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.

House of Furies by Madeleine Roux

Early in July, the Ladies of Horror Fiction where extremely lucky to work with Wunderkind PR for a giveaway of Madeleine Roux’s House of Furies series. Jen and I wanted to read something that was a bit fun so we started House of Furies one Friday night. Jen finished it before I did but told me that I would enjoy it…..she wasn’t wrong! This story has so many elements that I absolutely love in it.

Synopsis: A girl with a secret begins to work in a country house.

What I liked: I enjoyed the entire book. The pacing is perfect for this book. So spot on. The story itself pulls you in and doesn’t let go until the last page. Even then you want the story to keep going. Roux pulls you into this alternate world where you actually question the rights and wrongs of the story. Actually the story makes you think a little bit deeper than just reading the story. It actually forces you to question a couple of your own morals. What would you do in such and such situation? I rather enjoyed that. I believe that the story is YA accessible and there isn’t anything that you wouldn’t want your YA reading.

What I didn’t Like: That the book ended when it did.

Star Rating: 4.5 Stars

My Thoughts: As I was buddy reading this I received a message from Jen telling me that I was going to love an aspect of the book and she was right. Now I can’t say anything as that will ruin the story. But it was a great twist in the story. There is a beauty to the characters in the story. Even which each of their unique qualities you really come to like them especially when you find out more about their backstories. Also there is a book within a book which Roux does very well. It actually ties the stories of the characters together. I really enjoyed the extra back story.

Without Condition A Novel By Sonora Taylor

What is it about the horror genre that lends to stories about serial killers. Is it the horrific things that some serial killers do? Or is it the idea that there is someone out there that doesn’t have the same respect or empathy for human life that the rest of society “should” have. I have read quite a bit of true crime and horror about serial killers. But….it is very rare to read a story about a female serial killer. Which is why I was so happy to read Without Condition by Sonora Taylor.

Synopsis: Coming of age story with a murderous twist.

What I liked: I really appreciated the multifaceted way that Cara was written. She was well written and three dimensional. She may have been a serial killer but there was a lot more to her. There was some many different sides to her character. I appreciated Cara’s story in general. For me it was more of a coming of age story with murder. It was more about Cara and growing up and how her relationship with her mother changes as she is maturing and falling in love. The ending really surprised me. I really enjoyed how the story ended. I wasn’t left feeling lost or empty.

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

Star Rating: 4.5 Stars

My thoughts: I truly enjoyed this story. I think that Taylor really hit on something with this story. Even though Cara was a killer you felt for her. You felt for the child that she was….the woman that she was growing into. I really can’t wait to see what else Taylor has up her sleeve. If you don’t haven’t gotten this in your brain you are missing out.

A big thank you to Sonora for sending me a copy for review.

Husk by Rachel Autumn Deering

So lets get really personal for a minute. I have been around people most of my life that have some type of mental illness ranging from addiction to PTSD. I personally don’t suffer from any type of mental illness but I understand that toll that it takes on individuals and their families. I always find horror books that are written with characters that have PTSD or some other mental illness a bit cringey. My issue with how mental illness is dealt with in horror fiction is usually own to the fact that the bad guy has a mental illness. But that to me is not accurate. Husk was a breath of fresh air in how Deering dealt with the main character’s PTSD.

Synposis: A veteran returns home to his childhood home. However, there is something watching him.

What I liked: I loved this book. I felt like it actually discussed the symptoms of PTSD in a way that is completely understandable and respectful. This was such a fresh take on PTSD symptoms. I also really appreciated that the character with PTSD wasn’t the bad guy but rather he was suffering. Deering’s characters were enduring and well written. You want to reach through the book and try to help Kevin. The attachment that the reader feels to the characters says a lot about Deering’s writing. I love the portrayal of PTSD it really reminded me of the way it is described by some people who have suffered.

What I didn’t like: There was nothing that I didn’t like about Husk.

Star Rating: 4.5

My thoughts: I can’t wait to read more from Deering. I think she has an interesting imagination and she can spin a yarn. I love the approach she took to PTSD. It was so much like I have heard it explained to me. Her writing style pulls you in and doesn’t let go. I normally try to let a book sink in and then write a review but I have been thinking about Husk since I finished it. It is one that stays with you. If you haven’t read it yet I would suggest that you pick it up!!

The Devil’s Dreamland By Sara Tantlinger

I started reading poetry this year. It truly spoke to me in a way I didn’t expect it to. I liked what I was reading. But it didn’t really gut punch me until I discovered Horror Poetry. I am totally and completely hooked now. The way many of these authors mix the grotesque with the beautiful. This is the second poetry collection that I have read this year by Sara Tantlinger and she is so talented I can’t stand it! Just kidding Sara. But in all seriousness if you have a penchant horror, poetry or true crime The Devil’s Dreamland will fill that itch…

Synopsis: A poetry collection based on the life and crimes of H.H. Holmes.

What I liked: Tantlinger is able to mix the grotesque with the beautiful with such ease. In this collection which deals with one America’s first serial killers Tantlinger is able to mix historical fact and murder with pretty words. There is no other way to say it. I love the snippets of historical facts scattered throughout the collection. It says a lot about the amount of research that Tantlinger put into her collection. The layout of the collection is perfection; starting with his birth to his death Tantlinger covers the madness into which he descended with skill and ease.

What I didn’t like: Absolutely nothing. This collection hit the nail on the head for me with every single poem.

Star Rating: 5 Stars

My thoughts: If you haven’t picked up this collection yet what are you waiting for! Tantalinger absolutely slays (pun intended) she expertly weaves beautiful words and grotesque acts together. I truly enjoyed the way she followed the transformation of H.H. Holmes from a conman to a cold blooded serial killer. Tantlinger is so talented. If you haven’t picked up any of her poetry you are certainly missing out and need to have your head examined. So darkly delicious.

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.