Booker Long List Review: The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

I am slightly ashamed to admit I wasn’t the biggest fan of The Handmaids Tale, the book. I absolutely love the show. Seeing the story in that medium has me feeling all the emotions. The book just pissed me off. There were aspects of the story I felt like no one was really talking about. So I was very apprehensive about buying The Testaments. I really wanted to know if and how Atwood was going to tie the two books together in some way, was Gilead going to be toppled or take over the world? With these questions in mind I bought it. Due to my apprehension I normally would have checked it out from the library. But I didn’t want to wait five years….I am really glad I didn’t wait.

Synopsis: The story of three different women 15 years after The Handmaids Tale.

What I liked: The list if very very long. The pacing of the story was brilliant. There were multiple threads that Atwood brought together seamlessly. There were no plot holes that I could tell. The characters were three dimensional and so well written. She tackles some really difficult subject matter with grace. The way Atwood writes settings really brings them to life. I really love how she brought everything together it was perfect. (as a matter of fact I got chills just thinking about it).

What I didn’t like: Not a damn thing

Star Rating: All the stars

My thoughts: I am writing the my thoughts portion first. This is going to probably be an un-popular opinion but I preferred The Testaments more than the Handmaid’s Tale novel. Neither novel speaks to me as a woman per say but a human. It speaks to dictatorships, zealots and totalanarism. Also I think it shows how ordinary people can get swept up into something that is bigger then they are, even if they don’t agree with the core principals. You learn a lot more about a specific character and you see them. You see what made the and the end goal. I thought it was truly fantastic.

I read this as part of my project of reading all the booker long list books. There are some truly amazing books out there and truly talented authors but this was truly something special.

Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall

Urban legends are something that I truly love. Give me all the stories of the Jersey Devil or Bloody Mary. I love them all so much. There is so much history behind urban legends. I love how the stories change from one generation to another. The details are small but they can change the entire story.

Synopsis: A girl loses her sister and goes on an adventure with her friends to find her.

What I liked: Marshall was very clever in how she put this book together. It consisted of interviews and text messages between the story telling. It was a very clever use of different types of story telling. Personally, I feel like these little bits of behind the scenes information really was fantastic. It helped you piece the story together and allows the story to draw out. It doesn’t ever overrule the story. But it enhances it.

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

Star Rating: 4.5 Stars

My thoughts: Due to the ending of the story I am wondering if there is going to be another book. There are still a lot of unanswered questions. I want to know everything LOL. But it reads really well as a stand alone book as well….if there is no sequel it still is a great YA read. I can’t wait to see what else Marshall comes up with and if she uses the same format.

Women in Translation: The Houseguest by Amparo Dávila trans. By Audrey Harris and Matthew Gleeson

I am loving all the women in translation books I am reading. I have found so many gems that I want to share with the world. My hope is that someone will pick up a Women in Translation book and maybe publishing will change and we will get more of the amazing stories. Only about 10% of the books published in the US are translated. We are missing out on so many stories.

Synopsis: A collection of darkly beautiful stories.

What I liked: Each of the stories was so well crafted. Dávila’s writing really can get under your skin. There is a warmth to her writing that underlines the darkness in her stories. Many of her stories deal with the mundane that end in heartbreak or worse. Many of her stories deal with women or families. Personally, I think stories that deal with the normal that turn horrific are always hold the most horror for me. You tend to put yourself in the main characters shoes. The thing here is that you really don’t want to walk in these main characters shoes.

What I didn’t like: That it took this long to read The House Guest.

Star Rating: 5 Stars

My thoughts: Dávila didn’t get translated until she was 90. How many stories has the English speaking world missed out on. Honestly, I feel like we are missing out on so much. I love that we have a Women in translation month. But we need to read these books more than once a year. These books need to go into our rotations. Actively, seeking out something new and different is what really makes readers have a full understanding of what is out in the world. The amount of stories that are waiting for us to discover them. That is why I am stoked that the Ladies of Horror Fiction are going to be featuring specific countries and regions.

Booker Long List: Frankissstein: A Love Story by Jeanette Winterson

I have a ridiculous amount of Frankenstein retellings or editions. I had seen this pop op on a TBR of a book tuber, I know loves Frankenstein, I had to have it. It is one of my Booker Long List reads that I am trying to read monthly. This was a book that I was truly stoked to read.

Synopsis: A modern retelling of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

What I liked: It is smart! It is so smart! I love how Winterson modernized the story. (I am going to try not to give away any spoilers). But there is a surprise in there as well. I love the way Winterson inserted some of the thoughts process that Mary Shelley had about the Geneva trip and crafting the original story. I just want to keep saying that this book is super smart. There is so much that I want to say but I can’t without spoiling this entire book. The pacing is of the story is perfect. The threads were tied together without any holes. Each story thread moved forward together.

What I didn’t like: There was nothing that I didn’t like about this story.

Star Rating: 5 stars

My thoughts: I want everyone who loves Frankenstein to read this book. The way Winterson works with the different threads in the story is ridiculously clever. I really loved it. The modernization and the throw back to Mary Shelley was amazing. It was lovely and made my heart happy.

#LOHFReadathon YA/MG Horror: Dead Voices by Katherine Arden

Anyone who has read my blog knows that I love Katherine Arden’s writing style. Her adult books and now her middle grade horror totally has my heart all locked up. I couldn’t wait to read the second spooky adventure for the Vermot trio. I am always a little afraid to read the second book in any series….especially after how much I loved Small Spaces. But this one sure didn’t disappoint. This is also my second choice for the LOHFReadathon after my first choice and I didn’t necessarily get along I was stoked that I saved this one for the readathon.

Synopsis: The trio of Ollie, Brian and Coco are back with a thrilling adventure to defeat a specific someone.

What I liked: What is there not to like about this story. I love the entire message that Arden has throughout this series. The friendship between the main characters is pivotal. They never leave anyone behind and always have each other’s backs. What I really enjoyed was that this book really focused on Coco whereas the first book was focused on Ollie. As Always Arden’s writing is amazing and the story moves with the perfect pacing. Arden writes with such fluidity and ease, that reading her books is super easy and very enjoyable. It is spooky enough that this can be a Halloween or Winter read for the middle grade set.

What I didn’t like: NOTHING

Star Rating: 5 Stars

My Thoughts: I am loving this series. It is really making me happy. The feeling through the entire story is Winter, fires and hot chocolate. The atmosphere in the story was cold, it is the perfect winter time book with a little spooky thrown in. So this winter bundle up in a blanket with some hot chocolate and read this lovely horror tale.

TinFoil Butterfly by Rachel Eve Moulton

I finished this book while I was sitting on the dude’s bed. I wanted to really allow the story to sink in while before I sat down to write a review. I wanted to digest my feelings about the subject matter and the characters etc. As I am sitting here at my desk writing it I am still not sure how I feel.

Synopsis: A troubled teenager meets up with a little boy in a snowy ghost town.

What I liked: Moulton writes a great character. You really feel a lot of emotions for the characters in the story. You want to help them. You want them to find help. During the action of the story I found myself holding my breath hoping that they would reach safety. But as with any well crafted story safety is found through self reflection and wanting to survive. While I was reading Moulton’s writing made me reflect on choices. The choice to push through and survive or the choice to stop surviving. I appreciate the way she ended the story. (no spoilers here ladies and gentleman.) I also thought how she wrote Earl was well written and sensitive.

What I didn’t like: I wanted to know more of Earl’s backstory. He played such an integral part of the story but you only get small bits and pieces.

Star Rating: 4 Stars

My Thoughts: For me….the story is about the redemption of the main character. That is really sticks for me. There is so much tragedy in this story. So much sadness. But just when you think you are going to drown in the sorrow you get hope.

A big thank you to Farrar, Straus and Giroux for a review copy.

TinFoil Butterfly will be released on September 10th, 2019.

#LOHFReadathon When I Arrived At The Castle By Emily Carroll

I wasn’t a graphic novel fan, until I got Through The Woods by Emily Carroll. It was beautiful and the story really followed a horror fairytale format. The story was lush and the illustrations were beautiful. When the announcement came through, Carroll would be releasing another book this year. I waited very patiently for my library to purchase it. I was so happy that it came just in time for the #LOHFReadathon. I am using When I Arrived at the Castle as my LGBTQIA+ choice.

Synopsis: A cat girl arrives at a castle all set to kill the “woman” that lives there.

What I liked: As always the illustrations where STUNNING. Absolutely beautiful!! I really enjoy the color palette that Carrol uses. I enjoyed the premise of the story and the gothic leanings that were present. I appreciated the nod to Dracula. But what I really get here is Elizabeth Báthory. There is a part in the story where the woman is talking to the girl and is discussing how many have come before her etc….which is really what firmly lodged that idea in my head. There was a tiny bit of Dracula thrown in there for good measure but the other comes through more prominently .

What I didn’t like: I feel like there is a bit of story that is missing. The beginning and the ending are fully formed but I feel like there is something missing in the middle. I wanted to know more.

Star Rating: 3 stars

My thoughts: So I feel pretty let down here as I really loved Through The Woods. The illustrations weren’t the issue it was more the story. The story just felt lacking. I wanted to love it. I really really wanted to. Alas, I didn’t. Illustrations alone can’t carry a story. There needs to be some meat to the story.