The Festering Ones by S.H. Cooper

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.

Thank you too S.H. Cooper for the review copy!!!

Women In Translation:Now You’re One of Us by Asa Nonami trans. by Michael Volek and Mitsuko Volek

I am very happy at the moment. Women in translation month really opened my eyes to all the amazing books in the world. I have been doing a lot of research into translation and publishing here in the States. Needless to say, I am pretty disappointed. The stories that are floating around out in the world are amazing and truly deserve to have everyone screaming about them. Now You’re One of Us is a book that I personally hadn’t heard anything about. I was looking all over for Japanese women horror authors and came across Asa Nonami. Now I want to scream about her books from the roof tops.

Synopsis: A newlywed joins her husbands family

What I liked: I loved the dreamlike quality that Nonami interjects into this story. Reading this story was like walking around without the right amount of sleep. The story is a slow burn. It starts out innocently enough but it progresses to all out craziness. Then pulls back again. You really want to believe that the character is crazy. But you soon realize that she isn’t. I really enjoyed the entire story. Nonami is so talented and I wish that there were more people reading her books.

What I didn’t Like: Nothing there was nothing that I didn’t like.

Star Rating: 5 Stars

My Thoughts: When I got the book through interlibrary loans it was marked as a mystery. I completely disagree with this. It isn’t a mystery but rather a horror that deals with social taboos. The entire book is written like a dream. The reader finds out why the story is told like that later and it is shocking but what the main character does is even more shocking. I really wish there were more people screaming about Asa Nonami. She is truly a talented writer.

The Toll by Cherie Priest

I love fairytales. Some of my favorites are about trolls that live under a bridge that won’t let you pass until you pay a toll. Once that toll is paid you are allowed to pass. The Toll is slightly like that but with swamp witches and monsters. When I won The Toll I was super excited. However, this isn’t your grandmother’s fairytale.

Synopsis: A town where no one ever leaves until they do.

What I liked: I really enjoyed how Priest used Staywater as a character. Many times, towns are just used as a backdrop instead of an actual character. I also enjoyed the pacing. The beginning of the story is a slow burn which caused me to be slightly confused. But as the story went on it drew everything together. I really enjoyed the cousins….I always enjoy stories where little old ladies are strong willed.

What I didn’t like: There are a few things that I would have liked to understand about Staywater a bit more. Such as the doll house etc.

Star Rating: 4 stars

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this story so much. I did have a few issues where there were was something that was discussed in the story but there was npc background. For me, the dollhouse was one of those and why everyone could see ghosts. It seemed very natural but I wanted to understand why this was the case there. Personally, I would have like to understand that a bit more. Also I wanted to know more about Jess. How did she know. So for me there were a couple of things I wanted to know more about.

Hex Life Edited by Christopher Golden and Rachel Autumn Deering

Autumn is my favorite season. It starts to cool down in the desert and makes me think of past autumns. When I was a kid I dressed up as a witch with the full green face makeup or the horrible plastic mask. I would ride around the house on a fake broom stick. I have a love of witches and everything witchy. So when I saw Hex Life being floated around I had to review it.

Synopsis: An anthology of witchy stories written by women.

What I liked: There were so many different takes on witches! There was a fairytale retelling which I enjoyed immensely and a take on Baba Yaga. I loved them all. I loved reading all the different takes on the witch theme. This is going to be an anthology that are going to be re-reads every year. I have also not read anything by Hillary Monaghan before but her witch story was fantastic. Every story stayed within the theme and were well paced.

What I didn’t like: Nada

Star Rating: 4.5 stars

My thoughts: I am so very very happy that I read this anthology. The stories were wonderful and I found some new authors to read. What makes an anthology really great is the stories within it. This is going to be a yearly re-read for me. So many different takes on witches. I can’t wait for everyone to start reading it!!

Big THANK YOU to Titan Books for a review copy!!!

The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher

In my personal opinion horror and folklore go hand in hand. Whether, we are talking about folk horror or just folklore that is used in a horror story. It meshes so well. I want more folk horror and horror that uses folklore. We all need more. So when I started the The Twisted Ones I was super excited.

Synopsis: A woman and her dog go to clean out her dead grandmother’s house with some interesting consequences.

What I like: There is a heavy folklore element to the story and I LOVE THAT. I really enjoyed Kingfisher’s characters. As a reader I cared about what happened to Mouse. The pacing was really well done and the folklore narrative was inserted in the story really well. I liked how Kingfisher was able to draw a linear line between folklore in Wales to folklore in NC. There was a great deal of Welsh migration to that area and I really enjoyed that little tidbit.

What I didn’t like: The story became slightly slow about 3/4s of the way in. I thought it would have picked up a bit during this climatic part of the story but it didn’t.

Star Rating: 4 stars

My Thoughts: I really wish that more horror had folkloric parts to it. With the rise of folk horror I am hoping that we will get more of this in the future. For those of us the enjoy folklore it adds to the story and can bring a different element to the horror genre. I really enjoyed this book. If you really enjoy folk horror pick this one up.

Big Thanks to Saga Press for a review copy!!

Monster, She Wrote by Lisa Kröger and Melanie R. Anderson

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!!!

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.