Review: MOON OF THE CRUSTED SNOW by Waubgeshig Rice (2018)

Genre: Adult Horror
Year Release: 2018
Source: Library Kindle

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Content warning: suicide, hunting, genocide (referenced), gun violence, murder, cannibalisms (implied)

At the onset of winter, communications go down at a small northern Anishinaabe community. Turns out it isn’t run-of-the-mill power outage, but a sign of society collapsing in the urban south. What then ensues is survival prep for an uncertain winter, while reports suggest humanity declined. It’s tense, it’s sad, and in the end, community and tradition are what keep our protagonists alive and their families together despite the adversity.

Though short, this book has a lot going on in it which made it a slower read for me. There’s the intersection of community obligation and caring for the desperate. There’s the tension of what to do when technology starts failing and how to merge tradition with survival. Each brief chapter has so much going on, I had to reread a few of them more than once to really catch all the layers.

There’s also the looming fear of uncertainty. It’s not horror in much of the sense that there’s an evil to defeat or run from. It’s horror in that way where survival is the goal, and the costs associated. There is a human boogeyman in the form of Justin Scott, who arrives on the scene with a literal bang and the side-eying doesn’t end there. I can’t say too much more because that would be spoilers, but having something dangerous inside the metaphorical house of the reservation ups the ante so much. At the end of winter, there is a sigh of relief, but an acknowledgment of the work to come.

Review: MADHOUSE AT THE END OF THE EARTH: The Belgica’s Journey into the Dark Antarctic Night by Julian Sancton (2021)

Genre: Adult Historical Nonfiction
Year Release: 2021
Source: Libro.fm

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Listened to the audiobook
Content warnings: Starvation, scurvy, depictions of mental illness, animal slaughter

If you thought Arctic exploration had its moments of “why would anyone ever do this,” Antarctic exploration is on a whole other level. This book follows the expedition of The Belgica, a ship from Belgium with a mostly international crew. What makes this account particularly captivating is its wacky cast of characters and a trip that felt mad long before Adrien de Gerlarche and his crew made it to the southern seas.

Told fairly linearly in multiple points of view, the ending really has you wondering just what such journeys do to people, especially when there’s national and international renown at stake.

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Review: YEAR OF THE NURSE: A COVID-19 PANDEMIC MEMOIR by Cassandra Alexander RN (2021)

Genre: Adult Medical Nonfiction
Year Release: 2021
Source: Kindle

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content warning: PTSD, suicidal ideation, COVID death, illness, bodily fluids, graphic discussion of medical procedures

Fucking harrowing as we get a front line view of the COVID pandemic from the very beginning through the first half of 2021. Nurses shouldn’t have to be this resilient.

Told across several bits of media from texts to tweets to blog posts, Cassie Alexander tells a brutally honest account of her experience working the COVID wards. What also works is how well Alexander knows her audience. There’s an empathy in the discussion and excellent laying out of specific terms and concepts. It’s easy to read from the standpoint of understanding the medicine, but difficult when it comes to even wrapping your mind around this lived experience.

This is the most important book I’ve read this year, and I don’t use that term lightly.

August and September 2021 Reading Recap

August and September were two months I can only describe as liminal spaces. Long story short, we moved into one apartment, and then transferred to another apartment. I didn’t feel like doing an August recap without having settled in. So here we are. I’ve also been busy otherwise.

I did several author interviews (and there are so many more to come):

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Manga Review: MONSTER AND THE BEAST Vol. 1-3 (2019-2020) by renji

Genre: Fantasy Shonen
Year Release in English: 2019-2020
Source: BOOK☆WALKER

Reminder: The star rating reflects overall opinion of the series.

The letter from the author at the end of volume one says, “I wanted to read a boy’s love fantasy manga about a middle-aged guy and an inhuman creature, but that didn’t exist, so I made my own.” It is the most accurate description of Monster and the Beast. Cavo is a gentle-hearted big scary boi while Liam is a gentlemen who fucks and has a sordid past for unrelated reasons. Perfect for the monster fuckers.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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Trio Review: The SMALL SPACES series by Katherine Arden (2018-2021)

From left to right: covers for Small Spaces (2018), Dead Voices (2019), and Dark Waters (2021), all by Katherine Arden

To get in the mood for spooky season, I’ve decided to dip back into some horror reads. Katherine Arden’s shift to Middle Grade has been on my radar for a bit. What a delightful series it is. We follow the scary adventures of Ollie Adler, Coco Zintner, and Brian Battersby, three middle schoolers with different experiences of the supernatural. These books are scary but heartwarming, with tense situations and fantastic character development. The cliffhanger Dark Waters ends on makes me impatient for the next book, but they are a delight and highly recommended for fans of things like Over the Garden Wall, Crimson Peak, and urban legends coming to life.

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Manga Review: MISS KOBAYASHI’S DRAGON MAID Volumes 1-4 by coolkyousinnjya (2016-2017)

Genre: Fantasy Slice-of-Life Seinen
Year Release in English: 2016-2917
Source: BOOK☆WALKER

Reminder: The star rating reflects overall opinion of the series.

An absolutely adorable slice-of-life series about an office worker who drunkenly and unwittingly invites a dragon girl back to her house to work as her maid. I love the balance between a greater plot happening in the background with more everyday silliness as a dragon girl learns to be a human girl.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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ARC Review: THE DEATH OF JANE LAWRENCE by Caitlin Starling (2021)

Genre: Adult Horror
Year Release: October 5th, 2021
Buy Links: Bookshop | Unabridged Books | Audiobook

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read an eARC from NetGalley
Content warning: gore, blood, old-timey surgery, miscarriage, vivisection, drug abuse, gaslighting, war, PTSD

Jane Shoringfield thinks she has it all figured out when she gets into a marriage of convenience with the handsome Doctor Augustine Lawrence. She gets to continue being an accountant without the other trappings of marriage. Things aren’t as they seem, however, when she spends the night at Lindridge Hall. Things go bump in the night, red-eyed ghosts visit, and Doctor Lawrence has friends with more occult interests. Next comes a whirlwind of chaos magic, unfinished rituals, intricate mathematics, and scares perfect for fans of Crimson Peak and Penny Dreadful.

The author Caitlin Starling will be featured on the blog on October 4th, the eve of release date.

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ARC Review: SUMMER SONS by Lee Mandelo (2021)

Genre: Adult Horror
Year Release: September 28, 2021
Buy Links: Bookshop | Unabridged Books | Audiobook

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read an eARC from NetGalley
Content warning: blood, gore, suicide, drug use and abuse, car accidents, emesis, homophobia

Andrew Blur lost his best friend Eddie in what looks like a suicide. But the ghoul haunting him suggests that there is something more at play and he’s determined to find answers, whether the academic establishment and newfound friend group Eddie found like it or not. This spooky read has a bit of everything: conspiracies, dark family histories, a mystery at its center, the full messiness of coming-of-age, and so much more. An absolute treat for those who enjoy hauntings and disaster gays.

The author Lee Mandelo will be featured on the blog in an interview on release day, September 28th, 2021.

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ARC Review: PLAGUE BIRDS by Jason Sanford (2021)

Genre: Adult Dark Fantasy
Year Release: September 21, 2021
Buy Links: Apex Book Company | Bookshop

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read an ARC from the author
Content warning: blood, gore, body horror, self-harm for the purposes of magic, gaslighting, violence

You’ve heard of plague doctors, get ready for plague birds. Plague birds are people bonded with blood AI who exact justice by killing the wrong doer. They are very powerful and very feared. Crista bonds herself to one named Red Day and embarks on a journey to attempt to save her village from a rogue faction called the Veil. There are twists and turns and memory manipulation galore, while the real danger might be coming from inside the metaphorical house.

Deftly toeing the line between dark fantasy and science fiction, this book is perfect for those wanting to read compelling characters with science and technology that feels like magic.

The author Jason Sanford will be featured on the blog in an interview on September 14th, 2021.

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