law is something that I can’t even fathom.

Thank you to my LOVELY Pima County library for always making sure that there are diverse books for the children in our community.

Synopsis: A young girl and her best friend discover a forgotten graveyard.

What I liked: Holy hell there were a lot of things that I loved about this book. I think it is a wonderful own voices book for middle grade readers. The characters are relatable and 3 dimensional. The story it self is paced beautifully. Something I also truly enjoyed about this book is the boy and girl friendship. There was no pre-teenage romance angst. It was just a beautiful friendship. The friendship between the families is something that I really appreciated as well. We see a lot of dysfunctional families in literature and not enough good family dynamics.

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

Star Rating: 4.5 stars

My Thoughts: There is a lot to unpack about this story. I really enjoyed the way that Brown brought social issues into this story. Whether it is girls of color are more harshly disciplined in a classroom setting to Jim Crow Laws and the desegregation of schools. As I am not a person of color I can’t speak to many of these things as I do have a privilege. However, I think this story really hits many of this issue in a way the is understandable to any reader. Many of the themes of friendship, being bullied and familial love are universal and are worked in the story with love. Another theme that Brown really works into the story so wonderful is that of a girl and self esteem. The age group that this book is aimed at is when a girls self esteem really begins to take a nose dive. I also loved the idea of community that was discussed through the story as well.

What I am a little disappointed about is that I haven’t seen this book ANYWHERE. That is disappointing. This is a beautiful story that can will send people into a rabbit hole on the internet. The African American Burial Grounds Act is something that needs to be discussed and highlighted.