The Yellow Wall-Paper, Herland and Selected Writings by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Welcome to the first review of the year!!! 2020 has started out to be an excellent reading year at this point. I participated in #ladiesfirst20 again this year. For my first book of the year I read Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. It was included in a new edition from Penguin Classics Women’s series. Which I am totally here for. In this edition there are poems and other short stories from Gilman. Many of which I hadn’t read before, and I am so glad that I have. A BIG Thank you to Penguin Classics for sending me a review copy!! This review is going to cover Herland specifically.

Synopsis: Three men end up in a isolated country which has no men.

What I liked: What can I say. It is Charlotte Perkins Gilman. I love her writing style. The pacing of the story was a bit slower then what I expected but the build up was perfect. I really enjoyed the slower pace it allowed me to immerse myself in the story and the characters. It wasn’t really horror but some of the themes within the story are horror adjacent. I really enjoyed Gilman’s characterizations. She took three different types of men (which she must have known) and wrote them so well. The poetry and the other short stories are amazing.

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

Star Rating: 5 Stars

My thoughts: This was the perfect book to start off the New Year. I had read The Yellow Wall-Paper multiple times. There are things that I notice every time I read it. I am pretty sure that Herland is going to be one of those stories as well. What I found truly interesting here was the how the women evolved without having men around. I think for the stories time it was subversive. That women would be able to think beyond fashion and home would have been novel.

True Crime by Samantha Kolesnik

Nature vs. nurture….I think about this a lot. Yes, I probably watch too many true crime documentaries. I recently read a book on this history of mental health and there was a running theme through the book which was how is insanity defined. What makes one insane? Is it something that happened in our childhood or is it something that we are born with? True Crime explores this and much more. Thank you for the review copy Samantha and Grindhouse press.

Synopsis: The story of an abused girl and the fall out from the abuse.

What I liked: I really enjoyed Kolesnik’s writing. The pacing of the book made it a quick one sitting read. Kolensik’s characterizations are really well written. I personally felt all the feelings for the characters. When I say all the feelings I mean all the feelings. Hate, sadness and empathy. The story was very well written and I truly enjoyed the story. I would be interested in knowing what happened to Suzy. LOL. I feel like the story just kind of cut off.

What I didn’t like: There was a time jump that didn’t get explained until a little bit later after then. It wasn’t that I didn’t like it but rather it slightly confused me for a couple of minutes.

Star Rating: 4.5 stars

My thoughts: I finished this book last night and it is still on my mind. The themes that run through it are truly disturbing and I am here for it. As I was reading the entire time I was thinking about the nature vs. nurture question. Would things have been different for the characters IF their parents had treated them better? Or were the characters just born broken? True Crime made me sad LOL.

The Beauty by Aliya Whiteley

I didn’t like mushrooms on my pizza until I was about 15 years old. At that point I wanted to try all the different types of mushrooms that we have on this amazing planet of ours. I still love mushrooms. I kinda am not sure I want to eat them anymore after reading The Beauty. Who am I trying to kid I still love mushrooms but I will never look at a chicken of the forest mushroom the same again.

Synopsis: Women died and in their place grew yellow mushrooms.

What I liked: Whiteley’s writing is very straight to the point and I am here for it. This isn’t my first of Whiteley’s books that I have reviewed. But I have to say it is my favorite. It is the weird quotient that I loved about the book. Whiteley’s imagination is amazing. The pacing of the story was spot on for me. It was a fast read that as a reader I needed to know what happened next. There weren’t any unneeded scenes to fill the story out. The flow was perfect and the emotion of the characters shine through the story.

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

Star Rating: 4.5 stars

My thoughts: When I finished The Beauty I had a few minutes of what the hell did I just read. Over the last few weeks I really have come to have enjoyed and loved the story. It is really beautiful and frightening at the same time. One thing I took away from it is that men and women have a symbiotic relationship with one another. I also enjoyed the strength that the “mushrooms” had. I think that there is a lot to unpack in this story. It is such an odd little story but could have a lot of meaning when you look between the lines. I know that there have been some mixed reviews regarding this lovely book.

The Dead Girls Club by Damien Angelica Walters

There is a true lack of a girls coming of age stories in the horror genre. I think that it is important that girls and women see themselves in a coming of age story. Especially, in the horror genre. Most of the female coming of age stories are in the YA genre. Personally, I think that the horror genre would really lend itself well to a female coming of age story. Especially, body horror. But I was really excited when I received The Dead Girls Club I was really excited to review it. Thank you Crooked Lane books for the review copy.

Synopsis: 4 friends and 1 summer that will change their lives.

What I liked: Walter’s writing is very fluid. She really takes care with the pacing of the novel. Walter’s characterizations make the characters are three dimensional. Walter’s character building allowed the reader to experience everything that the main character was going through really put you in the main characters head Walter’s writing is fluid and very engaging. She has the ability to pull you into the story. The action scenes were well written and believable.

What I didn’t like: I wasn’t a fan of the fact that I knew where the story was going before the big reveal.

Star Rating: 4.0 stars

My Thoughts: I enjoyed the story. However, I had a couple of issues with it. My main issue is that I felt like I knew where the story was going before the climax. Which was my only issue with the story itself. However, with that being said the story kept me engaged and I really enjoyed Walter’s writing.

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.

Into Bones Like Oil by Karron Warren

Sometimes there are stories that come into your life and bowl you over. Normally, these are stories that you don’t necessarily see coming. That is until they bite you on the ass. Into Bones Like Oil totally did that. The stories and the characters bit me in the ass and didn’t let go until I finished the story.

Synopsis: A woman moves into a rooming house after she has something really bad happen.

What I liked: Warren’s characters are so well written. The dialog between the characters is very much how you would expect dialog to be in this type of situation. Many of the emotional burdens that the characters are feeling are so well written you actually feel them. Warren doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to the claustrophobic feeling of this novella. The pacing was perfect with the build up to the reveal. This novella killed me folks. The language is beautiful and terrible at the same time. Your brain gets a oily sheen.

What I didn’t like: There is nothing about this novella I didn’t like.

Star Rating: 5

My Thoughts: This novella really got under my skin. It takes the idea of safety and flips it on its head. But you really don’t know this until much later in the story. Warren is so skilled at unravelling the story piece by piece until you arrive at that main nugget of horror. Honestly, in this case I had NO IDEA…..until that slow reveal started. It is like a small sneaking feeling as you are reading and then BAM right there right as you are reading. That is such an amazing talent and skill to be able to do that. Dear loard everyone who loves smart and well written horror need to get this in their hands.

Huge thank you to Meerkat Press for my review copy!!