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.

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 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!!!

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!!!

TinFoil Butterfly by Rachel Eve Moulton

I finished this book while I was sitting on the dude’s bed. I wanted to really allow the story to sink in while before I sat down to write a review. I wanted to digest my feelings about the subject matter and the characters etc. As I am sitting here at my desk writing it I am still not sure how I feel.

Synopsis: A troubled teenager meets up with a little boy in a snowy ghost town.

What I liked: Moulton writes a great character. You really feel a lot of emotions for the characters in the story. You want to help them. You want them to find help. During the action of the story I found myself holding my breath hoping that they would reach safety. But as with any well crafted story safety is found through self reflection and wanting to survive. While I was reading Moulton’s writing made me reflect on choices. The choice to push through and survive or the choice to stop surviving. I appreciate the way she ended the story. (no spoilers here ladies and gentleman.) I also thought how she wrote Earl was well written and sensitive.

What I didn’t like: I wanted to know more of Earl’s backstory. He played such an integral part of the story but you only get small bits and pieces.

Star Rating: 4 Stars

My Thoughts: For me….the story is about the redemption of the main character. That is really sticks for me. There is so much tragedy in this story. So much sadness. But just when you think you are going to drown in the sorrow you get hope.

A big thank you to Farrar, Straus and Giroux for a review copy.

TinFoil Butterfly will be released on September 10th, 2019.