True Crime by Samantha Kolesnik

Nature vs. nurture….I think about this a lot. Yes, I probably watch too many true crime documentaries. I recently read a book on this history of mental health and there was a running theme through the book which was how is insanity defined. What makes one insane? Is it something that happened in our childhood or is it something that we are born with? True Crime explores this and much more. Thank you for the review copy Samantha and Grindhouse press.

Synopsis: The story of an abused girl and the fall out from the abuse.

What I liked: I really enjoyed Kolesnik’s writing. The pacing of the book made it a quick one sitting read. Kolensik’s characterizations are really well written. I personally felt all the feelings for the characters. When I say all the feelings I mean all the feelings. Hate, sadness and empathy. The story was very well written and I truly enjoyed the story. I would be interested in knowing what happened to Suzy. LOL. I feel like the story just kind of cut off.

What I didn’t like: There was a time jump that didn’t get explained until a little bit later after then. It wasn’t that I didn’t like it but rather it slightly confused me for a couple of minutes.

Star Rating: 4.5 stars

My thoughts: I finished this book last night and it is still on my mind. The themes that run through it are truly disturbing and I am here for it. As I was reading the entire time I was thinking about the nature vs. nurture question. Would things have been different for the characters IF their parents had treated them better? Or were the characters just born broken? True Crime made me sad LOL.

The Beauty by Aliya Whiteley

I didn’t like mushrooms on my pizza until I was about 15 years old. At that point I wanted to try all the different types of mushrooms that we have on this amazing planet of ours. I still love mushrooms. I kinda am not sure I want to eat them anymore after reading The Beauty. Who am I trying to kid I still love mushrooms but I will never look at a chicken of the forest mushroom the same again.

Synopsis: Women died and in their place grew yellow mushrooms.

What I liked: Whiteley’s writing is very straight to the point and I am here for it. This isn’t my first of Whiteley’s books that I have reviewed. But I have to say it is my favorite. It is the weird quotient that I loved about the book. Whiteley’s imagination is amazing. The pacing of the story was spot on for me. It was a fast read that as a reader I needed to know what happened next. There weren’t any unneeded scenes to fill the story out. The flow was perfect and the emotion of the characters shine through the story.

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

Star Rating: 4.5 stars

My thoughts: When I finished The Beauty I had a few minutes of what the hell did I just read. Over the last few weeks I really have come to have enjoyed and loved the story. It is really beautiful and frightening at the same time. One thing I took away from it is that men and women have a symbiotic relationship with one another. I also enjoyed the strength that the “mushrooms” had. I think that there is a lot to unpack in this story. It is such an odd little story but could have a lot of meaning when you look between the lines. I know that there have been some mixed reviews regarding this lovely book.

Cover Reveal: The Cipher by Kathe Koja!!

I am really pleased to be a part of the cover reveal for the re-release of The Cipher by Kathe Koja!! This cover is beautiful folks!!! The cover artist is Keith Rosson. He did an amazing job on this re-release. The Cipher releases on 09/15/2020 by Meerkat Press.

Provided by Meerkat Press

Kathe Koja’s classic novel of fear, obsession, creation, and destruction, The Cipher, which reopens the door on the Funhole with this brand new and long-awaited print edition. It is the winner of the Bram Stoker Award, Locus Award, and a finalist for the Philip K. Dick Award.  

Nicholas is a would-be poet and video-store clerk with a weeping hole in his hand – weeping not blood, but a plasma of tears…

It began with Nakota and her crooked grin. She had to see the dark hole in the storage room down the hall. She had to make love to Nicholas beside it, and stare into its secretive, promising depths. Then Nakota began her experiments: First, she put an insect into the hole. Then a mouse…

Now from down the hall, the black hole calls out to Nicholas every day and every night. And he will go to it. Because it has already seared his flesh, infected his soul, and started him on a journey of obsession – through its soothing, blank darkness into the blinding core of terror.


From Author’s Goodreads

Kathe Koja is a writer, director and independent producer. Her work combines and plays with genres, from YA to contemporary to historical to horror. Her novels–including THE CIPHER, SKIN, BUDDHA BOY, TALK, and the UNDER THE POPPY trilogy–have won awards, been multiply translated, and optioned for film and performance. She creates immersive fiction with a rotating ensemble of video artists, dancers, musicians and performers.

Her latest novel is CHRISTOPHER WILD. VELOCITIES, her second short fiction collection, is upcoming in 2020 from Meerkat Press, along with a reprint of her classic novel THE CIPHER. 

She’s globally minded, and based in Detroit USA.

The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin

There are movies that really make an impression on you. I had seen the remake with Nicole Kidman multiple times. There wasn’t anything unsettling about this version of the movie. However, the 1975 movie is very dark and disturbing. I hadn’t read the book so I figured it was time to read it. As I read I felt more and more uncomfortable. You can see so much of today’s society in this book and it is gut churning.

What I liked: In 123 pages Levin accomplishes so much. He packs all the horror and the creepy in. That gut wrenching feeling that something just isn’t right. Maybe the main character is going crazy. Maybe you are going crazy along with her. Levin chooses his words carefully to deliver a punch. the story comes together very quickly. The dread builds very quickly throughout the story. Even with the story being short, the characters are three dimensional and believable.

What I didn’t like: The only thing that was missing was knowing exactly what happened to the women. It is hinted at but the story never actually says what happened.

Star Rating: 4 stars

My thoughts: This was a hard little novella to read. Levin would have a lot of fodder to write about if he were to have written this today. The idea of perfection run deep in through the story. What makes a perfect woman? What makes a perfect marriage? What would you give up to have perfection? Personally, it was a hard one to read. We all question ourselves on a daily basis and have our own insecurities. I am not perfect nor would I give up anything in my life to be perfect. The idea that a woman has to give herself up to be a perfect mother or wife truly terrifies me. There is a lot to unpack in this novella and it is frightening.

Women in Translation: The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani trans. by Sam Taylor

Millions of women go to work everyday; leaving their children in the care of a nanny or day care center. Leaving your small child in the care of someone else is anxiety inducing. But, what would happen if your in home help, started to run your life. What would you do? Would you worry about the nannies feelings or would you cut bait and run? The Perfect Nanny explores this and so much more.

Synopsis: A nanny does the unthinkable.

What I liked: The way the Slimani structured the book was clever. It started with the ending first and then moved into the story. Slimani pulls you into this story kicking and screaming. The interesting thing about Slimani’s writing is that she is able to provide snippets of the nanny’s life without reveling everything. There are two POVs in the story which are done so very well. As a reader you know who’s POV you are reading.

What I didn’t like: I wanted a bit more in the ending. I wanted to know all the things.

Star Rating: 4 stars

My thoughts: I really loved this book. However, if you have an aversion to child death I would suggest you skip it. It is only in the first page of the book but it would still be distressing for some readers. Slimani’s writing is complex. This is a very quick read but it is a complex read that will make you have all the feels. As you read the story you fall down the rabbit hole of the nanny’s psyche. One question this raised for me was the idea of perfection. What makes someone perfect? Is there something hiding in a perfect person that causes them to snap one day or is there something brewing underneath that cool and calm exterior.

Top 19 of 2019!!

I am not a big fan of best of lists. Personally, every list is subjective and everyone has different tastes. The best of lists tend to rile everyone up because someone didn’t name such and such book. In my opinion, it would seem it is down the amount of books that people try to put in these lists. So when I saw my friend Emily post a top 19 of 2019. I thought I could probably do that.

This year I read some amazing books. There are so many that I really enjoyed but this list are books that really hit me in the feels or books that I really loved. They are in no specific order.

In this stack we have:

  • Little Paranoias by Sonora Taylor
  • Choking Back the Devil by Donna Lynch
  • The Girl Aquarium by Jen Campbell
  • Wonderland Edited by Marie O’Reagan and Paul Kane
  • The Girl in Red by Christina Henry
  • Finding Baba Yaga by Jane Yolen
  • Sing Your Sadness Deep by Laura Mauro
  • Violet by Scott Thomas
  • Frankissstein by Jeanette Winterson
  • The Apocalyptic Mannequin by Stephanie M. Wytovich
  • New Music for Old Rituals by Tracy Fahey
  • Hex Life edited by Christopher Golden and Rachel Autumn Deering

Yes, that is only 12 but here are the books that I loved that I had checked out from my friendly neighborhood library.

  • Bunny by Mona Awad
  • My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
  • Now You’re One of Us by Asa Nonami

The rest are series that I loved and read this year.

  • Small Spaces by Katherine Arden
  • Dead Voices by Katherine Arden
  • City Of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab
  • Tunnel of Bones by Victoria Schwab

This was an extremely hard list to make. There were so many things that I loved to read this year. So this list could go on and on. But these are the books that really stole my heart.

I wanted to thank all the authors and the publishers I worked with this year. All the work that goes into writing and creating these amazing little worlds between pretty covers astounds me. A big thank you to Pima County Library!! Thank you for not yelling at me when I turn things in late!!

I have an amazing team that I work with everyday to promote women horror authors. Big thank you to The Ladies Of Horror Fiction. You all make the days and frustrations so much more tolerable.

The Dead Girls Club by Damien Angelica Walters

There is a true lack of a girls coming of age stories in the horror genre. I think that it is important that girls and women see themselves in a coming of age story. Especially, in the horror genre. Most of the female coming of age stories are in the YA genre. Personally, I think that the horror genre would really lend itself well to a female coming of age story. Especially, body horror. But I was really excited when I received The Dead Girls Club I was really excited to review it. Thank you Crooked Lane books for the review copy.

Synopsis: 4 friends and 1 summer that will change their lives.

What I liked: Walter’s writing is very fluid. She really takes care with the pacing of the novel. Walter’s characterizations make the characters are three dimensional. Walter’s character building allowed the reader to experience everything that the main character was going through really put you in the main characters head Walter’s writing is fluid and very engaging. She has the ability to pull you into the story. The action scenes were well written and believable.

What I didn’t like: I wasn’t a fan of the fact that I knew where the story was going before the big reveal.

Star Rating: 4.0 stars

My Thoughts: I enjoyed the story. However, I had a couple of issues with it. My main issue is that I felt like I knew where the story was going before the climax. Which was my only issue with the story itself. However, with that being said the story kept me engaged and I really enjoyed Walter’s writing.

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.