The week that I finished this book, the little dude said to me that he was watching this crazy anime and told me the plot. I was like that is weird because I am reading a book where humans are breed and raised for food. Now if that isn’t enough coincidences for you I was also watching Hannibal while I was reading this book. It is super crazy how things like that happen. Also we are in the middle of a pandemic which is also mentioned in this book. BUT, not in the little dudes anime. He thought it was super cool that he was watching an anime where people were going to be food. However, I think it was inspired by Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro actually. Anyway, back to this amazing little story.
Pssttt……I am trying a different format for my review. I am just writing my thoughts out, with NO SPOILERS.
Synopsis: Dystopian future where humans are raised as meat.
My thoughts: Holy Moly!!! There is a lot to really like about this story. The horrific nature of the writing is defiantly one of those things. It was straight forward. This is one of those stories where you don’t get to read every single internal thought the main character is thinking. There are sparks of what he is thinking but it is still from an outside perspective. I don’t read many reviews for books. But I wanted to see what other people had to say when I finished and this book is really polarizing. Honestly, I was really surprised at some people’s reactions. I understand that cannibalism is a subject that people aren’t entirely comfortable with. However, if you look at the history of cannibalism humans have been partaking of other humans for as long as there have been humans. Yes, it is a tabor’s subject but the way the story was wrapped up it was defiantly necessary.
What I do find interesting is the comparisons drawn between modern meat farming and what was happening to the humans in the book. The discussion of using hormones and other chemicals. The selective breeding to increase yield. That to me is grotesque and barbaric. I felt the same disgust when I was reading The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. Do I still eat meat? Yes I do. However, my eyes are completely open to what happens in factory farming. I choose my meat carefully. I loved this about the story. It flips the whole factory farming premise on its head. Would society allow factory farming on humans?
Personally, I truly loved this book. Bazterrica, took the premise of the story and really made it her own. There is a huge twist that I didn’t see coming. The pacing was fantastic. It is a really quick read that grabs you and doesn’t let go. I love Bazterrica’s characters as well. It wasn’t that they were nice or anything like that. But you really got a cringe when you were reading some of them. This is so telling about how well Bazterrica writes. If you are looking for something different to read please pick this up. It really is a wonderfully written book.
I was a child growing up in the 80s. I still listen to much of the music and watch the movies. It just takes me back to getting strangled by the super long phone cords, not wearing seatbelt, and drinking out of the outside hose. Yes, the water from the outside hose tasted a bit like a metal; but when you were told to stay off the wet floors that is where you got a drink of water. And it wasn’t always your hose it could have been any number of neighborhood hoses. Today this wouldn’t fly with the pandemic and the creation of the HUGE water industry no longer are thirsty children expected to drink out of hoses. The Ghost Tree made me feel a tinge of nostalgia while I was reading it.
Thank you to Pima County Library for allowing drive through pickups during the pandemic. You all have been awesome!!
Synopsis: Some girls get murdered in a small town. While another girl starts to grow up.
What I liked: I am a big fan of Christina Henry’s writing. Henry’s writing draws the reader in and doesn’t let go. I have had the same experience with all the books she has written that I have read. Her characterizations are three dimensional and believable. There are characters which you won’t like. There are other characters that you will totally love. The pacing of the stories are perfect. It goes faster and slower in the right parts.
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 entire story. I loved the fact that it was set in the 80s. That there was an arcade, small town and a secret. For some reason stories with a secret is something that I have really been enjoying lately. The story just floats along and BAM the secret is something that is known but unknown to most of the people in the story. There is actually a technical literary term for it. I loved many of the ideas in the story and they were cohesive. One of the things I really appreciate about Henry’s writing is how she writes young women. They are never a damsel in distress and that is something I truly love in her stories. They rescue themselves and that is truly refreshing. Something that I thought was really great in The Ghost Tree was the fact that the main character was on the cusp of being a teenager but still had some of the child in many of the things that she did. Female friendship was also a topic in this book. When you are that young your friendships can be weird. Especially when girls start puberty at different times; not just physically but mentally as well.
There is something that I have always wondered. Does anyone else have stress dreams? Like a dream that you have when you are super stressed out and it doesn’t change no matter when you have it. It is exactly the same every time you have it? I do. No it isn’t the naked in school dream or anything like that. It has to do with Zombies, hiding and running. There is probably something wrong in my wiring but that is okay. The Cipher reminded me of one of my stress dreams. It was really intense. It wasn’t a book that I could just put down, I felt draw to sit and had to sit and finish it.
Thank you to Meerkat Press for sending me a review copy!!!
Synopsis: Someone plays with a hole and it doesn’t end well.
What I liked: Koja’s writing…..all of it is wonderful. The words are like oil. They weave around your brain mass and burrow into it. The pacing of the story is spot on. Not too fast and not too slow. The secret and mystery just unravels as you are reading. The characters are written in such a way that the reader either loves them or hates them. There is a cultish aspect to the story that thrilled me to no end.
What I didn’t like: There was nothing I didn’t like
Star Rating: 5 stars
My thoughts: This is a darkly fun and deeply disturbing read. I found myself wondering what I would do if this void opened up in a room or closet in my house. I have no idea what I would do. Honestly, it reminds me of the vortex in Poltergeist and that freaked me out as a kid. The lesson here is not to mess with some black void that you become obsessed with. But isn’t that the point of the story obsession? Cultism? (no spoilers) It is a book that I think about when there is nothing else going on. I just sit there and think about WHY?! Once you read it you will totally understand what I am talking about. This is one of those books that long time horror readers talk about.
Very rarely do I sit down to write a review of a book as soon as I am done with it. But here I am, eyes puffy and reddened from crying and nose running. Every few years a book comes a long that will just tear your heart out and rip it into a million pieces. Betty is one of those books. My heart is torn into a million pieces but there is a small girl there that is sewing the million pieces back together, wit a lining of silver so I can put my heart back into my chest and have some hope. This is one of those books. The story is that of a family. The beauty and the darkness that comes with family is laid bare for the reader. Also if you don’t think that this book is horror then I will fight you.
Synopsis: The life of Betty and her family; with the beauty and the ugly of growing up.
What I liked: Tiffany McDaniel is a helluva writer. She can take the words and weaves a spell with them. Here is the spell….you can’t put the book down. You want to sit and read. NO food, No sleep and lock the family out of the house read. The characters, the landscape everything….It is beautiful.
What I didn’t like:
Star Rating: ALL THE STARS!!! EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM IN THE SKY!!
My Thoughts: Oh dear lord. That is my thought. There are so many things about this book that I want to scream about but I don’t do spoilers. However, this book has made me think about families and people. It also makes me think about history and the choices that people make. I do want to talk about one character…..Betty’s dad. His entire arc is filled with magic, pain and hope. Yes, I said hope. There is hope in him. (okay I am starting to tear up). This book is horror. It is familial/social horror. Look at me coining new sub-genres this year. Blood and gore doesn’t make a horror book. It is the feeling that you feel as you read that makes the book horror. MANY times during this story I felt revulsion, disgust and pain. Lots and lots of pain. So yes, it is horror…..and for those horror purists horror adjacent.
Now here is where I am going to beg. If you only read one book this year PLEASE READ THIS BOOK!!! But I will warn you…..make sure you have lots and lots of tissues.
The Louisiana bayou is a place that holds a lot of fascination. All the animals and the mystery of the swamp. There is so much that we don’t know about the swamp. But if you are one of the lucky few to live deep in the swamp there is a chance that you will have heard about the supernatural creatures that live deep in the swamp.
Synopsis: A young swamp witch has to fight off a very specific monster.
What I liked: Eldredge’s writing is perfect for the age demographic the book is aimed at. The story was charming and creepy. It was just spooky enough for the age the book is marketed for. The illustrations are also super charming. The pacing for the story was perfect. I really enjoyed my adventure with Evangeline.
What I didn’t like: Their isn’t anything that I didn’t like.
Star Rating: 4 Stars
My thoughts: I really wish that books like this had been around when I was a kid. It was just the right amount of spooky. I love that many of the middle-grade books have girls as heroines. From Ages 11 – 13 girls begin to change. They start to lost the self confidence and that spark that they have during childhood. This is one of the main reasons that books where the girl is the heroine at that age is really important. Girls need to understand that they are strong and they can still have adventures even when teenage hood is knocking on the door. We are so much more than workers and family members. Just my opinion…..I think as girls grow older they are discouraged from using their imaginations. Unless, it is for playing house, playing mommy or for romantic type things. I really hope there is another book about Evangeline.
Adventure horror it is totally a thing right?! A story where someone goes on an adventure (in the jungle or on a boat or something of that nature) and then horrible things happen to them. I never really thought that it was it’s own genre of horror until I sat down to write this. I was mulling things over and over in my head where do stories like this fit. We have body horror, splatter-punk, ecological horror and psychological horror…so why not adventure horror. So I dub a new sub-category adventure horror! Okay, so I may not have the power to create a new sub-category but lets just pretend shall we.
Thank you for the review copy Cheryl!!! Sorry it took so long 🙂
Synopsis: An adventure team heads to a isolated island with dire consequences.
What I liked: I really enjoyed the pacing of this story. Once the characters hit the ground running you where swept right along with them. The action didn’t actually stop until the end of the story.
What I didn’t like: There wasn’t anything in particular about the story that I didn’t like.
Star Rating: 4 stars
My Thoughts: I really enjoyed the premise of the story. If you follow me on twitter you will know that I am not a fan of the ocean. Like I really don’t like the ocean…..THERE ARE THINGS THAT WILL EAT YOU in the ocean. So the fact that the book was set around and island already made me a little anxious. No this is not a different retelling of every ocean horror. (coined a new sub-category) But rather the ocean and the island were actually characters in the story and I really appreciate that. When they are featured like Low did it just reaffirms my belief that we don’t belong on the ocean. If you want a fast paced adventure horror (see what I dd there) defiantly pick this up.
When I dropped off the face of the earth last year. I basically dropped all my commitments: read-alongs, podcast episodes…there was no more room in my brain to deal with anything. Which really sucks, because I was suppose to have Alexis Henderson on the LOHFPod and I feel crappy that I didn’t follow through. I was thinking about that whole fiasco when I was choosing my #ladiesfirst21 read of the year. HOLY SHIT I truly missed out. I have so many questions and thoughts. Like a lot of them. I have been thinking about this book since I finished it.
Thank you ACE/Berkley for sending me a review copy.
Synopsis: A girl born under very sad circumstances learns about her heritage and family through trials.
What I liked: My synopsis doesn’t really do this book justice! Henderson’s writing is heartfelt. Her characterizations are three dimensional and believable. The stories pacing was perfect for the groundwork that needed to be laid.
What I didn’t like: There is nothing I didn’t like….besides the fact that it ended 🙂
Star Rating: 5 Stars
My thoughts: There is a lot of mythology woven into this story. Lilith for example, stems from Jewish mythology. (I don’t want to say anymore than that and give the story away). There was a lot of social commentary that I really enjoyed and was woven into the story really well. Henderson really explores the theme of otherness and belonging. She explores race throughout the story and I was here for it. I loved how she combined all these different themes into story that read like a fairytale. It is commentary on so many different things, at least this is how it reads to me. I highly highly suggest for your next read you pick this book up and devour it.
psstttt…..I heard a little rumor that she is working on something else as well!!
I am not a big fan of best of lists. Personally, every list is subjective and everyone has different tastes. The best of lists tend to rile everyone up because someone didn’t name such and such book. In my opinion, it would seem it is down the amount of books that people try to put in these lists. So when I saw my friend Emily post a top 19 of 2019. I thought I could probably do that.
This year I read some amazing books. There are so many that I really enjoyed but this list are books that really hit me in the feels or books that I really loved. They are in no specific order.
In this stack we have:
Little Paranoias by Sonora Taylor
Choking Back the Devil by Donna Lynch
The Girl Aquarium by Jen Campbell
Wonderland Edited by Marie O’Reagan and Paul Kane
The Girl in Red by Christina Henry
Finding Baba Yaga by Jane Yolen
Sing Your Sadness Deep by Laura Mauro
Violet by Scott Thomas
Frankissstein by Jeanette Winterson
The Apocalyptic Mannequin by Stephanie M. Wytovich
New Music for Old Rituals by Tracy Fahey
Hex Life edited by Christopher Golden and Rachel Autumn Deering
Yes, that is only 12 but here are the books that I loved that I had checked out from my friendly neighborhood library.
Bunny by Mona Awad
My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
Now You’re One of Us by Asa Nonami
The rest are series that I loved and read this year.
Small Spaces by Katherine Arden
Dead Voices by Katherine Arden
City Of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab
Tunnel of Bones by Victoria Schwab
This was an extremely hard list to make. There were so many things that I loved to read this year. So this list could go on and on. But these are the books that really stole my heart.
I wanted to thank all the authors and the publishers I worked with this year. All the work that goes into writing and creating these amazing little worlds between pretty covers astounds me. A big thank you to Pima County Library!! Thank you for not yelling at me when I turn things in late!!
I have an amazing team that I work with everyday to promote women horror authors. Big thank you to The Ladies Of Horror Fiction. You all make the days and frustrations so much more tolerable.
I love stories where there this a kick ass female protagonist. I also love when a female protagonist sees the writing on the wall but still pushes forward. Not matter if their back is against the wall there is still this drive pushing them forward to kill or solve whatever issue is in front of them. Honestly, that is what makes a strong female character and Cooper has that down.
Synopsis: A woman’s past comes back to haunt her but she takes control.
What I liked: I really enjoyed Cooper’s characterizations. Her characters are three dimensional and you can care about them. You want them to win. You become very invested in the story. I really like Cooper’s writing style. It is a very quick read that you really don’t want to end. You want to continue reading the story of these women. The monsters….I want everyone to read just to meet Cooper’s monsters. Her descriptions of them are vivid and you can see in your mind’s eye exactly what they look like. There is so much to like about Cooper’s writing.
What I didn’t like: I didn’t want it to end.
Star Rating: 4.5 stars
My Thoughts: I read The Festering Ones in two sittings. I really enjoyed the premise. There is something that was really important to me that Cooper did really well. Her characters where strong women without being bitchy and abrasive. They were brave and faced their demons with spunk and grit. I really appreciated that. The idea that a strong woman doesn’t have to be abrasive or a bitch was lovely.
If you haven’t realized that I am a bit of a nerd yet then you really haven’t been paying attention. As the host of a podcast you tend to do lots of research on whatever topic that you are talking about. I have been fortunate in that I talk about a lot of women horror authors. So when I saw this beauty floating around in the twitterverse I had to have it. The book itself is just beautiful!!
Synopsis: Each chapter deals with a influential women in the horror and speculative fiction genres.
What I liked: I loved that I was able to dip in and out of this book while I was reading it. The writing style was super accessible and I really enjoyed the information at the end of each profile. It tells you what to read by the author and other things to read if you enjoyed the author’s work. The illustrations through out the book are lovely.
What I didn’t like: Absolutely nothing
Star Rating: 5 Stars
My Thoughts: I think that this is a really important book. Women have been a part of the horror genre since the beginning. Whether they were writing Gothic horror or are writing now. Women have been instrumental in shaping the horror genre. This is a very important work that lists the most influential women. If you support women in horror this is a book that you will want on your shelves.
Big Thank you to Quirk Books for sending me a review copy. AND A HUGE THANK YOU to Lisa and Melanie for mentioning the Ladies of Horror Fiction!!!