Publication date: June 7th, 2022 Goodreads T he skeletons in the closet have nothing on the one in your backyard. Freshly divorced and griev...

Review || Little Bird by Tiffany Meuret


Publication date: June 7th, 2022


The skeletons in the closet have nothing on the one in your backyard.
Freshly divorced and grieving the death of her father, Josie Lauer has caged herself inside her home. To cope with her losses, Josie follows a strict daily routine of work, playing with her dog, Po, and trying to remember to eat a decent meal—and ending each night by drinking copious amounts of vodka. In other words, she is not coping at all.
Everything changes when Josie wakes to find a small shrub has sprouted in her otherwise dirt backyard the morning after yet another bender. Within hours, the vine-like plant is running amok—and it’s brought company. The appearance of the unwieldy growth has also heralded the arrival of a busybody new neighbor who insists on thrusting herself into Josie’s life. The neighbor Josie can deal with. The talking skeleton called Skelly that has perched itself in Josie’s backyard on a throne made of vines, however, is an entirely different matter.
As the strangely sentient plant continues to grow and twist its tendrils inside Josie’s suddenly complicated life, Josie begins to realize her new neighbor knows a lot more about the vines and her bizarre new visitor than she initially lets on. There’s a reason Skelly has chosen to appear in Josie’s suddenly-blooming backyard and insists on pulling her out of her carefully kept self-isolation. All Josie has to do is figure out what that reason is—and she has only a few days to do it, or else she might find herself on the wrong side of catastrophe.


Read now

 

Tiffany Mueret came onto my radar thanks to A Flood of Posies, a very strange but disorienting novel about two sisters, a flooded world, and the creatures that lie beneath the waters. It was definitely an experience but while mesmeric, it's one of those that you aren't sure if it's happening in the characters head or if it's really happening.. I felt that exact same way while reading Little Bird

To start with, Mueret undoubtedly writes substantial characters. As with A Flood of Posies, her main character is a complicated woman with complex emotions.  In this case, Josie Lauer is grieving after the death of her father and the end of her marriage. She sequesters herself inside her house with only her dog, Po, for company and seeks to drown herself each night in copious amounts of vodka so she doesn't have to face her grief. She's crotchety and unsociable, with her only interactions being by email for the company she runs, which ironically is teaching companies how to communicate effectively to solve problems with their clients. Being in customer service myself, I can certainly understand the duality of being "on" professionally and hating people in private. That sounds horrid but anyone front-facing in their jobs understands, so I completely get Josie.  

One day, what Josie thinks is a weed pops up in her backyard. Shortly thereafter, a new neighbor appears; a very assertive and cheerfully demanding neighbor, who doesn't get that Josie just wants to be left alone. Then up shoots Skelly, a philosophical sentient skeleton sitting on throne made of vines in the backyard. Suddenly, Josie is no longer alone and can't shut everyone out. 

While the interactions of Skelly the skeleton and Josie are unquestionably interesting and oftimes humourous, I kept waiting for something additional to happen. The majority of the book is spent with Skelly and Josie in conversation or Josie in her on head. While I had expectations at first, I wouldn't say it is horror. There's an assuredly supernatural aspect to it but I'd still file it somewhere under dark fantasy or magical realism than horror. There's nothing inherently scary about it—even the skeleton is described as a Halloween decoration or toy. It's about grief, tough emotions, and having to  and sometimes those can be scary enough.



Publication date: June 1st 2021 Goodreads M agic may be secret, but it’ll kill you anyway. Small town mayor’s assistant Elizabeth has enough...

Review || A Grimoire for Gamblers by Amanda Creiglow



Publication date: June 1st 2021


Magic may be secret, but it’ll kill you anyway.

Small town mayor’s assistant Elizabeth has enough on her plate grieving her father’s suicide. She doesn’t need his stash of magical knowledge in the attic. She doesn’t need the hidden supernatural subculture of monsters it pulls her into. And she certainly doesn’t need hints that her father’s madness might have been a smokescreen for something far darker.

But uncovering her father’s secrets could be the only way Elizabeth can stop a string of suspicious suicides… if the local wizard doesn’t rip the memories out of her mind, first.

Wizards, right?
Ordinary humans stumbling into the magical world isn't anything new, though usually those humans are far from ordinary as they typically have yet unfulfilled magical powers. Not so in A Grimoire for Gamblers. Our protagonist is truly human and has only stumbled into the magical world after the death of her father many years after admitting himself into a psychiatric ward. 

I appreciated that Elizabeth doesn't have any powers. She's been thrown into this world and she doesn't mysteriously pick everything up through mitosis. As with most urban fantasy MCs, she's a little bit snarky and we spend a lot of time in her head listening to her as she tries to figure this all out. She doesn't immediately merge with this new world and spends a lot of the time wondering if her father's supposed insanity isn't genetic. At this point though, why not try a spell to see and she does, with the help of computers, scanners, and even a Cricut. Annnd promptly sets herself on fire. Okay, so she's muddling through the best she can but she's smart and she'll figure it out. 

True to the rules of urban fantasy, the world-building is enmeshed in the "real" world as we humans know it. Oh sure, there are some interesting locales such as the casino where humans are gambling with their souls and a fighting arena where supernatural creatures are pitted against each other. At the same time, the vast majority of this book takes place right here, in the city Elizabeth knows. 

There were a few holes in the plot I think, or at least in the plot devices. While the toy voodoo train set up in the attic was neat, I didn't really understand what it had to do with everything. Why would her dad have a train linked to the real-world train? And some of the characters weren't really explained. Gravelings? Vampiric Spirits? Also, from the first pages, Elizabeth mentions her boyfriend and thinks about him throughout the novel. He's not even really in the book other than her thoughts, so what was the point of having her in a relationship? 

All in all, though, this was a pretty solid urban fantasy. It managed to be very unique in a lot of ways, including the technology-boosted magic. Work smarter, not harder, right? There were obviously some things that didn't work as well for me, but as this is the first in the series, I'm not going to judge it too harshly. It's hard to do urban fantasy that hasn't been done before and this is a solid foundation for the series to continue.



Publication date: March 31st, 2022 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads T urn the lights on. Lock the door. Things are about to get SERIOUSLY SCARY!...

Review || Dread Wood by Jennifer Killick


Publication date: March 31st, 2022



Turn the lights on. Lock the door. Things are about to get SERIOUSLY SCARY!

The brand new must-read middle-grade novel from the author of super-spooky Crater Lake. Perfect for 9+ fans of R.L.Stine’s Goosebumps

It's basically the worst school detention ever. When classmates (but not mate-mates) Hallie, Angelo, Gustav and Naira are forced to come to school on a SATURDAY, they think things can’t get much worse. But they’re wrong. Things are about to get seriously scary.

What has dragged their teacher underground? Why do the creepy caretakers keeping humming the tune to Itsy Bitsy Spider? And what horrors lurk in the shadows, getting stronger and meaner every minute…? Cut off from help and in danger each time they touch the ground, the gang’s only hope is to work together. But it’s no coincidence that they're all there on detention. Someone has been watching and plotting and is out for revenge…

Read now

 
Dread Wood follows Angelo and classmates Hallie, Gustav, and Naria as they head to detention on a Saturday. They are only told to wear PE clothes and shoes for "outdoor activities" so they are figuring they'll be stuck doing chores around the place. Gustav is described as "walking chaos", Naria being the "uptight, overachiever", and Hallie as "vegetarian, an LGBTQ+ ally, and welcomer of refugees." None of them are friends but they are all stuck in this together. 

It doesn't take any time for the tension to really get ratcheted up. Mr. Canton is in charge of this Back On Track session as it's called but he quickly goes missing while looking for the groundskeeper. They find Mr. C again, but something sucks him straight into the ground and he's gone, clawing and scraping at the grass that is sucking him under.  From there it's a mad dash of twists and turns, as these four play a terrifying game of survival.

I appreciated that there was more to the characters than at first anticipated. They are so much more than their first takes and as they find a way to work together, all these unexpected qualities shine through. As it turns out, they all have personal struggles and it actually bonds them together as they learn more about each other. There are some pretty serious issues that they are grappling with: bullying, poverty, disability, and living up to parental pressures. It's all handled with grace and a lot of quippy humor.

Don't think just because it's middle-grade that it doesn't have its share of chills and thrills! Arachnophobes may want to bypass this one. (There are spides on the covers so no spoiler there.)  Dread Wood is a fun, action-filled romp through creepy town! 
 




About the Author

Jennifer Killick is the author of Crater Lake, the Alex Sparrow series, and middle-grade sci-fi adventure Mo, Lottie and the Junkers. She regularly visits schools and festivals, and her books have three times been selected for The Reading Agency's Summer Reading Challenge. She lives in Uxbridge, in a house full of children, animals and Lego. When she isn't busy mothering or step-mothering (which isn't often) she loves to read, write and run, as fast as she can.

Twitter: @JenniferKillick

Publication date: September 1st, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads W hat if a young girl had the power to stop her tyrannical father from ba...

Book Blitz || Give the Devil His Due, A Charity Anthology Benefiting The Pixel Project


Publication date: September 1st, 2021


What if a young girl had the power to stop her tyrannical father from battering her mother ever again?

What if a student had a secret weapon to end sexual assault by her predatory professor permanently?

What if a housewife had unusual means to get back at her controlling husband and walk away from her marriage alive?

In Giving the Devil His Due, The Pixel Project’s first charity anthology, sixteen acclaimed fantasy, science fiction, and horror authors take readers on an unforgettable journey to alternative worlds where men who abuse and murder women and girls meet their comeuppance in uncanny ways.

Featuring stories from Stephen Graham Jones, Christina Henry, Peter Tieryas, Kelley Armstrong, Linda D. Addison, Hillary Monahan, and more, Giving the Devil His Due presents sixteen stories that will make you think about the importance of justice for the victims of gender-based violence, how rare this justice is in our own world, and why we need to end violence against women once and for all. 



"In Giving the Devil His Due, sixteen of speculative fiction's brightest authors tell the unflinching stories of survivors, of their strength and courage, as well as a righteous castigation of gender-based violence and the patriarchal societies all too willing to remain silent. This stirring, vital anthology demands your attention as it demands justice and the end of violence of against women." —Paul Tremblay, Bram Stoker award-winning author of The Cabin at the End of the World and A Head Full of Ghosts
 
“A brilliant, wickedly-smart, scary as hell collection of creepy stories from some of today’s finest writers. Every single tale is a certified gold. Highly recommended!” —Jonathan Maberry, NY Times bestselling author of Relentless and V-Wars
 
"GIVING THE DEVIL HIS DUE burrows deep into the heart and inflames the spirit. A rallying cry against violence done to women and girls."—Tori Eldridge, Amazon bestselling author of The Ninja Betrayed --This text refers to the paperback edition.

Giving The Devil His Due is available on all major bookseller platforms in the United States and its territories, Canada, Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand from 1 September 2021 to 31 October 2023 only. The special edition is currently available to buy until 24 May 2022 and the classic edition can be pre-ordered ahead of 25 May 2022. 100% of the net proceeds from the sales of the anthology will go towards supporting The Pixel Project’s anti-violence against women programmes, campaigns, and resources.

About the Pixel Project


The Pixel Project is a completely virtual, volunteer-led global 501(c)3 non-profit organisation whose mission is to raise awareness, funds and volunteer power for the cause to end violence against women using the power of the internet, social media, new technologies and popular culture/the arts.

https://www.thepixelproject.net/
  

Publication date: May 24, 2022 Goodreads S OME EVIL WANTS TO LIVE FOREVER. Ten years ago a witch sacrificed Britta Orchid’s family and turne...

Review || Throw Me to the Wolves by Lindy Ryan and Christopher Brooks

Black and white photo of wolf muzzle and teeth with gold letters saying Throw Me to the Wolves

Publication date: May 24, 2022


SOME EVIL WANTS TO LIVE FOREVER.

Ten years ago a witch sacrificed Britta Orchid’s family and turned her into a werewolf. Selena Stone’s spell failed, and she was never seen again. Until now.

Officer Aaron Labaye has discovered Selena’s remains in the house where Britta’s family died, and dragged Britta back to Louisiana to aid the investigation, hoping her past will break the case. Britta has a hard time resisting the handsome rookie, especially when he shows her a new drawing by her murdered little brother: Britta in her wolf-form.

As an unseen hand sets events in motion, Britta has to help Labaye dig into the murders old and new. The bloodthirsty ghost of her brother, a jealous member from her pack, and a former friend with a serious prejudice against wolves all stand to stop Britta as she fights to finally get the truth about that night ten years ago. But, as she looks harder than ever into her own dark past, Britta will confront more than just her own demons as she fights for peace for herself and for her family. She can’t hide anymore, but must find her place in a world she’s avoided—and discover what it truly means to be a wolf.
Throw Me to the Wolves is hard to define in the way of genres. From the cover, I expected something more along the lines of contemporary horror. It is, for lack of a better definition, urban fantasy with darker themes. That didn't affect my enjoyment; In fact, since I primarily review horror and urban fantasy, this was the perfect mix! There's murder, ghosts, witches, police investigation, voodoo, and of course, werewolves all rolled up into one satisfying occult thriller burrito.

The story begins with Britta Orchid being questioned in a police interrogation room. You can tell immediately that she's confident and almost a little cocky. She enjoys that she's spooked the cop she calls Officer Shiny Badge and even waves to the people she knows are behind the two-way glass. She wears a "polished, non-threatening persona" like a mask and is very secure in the knowledge that between the two of them, she is the bigger, bad in the room. Why wouldn't she be? After all, she's a werewolf. Ten years ago, a witch slaughtered her entire family, turned Britta into a wolf, and disappeared. Only now, in the same house where it occurred, pieces of the witch have shown up and the police are asking for her help. 

In spite of discovering everything backward from Britta's memories as the story progresses, the story never felt mired down. The past is gradually parceled out in alternating chapters with the present, a style that usually frustrates me. However, Britta's past is just as interesting as she threads memories of her family in with her return to the bloodstained house. Both are equally horrifying with the past containing religious fervor and the supposed exorcism of Britta's ten-year-old brother and the present, the spectral regurgitation of her deceased brother and of course, the murder house.  

Is there romance in this book? That's debatable. There is definitely a touch of the fated mates trope. There is also a werewolf from Britta's pack up north who has decided that he and Britta would be the perfect power couple. Was I stanning either of them? Well, it's complicated but without giving away a major plot point, I can't tell you how. The author does a good job of muddying the waters, making you unsure of who is the good guy. It all comes out in the end, kinda. We're given a prominent cliffhanger ending but if you read a lot of urban fantasy, you frankly should be anticipating that. Given that there's a diminutive Book 1 note by the title, we should expect that there will be a future continuation of the story contrived. 



It's april! That means it's time for another Bookish Blog Hop!  Each day, bloggers answer questions about themselves and the b...

Bookish Blog Hop || A Book You Haven't Read Yet By An Author You Love



It's april! That means it's time for another Bookish Blog Hop! 


Each day, bloggers answer questions about themselves and the books they are reading. 
Yesterday, we were over at the Upstream Writer Blog hosted by Leslie Conzatti where we talked about books set in the past.

Today's prompt is:

 A Book you haven't read yet by an author you love!


It's weird to talk about it in April but I love Christmas horror. Every year I look forward to watching Krampus, A Christmas Horror Story, and Rare Exports. I know, it's kinda strange. While others are watching A Charlie Brown Christmas and A Miracle on 34th Street, I'm watching murderous elves and sinister santas. I'm always looking for holiday horror in story form to give me that same feeling so that's how i ran across Snowball by Gregory Bastianelli. 

In Snowball, a group of motorists on their way home for Christmas get stuck on the highway in a freak blizzard. They end up in one of the  couple's motorhome where they all start telling stories of their worst winter memory because that is TOTALLY what you do when trapped in a preternatural blizzard. A few of the stranded motorists set out to try to find help and end up in a worse position than they started. The book was so much fun and exactly what I was looking for: totally irreverent Christmas spirit! 
(If you want, you can read my review of Snowball here.)

I was very excited when I saw that Gregory Bastianelli released another novel just last week; this time one that appears to be ecohorror leaning. In Shadow Flicker, an investigator is sent after strange events start happening in a town living in the shadow of wind turbines. I have the ebook in hand and hopefully will be able to start it soon!


From Goodreads, here's the blurb:

An old man nearly chokes to death after stuffing dandelion heads into his mouth. A pregnant cow repeatedly runs headlong into a fence post. Oscar Basaran investigates a series of strange events on the Kidney Island.

Investigator Oscar Basaran travels to Kidney Island off the coast of Maine to document the negative effects of shadow flicker from wind turbines on residents living near the windmills, but is unprepared for what he encounters from the islanders.
Oscar’s research shows that sleep deprivation, light deficiency and ringing headaches brought on by the noise and constant strobe-like effect of the sun filtered through the spinning blades of the turbines brings on hallucinatory episodes for the closest neighbors to the machines.

Melody Larson’s elderly father nearly chokes to death after stuffing dandelion heads into his mouth. The Granberrys' pregnant cow repeatedly runs headlong into a fence post. Tatum Gallagher mourns her young son who vanished more than a year ago, presumed swept out to sea by a wave while fishing on the rocky shore, but several people claim to see him appear only in the glimmer of the shadow flicker.

Aerosource, the energy corporation that owns the turbines, hired Oscar to investigate the neighbors’ claims, but the insurance agent shows no allegiance to the conglomerate, especially after learning a previous employee sent to the island a year before has disappeared without a trace.

When Oscar meets former island school science teacher Norris Squires, fired for teaching his students about the harmful effects of shadow flicker, he learns a theory regarding Aerosource that sounds too preposterous to believe.

While it seems the shadow flicker effect has driven some of the island’s animals crazy, is it possible it’s caused an even worse mental breakdown among the human inhabitants? Or is something more nefarious at work on the island?

As Oscar’s investigation deepens, he discovers the turbines create an unexpected phenomena kept secret by a select group of people on Kidney Island who have made a scientific breakthrough and attempt to harness its dark power.


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Here's what the others had to say:



In the Tall Grass by Stephen King

I have read A LOT of Stephen King books and haven’t found many that I didn’t enjoy (the only one I didn’t enjoy was Cell, which took too long to get to the point). To read all of them would take years, so I am slowly trying to get through the collection. He is the most influential and iconic thriller and horror fiction writer whose novels have made several feature films, including The Shining, IT, Carrie and The Mist, to name a few.

I enjoyed reading the classics in the past, and I’ve recently read The Institute and The Outsider, but for some reason I skipped In The Tall Grass. I saw the movie for this novel recently, and thought the storyline was a bit weak and could have been summed up in a few sentences: It follows the story of a pregnant college student called Becky who is traveling to her aunts with her twin brother Cal. Along the way, they pass a field of tall grass where they hear a boy called Tobin calling for help. They venture into the tall grass to help Tobin, only to find they cannot get out. Eventually, a bunch of weird stuff happens and it is clear that there is some enchantment on the tall grass that stops people from being able to leave.
Because I found the movie boring, I haven’t been able to pick up the book yet, even though I know that I will love it. This is the problem with watching the movie instead of reading the book - it puts you off.
Leslie Conzatti www.upstreamwriter.blogspot.com
Okay, I have to hype this up, because I’m so unbelievably excited!! There’s an indie author I have followed ever since he had just one self-published book with a bad blurb and a terrible cover–but an UNBELIEVABLY AWESOME story, and that is R. R. Virdi, author of The Grave Report novels, the first of which was that book I mentioned.
This was back in 2014, and this book, as terribly-presented as it was, easily earned a place among the Top 5 Books I read for that year! I loved it, and I couldn’t rave about it enough! He kept writing, and every successive book in that series just got better and better. He improved the covers and improved the blurbs–the series was even nominated a couple times for a Dragon Award, and he was actually a finalist, although they didn’t win at the time. He started out another series, and I absolutely loved that one, too. I confess, I haven’t yet read his monster-hunter/LitRPG series, but The Grave Reports stands out as pretty much the best thing he’s written, in my estimation.
Which brings me to the book being released this year, produced by a legit publishing house, Tor Books. It’s called The First Binding, and it’s being compared to The Name of The Wind and The Lies of Locke Lamora–it’s a thousand-plus-page epic fantasy, and I’m so flipping excited!! Definitely I would recommend this to any fantasy lovers!


Kriti
@ Armed with A Book

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Marie Benedict is one of my favorite authors! The first book I read of hers was The Other Einstein and since then, I have dived into The Mystery of Mrs. Christie and Her Hidden Genius. I also had the chance to interview Marie on The Nerd Daily and honestly, all her future books are on my TBR. The one I want to highlight today is The Personal Librarian. As an avid reader and book collector, I am drawn to books about librarians and manuscripts. Below is the excerpt of the book:

The remarkable, little-known story of Belle da Costa Greene, J. P. Morgan's personal librarian—who became one of the most powerful women in New York despite the dangerous secret she kept in order to make her dreams come true, from New York Times bestselling author Marie Benedict and acclaimed author Victoria Christopher Murray. In her twenties, Belle da Costa Greene is hired by J. P. Morgan to curate a collection of rare manuscripts, books, and artwork for his newly built Pierpont Morgan Library. Belle becomes a fixture on the New York society scene and one of the most powerful people in the art and book world, known for her impeccable taste and shrewd negotiating for critical works as she helps build a world-class collection. But Belle has a secret, one she must protect at all costs. She was born not Belle da Costa Greene but Belle Marion Greener. She is the daughter of Richard Greener, the first Black graduate of Harvard and a well-known advocate for equality. Belle's complexion isn't dark because of her alleged Portuguese heritage that lets her pass as white—her complexion is dark because she is African American.
The Personal Librarian tells the story of an extraordinary woman, famous for her intellect, style, and wit, and shares the lengths to which she must go—for the protection of her family and her legacy—to preserve her carefully crafted white identity in the racist world in which she lives.


I am going to go with a list here instead of just one book. A few of these books are also on similar top ten lists on my blog here and here. It is going to be a short list of five though this can become a list of too-many!!

  • Jane Austen’s Persuasion

  • Khaled Hosseini’s And the Mountains Echoed (His Kite Runner is one of our favorites)

  • Kim Michele Richardson’s The Unbreakable Child (I loved The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek)

  • Shel Silverstein’s  Everything on It

  • Colson Whitehead: Any book other than Underground Railroad (read this already) 



Be sure to check out the other days of the hop!!

a book by or about a political figure
a book you haven't read yet by an author you love











No April Fools here! Take a gander below at this month's roundup of anticipated horror releases for April 2022. 

This Month in Horror || April 2022


No April Fools here!

Take a gander below at this month's roundup of anticipated horror releases for April 2022.