Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Book Review | Dear Laura by Gemma Amor

Dear Laura is a horror novella by Gemma Amor.

Dear Laura by Gemma Amor

Every year, on her birthday, Laura gets a letter from a stranger. That stranger claims to know the whereabouts of her missing friend Bobby, but there’s a catch: he’ll only tell her what he knows in exchange for something...personal.

So begins Laura’s sordid relationship with her new penpal, built on a foundation of quid pro quo. Her quest for closure will push her to bizarre acts of humiliation and harm, yet no matter how hard she tries, she cannot escape her correspondent’s demands. The letters keep coming, and as time passes, they have a profound effect on Laura.

From the author of Cruel Works of Nature comes a dark and twisted tale about obsession, guilt, and how far a person will go to put her ghosts to bed.

This was a fun novella to read. I think this is my first time to read Gemma Amor so I was glad to be picking up something by her. Her writing was compelling, and I flew through Dear Laura in one sitting.

The main reason my rating isn't higher is because I didn't understand the motives behind any of the characters. Also, the stakes were extremely low for the events that were taking place.

Dear Laura was a good evening escape. I look forward to future releases from Amor.



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Monday, October 14, 2019

New Favorites | Hollow Kingdom and Of Foster Homes and Flies

Do you ever read a book that you basically just loved and for various reasons you had a hard time reviewing? Below are a couple of books that I fell in love with recently and highly recommend.

Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton

One pet crow fights to save humanity from an apocalypse in this uniquely hilarious debut from a genre-bending literary author.

S.T., a domesticated crow, is a bird of simple pleasures: hanging out with his owner Big Jim, trading insults with Seattle's wild crows (those idiots), and enjoying the finest food humankind has to offer: Cheetos ®.

Then Big Jim's eyeball falls out of his head, and S.T. starts to feel like something isn't quite right. His most tried-and-true remedies--from beak-delivered beer to the slobbering affection of Big Jim's loyal but dim-witted dog, Dennis--fail to cure Big Jim's debilitating malady. S.T. is left with no choice but to abandon his old life and venture out into a wild and frightening new world with his trusty steed Dennis, where he discovers that the neighbors are devouring each other and the local wildlife is abuzz with rumors of dangerous new predators roaming Seattle. Humanity's extinction has seemingly arrived, and the only one determined to save it is a foul-mouthed crow whose knowledge of the world around him comes from his TV-watching education.

Hollow Kingdom is a humorous, big-hearted, and boundlessly beautiful romp through the apocalypse and the world that comes after, where even a cowardly crow can become a hero.

Hollow Kingdom is so good! And hilarious.

Hollow Kingdom is a science fiction, fantasy, post-apocalyptic, comedy, zombie book all rolled up into one told through the POV of a crow. What more could you possibly need to know? (Bonus: his companion is a dog.)


Of Foster Homes and Flies by Chad Lutzke

A neglected 12-year-old boy does nothing to report the death of his mother in order to compete in a spelling bee. A tragic coming-of-age tale of horror and drama in the setting of a hot New Orleans summer.
"Coming of age... is this like Catcher in the Rye?" She makes a funny noise--one of disgust. "No way. I'd never pass that trash on to anyone. Trust me. This one's good."

I see why everyone speaks so highly of Chad Lutzke. I loved Of Foster Homes and Flies so much. I should write a longer review, but instead I'm going to spend my time hunting down more Lutzke stories to read.

If you love coming of age horror, you need to pick this one up.



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Thursday, October 10, 2019

Book Review | The Vegetarian by Han Kang

The Vegetarian is a fiction novel written by Han Kang and translated by Deborah Smith.

Before the nightmare, Yeong-hye and her husband lived an ordinary life. But when splintering, blood-soaked images start haunting her thoughts, Yeong-hye decides to purge her mind and renounce eating meat. In a country where societal mores are strictly obeyed, Yeong-hye's decision to embrace a more “plant-like” existence is a shocking act of subversion. And as her passive rebellion manifests in ever more extreme and frightening forms, scandal, abuse, and estrangement begin to send Yeong-hye spiraling deep into the spaces of her fantasy.

In a complete metamorphosis of both mind and body, her now dangerous endeavor will take Yeong-hye—impossibly, ecstatically, tragically—far from her once-known self altogether.

The Vegetarian was a strange book. I really enjoyed it, but I'm not sure I would recommend it.

The Vegetarian is a Korean literary fiction/somewhat horror novel by Han Kang. It was translated into English by Deborah Smith. I think the translation was fantastic. There are plenty of critics who disagree with me on the translation, but it won Han Kang and Deborah Smith the Man Booker Prize so I'm not alone in my feelings toward the translation.

The Vegetarian is divided into three distinct parts. Each part has a different POV which is always a tough shift for me. The first part (The Vegetarian) is the strongest of the three so a lot of readers have come away from the book as a whole disappointed.

For me, the theme of The Vegetarian is mental illness and how it is handled by those around the main characters.

As I said, I'm not sure I would specifically recommend this to anyone, but I found the writing to be very compelling. I'm glad I read it despite it's oddities.



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Wednesday, October 9, 2019

On My Wishlist {21}

On My Wishlist is where I share a few books that have recently made it onto my wishlist. These are the books that have recently caught my eye:

Come Tumbling Down (Wayward Children #5) by Seanan McGuire
Expected publication: January 7th 2020 by Tor.com

The fifth installment in Seanan McGuire's award-winning, bestselling Wayward Children series, Come Tumbling Down picks up the threads left dangling by Every Heart a Doorway and Down Among the Sticks and Bones

When Jack left Eleanor West's School for Wayward Children she was carrying the body of her deliciously deranged sister--whom she had recently murdered in a fit of righteous justice--back to their home on the Moors.

But death in their adopted world isn't always as permanent as it is here, and when Jack is herself carried back into the school, it becomes clear that something has happened to her. Something terrible. Something of which only the maddest of scientists could conceive. Something only her friends are equipped to help her overcome.

Eleanor West's "No Quests" rule is about to be broken.


The Wayward Children series is one of my favorite current series. I'm really looking forward to getting the next one in January!

The Night Country (The Hazel Wood #2) by Melissa Albert
Expected publication: January 7th 2020 by Flatiron Books

The highly anticipated sequel to Melissa Albert’s beloved, New York Times bestselling debut The Hazel Wood!

In The Night Country, Alice Proserpine dives back into a menacing, mesmerizing world of dark fairy tales and hidden doors. Follow her and Ellery Finch as they learn The Hazel Wood was just the beginning, and that worlds die not with a whimper, but a bang.

With Finch’s help, Alice escaped the Hinterland and her reclusive grandmother’s dark legacy. Now she and the rest of the dregs of the fairy tale world have washed up in New York City, where Alice is trying to make a new, unmagical life. But something is stalking the Hinterland’s survivors―and she suspects their deaths may have a darker purpose. Meanwhile, in the winking out world of the Hinterland, Finch seeks his own adventure, and―if he can find it―a way back home...

I still have The Hazel Wood on my TBR pile. I'd love to give it a read and continue on with The Night Country.

The Return by Rachel Harrison
Expected publication: March 24th 2020 by Berkley

An edgy and haunting debut novel about a group of friends who reunite after one of them has returned from a mysterious two-year disappearance.

Julie is missing, and the missing don't often return. But Elise knows Julie better than anyone, and she feels in her bones that her best friend is out there, and that one day she'll come back. She's right. Two years to the day that Julie went missing, she reappears with no memory of where she's been or what happened to her.
I am really anticipating the release of The Return in March. The Return is a debut thriller and it sounds like a great one!

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


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Monday, October 7, 2019

Book Review | To Be Devoured by Sara Tantlinger

To Be Devoured is a horror novella by Sara Tantlinger.

What does carrion taste like? Andi has to know. The vultures circling outside her home taunt and invite her to come understand the secrets hiding in their banquet of decay. Fascination morphs into an obsessive need to know what the vultures know. Andi turns to Dr. Fawning, but even the therapist cannot help her comprehend the secrets she’s buried beneath anger-induced blackouts.

Her girlfriend, Luna, tries to help Andi battle her inner darkness and infatuation with the vultures. However, the desire to taste dead flesh, to stitch together wings of her own and become one with the flock sends Andi down a twisted, unforgivable path. Once she understands the secrets the vultures conceal, she must decide between abandoning the birds of prey or risk turning her loved ones into nothing more than meals to be devoured.

Good Lord. I don't know how to feel about To Be Devoured. I "devoured" it... and I also wanted to throw up a bit.

If you are a squeamish reader or hate gore of any kind, move along. If you love to be pulled in and disturbed to your core, lay down your money on this one.

Sara Tantlinger is known for her (Bram Stoker Award winning) poetry. This novella is certainly poetic and it's also... I have no words.

In the end, I really liked it, and I was really glad I wasn't eating while reading it.



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Sunday, October 6, 2019

Recent Updates and Currently Reading | October 6

Between having a head cold and being in the middle of two chunky reads, I didn't finish any books this week. I'm enjoying what I'm reading, though!

I'm going to see Joker today, and I'm nervous! I think it's going to be heartbreaking. I also think Joaquin is going to be amazing.

Posted Last Week

September was a really great month, and I posted my wrap up of all of things I managed to read last month.

I posted my ⭐⭐★★★ review of Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris.

I shared a few books that recently made it onto my wishlist.

I shared my ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ thoughts on To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers.

I also shared what I plan to #ReadforGrace on October 14.

Currently Reading

Keys to the Demon Prison (Fablehaven #5) by Brandon Mull

I'm currently reading Keys to the Demon Prison (Fablehaven #5) by Brandon Mull and Dust by Hugh Howey. I'm enjoying them both!

Recent Acquisitions

My husband's birthday was this past week, and we took the day off to take care of a few things and spend time away from work. While we were out and about, I picked up Rachel Bach's Paradox trilogy. I originally read the first two on ebook so I'm excited to be able to go back and reread them before finally reading the third book. You can read my review of Fortune's Pawn and Honor's Knight. I love this series so much.

Earlier this year I read Rachel Aaron's (Rachel Bach) writing book 2,000 to 10,000 and she talked a bit about writing Fortune's Pawn in 12 days. If you love reading books on the craft, her book is fascinating. It's one I'll likely read again.

Thank you Wicked Run Press for sending me an ecopy of Lullabies for Suffering. I know, I know, I've sworn off of review copies forever, but everyone has a weakness, right? You guys know how much I loved Garden of Fiends. I'm looking forward to diving into this new anthology.

The Secret Commonwealth (The Book of Dust #2) by Philip Pullman - Once again I've had a preorder arrive before having a chance to read the first one. I love the His Dark Materials trilogy so much, and I've been a little terrified to start the prequel series for fear of disappointment. It's time, though! I think I'll save them both for the first of the new year.

My October book from Poetry Magazine arrived this month. It looks very pink and not spooky so we'll see if I get to it this month.

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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Friday, October 4, 2019

#ReadForGrace | October 14

Most of us knew Grace from Rebel Mommy Book Blog. She was a really sweet, positive blogger and our blogging community was better for having her in it.

In July of this year we lost Grace to cancer. Lauren over at Bookmark Lit has issued a challenge and is requesting that we read a book for Grace each year on Grace's birthday (October 14). For full details, be sure to visit Lauren's post. She has created a spreadsheet of all of the books on Grace's wishlist, and she has posted several links to lists of books Grace was looking forward to reading.

If you'd like to join in and read something for Grace, we are using the hashtag #ReadForGrace. You can also consider sending a donation to METAvivor.

This year I'm choosing to read Lock Every Door by Riley Sager.

No visitors. No nights spent away from the apartment. No disturbing the other residents, all of whom are rich or famous or both. These are the only rules for Jules Larsen's new job as an apartment sitter at the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan's most high-profile and mysterious buildings. Recently heartbroken and just plain broke, Jules is taken in by the splendor of her surroundings and accepts the terms, ready to leave her past life behind.

As she gets to know the residents and staff of the Bartholomew, Jules finds herself drawn to fellow apartment sitter Ingrid, who comfortingly, disturbingly reminds her of the sister she lost eight years ago. When Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew is not what it seems and the dark history hidden beneath its gleaming facade is starting to frighten her, Jules brushes it off as a harmless ghost story—until the next day, when Ingrid disappears.

Searching for the truth about Ingrid's disappearance, Jules digs deeper into the Bartholomew's dark past and into the secrets kept within its walls. Her discovery that Ingrid is not the first apartment sitter to go missing at the Bartholomew pits Jules against the clock as she races to unmask a killer, expose the building's hidden past, and escape the Bartholomew before her temporary status becomes permanent.

If you'd like to join me in reading Lock Every Door, let me know. I'll be starting on Grace's birthday October 14. Also, let me know if you'll be taking part with a different book from Grace's wishlist.


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Thursday, October 3, 2019

Book Review | To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers

To Be Taught, If Fortunate is a stand alone science fiction novella by Becky Chambers.

In her new novella, Sunday Times best-selling author Becky Chambers imagines a future in which, instead of terraforming planets to sustain human life, explorers of the solar system instead transform themselves.

Ariadne is one such explorer. As an astronaut on an extrasolar research vessel, she and her fellow crewmates sleep between worlds and wake up each time with different features. Her experience is one of fluid body and stable mind and of a unique perspective on the passage of time. Back on Earth, society changes dramatically from decade to decade, as it always does.

Ariadne may awaken to find that support for space exploration back home has waned, or that her country of birth no longer exists, or that a cult has arisen around their cosmic findings, only to dissolve once more by the next waking. But the moods of Earth have little bearing on their mission: to explore, to study, and to send their learnings home.

This book is why I love reading. That feeling you get when you are reading a book that is so perfect for you. That feeling so strong it hurts. I'm reading the Fablehaven series with my son right now because he had that feeling in book two and wanted me to join in. I hope you know that feeling! I had that feeling multiple times over in To Be Taught, If Fortunate.

Becky Chambers took me to other worlds. Worlds with different landscapes and different lifeforms. Earlier this year I tried to read A Long Road to a Small, Angry Planet, and I just didn't connect with it right away so I put it down. I'm an idiot. I'm going to go back to that one hopefully before the end of the year. I want to read everything Becky Chambers creates.



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Wednesday, October 2, 2019

On My Wishlist {20}

On My Wishlist is where I share a few books that have recently made it onto my wishlist. These are the books that have recently caught my eye:

Ormeshadow by Priya Sharma
Expected publication: October 15th 2019 by Tor.com

Ormeshadow by Priya Sharma

Acclaimed author Priya Sharma transports readers back in time with Ormeshadow, a coming-of-age story as dark and rich as good soil.

Burning with resentment and intrigue, this fantastical family drama invites readers to dig up the secrets of the Belman family, and wonder whether myths and legends are real enough to answer for a history of sin.

Uprooted from Bath by his father's failures, Gideon Belman finds himself stranded on Ormeshadow farm, an ancient place of chalk and ash and shadow. The land crests the Orme, a buried, sleeping dragon that dreams resentment, jealousy, estrangement, death. Or so the folklore says. Growing up in a house that hates him, Gideon finds his only comforts in the land. Gideon will live or die by the Orme, as all his family has.

Thank you to Tammy for putting this on my radar. A coming-of-age dark fantasy with dragons? SIGN ME UP. Be sure to check out Tammy's review of Ormeshadow.

Starsight (Skyward #2) by Brandon Sanderson
Expected publication: November 26th 2019 by Delacorte Press

Starsight (Skyward #2) by Brandon Sanderson

All her life, Spensa has dreamed of becoming a pilot. Of proving she's a hero like her father. She made it to the sky, but the truths she learned about her father were crushing.

Spensa is sure there's more to the story. And she's sure that whatever happened to her father in his starship could happen to her. When she made it outside the protective shell of her planet, she heard the stars--and it was terrifying. Everything Spensa has been taught about her world is a lie.

But Spensa also discovered a few other things about herself--and she'll travel to the end of the galaxy to save humankind if she needs to.

This is both a wishlist and a reminder!! I still have not read Skyward #1 so I need to do that ASAP! I have no doubt I'm going to get hooked into this series so I definitely need the sequel Starsight as well.

The Dead Girls Club by Damien Angelica Walters
Expected publication: December 10th 2019 by Crooked Lane Books

The Dead Girls Club by Damien Angelica Walters

A supernatural thriller in the vein of A Head Full of Ghosts about two young girls, a scary story that becomes far too real, and the tragic--and terrifying--consequences that follow one of them into adulthood.

Red Lady, Red Lady, show us your face...

In 1991, Heather Cole and her friends were members of the Dead Girls Club. Obsessed with the macabre, the girls exchanged stories about serial killers and imaginary monsters, like the Red Lady, the spirit of a vengeful witch killed centuries before. Heather knew the stories were just that, until her best friend Becca began insisting the Red Lady was real--and she could prove it.

That belief got Becca killed.

It's been nearly thirty years, but Heather has never told anyone what really happened that night--that Becca was right and the Red Lady was real. She's done her best to put that fateful summer, Becca, and the Red Lady, behind her. Until a familiar necklace arrives in the mail, a necklace Heather hasn't seen since the night Becca died.

The night Heather killed her.

Now, someone else knows what she did...and they're determined to make Heather pay.

I'm excited about the upcoming release of The Dead Girls Club. It just sounds like a really great read!

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


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Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Book Review | Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris

Bring Me Back is a thriller novel by B.A. Paris.

Finn and Layla are young, in love, and on vacation. They’re driving along the highway when Finn decides to stop at a service station to use the restroom. He hops out of the car, locks the doors behind him, and goes inside. When he returns Layla is gone—never to be seen again. That is the story Finn told to the police. But it is not the whole story.

Ten years later Finn is engaged to Layla’s sister, Ellen. Their shared grief over what happened to Layla drew them close and now they intend to remain together. Still, there’s something about Ellen that Finn has never fully understood. His heart wants to believe that she is the one for him...even though a sixth sense tells him not to trust her.

Then, not long before he and Ellen are to be married, Finn gets a phone call. Someone from his past has seen Layla—hiding in plain sight. There are other odd occurrences: Long-lost items from Layla’s past that keep turning up around Finn and Ellen’s house. Emails from strangers who seem to know too much. Secret messages, clues, warnings. If Layla is alive—and on Finn’s trail—what does she want? And how much does she know?

A tour de force of psychological suspense, Bring Me Back will have you questioning everything and everyone until its stunning climax.

I really enjoyed the first 40% of Bring Me Back, but then it plummeted off of the cliff.

There was so much repetition, the characters weren't interesting, and the plot wasn't anywhere near believable.

My reaction while finishing up the second half of Bring Her Back was this was a one star read. After taking a step back and cooling my reader jets a little, I think there's something about B.A. Paris' writing that is going to keep it at two stars. Despite wanting to DNF due to content, it was very easy to pay attention to what was happening and it was a quick read for a plot that went nowhere.

I'm obviously not recommending Bring Me Back, but I'm willing to read her previous novels that have garnered much better reviews.


Review copy provided by publisher


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