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.

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.

The Apocalyptic Mannequin By Stephanie M. Wytovich

Poetry. What can you say about poetry? It has the ability to make you feel. Whether it is love, longing or anger, you feel something. However, there is a breed of poetry that can make you feel disgust, anger and even fear. This is my genre of poetry. Horror poetry. But I want to say that even though it is listed as horror the anger and the love in some of the poems shine through. There is beauty in what is horrific and The Apocalyptic Mannequin doesn’t disappoint.

Synopsis: Collection of horror poetry

What I liked: Wytovich is so talented. I mean she is seriously talented. I want to have everything that she has ever written. She plays with words like toddlers play with play-doh. Honestly, she killed me with this collection. The anger and sadness that comes through her words just knocked me down. It was beautiful. I mean seriously. There wasn’t a poem in the collection that made me take pause it was all so beautiful and so haunting.

What I didn’t Like: Not a damn thing.

Star Rating: 5 Stars

My Thoughts: UGGGGHHHHH!! I want everyone to read this. What I really loved was the themes that ran through the collection. Not only was it about the end of the world but being a woman. Being a woman in a time that is uncertain and politically tense. I was reading somewhere once that some of the best art has come at times of political strife. Notice I used the word art. This collection is art. Everything about it screams and claws and rallies. If you haven’t read it yet PLEASE get it. It is amazing, sad and will make you angry. Which in my opinion is the whole reason that art is important.

Thank you Raw Dog Screaming Press for my review copy.

The Fearing Book Four Earth and Ember by John F.D. Taff

Again I am just going to say that I loved the idea of a book being serialized. I hate to use the word vintage or throwback….but in the era where we can have anything delivered via an app on our phone it was refreshing. As I am writing this I think that there is more to this story then just an apocalyptic story. I’ll talk more about that later….But the story feels very personal.

Synopsis: The last book in The Fearing serialization.

What I liked: Something that I really enjoyed was the ending. I wasn’t happy about the trip of the story being over. However, I love where Taff took it too. The ending itself made me happy. Through out the story there was this feeling of anxiousness. The entire story was a race…..a race between good and evil. But it wasn’t truly that. It was a truly fresh take on fear. What fear actually is and how fear works. Taff is truly talented. The plot through the story moved perfectly….there are times where you can slightly catch your breath and then you are taken on a roller coaster ride through the countryside.

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

Star Rating: 4.5 stars

My Thoughts: I didn’t really want to read the ending of this serialization. I really enjoyed waiting for each book. It was like waiting for the next movie in a series or waiting for the next episode of a TV show. In the era of movies on demand or binge watching tv shows, it reminded me of being patient and enjoy the waiting. I want to say that the story felt a lot more personal. Fear is an interesting emotion and the idea that fear could destroy the world is so poignant right now. I will say this I personally loved the ending. I can’t talk about the ending without giving it away but I loved the ending.

The super cool thing is that the covers can be put together to form a cool picture.

Thank you to Grey Matter Press for my review copy!

The Fearing Book Three: Air & Dust

I know I have said this before but I really wish that more publishers would serialize their stories. It has been so much fun waiting for each novella and then devouring it as soon as it comes in the mail. Honestly, it reminds me of watching a regular TV show and needing to wait a week to watch the next episode. It has made me super happy.

Synopsis: Book 3 in the serialization of The Fearing.

What I liked: I love the story. I really, really do. With the fact that it is serialized it allows the pacing to pull the reader in. It was really nice waiting for the next installment. The introduction of Mr. Jackoby was really interesting and added new flavor to the story. The characterizations are so well written, as a reader I am worried about some of the characters. Taff’s story is so well written that you really don’t want it to end. I do have book 4 and will be reading it this week. But I really love how Taff has built the story up. I can’t wait until to read more about Monday as well.

What I didn’t like: ABSOLUTLEY NOTHING

Star Rating: 5

My Thoughts: Seriously, I wish that more publishers serialized their stories. It was really nice not binging the entire thing. I really hope the Grey Matter does this with another book. It really drew out the enjoyment of the story.

The Fearing Book 2 Water and Wind by John F.D. Taff

In the age of binge watching TV shows and instant gratification would a serial book really work well. As far as I am concerned it works amazing!! The waiting for the next part of the story is like a build up. Wondering what is going to happen with the characters. That is why I am super glad that John F.D. Taff and Grey Matter Press has made this bingable story into smaller chunks to savor instead of gulp down.

Synopsis: The second installation in Taff’s The Fearing serialization.

What I liked: AAAHHHHH I love the fact that this is serialized. I love the cliff hangers. Taff knows just where to stop the story…..to give you just enough to keep you wanting more. I really appreciate how Taff moved the story along from the first book. It is basically, like waiting for the next season of a TV show that you have been waiting for. The pacing of the story is perfect for the way the story is being told. The characters are perfect for the story. You have feelings about the characters…you either like them or hate them. Taff has done amazing work keeping the multiple story lines throughout both of the books together. I am still loving the new take on the apocalypse.

What I didn’t like: It isn’t that I didn’t like that it ended but I did like the serialization.

Star Rating: 5 Stars

My thoughts: I would love if more publishers started serializing books. I love the binge reading and I do it all the time however, I’ve really enjoyed slowing my reading down and to really become invested in the story. The waiting is wonderful to be honest. Also it makes me think about the Penny Dreadfuls, it is reaching back to the history of publishing. Most books were serialized when printing was a luxury.