Evangeline of the Bayou by Jan Eldredge

The Louisiana bayou is a place that holds a lot of fascination. All the animals and the mystery of the swamp. There is so much that we don’t know about the swamp. But if you are one of the lucky few to live deep in the swamp there is a chance that you will have heard about the supernatural creatures that live deep in the swamp.

Synopsis: A young swamp witch has to fight off a very specific monster.

What I liked: Eldredge’s writing is perfect for the age demographic the book is aimed at. The story was charming and creepy. It was just spooky enough for the age the book is marketed for. The illustrations are also super charming. The pacing for the story was perfect. I really enjoyed my adventure with Evangeline.

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

Star Rating: 4 Stars

My thoughts: I really wish that books like this had been around when I was a kid. It was just the right amount of spooky. I love that many of the middle-grade books have girls as heroines. From Ages 11 – 13 girls begin to change. They start to lost the self confidence and that spark that they have during childhood. This is one of the main reasons that books where the girl is the heroine at that age is really important. Girls need to understand that they are strong and they can still have adventures even when teenage hood is knocking on the door. We are so much more than workers and family members. Just my opinion…..I think as girls grow older they are discouraged from using their imaginations. Unless, it is for playing house, playing mommy or for romantic type things. I really hope there is another book about Evangeline.

Infernal by Cheryl Low

Adventure horror it is totally a thing right?! A story where someone goes on an adventure (in the jungle or on a boat or something of that nature) and then horrible things happen to them. I never really thought that it was it’s own genre of horror until I sat down to write this. I was mulling things over and over in my head where do stories like this fit. We have body horror, splatter-punk, ecological horror and psychological horror…so why not adventure horror. So I dub a new sub-category adventure horror! Okay, so I may not have the power to create a new sub-category but lets just pretend shall we.

Thank you for the review copy Cheryl!!! Sorry it took so long 🙂

Synopsis: An adventure team heads to a isolated island with dire consequences.

What I liked: I really enjoyed the pacing of this story. Once the characters hit the ground running you where swept right along with them. The action didn’t actually stop until the end of the story.

What I didn’t like: There wasn’t anything in particular about the story that I didn’t like.

Star Rating: 4 stars

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed the premise of the story. If you follow me on twitter you will know that I am not a fan of the ocean. Like I really don’t like the ocean…..THERE ARE THINGS THAT WILL EAT YOU in the ocean. So the fact that the book was set around and island already made me a little anxious. No this is not a different retelling of every ocean horror. (coined a new sub-category) But rather the ocean and the island were actually characters in the story and I really appreciate that. When they are featured like Low did it just reaffirms my belief that we don’t belong on the ocean. If you want a fast paced adventure horror (see what I dd there) defiantly pick this up.

Seeing Things by Sonora Taylor

We all have authors that are must read authors. Sonora is one of those for me. When she releases something I must must read it. In the un-year, I received Seeing Things and my heart skipped a beat. I excitedly tore into the first few pages and was as always pulled into Taylor’s story. I put the book down due to things that were happening in life at that time. However, over Christmas I took some time and picked this book back up. I am so so very glad that I did.

Thank you Sonora Taylor for my review copy!

Synopsis: A girl begins to see things. But what does it all mean.

What I liked: I really enjoyed how the story unfolded. It was a total artichoke. The petals on the outside leading to the a delicious center. What I am trying to say things were revealed in a way that I needed to keep reading to understand where they were going to go next. What was going to happen next? That is the beauty with Taylor’s writing. Once you open the book there is a little string attached to your head from the book and it just draws you in. (That actually sounded much better in my head but you get my meaning).

What I didn’t like: There wasn’t anything that I didn’t like but I WANTED MORE!! I want to know what happened to the person that did the thing. (no spoilers here folks)

Star Rating: 4.5 stars

My Thoughts: Like I said Sonora is a must read author for me. Sonora writes such fantastic characters. They are believable and well rounded. They never feel two dimensional or like characters; they feel like they could be living breathing people that I know. Sonora takes pride in her stories and it shines through in the way that the words come to life on the page. If you haven’t read anything by Sonora I would defiantly fix that…..her other works are just as wonderful as Seeing Things.

#ladiesfirst21 The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson

When I dropped off the face of the earth last year. I basically dropped all my commitments: read-alongs, podcast episodes…there was no more room in my brain to deal with anything. Which really sucks, because I was suppose to have Alexis Henderson on the LOHFPod and I feel crappy that I didn’t follow through. I was thinking about that whole fiasco when I was choosing my #ladiesfirst21 read of the year. HOLY SHIT I truly missed out. I have so many questions and thoughts. Like a lot of them. I have been thinking about this book since I finished it.

Thank you ACE/Berkley for sending me a review copy.

Synopsis: A girl born under very sad circumstances learns about her heritage and family through trials.

What I liked: My synopsis doesn’t really do this book justice! Henderson’s writing is heartfelt. Her characterizations are three dimensional and believable. The stories pacing was perfect for the groundwork that needed to be laid.

What I didn’t like: There is nothing I didn’t like….besides the fact that it ended 🙂

Star Rating: 5 Stars

My thoughts: There is a lot of mythology woven into this story. Lilith for example, stems from Jewish mythology. (I don’t want to say anymore than that and give the story away). There was a lot of social commentary that I really enjoyed and was woven into the story really well. Henderson really explores the theme of otherness and belonging. She explores race throughout the story and I was here for it. I loved how she combined all these different themes into story that read like a fairytale. It is commentary on so many different things, at least this is how it reads to me. I highly highly suggest for your next read you pick this book up and devour it.

psstttt…..I heard a little rumor that she is working on something else as well!!

The Invention of Ghosts by Gwendolyn Kiste

Ghosts are something that are found in every culture. In some cultures they are the spirit of someone who has unfinished business. In other cultures they are hungry for something that they wanted in life. I’ve always been fascinated by ghosts. Is it a sentient being, someone’s spirit or energy? If it is a spirit stuck in a loop constantly doing and experiencing the same things over again I would be horrified. Another thing, do ghosts know they are ghosts? Do they remember who they are and what they are doing? Do they remember their past?

Thank you for a review copy Gwendolyn!!

Synopsis: A girl who has no memory of her past deals with her present and future.

What I liked: I have a deep appreciation for Kiste’s writing. It is beautiful and haunting. This chapbook is no different. The story is haunting. The story unfolds as you read it. Kiste leaves small bread crumbs through the story as to what is really going on. Kiste is so damn talented. She knows her craft so well that anything that she puts to paper is beautiful.

What I didn’t like: There is nothing that I didn’t like about the story.

Star Rating: 5 Stars

My thoughts: I love how Kiste played with past, present and future in the story. She played with the friendship in this story with such grace and beauty. This was an amazing look at the memory and the friendship between the two girls in the book. When the story was finished my heart hurt for awhile.

Looking Glass by Christina Henry

If you have been around my page for any length of time you will know my deep deep love for fairytale retellings. Especially, those written by Christina Henry. I had the opportunity to read another. I had finished reading Looking Glass right as things started to ramp up with the virus. It was something fantastical to read. Even though I read it earlier I just couldn’t focus on writing anything about anything.

Thank you ACE for my review copy!! It is out in the world on 04/21/2020!!

Synopsis: Four novellas which continue the Chronicles of Alice.

What I liked: Henry is extremely skilled in reworking fairytales. Her love of the original fairytale is shown through the way she writes a retelling. Her story telling is rich and complex. The characters are fantastical and written with the whimsy that Carrol would be proud of. The stories are a continuation of Alice’s story. What I found truly interesting was the parallels in the stories regarding the other or people who don’t belong. Each of the stories where so well written I didn’t want the adventures to end.

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

Star Rating: 5 Stars

My Thoughts: One of the things I love about fairytales is their ability to transport you to another world. The stories can help you forget everyday worries and cares. They can provide backbones for teaching lessons. These stories from childhood are primed to be rewritten and modernized for the horror and thriller genres. I love the care the Henry takes when she is taking a beloved child’s tale and turns it into something that an adult will read over and over again.

The Dumb House by John Burnside

There has been a question throughout history as to how humans develop language. To my great astonishment there have been “experiments” performed on children to determine when speech is developed and what that language is actually going to be uttered first. This practice was used to try to prove a specific religious set or ethnicity was correct. While in todays world this sounds ridiculous and is abusive. These are things that have actually been done. I didn’t really believe it until I googled it and read about it. Before reading The Dumb House I think you should as well.

Synopsis: A man is fascinated with how language works…and conducts experiments to find out.

What I liked: It is such a bizarre story. But the writing is amazing and the story itself was brilliant. Luke’s story is chilling. The story itself unfolds like piece by piece. It is an amazing piece of psychological terror. The way that Luke is written is chilling. Burnside gives the reader a peek into the mind of a very disturbed individual. Burnside takes you on a trip into Luke’s present and past. In the past excepts there is no real clue as too why Luke decided to do the things that he did. I really enjoyed the fact that Burnsides’s story was passed on historical truth.

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

Star Rating: 4.5 stars

My thoughts: I read The Dumb House after an author and book tuber that I like recommended it. Honestly, I am so very very glad that I read it. It was bizarre and I was there for the story. The bizarreness of the story reminded me of Geek Love which is one of my favorite books ever. So if you enjoy really weird stories that have a historical twist I would highly recommend The Dumb House.

Ormeshadow by Priya Sharma

Over the last month, I noticed that I hadn’t really wanted to read. I didn’t want to read or write. I didn’t want to create anything. I wanted to do nothing but binge watch tv and work. Add to the that the stress of trying to homeschool and start a new position at work. I started to allow myself to get lost in my self wallowing. I am adult enough to acknowledge that I was wallowing and doing the best I could with the new normal. The new normal changes on a daily basis. This was the first week things felt normal. Were I was actually able to focus on something long enough to read. It feels like a break through. So I decided to strike while the iron is hot and get some reviews out into the world.

Synopsis: Family drama played out over a few years. With amazing legends thrown in.

What I liked: Sharma just killed me with this story. I loved it so much. It is the book that pulled me out of my life is too much funk. The writing is layered and perfect for the story that is being told. The legend aspect is woven into the narrative perfectly. There was a deep fairytale quality through the entire story. It was beautiful and familiar. It was really a story of resiliency that I really needed to read at this time.

What I didn’t Like: There is nothing that I didn’t like about the story.

Star Rating: 5 Stars

My Thoughts: This is such an amazing story. The book isn’t long but the story feels and reads like an epic fantasy. Like a much longer story. It sucks you right in and keeps you wanting more. It was a fantastic distraction from a world that right now is hard to face. Thank you Priya!!

Cursed Edited by Marie O'Regan and Paul Kane

I am sitting here staring at my screen. We are living through crazy times right now. This book came at the perfect time. Losing yourself in stories that feel familiar but new is helpful during times of stress. I am not one to get stressed about a lot of things. But the way things are at the moment have kinda have thrown me for a loop. So I was so glad to have something to bury my head in. If you love stories by amazing story tellers you NEED to pick this up.

Thank you for my review copy Titan Books!!!

Synopsis: An anthology of new dark fairytales!!

What I liked: OMG. Reading this anthology was like watching a amazing story teller tell a story. It was so comforting but very familiar at the same time. Each story felt like a warm blanket. Some old favorites twisted into a modern stories and new stories. All the stories in the anthology fit so well well together. There is so so much to love about this anthology. The beauty in which some of the authors write made my heart soar with happiness.

What I didn’t like: There is absolutely nothing that I didn’t like

Star Rating: 5

My Thoughts: Anthologies are hard to review. I don’t want to say too much about one story in particular. They are all fantastic. I know I should be saying more about my thoughts….and normally I would but. I can’t find the adequate wording too describe the comfort that Cursed brought me over the last week. Please pick this up if you need something for your brain or your heart.

The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo

I have a love for folklore especially with a feminist type twist. I also love magic. This year I am really dedicating myself to read diverse authors. When I started with the LOHF I didn’t realize how much my reading was being stinted by following the herd. I am here for Women in translation, POC authors and women horror authors. This doesn’t mean that I am not going to read male authors. But, I am finding so many amazing stories. The Empress of Salt and Fortune is one of these stories. Thank you Tor for my review copy!!

Synopsis: A handmaid tells her story to a cleric.

What I liked: Vo’s writing is magical. She is able to transport you to the place that she was writing about. The fantastic elements of the story will leave you breathless. The story reminded me of an onion or an artichoke. The outside is the beginning of the story, as the story progresses each layer is revealed. Chapter by chapter the story unfolds and with it the hopes of the characters. You want the characters to win. As a reader I didn’t want the story to end. It was one of those stories that pulled you in and wouldn’t let you go.

What I didn’t like: Nothing

Star Rating: 5 Stars

My thoughts: After finishing the novella I sat and stared at the wall for about 10 minutes. There are so many things that I want to say, however; I don’t want to give away any of the story. This is a beautiful story. It is a story about love, heartache, diaspora and revenge. It made me so happy just reading all the beautiful words. The ending was everything I wanted it to be. I heart this book so much!

The Empress of Salt and Fortune drops on March, 24th!!