Choking Back the Devil By Donna Lynch

Last year I got into reading poetry during National Poetry month. I am really glad that I did. I have been lucky to read so many great poetry collections. I review Donna Lynch’s Witches last year and knew that she was going to be a poetess that I would want to read again. I was so thrilled when she came out with another collection this year Choking Back the Devil. She is one to watch out for.

Synopsis: Dark poetry from the mind of Donna Lynch.

What I liked: Donna is a truly gifted poetess. Each poem in this collection is gut wrenching. Lynch has a real skill in taking words and conveying pure and raw emotion with them. All the poems were 4.5 and 5 star reads for me. Through the collection there is some truly heart wrenching subjects. Loss, love and depression. So many things within the this collection. I love how Lynch plays with words and metaphors. There is so much to unpack in this collection that there aren’t enough words to put it all together.

What I didn’t like: There was nothing in this collection that I didn’t love.

Star Rating: 5 stars!!!

My thoughts: After reading Lynch’s other poetry collection witches I couldn’t wait to see what she was going to come up with next. I was not disappointed in the least. I appreciate the the way that Lynch provides twists and turns within her poems. Lynch is truly a talented poetess. She deals with so many horrific themes in her poetry with such beauty.

I want to thank RDSPRess for sending me a copy of Choking Back the Devil in exchange for a honest review.

Last Things By Jacqueline West

I am continuing on my YA horror adventure. I was lucky enough to read some of West’s dark poetry last year. So when the author contacted me about reading a YA ARC I was like yeah. As I am on a YA horror adventure I thought it would be a great time to read and review Last Things.

Synopsis: A loner girl tries to help a rock star boy from her high school as everything goes very wrong.

Things that I liked: West’s treatment of the characters was very well done. As a reader I really appreciated the thought that West puts into the details for her characters. West was able to capture the dynamics of high school cliques in a three dimensional way. The story line was interesting and well thought through. There were some twists and turns that were really interesting and well written. There weren’t any real plot holes.

Things that I didn’t like: The pacing of the first 3/4s of the book was really slow. West was working on tension but it just seemed to drag for me.

Star Rating: 3.5 stars

My thoughts: Even though the first 3/4s of the story was slow I did enjoy it. There were enough twists in the story to keep you engaged. However, all the action in the story happened very quickly and I was left with a feeling of wanting more. I wanted to know more about Thea. I wanted to know more about her family and her mother. I just wanted a bit more from the story. However, I will say this I read Last Things after I finished Wanderers so that may have something to do with it. But I did enjoy the story. But the pacing was a bit too slow.

Sing Your Sadness Deep by Laura Mauro

There is something to be said for books that you can’t put down. Where the stories pull you in and don’t let go. Where the horror creeps up on you. At first you think you are safe….but in reality you aren’t. The false sense of security it lovely….until you no longer are safe. Sing Your Sadness Deep by Laura Mauro was one of those horror sleepers.

Synopsis: Collections of short stories that are set all over from the Arizona Desert to a Frozen Finnish lake.

What I liked: There is so much to unpack in this collection. Personally, I think that love and acceptance take the center stage in many of the stories that Mauro writes. Mauro weaves love through the horror of many of the stories which such ease which says a lot about her as a writer. Mauro’s writing style is smooth and flows so well throughout the stories. The arrangement of the short stories was spot on and they flowed well with each other. Even though many of the stories were set in different places Mauro brought out the beauty and the harshness in each book.

What I didn’t like: There was nothing I didn’t like

Star Rating: 5 Stars

My Thoughts: Mauro is a helluva a writer. She is able to take very mundane situations and really twist them. I have to say the first story gave me the feels…shape shifting and stories and love. There are so many different things that I want to talk about but I don’t want to ruin the book for anyone. But I will say this Undertow is a publisher to really keep your eye on!!

New Music for Old Rituals by Tracy Fahey

There aren’t many books that I read, I can honestly say feel like home. Where the stories of my childhood are presented in different and inventive ways. But Fahey is able to do that. Fahey took me back to my childhood where my nan would put out offerings for the good folk, she would tell me stories of changelings and the hungry grass. She told me stories of people that would walk off into the country side never to be seen again. So I grew up hearing much of the mythology that Fahey uses in her fiction. To this day I still have a hefty appreciation for the good folk…..because you never know.

Synopsis: A collection of horror stories based on mythology and legends from Ireland and one from Iceland.

What I liked: I loved this entire collection. It felt like sitting in the kitchen with my nan as she cooked and told stories. So many were stories that I had hear variations of that it was comfortable. Fahey’s writing style is very much like listening to a great story teller. The way she interwove legend and mythology into the stories that she told was perfect. At the end of each story Fahey gave you information about the story or her inspiration for the story. I really liked that. So many times you don’t the author’s though process behind a story. I really enjoyed her play with modern and mythology.

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

Star Rating: 5

My thoughts: After the first story…..I thought to myself that I missed my nan terribly. I missed the family that is still in Ireland. But the more I read the more this homesickness for lack of a better term was. Each story was like listening to my aunts tell one story after the other while they were cooking or knitting in the evening. I am happy to see an author using the old stories today. I am overjoyed to see the Irish language written down in a story. Go raibh maith agat Tracy. Chun na sean-scéalta a choinneáil beo. Agus chun glúin eile a mhúineadh chun eagla a chur ar na sióga.

The Girl in Red by Christina Henry

Fairytale retellings take on so many forms. Many aren’t that large of a departure from the original story. When I saw Christina Henry was publishing a retelling of Red Riding Hood I knew I must read it. I really enjoyed her take on The Little Mermaid. Henry’s retelling is everything I wanted it to be and more. It is a very human tale with love, loss, creatures and a girl in a red hoody. I am so very glad I stepped into the world of Red.

Synopsis: A virus which starts as a cough has wiped out a good chunk of humanity, Red goes on a voyage to get to her grandma’s house where she thinks that she will be safe.

What I liked: I love apocalypse literature and Henry does a great job of painting a picture of death, disease and the fall of humanity. There are a lot of different themes explored in the story: race, disability and family. It wasn’t something that I was expected but I feel the Henry handled each theme with purpose and grace. The characters are three dimensional and by the end of the story you really care about them. There is a lot of hope woven through the story and the good and bad of humanity. I really appreciated the way she used imagery to take the reader back to the original story.

What I didn’t like: There wasn’t anything I didn’t like. I would have liked a bit more of the ending at Grandma’s house so you knew that Red was safe.

Star Rating 4.5 Stars

My thoughts: I really wanted more of an ending. It was slightly anti-climatic for me as I really wanted to know that everyone involved in the story was safe. I enjoying the chapters that were set before Red went into the forest. I really believe that having that back story really fleshed out her character and you got a good understanding of what her motivations are throughout. It was a fun read with a surprise thrown in and I really enjoyed reading it.

BIG Thanks to Berkley for sending me a review copy for my honest opinion.

Skull Nuggets by Amy M. Vaughn

I don’t read a lot of bizarro. Actually, I don’t think I have really read any bizarro. So when I was offered the opportunity to review a bizarro book I got really excited. The title totally peaked my interest and I loved the cover. So when my copy of Skull Nuggets was hand delivered I started it immediately.

Synopsis: When it is discovered that mental illness is linked to neurophages Robert jumped at the chance to get help eradicating them.

What I liked: I enjoyed Vaughn’s writing style. The story premise was interesting and new. The characters were well fleshed out and three dimensional. The plot kept me completely engaged and wanting to find out what happened with the characters. I enjoyed the pace of the story. The characters where interesting and I cared about what happened to them.

What I didn’t like: There was nothing about this story that I really didn’t like.

Star Rating: 4 Stars

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed the story. I LOVED the cover illustration which is by Betty Rocksteady. I really enjoyed Vaughn’s story telling. Skull Nuggets was a great introduction to the bizarro genre. I loved the nuerophage idea. I think that the way Vaughn used to describe the the way nuerophages and mental illness felt very personal.

A big thank you to Amy for the review copy.

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

I have been reading a lot of women horror authors this year. And let me tell you I haven’t been disappointed. Family horror is near and dear to my heart. I think that it deals with the aspect of being in a family unit and all the horrors that can come from that. Her Body and Other Parties explores many of the different aspects of women hood in a way that was so terrifying yet beautiful.

Synopsis: A collection of women centric short horror stories.

What I liked: AHHHHHHHH!!! The entire book. THIS ENTIRE BOOK!!! Let me gather my composure so I can talk coherently about what I liked. Machado’s writing is so smooth it is like drinking a really good whiskey. Every story was poignant and made me sit back and think. Which is one of the things that I love about the Horror genre. It can take things that may seem mundane and turn them into terrifying scenarios. You aren’t limited to the standard response for those situations.

What I didn’t like: There was one story that was a bit over my head but that is my issue not Machados.

Star Rating: 4 stars

My thoughts: I truly truly enjoyed this collection. There is a story for everyone in Her Body. Machado’s writing style was spot on for me. It was lyrical yet beautiful. The way that Machado handles such heavy topics with such beautiful writing really shows her skill as an author. The stories are terrifying but her writing style makes them beautiful.

Many thanks to Emily from Book Happy for the use of her photo!!