This year I'm going to try to focus more on tracking my reads for the Scaredy Cat Bingo Challenge , which consists of 25 reading prompts...

picture of the full moon with words Howl at the moon | 20 books of werewolf fiction

This year I'm going to try to focus more on tracking my reads for the Scaredy Cat Bingo Challenge, which consists of 25 reading prompts on a bingo board.


Today's prompt:

 Howl at the Moon

 
For this prompt, you'll need to read a book with shapeshifters. I've chosen werewolves specifically but any shapeshifter counts.




For horror lovers, there are plenty of wolfy reads out there!
Here are just a few to get you started:
Book covers for The Wolf's Hour, Wolf Land, The Wolfman, Sharp Teeth
 by Robert R. McCammon

This WWII alternate historical drama has a little bit of everything: Nazis, spies, werewolves. Can't decide whether to read horror or a spy thriller? The Wolf's Hour means you don't have to choose

 by 

The Wolfman by Nicholas Pekearo

Marlow Higgins is Dexter with hair. His wolfen dark passenger is sated by killing but he only chooses those who do harm. When a serial killer stalks his town, he goes after the killer but it doesn't go quite as planned. 

Side note: Nicholas Pekaro found out his book would be published and was killed three days later in the line of duty as an NYPD Auxillary policeman. 

Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow

In a world taken over by werewolves, what is a love-sick dog catcher to do? Especially when his crush is a lady werewolf who has left her pack. Sharp Teeth is unique in that it's written in free verse. 
Book Covers for Mongrels, the Last Werewolf, Wolf Hunt, Cycle of the Werewolf
Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones

Mongrels follows young Toby and his family as they travel across the American South in this coming-of-age tale. Always on the outskirts, Toby's tale subverts the typical werewolf tropes. 

The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan
Jacob Marlowe is the last of his kind. After 200 years, he's ready to end it all but fate and love have other plans. 

 by Stephen King 

A killing every full moon plagues this Maine town. (It's always freaking Maine isn't it?) Cycle of the Werewolf was adapted into the film Silver Bullet later on. 

Wolf Hunt by Jeff Strand 
Transporting a werewolf cross-country. What could go wrong? The first of three books, Jeff Strand's special brand of humor brings a darkly humorous addition to the werewolf genre.  




Love urban fantasy?
There are SO many shifter books out there but here are a few of my favorites.

Book Covers for Throw me to the Wolves, Sisters of the Moon, Moon Called, Misfit Pack, Clean Sweep
Throw Me to the Wolves by lindy ryan

Cursed by a witch who murdered her entire family, Britta heads back home when the witch's remains are found in the house where it all began. 

Sisters of the Moon by Alexandrea weis

Taken to an abbey on a deserted island, Durra is told this odd place is now her home. Tending to the nuns and their many cats, Durra starts searching for answers about the abbey and the creatures she hears howling outside her window. 
   Read my review here

Moon Called  by Patrica Briggs

Mercy Thompson is a Volkwagon mechanic and a coyote shifter. Her next-door neighbor is a werewolf that she loves to taunt. The first of thirteen books, Moon Called has shifters, gremlins, vampires, and more. 

Misfit Pack by Stephanie foxe

Attacked in the park one night, Amber finds herself changing. Bitten wolves are looked down upon even if they didn't choose it.  She and two others changed against their will bind themselves together to form a new pack.  However, Amber has to fight in the Trials to keep the title of Alpha or her pack will be disbanded. This five-book series is will have you rooting for the underdog.

Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews

Running a Victorian B&B is no joke in a normal world, but what happens when your clientele is more than human? The first of a five-book series, this world has a lot of magic, intergalactic monsters, and a bit of romance.



Is red more your color?
Check out these fairytale retellings.
book covers for The Girl in Red, Of Snow and Scarlet, Curse of the Wolf King, For the Wolf

The Girl in Red by Christina Henry

This post-apocalyptic take on Little Red Riding Hood casts Red not as a damsel in distress, but as someone who might just eat you up herself.


Of Snow and Scarlet by Katherine MacDonald

A white wolf saved Andesine as a child. After the wolf turns out to be an omega hiding from his former pack, Andesine finds herself returning the favor and getting caught in the middle of something much bigger than herself. 

Curse of the Wolf King  by tessonja odette

This twisted fairytale is a Beauty and the Beast retelling, not Little Red Riding Hood but there's still a wolf involved. Gemma is captured by a Fae King and in order to gain her freedom, will help him break his curse. But when the curse is broken, he'll return to his wolf form. Is it worth it?

For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten 
As the second daughter of the queen, it's her turn to be sacrificed to the Wolf of the Woods. Not everything is as it seems though. This tale melds Little Red Riding Hood and Beaty and the Beast for a slow burn fantasy romance. 
book covers for Sisters Red, Wolf Skin, For the Wolf

Sisters Red by 
Wolfskin by 
Red Wolf by 

 In order to get more done this year, I've started doing mini-reviews of somewhat like books.  These are primarily reads picked up from ...


 In order to get more done this year, I've started doing mini-reviews of somewhat like books. 

These are primarily reads picked up from KU and a few from Netgalley here and there. Any direct requests will not be a part of the mini-reviews series.

Today's mini-reviews are 3 eco-horror books that I read late last year: The Hungry Earth by Nicholas Kaufmann, Mexican Gothic by Silva Moreno-Garcia, and Mass Hysteria by Michael Patrick Hicks. 





Sakima, New York, a sleepy, idyllic city nestled in the Hudson Valley, a place where everyone knows each other, families look after the highly prized community garden, and the crime rate is so low that Dr. Laura Powell, the police department’s medical examiner, spends most of her time tending to her own private medical practice.

That changes drastically the day a local high school student is found dead, an apparent suicide. Called in to perform the autopsy, Laura uncovers a strange growth inside the body, composed of a mysterious substance she can’t identify. Enlisting the aid of her scientist ex-boyfriend, Booker Coates, Laura launches an investigation that leads to a horrifying discovery.

Something deadly has taken root in Sakima, an organism whose toxic influence spreads like a disease through the population, dangerously altering minds and dominating wills, a ruthless intelligence that demands obedience. As more and more townspeople fall under its control, forming violent mobs to seek out those who remain uninfected, Laura and Booker must find a way to stop it before they become its next victims. But how can they stop something they don’t understand?

Publication date: October 5th, 2021

My Thoughts...

The Hungry Earth is no doubt a homage to the small-town horror novels of the '80s and early '90s. If I hadn't known when it was published, I would think that I would have picked up this novel at a thrift shop or used bookstore. It's that kind of good. There's plenty of fun body horror with mushrooms bursting eyes from sockets and when not doing the deed themselves, the infected helps them along. The synopsis is straightforward and you won't find very many surprises when it comes to the fate of characters or the plot, but that's the beauty of it. It's a mycelium Invasion of the Body Snatchers when the townspeople hear the call and are unable to resist. They are missionaries, evangelists for the God of Dirt.  It's a mycologist's nightmare. There's nothing scarier than fiction with its basis in fact and The Hungry Earth is a suspenseful, eco-horror that turns into the best kind of '80s horror at its core. 






After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.

Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemí’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind. 


Publication date: july 30th, 2020

My Thoughts...

I always dread reading books that have such a good following because I am usually in the minority of loving it. Mexican Gothic was one of those books that kept getting the hype everywhere I turned but thankfully, it did not fall to the popularity curse. 
 
This is a very mystery-driven plot. The eerieness of both the setting and the unknowns of the characters added to the overall feel of the novel. So many gothic checkmarks are hit with this story yet we are still given a wonderfully feminist MC in Naomi. She handles all that is thrown at her with remarkable aplomb. The expected debutant is at odds with the untrusting, independent character that we are given. The house, as in many gothic fictions, is remarkably its own character as it should be, and the worrisome behavior of those in the house only added to the mystery. 

On the same level of novels as Rebecca, Mexican Gothic is atmospheric and evasive.  It's definitely a slow burn, but once the stone starts rolling, it will crush anyone who stands in its way. 




It came from space…

Something virulent. Something evil. Something new. And it is infecting the town of Falls Breath.

Carried to Earth in a freak meteor shower, an alien virus has infected the animals. Pets and wildlife have turned rabid, attacking without warning. Dogs and cats terrorize their owners, while deer and wolves from the neighboring woods hunt in packs, stalking and killing their human prey without mercy.

As the town comes under siege, Lauren searches for her boyfriend, while her policeman father fights to restore some semblance of order against a threat unlike anything he has seen before. The Natural Order has been upended completely, and nowhere is safe.

…and it is spreading.

Soon, the city will find itself in the grips of mass hysteria.

To survive, humanity will have to fight tooth and nail. 

Publication date: August 10th, 2017

Brutal is the only way to describe this novel by Michael Patrick Hicks. This is one of those that you don't need to see the trigger warnings on. Assume that if it's a trigger, it's in this book. Necrophilia, bestiality, gore, animal death, child death...the list truly goes on and on. I distinctly remember listening to this while out for a walk and the words that came out of my mouth were "Oh hell no". Truly, if you have any triggers, scroll on by. You have to be able to take a true unflinching look at yourself to see exactly what you can handle. Hicks doesn't waste any time taking you into the graphic depravity of the human mind. Savage and unyielding, this extreme horror is not a story for the faint at heart. 

Happy 2022 and happy horror reading! Here's the roundup of anticipated horror releases for January 2022.  ( If you plan on purchasing an...





Happy 2022 and happy horror reading!

Here's the roundup of anticipated horror releases for January 2022. 

(If you plan on purchasing any of the books on this page, it would be awesome if you’d use the affiliate links. This helps to support the blog and doesn’t cost you a thing. Thanks!)


If you’ve read my bio, you’ll get a pretty-good sense of who I am even if you don’t know me and you’ve never read my books. However, ...

If you’ve read my bio, you’ll get a pretty-good sense of who I am even if you don’t know me and you’ve never read my books. However, there’s more to an author than her writing life summed up in one paragraph. I’m here to let you in on the details I left out. 

If you’ve read my thrillers, but never met me in real life, you’d likely believe that I’m an introvert. You’d also probably believe that something dark lurks inside of me. Then, you’d meet me in person and your head might just spin around. 

We’d talk and you’d see that I’m bubbly, outgoing, positive, and intently engaged in our conversation. I’d look like any other extrovert you’d ever seen. As we chatted, you’d hear me talk about dreaming big, never giving up, and likely glean some inspirational message or positive affirmation from our conversation. 

Darkness? Not so much. 

Two different people, yes. Nevertheless, we’re one in the same. I assure you, the motivational-speaker-personality you meet in real life IS the real me. So is the introverted, dark girl. We go hand in hand. Not surprising for a Gemini. When you add writing to the mix, it makes for interesting stories.

Confusing? Sure. That’s because introversion isn’t what it seems on the surface. It’s not about being quiet vs. loud. Social vs. antisocial. Friendly vs. shy. It’s about where introverts get their energy from, and the answer is, ourselves. Extroverts, on the other hand, get their energy from other people. 

It’s probably why most writers are introverts at heart, even if they feel extroverted in social situations. However, introverts feed off being alone. We’re energized when the door is closed, and only our thoughts and our story (plus some coffee!) remain in the room. It feeds our souls so much that after we write as many words as our fingers can speedily type, we still have the wherewithal to rally with friends. That is, until we inevitably collapse from social interaction. 

Because as introverts, we lose our energy around people. We give every ounce of what we have to others until we’re depleted entirely. Therefore, after a conference or a book signing, you’ll find me in my usual restorative place---on the couch binging Netflix, wine in hand,…zombified. 

For my darkness obsession, it’s real. Sadly, no matter how hard I try to be a kind person and bring those around me up, darkness lives in our world. Instead of confronting it head on and trying to change the unchangeable, I write dark stories where, as the author, I’m in control. Through my stories, I can face my fears and grow. Powerful stuff.  

Truth be told, darkness has always intrigued me. It inspired my advanced psychology degree, and then my coaching certification. I wanted to learn why people did the things they did, and what motivated them to change, or not. 

I hope my dark stories inspire others to face their fears and embrace the unknown so they can live their best life---happier, stronger, and more in tune with who they are and what they want. When my characters overcome obstacles, I want my readers to feel empowered to do the same. 

Because, as Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.” 

I’m grateful for all the readers who trust me to pull them through the darkness and into the light. They’re why this introvert writes at all. If you haven’t read my books, I hope my words intrigued you to come over to the introverted, dark side! 

~Kristina 


Check out Kristina’s debut audiobook, AMONG US. This new-adult sci-fi thriller was chosen as an April 2019 Audible Editors Select Pick and featured on Audible’s ACX University 2018 webcast series.



Danger lurks in the unknown… 

Marci Simon lives a double life: conservative professor of English by day, and controversial blogger of aliens by night. But when a classified document lands in her lap, her two worlds collide in an explosive revelation of shocking and deadly secrets.

Despite imminent danger at every twist, Marci embarks on an unstoppable quest to expose the terrifying truth. Only she never anticipated the entangled nebula of dark lies, nor the never-ending wormhole the government would spiral through to silence her forever.

Knowledge can kill.

And Marci knows too much. With global security at risk, no one can be trusted. To debunk the stratosphere of deceit, Marci races at the speed of light to escape the grips of the clandestine Extraterrestrial Security Agency (ESA) hunting her before she vanishes like all the others. But Marci is unique. Despite being the ESA’s prime target, she’s also the skeleton key to the deadliest truth in the history of the universe.

The nightmare is real, and it’s only just begun. Marci must take a nefarious leap of faith before her options, and her breaths, evaporate into a black hole for all eternity.

“It pulled me in and kept me on the edge of my seat until the final word.”
 ~Chad, Audible Listener


About Kristina:

Kristina Rienzi is a Jersey Shore-based new adult thriller author, certified professional coach, and the former president of Sisters in Crime-Central Jersey. An INFJ who dreams beyond big, Kristina encourages others (and herself) to embrace the unknown through her stories. When she's not writing or drinking wine, Kristina is spoiling her baby girl (and two fur-babies), dissecting true crime stories, singing (and dancing) to Yacht Rock Radio or rooting for the WVU Mountaineers. She believes in all things paranormal, a closet full of designer bags, weekly manicures, the Law of Attraction, aliens, angels, and the value of a graduate degree in psychology. Connect with Kristina at KristinaRienzi.com, on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.



 

Hey guys and welcome to 2022 on CLC!   I am making some resolutions for the New Year but not in the way you might think.  Bookish resolution...


Hey guys and welcome to 2022 on CLC!  

I am making some resolutions for the New Year but not in the way you might think.  Bookish resolutions only so here we go! 

1. I want to read more and stay off social media. Last year, I did a lot of hiking so that cut into my reading time—which is great since I lost 30 pounds—but also bad since I didn't read as much. This year, I'm going to try for more audiobooks or KU books that I can have Alexa read to me while I walk. 

2. I'm going to be better about getting reviews written. It takes me a long time to format posts and write the review—sometimes hours. I procrastinate a lot as well because it is such a big undertaking. 

That leads me to this post. In order to get more done this year, I'm going to start doing mini-reviews. I have some guilt about not giving all the books equal treatment but I believe that a short review is better than no review. 

These are primarily reads picked up from KU and a few from Netgalley here and there. Any direct requests will not be a part of the mini-reviews series.


Today's mini-reviews are 3 horror novellas that I read late last year: Mouth Full of Ashes by Briana Morgan, The House of Little Bones by Beverly Lee, and Man, Fuck This House by Brian Asman. 



Mourning the sudden loss of her sister, Callie Danoff wants nothing more than to embrace a fresh start in a new town, leaving the haunting memories of her sister’s death behind. But when her brother Ramsay drags her to a spooky boardwalk, the two become entangled with a local vampire gang and its enigmatic leader, Elijah. Callie refuses to accept their existence... until she and her brother unknowingly ingest vampire blood. Now, they only have three days before they turn into vampires themselves.

With her carefree summer thwarted, Callie must trust a group she barely knows in order to save her family. 

Publication date: October 4th, 2021

My Thoughts...

Mouth Full of Ashes is my first foray into Briana Morgan's writing and I couldn't start with a better novella than this nod to the 80s' The Lost Boys vampire film. This tale of two siblings trying to make a fresh start in a new town and finding only trouble at the local boardwalk was full of nostalgia. The brother and sister duo get wrapped up in the local vampire clan and mom is even being pursued by the vampire master. 

While it is essentially a reimagining of The Lost Boys, Morgan has a fun carnival/boardwalk setting, believable characters with a heartbreaking past, fun banter and wit, and even a little romance with queer rep thrown in for good measure. The relationship between the siblings is truly the backbone of the story. There's lots of young adult angst and the need to "find yourself" without coming across as too cheesy. While the pacing seemed a bit rushed at the end, there's plenty that makes this fun vampire novella worth reading. 


He thought he was untouchable...

David Lansdown, esteemed British horror writer and supernatural sceptic, is used to basking in the glow of the press. Until a hastily snapped photo hits the headlines and makes his affair with his publisher’s son public.

When David finds himself at Bone Hollow, a house with a glass wall overlooking a wild and desolate moor, his only concern is writing his next best seller to bury his misdeeds in the past.

But something stirs beneath the earth. Something bound to the land. Something determined to take everything from him.

Luca Fox-Waite is still in love with the man who cast him aside, but his own childhood demons lurk in his shadow. As he discovers more about Bone Hollow’s history, he finds himself ensnared in its story—a story steeped in time and tragedy.

Because curses lie in bones, and they do not die.

The House of Little Bones is a tale of avarice, adoration, and of how the sins of the past cling to the living as well as the dead.


Publication date: September 21st, 2021

My Thoughts...

The House of Little Bones follows two main characters: best-selling author David and Luca, the 19-year-old son of his childhood friend and publisher. They've had a covert age-gap romantic relationship that has now exploded in the tabloids. At the behest of his agent, David takes a writing sabbatical far away from London. David intends on hiding out in a recently built rental house in the sparsely populated moors to let things die down and refocus on his writing. Strange things start happening to David at the house, which as a skeptic, he dismisses as a prank. Luca is in the background as well, researching the moor that David is living on and trying to keep him safe from harm. 

Lee does an amazing job at writing a character driven narrative. David and Luca's relationship is at the center of this mess and Luca's heartbreak is evident while David's self-centeredness is its own form of misery. It's the ideal backdrop to the folklore-based haunting that is transpiring right under David's nose. The fog and rain-drenched moor setting is perfectly ominous and when the tension crescendos into the most perfect juncture of grief and retaliation, it's exquisite. Horrifying and devastating, this eerie novella sucked me in and left its mark. 


Sabrina Haskins and her family have just moved into their dream home, a gorgeous Craftsman in the rapidly-growing Southwestern city of Jackson Hill. Sabrina’s a bored and disillusioned homemaker, Hal a reverse mortgage salesman with a penchant for ill-timed sports analogies. Their two children, Damien and Michaela, are bright and precocious.

At first glance, the house is perfect. But things aren’t what they seem.

Sabrina’s hearing odd noises, seeing strange visions. Their neighbors are odd or absent. And Sabrina’s already-fraught relationship with her son is about to be tested in a way no parent could ever imagine.

Because while the Haskins family might be the newest owners of 4596 James Circle, they’re far from its only residents…

Publication date: October  19th, 2021

This haunted house story focuses on a family moving into a new home that doesn't exactly have the Home-Sweet-Home vibe they were looking for.  Right from the beginning, this novella had me laughing out loud as the family is getting their first glimpse of the house. Mom, Sabrina, turns to the kids in the backseat and immediately delivers an internal soliloquy about her 10-year-old Damien who had "eaten his own twin in the womb" and her ensuing nightmares of him pickaxing his way out of her with his dead brother's bones. Weird? Yes. Hilarious? Also yes but I'm twisted that way. It's just the start of the dark humor that you can expect from this novella, especially where Damien— who really, really likes to mess with his mom by living up to the name and freaking her out on purpose— is concerned.

Don't think it's all fun and games. When the haunting starts with a giant man jovially carrying a box to the basement and then climbing into the tiny crawlspace to disappear, it's creepy. Only Sabrina sees what is happening and as it gets weirder, everyone thinks she's losing it. While the haunting is at first benign, it's no less perplexing and overwhelming for poor Sabrina. The more answers she gets, the more questions she has. 

I love when stories manage to bring something fresh into a typical trope and boy, this novella crushes it. It takes a lot to throw me but I didn't see this one coming at all. It's wonderfully weird. It's irreverently funny. Man, Fuck This House. Come for the title, stay for the exceptional twist on the haunted house story. 

Publication date: September 1st, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads Everyone has wanted their favorite book to be real, if only for a moment....

Winterset Hollow cover, a Black and white sketch of bunny's head with barley sprouting from its eyes
Publication date: September 1st, 2021


Everyone has wanted their favorite book to be real, if only for a moment. Everyone has wished to meet their favorite characters, if only for a day. But be careful in that wish, for even a history laid in ink can be repaid in flesh and blood, and reality is far deadlier than fiction . . . especially on Addington Isle. Winterset Hollow follows a group of friends to the place that inspired their favorite book - a timeless tale about a tribe of animals preparing for their yearly end-of-summer festival. But after a series of shocking discoveries, they find that much of what the world believes to be fiction is actually fact, and that the truth behind their beloved story is darker and more dangerous than they ever imagined. It's Barley Day . . . and you're invited to the hunt.

Winterset Hollow is as thrilling as it is terrifying and as smart as it is surprising. A uniquely original story filled with properly unexpected twists and turns, Winterset Hollow delivers complex, indelible characters and pulse-pounding action as it storms toward an unforgettable climax that will leave you reeling. How do you celebrate Barley Day? You run, friend. You run.



Read now
  


I want you to picture for a moment the characters of your favorite childhood novel. Do you have a good grasp of that in your mind? Now imagine that they are real, live, breathing things that you see and touch. Wouldn't that be incredible? That's exactly how Winterset Hollow begins. Eamon, Caroline, and Mark take a sabbatical to the home of their favorite author to see the place where it all began. To see where the creation of the one thing that molded their very beings occurred. They practically have a hero complex constructed of the author. Why wouldn't they—as the story and characters gave them a reprieve from their own lives and stressors?

It's difficult to remember while riding the wonderment of the opening pages that this is a dark fantasy. As the awe slowly starts to fade, trepidation and that feeling of wrongness slowly start bleeding in—bringing a wave of unease. The moment it all changes is palpable. From there, it's a veritable sea of crashing confrontations and revelations. The tension is high and once it begins, it doesn't let up until the very end. 

Durham's prose is certainly on the more literary side. Interspersed with poetry taken from Addington's version of Winterset Hollow, the verbiage is resinous and thick. The expansive depictions elevated the novel from what could have been a simple slash and hack.  I found the language selections meticulous and beautiful. I think a lot of readers might consider it is overreaching and perhaps even pretentious but it worked so well for me. 

I truly did not expect the emotional rawness of Winterset Hollow. The wonderment of the beginning when they are meeting the characters, the shock when it all goes south, the fear and anxiety, and in the end, the bitterness of heartache. This was a completely unanticipated emotional rollercoaster of a book. There's no succor as the reader is ricocheted from one blow to another, whether physical, emotional, or mental. Was I happy with the ending? Honestly, I couldn't imagine a more flawless conclusion. It was like the sun setting on the perfect day—Barley Day.




Publication date: August 25th, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads A  compelling gothic fairytale by bruja and award-winning writer Maria DeBl...


Publication date: August 25th, 2021


A compelling gothic fairytale by bruja and award-winning writer Maria DeBlassie.

The women of Sueño, New Mexico don’t know how to live a life without sorrows. That’s La Llorona’s doing. She roams the waterways looking for the next generation of girls to baptize, filling them with more tears than any woman should have to hold. And there’s not much they can do about the Weeping Woman except to avoid walking along the riverbank at night and to try to keep their sadness in check. That’s what attracts her to them: the pain and heartache that gets passed down from one generation of women to the next.

Mercy knows this, probably better than anyone. She lost her best friend to La Llorona and almost found a watery grave herself. But she survived. Only she didn’t come back quite right and she knows La Llorona won’t be satisfied until she drags the one soul that got away back to the bottom of the river.

In a battle for her life, Mercy fights to break the chains of generational trauma and reclaim her soul free from ancestral hauntings by turning to the only things that she knows can save her: plant medicine, pulp books, and the promise of a love so strong not even La Llorona can stop it from happening. What unfolds is a stunning tale of one woman’s journey into magic, healing, and rebirth.

CW: assault, domestic violence, racism, colorism
Centered around La Llorona, the gothic fairytale is a feminist treat. If you are not acquainted with the story of La Llorona, the most common version is of a woman who marries a rich rancher. After bearing his children, she witnesses him with another woman and in a fit of jealous rage, drowns their children in the river. Unable to live with the grief, she spends eternity pacing the shores of the river, weeping and wailing. Weep, Woman, Weep takes this story and bestows upon it a fresh face and name. 

Mercy's life has never been easy. Generations of sorrow have tormented Sueño, New Mexico and La Llorona waits by the riverbank to drag the next generation down. The town and its people are well depicted but even here, bigotry is nevertheless alive and well. Ever present is the shade of La Llorona as the girls of Sueño are taught to conceal their sorrows and never, ever walk by the river at night. Mercy and her best friend, Sherry, have bigger dreams of leaving this little small-minded town but one day Sherry is touched by La Llorona and nothing is ever the same again. Mercy is determined that she will not lose her own vitality to the watery depths. She's been marked but won't give in.

Even with the heavy burden of grief on her shoulders, she finds quiet rebellion in her day-to-day life on the farm. She's jaded and wary but strength comes from within and Mercy has it in spades. She avoids the river, even standing the standing water of baths, and secretes her tears in jars so they will not be used to cause pain. Through it all, she perseveres.  The addition of a new neighbor leads Mercydown a path to another way of thinking. Mercy takes her roots that could entangle her, waters them with her tears, and lets them flourish into something beautiful. 

Choosing to have Mercy speak from the pages makes Weep, Woman, Weep more of a confessional than impassive story.  There are times that she stops herself from saying more than she means to say.  The use of first person makes Mercy's tale more intimate and believable. She's cutting and genuine and that's what makes her story all the more heart-wrenching.

Weep, Woman, Weep easily conveys the folklore vibe while still managing to be well-rooted in Mercy's world. At times, it's uncertain if La Llorona is merely in Mercy's head. Is she truly a supernatural spook? Whether or not La Llorona exists or is a convenient excuse for Mercy's stoicism is anyone's guess. One could look at it as a view of the role of women. How we are taught to swallow down our sorrow and put on a brave face to the world. How showing emotion is frequently viewed as negative and how our own hopes and dreams are put on the back burner sacrificially for others. This gothic fairytale is so beautifully written. Its haunting goes far beyond the grasp of La Llorona and weaves a beautiful story of endurance, fortitude, and love. 


I can't believe that we are already in the month of December.  I'm not ready for the cold and the dark, but I'm always ready for...



I can't believe that we are already in the month of December. 
I'm not ready for the cold and the dark, but I'm always ready for a read to keep me up all night under the blankets. December is an odd month for horror releases but that doesn't mean there aren't still some great stories being released. 
See if there's anything on the list you'd like to ask Santa for! 


(If you plan on purchasing any of the books on this page, it would be awesome if you’d use the affiliate links. This helps to support the blog and doesn’t cost you a thing. Thanks!)


Publication date: November 23rd, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads A  shape-shifting spirit haunts a family in England during the depths of ...


Publication date: November 23rd, 2021


A shape-shifting spirit haunts a family in England during the depths of winter.
A woman must locate a snowflake for a magical trickster to save her frozen true love.
A witch knocks upon a young man’s door to take his life on Christmas day.
A small boy meets a faerie housed within a snow drop.

Once upon a time stories travelled from place to place on the tongues of merchants and thieves and kings alike. Under the blanket of night they were exchanged between children, and passed on to their children, and their children after them. Details were altered from one generation to the next until thousands of tales existed where once there were few.

In the spirit of these age-old stories comes Once Upon a Winter, a seasonal anthology of folk and fairy tales from 17 authors across the globe. It covers the Gothic, the romantic, the whimsical, the frightening and everything in-between, and features both intriguing twists on classic tales and exciting original stories.

The first of four planned seasonal anthologies from Macfarlane Lantern Publishing, Once Upon a Winter is sure to have a story for just about everyone. Grab your copy in time for Christmas today!

Inside this anthology:

The Biting Cold by Josie Jaffrey
The Match Girl by Rebecca F. Kenney
Santa Claus is Coming to Town by Bharat Krishnan
A Pea Ever After by Adie Hart
The Snowdrop by H. L. Macfarlane
Silverfoot’s Edge by Ella Holmes
The Storm Hags by Caroline Logan
The Boggart of Boggart Hole Clough by Jake Curran-Pipe
Around the Hawthorne Tree by Jenna Smithwick
The Best Girl this Side of Winter by Laila Amado
The Snow Trolls by S. Markem
Lord of the Forest by Katherine Shaw
Queen of the Snows by Joyce Reynolds-Ward
Long Meg and the Sorcerer’s Stones by M. J. Weatherall
The Frost of Mercy by A. J. Van Belle
Wintercast by R. A. Gerritse
You Can’t See Me by Kate Longstone 

Read now


I absolutely adore folktales and fairytales, whether they are variations of the original stories, simply influenced by the classic tales or completely brand new imaginings. I didn't hesitate to say yes to Once Upon a Winter. What's even more exciting is that Once Upon a Winter is the first of four planned seasonal anthologies from Macfarlane Lantern Publishing. Obviously, this one starts with the colder season of the year and all the stories within containing the cold bite of winter's wind and snow.

As with all anthologies, there are stories that will resound more with the reader over others, which is the beauty of an anthology. While there were a couple of the stories that didn't work so well for me, the vast majority did. The atmosphere of the stories varies from sweet and romantic like "The Snowdrop" by H. L. Macfarlane, in which a boy meets an unexpected faerie friend, to the humorous "The Snow Trolls" by S. Markem where the edict is "Don't eat the yellow snow" and then there are those much, much darker, which are always going to be my personal favorites. 

That's not to say I still didn't enjoy the other stories. "A Pea Ever After" by Adie Hart is a feminist tale that is on the lighter side of the retellings in the anthology but I loved this take on The Princess and the Pea by Hans Christian Andersen. A fairy godmother has gathered four princesses together to compete for the hand of the prince. It was a welcome change to see smart, capable princesses that had no need of rescuing. In fact, the princesses had no interest in marrying the prince at all. Not that he's not perfectly handsome or refreshingly educated or even remarkably kind and funny because he is, they just aren't interested or have better things to do with their lives. 

Once again on the darker side of things is "Silverfoot's Edge" by Ella Holmes. In this tale, a trickster freezes a woman's love in a small pool and tasks her with finding one special snowflake in the midst of so many. This story starts in winter but spans the following months as well. It's everything that I love about fairytales. There's the peril of her loved one, the riddle to solve, a clearly defined baddie, and a determined and cunning heroine.  Not to mention that the little-folk creatures sent with her to "weigh" the snowflakes—the only way she'll know she's found the correct one—are adorable. My favorite passage of the entire anthology is here: 
        
        My mother once said to me love is an edge you will fall over, and she was right. 

        I think about it often as I walk the woods. She is dead and shrouded in the earth, and I feel her with every bare-footed step throughout the dirt. 
Landing among my favorites as well were two others in the collection: "The Best Girl this Side of Winter" with its undead, poisoned claws, and impossible quest and Katherine Shaw's "Lord of the Forest" which introduced me to the Leshii, a Slavic forest protector spirit. Don't let the fluffy bunnies on the cover fool you, there are wolves within these pages. 

If you love the stories by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Charles Perrault, and Hans Christian Andersen, there's a story here for you. Unlike the aforementioned authors, this anthology sees a more diverse authorship being primarily comprised of female and LGBTQ+ authors from various countries. Grab yourself a copy and a fuzzy blanket and expect a little magic for those long dark winter evenings.