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.

Finding Baba Yaga by Jane Yolen

Imagine my surprise when I opened the mailbox a few days ago and there was a little brown package from one of my favorite people. This little brown package contained a book. *That is obvious right* My last couple of weeks have been horrible. So over the last couple of nights I read this amazing little novella. It also speaks to how well she knows me. Myth, folklore and legend mixed with horror is my jam. Some of the scariest stories are rooted in the folklore our grandparents heard from their grandparents. Baba Yaga is one of these myths. After I read about the little sorceress that flew around in a mortar and pestle and lived in a house that walked around on chicken legs I was hooked. She is nether good nor bad, I really believe that she is the personification of human kind. Finding Baba Yaga was a beautiful story of a girl and finding the baba.

Summary: A novella in prose about a young girl who leaves home and finds Baba Yaga.

What I liked: Honestly, I loved the entire novella. The story is heartbreaking but at the same time it isn’t. It is modern and beautiful. I personally believe using verse makes it even more enchanting. It is a old fairytale wrapped up in modern gift wrapping.

What I didn’t like: There was nothing that I didn’t like about this novella. It was perfect.

My thoughts: I love when authors update myths, fairytales and legends. You can tell that Yolen really cared about the story that she was trying to tell. The care and the deliberate use of words really showed how much Yolen cared. This little tome took two weeks of hardness and washed them away. It was like magic. Like Baba Yaga herself was helping me out. Spinning her magic taking the worry and the stress from my shoulders.

Without Condition A Novel By Sonora Taylor

What is it about the horror genre that lends to stories about serial killers. Is it the horrific things that some serial killers do? Or is it the idea that there is someone out there that doesn’t have the same respect or empathy for human life that the rest of society “should” have. I have read quite a bit of true crime and horror about serial killers. But….it is very rare to read a story about a female serial killer. Which is why I was so happy to read Without Condition by Sonora Taylor.

Synopsis: Coming of age story with a murderous twist.

What I liked: I really appreciated the multifaceted way that Cara was written. She was well written and three dimensional. She may have been a serial killer but there was a lot more to her. There was some many different sides to her character. I appreciated Cara’s story in general. For me it was more of a coming of age story with murder. It was more about Cara and growing up and how her relationship with her mother changes as she is maturing and falling in love. The ending really surprised me. I really enjoyed how the story ended. I wasn’t left feeling lost or empty.

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 story. I think that Taylor really hit on something with this story. Even though Cara was a killer you felt for her. You felt for the child that she was….the woman that she was growing into. I really can’t wait to see what else Taylor has up her sleeve. If you don’t haven’t gotten this in your brain you are missing out.

A big thank you to Sonora for sending me a copy for review.

How to Recognize a Demon Has Become Your Friend by Linda Addison

Over the last year, I have really gotten into collections. Short stories with a smattering of poetry makes my black heart sing. I had seen Ms. Addison perform spoken word on line at a writers event and I loved the way he wording flowed. A couple of my friends reviewed How to Recognize A Demon Has Become Your Friend and naturally they had good things to say. So when I had the opportunity to meet Linda Addison I grabbed a copy and took it with me. I didn’t make it to the panel that she was moderating but I did get to meet her in a signing line. I was so thrilled to meet her.

Synopsis: Collection of horror short stories and poetry.

What I liked: I loved the whole thing. It made me so happy just reading through the stories and poems. The darkness and the horror that is bubbling under the surface of so many of the stories. Many aren’t in your face but rather a slow burn that creeps under your skin. There are short stories that I would love to see expanded. Addison is also such an amazing poet. The poems are complex, heartbreaking on one hand and horrifying on the other. AND….the best part

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

Star Rating: 4.5 Stars

My Thoughts: There is something very special about this collection. Two of the stories are linked. I loved this because the first story was so good and I wanted more of the two characters. I enjoy how Addison uses language. From her word choices to the voice in which she writes. It is uniquely hers. I read a lot of horror and the cadence in which she writes is different then many of the authors that I have read before.

Witches by Donna Lynch

My dad is a believer. He believes that we as people have the ability to be magic. Not like Magic that was in The Craft but rather magic that is fluid and calls upon nature. Over the years he has had the most amazing library of books about natural power that I have always been a believer. Recently my father had a small surgery. Nothing earth shattering but just enough to worry me. He came out of surgery fine. At his post op appointment later that week his doctor remarked on how fast my dad heals. My dad just chuckles and tells the doctor “I told my body to heal”. My dad just seems to get it; he always has. I was was really stoked when Raw Dog Screaming Press asked if I would review Witches by Donna Lynch.

Synopsis: A illustrated horror poetry collection about witches.

What I liked: I loved the mixed media used through out the book. I have a deep love for mixed media art and it’s use in a literary context. The poetry was viscera and I loved the history that was sprinkled throughout like little gifts. What I really enjoyed was that the book was like a graphic novel or comic book with horror poetry!! The first poem gripped me by the eyeballs and kept me reading through it. Lynch is very talented and I can’t wait to read more from her.

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

Star Rating: 4.5 Stars

My Thoughts: I want to hug this poetry collection. I have revisited a few of the poems and they still give me the feels. I really appreciate the time that went into this collection. The thought that went into the illustrations and how well they worked with the poems. Lynch’s writing is like a gut punch. Pretty words that are meant to make you feel something that isn’t necessarily pretty. Which we all know is the way to my heart.

A Collection of Nightmares by Christina Sng

2018 was the year that I decided to do things that are outside of my comfort zone. One of the things that I decided to do was to read more poetry. At first I was like I will read some non-genre poetry. That went pretty well. So I started venturing out into horror poetry. I am glad to say that I am never looking back. I have read more poetry in the last year then I had since I was in school. I love it though. There are so many talented poets. Christina Sng is defiantly one of the top tier.

Synopsis: A amazing poetry collection based on nightmares.

What I liked: Sng’s ability to weave nightmare scenarios with pretty language really made my heart happy as I read this. She is so skillful at choosing just the right imagery to create the creepy feeling of many of these poems. Sng takes these dreams that we all have at night and puts them to words. It is like she has snuck into our minds while we are sleeping and took all the bad dreams and put them between the cover of this book.

What I didn’t like: It ended to soon.

Star Rating: 5 Stars

My Thoughts: I really loved Sng’s writing style. I had a really hard time putting this collection down. The art on the cover was beautiful. This collection made my heart happy and I can’t wait to read more from Sng. If everything else is as wonderful as A Collection of Nightmares then I can’t wait!!