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.

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.

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!!