Thursday, March 21, 2019

Quick Reviews | Geek Love, Fountain Dead, The Haunting of Henderson Close

Here are some quick thoughts on a few books I've read recently.

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn

Geek Love is the story of the Binewskis, a carny family whose mater- and paterfamilias set out–with the help of amphetamine, arsenic, and radioisotopes–to breed their own exhibit of human oddities. There’s Arturo the Aquaboy, who has flippers for limbs and a megalomaniac ambition worthy of Genghis Khan . . . Iphy and Elly, the lissome Siamese twins . . . albino hunchback Oly, and the outwardly normal Chick, whose mysterious gifts make him the family’s most precious–and dangerous–asset.

As the Binewskis take their act across the backwaters of the U.S., inspiring fanatical devotion and murderous revulsion; as its members conduct their own Machiavellian version of sibling rivalry, Geek Love throws its sulfurous light on our notions of the freakish and the normal, the beautiful and the ugly, the holy and the obscene. Family values will never be the same.

I’ve decided this book is impossible to review. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever read (which is the best part about it.) Geek Love is a character driven book and all of the characters are horrible and fascinating. It’s disturbing and well written and one of those books you really just need to read for yourself.


Fountain Dead by Theresa Braun

Fountain Dead by Theresa Braun

Mark is uprooted from his home and high school in the Twin Cities and forced to move with his family into a Victorian in Nowhere-ville. Busy with the relocation and fitting in, Mark’s parents don’t see what’s unfolding around them—the way rooms and left behind objects seem alive with a haunted past.

Of course, Mark keeps his ghostly encounters to himself, all the while sinking deeper into the house's dark, alluring, and ultimately terrifying history. As romantic entanglements intensify, the paranormal activity escalates. Past and present come together. Everything is connected—from the bricks in the walls to the hearts beating in their chests, all the secrets of Fountain Dead are finally unearthed.

Fountain Dead was one of my selections for the Ladies of Horror Fiction readathon. Unfortunately, the format of Fountain Dead didn't work for me. The timeline in Fountain Dead shifted back and forth between 1988 and the 1860s. There was a lot of jumping not just between timelines but also within the narrative of each section. It was hard to keep up with what was happening. I wasn't able to properly lose myself in the story or the lives of the characters.


Review copy provided by the author

The Haunting of Henderson Close by Catherine Cavendish

The Haunting of Henderson Close by Catherine Cavendish

Ghosts have always walked there. Now they’re not alone…

In the depths of Edinburgh, an evil presence is released.

Hannah and her colleagues are tour guides who lead their visitors along the spooky, derelict Henderson Close, thrilling them with tales of spectres and murder. For Hannah it is her dream job, but not for long. Who is the mysterious figure that disappears around a corner? What is happening in the old print shop? And who is the little girl with no face?

The legends of Henderson Close are becoming all too real. The Auld De’il is out – and even the spirits are afraid.

The Haunting of Henderson Close was a very atmospheric read. There were so many elements of haunting and supernatural stories that I love, but it may have suffered a little from having too much and a lack of focus.


Review copy provided by publisher

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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

On My Wishlist {17}

I've been adding so many amazing books to my wishlist lately I decided it was time to do another edition of On My Wishlist! Here are a few books that have caught my eye lately:

Do You Dream of Terra-Two? by Temi Oh
Expected publication: August 13th 2019 by Saga Press

When an Earth-like planet is discovered, a team of six teens, along with three veteran astronauts, embark on a twenty-year trip to set up a planet for human colonization—but find that space is more deadly than they ever could have imagined.

Have you ever hoped you could leave everything behind?
Have you ever dreamt of a better world?
Can a dream sustain a lifetime?

A century ago, an astronomer discovered an Earth-like planet orbiting a nearby star. She predicted that one day humans would travel there to build a utopia. Today, ten astronauts are leaving everything behind to find it. Four are veterans of the twentieth century’s space-race.

And six are teenagers who’ve trained for this mission most of their lives.

It will take the team twenty-three years to reach Terra-Two. Twenty-three years locked in close quarters. Twenty-three years with no one to rely on but each other. Twenty-three years with no rescue possible, should something go wrong.

And something always goes wrong.

I first saw this on Tammy's blog, and it sounds like such a great read! I need to have it in my life.

A Lush and Seething Hell: Two Tales of Cosmic Horror by John Hornor Jacobs
Expected publication: October 29th 2019 by Harper Voyager

The award-winning and critically-acclaimed master of horror returns with a pair of chilling tales—both never-before-published in print—that examine the violence and depravity of the human condition.

Bringing together his acclaimed novella The Sea Dreams It Is the Sky and an all-new short novel My Heart Struck Sorrow, John Hornor Jacobs turns his fertile imagination to the evil that breeds within the human soul.

A brilliant mix of the psychological and supernatural, blending the acute insight of Roberto Bolaño and the eerie imagination of H. P. Lovecraft, The Sea Dreams It Is the Sky examines life in a South American dictatorship. Centered on the journal of a poet-in-exile and his failed attempts at translating a maddening text, it is told by a young woman trying to come to grips with a country that nearly devoured itself.

In My Heart Struck Sorrow, a librarian discovers a recording from the Deep South—which may be the musical stylings of the Devil himself.

Breathtaking and haunting, A Lush and Seething Hell is a terrifying and exhilarating journey into the darkness, an odyssey into the deepest reaches of ourselves that compels us to confront secrets best left hidden.

It's no secret that I'm a fan of John Hornor Jacobs. I have this one on pre-order, and I can't wait!

Selected Poems of Edith Wharton by Edith Wharton, edited by Irene Goldman-Price
Expected publication: July 9th 2019 by Scribner

Edith Wharton, the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction with her novel The Age of Innocence, was also a brilliant poet. This revealing collection of 134 poems brings together a fascinating array of her verse—including fifty poems that have never before been published.

The celebrated American novelist and short story writer Edith Wharton, author of The House of Mirth, Ethan Frome, and the Pulitzer Prize–winning The Age of Innocence, was also a dedicated, passionate poet. A lover of words, she read, studied, and composed poetry all of her life, publishing her first collection of poems at the age of sixteen. In her memoir, A Backward Glance, Wharton declared herself dazzled by poetry; she called it her “chiefest passion and greatest joy.”

The 134 selected poems in this volume include fifty published for the first time. Wharton’s poetry is arranged thematically, offering context as the poems explore new facets of her literary ability and character. These works illuminate a richer, sometimes darker side of Wharton. Her subjects range from the public and political—her first published poem was about a boy who hanged himself in jail—to intimate lyric poems expressing heartbreak, loss, and mortality. She wrote frequently about works of art and historical figures and places, and some of her most striking work explores the origins of creativity itself.

These selected poems showcase Wharton’s vivid imagination and her personal experience. Relatively overlooked until now, her poetry and its importance in her life provide an enlightening lens through which to view one of the finest writers of the twentieth century.

Edith Wharton was an amazing woman and one of the lesser known pioneers of horror fiction. Having enjoyed both her novels and her short stories, I'm excited to read her poetry. [You can learn more about Edith Wharton and listen to Toni read one of her short stories (The Lady Maid's Bell) on the Ladies of Horror Fiction podcast.]

Are you planning to read any of these upcoming releases? What books have recently made it onto your wishlist?

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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Book Review | The Wolf and the Watchman by Niklas Natt och Dag

The Wolf and the Watchman is a historical fiction novel by Niklas Natt och Dag.

The Wolf and the Watchman by Niklas Natt och Dag

It is 1793. Four years after the storming of the Bastille in France and more than a year after the death of King Gustav III of Sweden, paranoia and whispered conspiracies are Stockholm’s daily bread. A promise of violence crackles in the air as ordinary citizens feel increasingly vulnerable to the whims of those in power.

When Mickel Cardell, a crippled ex-solider and former night watchman, finds a mutilated body floating in the city’s malodorous lake, he feels compelled to give the unidentifiable man a proper burial. For Cecil Winge, a brilliant lawyer turned consulting detective to the Stockholm police, a body with no arms, legs, or eyes is a formidable puzzle and one last chance to set things right before he loses his battle to consumption. Together, Winge and Cardell scour Stockholm to discover the body’s identity, encountering the sordid underbelly of the city’s elite. Meanwhile, Kristofer Blix—the handsome son of a farmer—leaves rural life for the alluring charms of the capital and ambitions of becoming a doctor. His letters to his sister chronicle his wild good times and terrible misfortunes, which lead him down a treacherous path.

In another corner of the city, a young woman—Anna-Stina—is consigned to the workhouse after she upsets her parish priest. Her unlikely escape plan takes on new urgency when a sadistic guard marks her as his next victim.

Over the course of the novel, these extraordinary characters cross paths and collide in shocking and unforgettable ways. Niklas Natt och Dag paints a deliciously dark portrait of late 18th century Stockholm, and the frightful yet fascinating reality lurking behind the powdered and painted veneer of the era.

I'm so glad I read The Wolf and the Watchman. I came across it many times while looking for upcoming releases. The title and the cover kept pulling me in, but the historical fiction genre is what kept pushing me back out. When Atria Books offered me a copy and compared it to Patrick Süskind's Perfume, I decided to take a chance. Again, I'm so glad I did!

The comparison to Perfume is accurate. Niklas Natt och Dag has a similar voice to Süskind, and the content was oh so dark. The Wolf and the Watchman is exactly the kind of historical fiction my horror loving heart wants to read.

I have no idea how to review historical fiction, but I do know I enjoyed the heck out of this book. I love the voice, I loved the characters, I loved how consistently uncomfortable it made me.

The Wolf and the Watchman is a beautiful book, too. I tweeted out this picture of the inside, and Hand Made Maps let me know they were the company that created the beautiful interior map.

It's still early in the year, but it's pretty safe to say The Wolf and the Watchman will land on my list of favorites for the year. Niklas Natt och Dag is a Swedish author, and I can only hope we are treated to more translated work from him in the future.


Review copy provided by publisher

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Monday, March 18, 2019

Audiobook Review | Dead Moon by Peter Clines

Dead Moon is a science fiction/horror book by Peter Clines.

In the year 2243, the Moon belongs to the dead.

The largest graveyard in the solar system, it was the perfect solution to the overcrowding and environmental problems that had plagued mankind for centuries. And the perfect place for Cali Washington to run away from her past.

But when a mysterious meteor crashes into one of the Moon’s cemeteries, Cali and her fellow Caretakers find themselves surrounded by a terrifying enemy force that outnumbers them more than a thousand to one. An enemy not hindered by the lack of air or warmth or sustenance.

An enemy that is already dead.

Now Cali and her compatriots must fight to survive. Because if they don’t, everyone on the Moon may be joining the dead.

And maybe everyone on Earth, too.

I'm going to jump straight into the selling point of Dead Moon: zombies on the moon! Well, that and the fact that it was written by Peter Clines and narrated by Ray Porter. The only other Peter Clines books I've read are 14 and Ex-Heroes, but I loved them - especially 14.

Dead Moon is part of the same series as 14, but the Threshold series is comprised of stand alone books. They can absolutely be read independent of each other. (Some day I need to go back and read book 2!)

I don't have a lot to say about Dead Moon because it was mostly just fun action. There wasn't a lot of character development or anyone to really get attached to, but I still enjoyed the ride. The moon setting and all it entailed was the heart of what made this a unique zombie story, but I was happy to see another layer to the monster madness added in as well.

Dead Moon was a fun read that didn't require much effort on my part as the reader. It was just the right book when I needed it.


Dead Moon is available exclusively through Audible and is narrated by Ray Porter (one of the best in the business). You can check out samples of Dead Moon below:


Excerpt 1:

Excerpt 2:

Review copy provided by publisher

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Sunday, March 17, 2019

Recent Updates and Currently Reading | March 17

This past week was *sort of* spring break for my kids. I say *sort of* because they still had school projects all week. My kids are grossly overworked.

The Ladies of Horror Fiction team picked our next readalong for May with help from a community wide poll. Thank you to everyone who took time to vote. We will be reading Jennifer McMahon's The Winter People if you want to join us. We will be posting discussion questions each Sunday in May.

The Winter People Readalong

Posted Since My Last Update

Finished Reading

In an Absent Dream (Wayward Children #4) by Seanan McGuire The Wolf and the Watchman by Niklas Natt och Dag

In an Absent Dream (Wayward Children #4) by Seanan McGuire ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ - So happy because I loved it... so sad because now I'm totally caught up on this series now.

The Wolf and the Watchman by Niklas Natt och Dag ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ - Your eyes are not deceiving you - two ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ reads. Stay tuned for some reviews!

The Widening Gyre by Michael R. Johnston ⭐⭐⭐★★ - This one was very middle of the road so you will probably see it pop up in a mini review at some point.

Currently Reading

Children of Time (Children of Time #1) by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Children of Time (Children of Time #1) by Adrian Tchaikovsky - I'm buddy reading this one on audio with Lilyn. So far I'm surprised by my love of the spiders in this book. Life is strange!

A Dangerous Collaboration - I just started this one. I'm anxious to see what this series is all about.

Recent Acquisitions

Many, many thanks to Word Horde for sending me A Hawk in the Woods by Carrie Laben and Memento Mori by Brian Hauser. I'm super excited to give these a review.

I'm also super excited to read Hanna Jameson's The Last! Thank you to Atria for sending me a review copy.

So what about you? Let me know what you're reading this week or leave me some links!

This post is being shared as part of Book Date's It's Monday! What Are You Reading? and Caffeinated Book Reviewer's The Sunday Post.

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