Women in Translation: Our Life in the Forest by Marie Darrieussecq trans by. Penny Hueston

There is so much out there. Honestly since starting women in translation for the Ladies of Horror Fiction I have absolutely been swept away by the amount of amazing fiction that is there by authors I would have never heard of otherwise. Darrieussecq for example is one of these. I was watching a video at the end of July and Text publishing had been brought up. I had a look at their catalog and this beautiful cover jumped out at me. I am so so glad I bought it because I think my brain melted just a little bit.

Synopsis: A women lives in a forest with her half. *you totally have to read the book to understand that*

What I liked: So I think my brain melted..just a little. I wasn’t expecting the ending at ALL. Darrieussecq was so skilled I had NO idea where the story was going to go. I mean literally my jaw dropped. The story is written very all over the place going backward and forward. It reminds me more of having a story told to you instead of written by an author. The synopsis on the back of the book doesn’t do it justice. It is a bit of a slow read because of the way it is written but I enjoyed slowing down and really reading the words.

What I didn’t like: Some of the back and forth in time was hard to follow in the middle of the book but that is fine.

Star Rating: 4.0 stars

My thoughts: I know I keep saying that there is so much to read out in the world. But there is…..Darrieussecq is a very well known French author who has had a very prolific publishing career but I have never heard of her. Darrieussecq falls more to the speculative fiction side of the house but there are some horrific elements through out the story. There are also some moral questions that this story really brings up. Which I can’t talk about or it will ruin the story. But all in all I really really enjoyed it.

Little Paranoias: Stories by Sonora Taylor

I love short stories. I use short stories as a palette cleanser when I have been reading a lot of novels. I needed some short stories this week to cleanse my palette before I started on some of the novels that I have lined up. I was lucky enough to have received a review copy of Little Paranoias: Stories from Sonora Taylor a couple of weeks ago and I thought this would be perfect.

Synopsis: Short stories that deal with everyday things……but in a different way.

What I liked: I really enjoy Taylor’s writing. She has a very informal style which lends to story telling. Instead of feeling like you are reading it is more like you are having the story told to you. The pacing of the stories where perfect. Some ranged from a few pages to a couple. Taylor really put some thought into the pacing of each story. I would have to say that there weren’t any stories which are too long nor too short. The stories where just the right length. I really appreciate this. This collection has so many different topics in the stories which is always fantastic when you are reading a collection. I also like how Taylor writes her female characters.

What I didn’t like: Nothing

Star Rating: 4 Stars

My thoughts: I really enjoyed the stories in this lovely collection. They range from stories which tug at your heart strings to stories that give you the shivers. One of my favorite stories made me really sad LOL. I want to talk about what the story was about but I can’t do that without giving away what the story is about. There are a couple of different ways you can look at the story itself. My take was more about how people treat other people. But I can’t say any more than that. If you haven’t checked out Taylor’s writing before I would suggest you pick this up and give it a read.

Women in Translation: The Vegetarian by Han Kang trans. by Deborah Smith

The last few years have seen a proliferation of odd fiction and movies and I am here for it. I had watched Braid on recommendation from my friend Emily. As part of Women in Translation month I came across a few reviews for The Vegetarian which sounded like an amazingly odd tale. Can I just say it scratch the odd fiction itch for me.

Synopsis: A woman becomes a vegetarian out of the blue and chaos ensues.

Things I liked: Kang really takes you on a roller coaster of a story. She actually fits three stories into one. I really appreciated how she approached the story of this woman from three different angles and how her choices actually affect her family. What I appreciated was how she spun the vegetarianism as a character in the story. Kang is a fantastic writer and the pacing of the three stories was perfect and really pushed towards the ending.

Things I didn’t like: There is a trope that is used that I am never too keen on being used but I can see why Kang used it.

Star Rating: 3.5 Stars

My Thoughts: I loved the weirdness of the three stories. The first story was amazing. I totally loved it. However, I felt like it was being used as a introduction to the rest of the book. Which was a shame. I did like the idea that Kang used three different stories to look at what was happening to the woman. However, they didn’t really tie together really well. The second story is set some time in the future but you don’t get that information. This is the same with the third story. I just feel like some details where missing.

Blog Tour: Wonderland

Every time I go to the bookstore I always look at the copies of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I want to buy it for a child and watch them read it. Watch their eyes light up as they read about the March Hare or the Cook that had a pig for a baby. Which, incidentally was the part that scared me the most. I really couldn’t tell you why either. The jabberwolky never scared me…..just the cook and the pig baby. I digress though. I love retellings of many different stories, so when Titan Books asked me if I wanted to participate in the blog tour for Wonderland I jumped at the chance.

Synopsis: Within these pages you’ll find myriad approaches to Alice, from horror to historical, taking us from the nightmarish reaches of the imagination to tales the will shock, surprise and tug on the heart strings.

So, it’s time now to go down the rabbit hole, or through the looking glass or….But no, wait. By picking up this book and starting to read it you’re already there, can’t you see?

Contributing Authors: Jane Yolen, M.R. Carey, Cat Rambo, Angela Slatter, Laura Mauro….and many many others.

Star Rating: 4.5 Stars

My Thoughts: Many of the stories worked really well in the wonderland type back drop. There were a couple that didn’t really work for me. But that didn’t mean that the story was great it just didn’t fit with the others. Saying that all the stories were so well written. The poems by Jane Yolen which opened and closed the anthology were so beautiful. Each story was very different then the other.

If you have an itch to return to Wonderland in a more adult manner then please check out Wonderland it does not disappoint at all. There is something there for each genre.

Make sure you go to the next stop on the blog tour!!

Big Thanks to Titan Books as always for including me in an amazing blog tour.

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.