Unmemory By Kristi DeMeester

I remember when I was in kindergarten. My brother was babysitting, anyone that reads my blog knows that my brother is the cause of many firsts, I was suppose to be in bed instead I decided to sit on the stairs and watch the movie he had on TV. The move was The Thing. I was horrified but I couldn’t look away. For nights afterward every time I closed my eyes to go to sleep I would see the part where the dog was transforming. I was totally freaked out for a long time but I eventually got over it and went on to love The Thing.  It was the weeks afterward that Unmemory reminded me of. 

Synopsis: A child whose mother is part of a religious cult is not allowed to watch TV sees a snippet of a movie that haunts her until she is older. 

What I liked: I love DeMeester’s writing style. I love the way that she plays with the horror element in this story. It is right in your face but it is this overall feeling you get when you are reading her writing. It is this unnerving and makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck. DeMeester delivers this in spades in Unmemory. Don’t let the small size of this chapbook fool you. The story that is between the covers will stay with you.  I did like the ending of the story. What I liked about the ending was that it didn’t follow convention. 

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

Star Rating: 4.5 Stars

My thoughts: Honestly, There is so much about to love about DeMeester’s writing. It makes heart happy to read anything that she writes. This story is interesting. I feel like there is more there then just the words. I feel this with so much of her writing. I like unconventional endings and DeMeester brings that and so much more. If you haven’t picked up any of her work you are really missing out. 

The Rust Maidens By Gwendolyn Kiste

There are times when a book sweeps in and captures your heart and imagination. I was a kid in the 80s but I remember hearing about the rust belt and how all the factories where closing down and people where losing their jobs. There was so much uncertainty at this time. 38ish years later we see the result of the the factories closing. The skeletons of rusted hulks litter the landscape of the mid-west. 

What I liked: I find after reading a few of Gwendolyn’s books I really enjoy the way that she writes. The pacing of the book is amazing and right on point. Kiste’s writing is both beautiful and horrific at the same time. I loved the concept of the story and Kiste does an amazing job at putting it together. The characters are well balanced and three dimensional.When I was reading I felt like I knew the girls in the story which drew me in even more. 

What I didn’t like: There is nothing that I didn’t like about this book. It was perfection just the way it was. 

Star Rating: All the stars……Every single star

My Thoughts: I have so many thoughts about The Rust Maidens. I feel like I am constantly repeating myself about this story. It is horrific and beautiful. Here is what I find interesting is that is seems that the story really highlights many of the things that was going on in the 80s in the Midwest.  I feel like part of it may have been because I grew up in the era where this was happening that I felt such a connection to the story. I didn’t grow up in the mid west but many of the changes did effect my family in one way or another. Every book that I read of Kiste’s just highlights her love of storytelling. Her stories are multi-layered and filled with so many different horror elements. She has become one of my favorite authors over the last year. If you haven’t picked up this book yet please don’t wait. Or anything else that Kiste has written you won’t be disappointed. 

Blog Tour: The Arrival of Missives By Aliya Whiteley

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Synopsis

The Arrival of Missives is a genre-defying story of fate, free-will and the choices we make in life. In the aftermath of the Great War, Shirley Fearn dreams of challenging the conventions of rural England, where life is as predictable as the changing of the seasons.

The scarred veteran Mr. Tiller, left disfigured by an impossible accident on the battlefields of France, brings with him a message: part prophecy, part warning. Will it prevent her mastering her own destiny?

As the village prepares for the annual May Day celebrations, where a new queen will be crowned and the future will be reborn again, Shirley must choose: change or renewal?

How to Enjoy Writing Historical Fiction

By Aliya Whiteley

I always start writing in the same way. I take up a pen and a sheet of paper, and write until a voice emerges. Then I place that voice in a setting, and start finding out what that new character cares about.

When I found out that the main voice in my novella The Arrival of Missives belonged to a teenage girl who wanted to change the world for the better I liked her straight away, but I was also terrified of the challenge she represented. I usually write contemporary fiction, and she definitely came from a different time. She belonged to a small village in the UK countryside in 1920. It was a time I knew very little about.

Historical fiction can be scary to write. There’s the need to represent the past accurately, in a way that feels truthful and also reflective upon the way we live now. That need to be accurate began to affect my enjoyment in writing the story, until I worked out a few techniques to help me concentrate on the voice and not the setting:

  • Use research to work out what your character knows

There’s no way of getting around research; it has to be done to bring the period you’re writing about to life. But find your character first (this applies particularly to writing in the first person) and then concentrate on how they’ll view the time they live in rather than in trying to formulate every aspect of life back then. People often live in small bubbles of experience; trying to place you reader within that bubble is more rewarding.

  • Don’t stop every time you come across something you don’t know

At first I’d put down the pen and turn to the laptop to search for answers every time I came across a detail that I didn’t know. I’d look for how long sheep slept for, or what version of the Bible would be in the village church. Then I realised that I really didn’t have to know straight away. I started to put a row of crosses whenever I came across a small issue, and that meant the flow of words was no longer broken. At the end of writing my first draft, the crosses were easy to pick out, and it was fun to go back through finding my answers without feeling pulled out of the story.

  • Don’t feel constrained by what others have done

When I decided to write about life in a rural setting in 1920s Britain, I wanted to see how other modern authors had tackled the period. The more I read, the more disheartened I became. How could I ever hope to capture the time in the same way? Then I realised my task wasn’t to capture it in the same way. I needed to portray it in my own way, using my own skills as a writer. Remember your own strengths, and create the setting using those rather than attempting to follow somebody else’s strategy.

There is never only one way to write about the past. It’s filled with so many different voices. I only had to remember what I love about writing to drown out the fears I felt. When I’m caught up in the moment, writing fast to get all my thoughts down, swept up in my character’s voice, I really enjoy my job as a novelist, and through this experience I discovered that there’s no reason why historical fiction can’t be just as exhilarating to write as those stories set in the here and now.

Author Biography

What can I tell you?

WhiteleyI write about all sorts of things but it would be fair to say I’m drawn to the darker side of life.

My favourite writers are a diverse bunch. Graham Greene and Iris Murdoch and George Eliot. Rupert Thomson and Christopher Priest. Octavia Butler, John Wyndham, Ursula Le Guin, Frank Herbert, Dylan Thomas, TS Eliot. My favourite Shakespeare play is King Lear. No, Much Ado About Nothing. It depends if it’s a tragic or a comic day.

I like those moments in stories where you have no idea what’s going to happen next. The moments when genre can’t save you.

 

Next Stop on The Arrival of Missives Blog Tour

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Love for Slaughter by Sara Tantlinger

I didn’t really start reading poetry until this year. The darker the better. Sometimes it spoke to me like Amanda Lovelace’s poetry other times it didn’t. But when something you read absolutely wrecks you it s the best feeling ever. That you read the words and they truly mean something to you. It maybe about murder and blood but the emotion behind the murder and blood is something that you feel deeply. When I was in school if this was the type of poetry that we were introduced to I may have continued to read it. But what ever you do pick up Love for Slaughter by Sara Tantlinger.

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Summary: Wonderful dark and devilish poems about love and lust. With some murder and stuff thrown in.

What I liked: I picked this up when my friend Emily reviewed it and gave it 5 stars,  I now know why!  Tantlinger’s prose is beautiful and horrific at the same time. This is a poetess who can turn murder and bondage into a beautiful act of love or hate. There is so much to love about this poetry collection. The mixture of the horrific and the beautiful   I don’t think that many people would be able to pull off successfully but Tantlinger does exquisitely time and again in each poem. I really wish that poetry teachers would be able to teach poetry like this as I believe it would keep kids engaged and wanting to know more about the sentiments behind the words.

What I didn’t like: Not a damn thing!!

Star Rating: As many stars as you can give it

My thoughts: I never know what to say about poetry. I don’t have a degree in literature so I never know what to say to accurately convey the way poetry can make you feel. There are so many feelings behind the words that Tantlinger writes I just want to hug them all. I needed this poetry collection when angsty goth kid Toni was trying to bumble her way through Keats, unsuccessfully I might add, but I would have totally understood this and loved this collection. Sara please write more and more!!!

Doorbells at Dusk edited by Evans Light

In the words of the immortal Misfits “Bonfires burning bright. Pumpkin faces in the night. I remember Halloween.” Yes, it the holiday that all Horror lovers and children wait all year for. I finished Doorbells at Dusk a couple of weeks ago but I wanted to review it on Halloween. Many of the stories in this anthology capture the wonder and mysteries that Halloween night holds for kids. I am not by any means saying that this is a anthology  is for children but rather the emotions that you feel as you are reading it.

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Summary: A spooky anthology of horror stories centered around Halloween.

What I liked: The stories for this anthology were well chosen and fit well together. With this anthology I felt the mystery and the spookiness that Halloween held for me as a child. As a Halloween centered anthology that is what I was looking for from this anthology and it delivered. The cover art is beautiful and really portrays the vibe of the stories in the book.  The stories ranged between a 3 and 5 for me.

What I didn’t like: There were only a couple of stories that fell a bit flat for me.

Star Rating: 4.0

My thoughts: I love books that feature Halloween as their main setting. Sometimes as an adult you lose that wonder about Halloween. The magic and the mystery of the entire holiday is slightly lost between the running around for candy and making sure that the kids have their costumes. But when you slow down and read this anthology some of that magic comes back and in your mind you can see yourself as a kid in a costume trick or treating. Walking along sidewalks which for that one night seemed to be magically transformed from the mundane to the creepy.

Big thanks to Corpus Press and A Hook of a Book for sending me a review copy.

Book Blast: New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color

I feel very honored to have been asked to take part in the Book Blast for New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color edited by Nishi Shawl and published by Rebellion Publishing.

New Suns Cover-2‘THERE’S NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN, BUT THERE ARE NEW SUNS,’
PROCLAIMED OCTAVIA E. BUTLER.

            New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color showcases emerging and seasoned writers of many races telling stories filled with shocking delights, powerful visions of the familiar made strange.

Between this book’s covers burn tales of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and their indefinable overlappings. These are authors aware of our many possible pasts and futures, authors freed of stereotypes and clichéd expectations, ready to dazzle you with their daring genius.

Unexpected brilliance shines forth from every page.

TABLE OF CONTENTS – NEW SUNS, ed. Nisi Shawl.

  • Foreword, LeVar Burton
  • The Galactic Tourist Industrial Complex, Tobias Buckell
  • Deer Dancer, Kathleen Alcalá
  • The Virtue of Unfaithful Translations, Minsoo Kang
  • Come Home to Atropos, Steven Barnes
  • The Fine Print, Chinelo Onwualu
  • unkind of mercy, Alex Jennings
  • Burn the Ships, Alberto Yáñez
  • The Freedom of the Shifting Sea, Jaymee Goh
  • Three Variations on a Theme of Imperial Attire, E. Lily Yu
  • Blood and Bells, Karin Lowachee
  • Give Me Your Black Wings Oh Sister, Silvia Moreno-Garcia
  • The Shadow We Cast Through Time, Indrapramit Das
  • The Robots of Eden, Anil Menon
  • Dumb House, Andrea Hairston
  • One Easy Trick, Hiromi Goto
  • Harvest, Rebecca Roanhorse
  • Kelsey and the Burdened Breath, Darcie Little Badger
  • Afterword, Nisi Shawl

The beautiful cover was created by Yoshi Yoshitani (http://www.yoshiyoshitani.com/)

 

Her Smile will Untether the Universe By Gwendolyn Kiste

Sometimes you read something that resonates with you so deeply that there aren’t even words that you can put together that will do it justice. You can’t describe the depths that a story or a book can speak to your soul. Her Smile will Untether the Universe will defiantly do that.

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Summary: A collection of stories that will rip your heart out.

What I liked: Kiste’s writing is beautiful. Her use of imagery is exquiste and horrific at the same time. Kiste’s stories are multilayered and speak to you at different levels. There are horrors that Kiste uncovers within yourself with her writing and that is what makes the horror of the short stories so effective. The pacing of each story is perfect and there are no lulls between the stories. This is not a collection that you want to put down. The stories flow seamlessly between each other, complimenting each other perfectly. Kiste, is a magic story teller. World creation in short stories is difficult put Kiste does it so beautifully.

What I didn’t like: There is absolutely nothing about this collection that I did not like.

Star Rating: All the stars

My Thoughts: I’ve read a lot of horror. The most effective horror plays on your fears and your experiences in life. Kiste is able to take these fears and twist them into beautiful stories. As you read them you are pulled by her words into these little universes that she creates. This was a hard review to write. I loved the stories so much but I didn’t want to reveal too much. I want other readers to be pulled into Kiste’s worlds by her words and be moved. This was a time when the words won’t accurately convey the amount of feelings you have while reading. This is one of those times. This review can’t even come close to how much I loved this collection.