ARC Review: ECHO by Thomas Olde Heuvelt (2022)

Genre: Adult Horror
Year Release: February 8, 2022
Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Books | Libro.fm

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Read a NetGalley eARC
Content warning: falling, disfiguration, vomiting, body horror, violence against birds, suicide (both discussed and depicted)

Sam Avery’s boyfriend, Nick Grevers, is an avid mountaineer who goes into Alps one season and an accident occurs. Nick’s climbing partner Augustin perishes while Nick returns with supposed amnesia and a face completely bandaged up. In an effort to give his boyfriend closure and healing, Sam races against time and nature while supernatural madness unfolds. While Nick might have left the mountain behind, it certainly back with him.

Echo taps into several sources of primordial dread, like losing the one we love in ways less permanent than death, tall men who are slightly too tall, and sleep deprivation demons.

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My 2021 in Reading: That’s a Lot of Things, Jo

I read 198 books this year in a split of: 39 ARCs, 59 audiobooks, 85 manga volumes, 9 physical copies, 2 light novels, and 6 eBooks. As my boyfriend said, “That’s a lot of things, Jo.” It is that time of year where I want to share my favorites, so please enjoy my top 20 2021 books, top 20 books from before 2021, and, a new feature, 5 manga.

I realize that I make lists for books I’m excited for and book I want to read, and failed on both those lists. So, my lists for 2022 books is mostly about boosting others works regardless of if I personally get around to reading them. That’s just how it is when you’re employed and vastly mis-measure what kind of focus you’ll have as the year goes on. Moving also robbed me of a bunch of my focus, which should not have been as surprising as it is. On top of working full time. On top of being in a relationship and trying to participate in the communities I’m a part of.

“That’s a lot of things,” indeed, self.

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December 2021 Reading Recap

December went by like a flash. I attended Dis Con III, visited my family for Christmas, and write you from Chicago. Please enjoy this final reading recap of 2021. What a year it’s been.

Tomorrow, we have my annual recap coming up. I hope you’re excited.

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ARC Review: ALL THE WHITE SPACES by Ally Wilkes (2022)

Genre: Adult Horror
Year Release: January 25, 2022 (UK); March 29, 2022 (US)
Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Books | Libro.fm

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read a NetGalley eARC
Content warning: starvation, grief, gore, dead dogs

A polar expedition to the South Pole goes terribly and having a stowaway on board isn’t even one of the myriad problems plaguing the Fortitude. Jonathan Morgan is trans and grieving his brothers who he lost in the great war. Eager to take their place on the adventure to Antarctica, he hides out on the ship. Discovery isn’t his only problem. Things start going downhill very quickly as the ghosts from his past become everyone else’s terror as well.

Comparing this book to the show, The Terror, and Alma Katsu’s The Hunger with more queers is honestly the most perfect description.

An interview with author Ally Wilkes will be posted on UK release day, January 25, 2022.

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Manga Review: DAI DARK Vol. 3 by Q Hayashida (2021)

Genre: Science fiction horror comedy shonen
Year Release in English: 2021
Source: BOOK☆WALKER

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

See my review of volumes 1 and 2 here. My lord, does this series continue to be grisly fun where not everyone can be trusted as far as you can throw them.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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Manga Review: CAN’T STOP CURSING YOU Vol. 2 by Kensuke Koba & Natsuko Uruma (2021)

Genre: Horror Shonen
Year Release in English: 2021
Source: BOOK☆WALKER

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Content warnings: Self-harm, gore, murder

Now that Volume 1 introduced this strange world of curse killers and curse gods, Volume 2 focuses on a specific killer to stop, while introducing a network of antagonists: Cursed Blood.

I really liked the villain here, Yami Akeno. The journey we go on with her descent into villainy really worked for me. Her motives are quite clear, her execution (both metaphorical and literal) are quite chilling. But what really keeps me invested is how Curse Breaker Saeyama keeps both his colleagues and the villain on their toes, keeping his hand close. There’s not enough established yet to have the reader figure out what’s truly at play, but it’s a fun ride and I’ll definitely keep reading.

Review: TENDER IS THE FLESH by Agustina Bazterrica (2020)

Genre: Adult Literary Fiction Horror
Year Release: 2021
Source: Audible

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Listened to the audiobook
Content warnings: cannibalism, slaughterhouse machinations, humans as sustenance, sexual abuse, rape, blood play, violence against puppies

In the alternate universe in which this book takes place, a virus has made all meat poisonous to humans, except for that certain hunger. The rest is told from the perspective of Marcos, a worker at one of the facilities whose life is falling apart. Until he’s “gifted” with a female, and things get worse from there.

While low on plot and shock value beyond its conceit, the ending punched me in the face on a journey that is very frank with its depiction and high in its interiority.

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November 2021 Reading Recap

November featured not as much reading as I’m used to. That’s because I finished my rewrite as my NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) project, rather than writing the requisite 50,000 words. I did it! I completed the rewrite, and it is now sitting in beta readers’ inboxes. The work took a lot out of me, so much so that I’m still feeling vaguely hungover.

December will feature some more things. But also, what do you mean it’s December already?

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Manga Review: MIERUKO-CHAN Vol. 3 & 4 by Tomoki Izumi (2021)

Genre: Slice-of-Life Horror
Year Release in English: 2021
Source: BOOK☆WALKER

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

For some reason, I never rated Volume 3. Anyway, this continues to be a consistent delight. The ghosts are just getting scarier, the plot is starting to take shape, and the greater world of spiritualists unfolds.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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Review: HOUSE OF HOLLOW by Krystal Sutherland (2021)

Genre: Young Adult Horror
Year Release: 2021
Source: Physical copy

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content warnings: Body horror, vomiting, child abduction, suicide (graphic), sexual assault (discussed)

Years before the story starts, three sisters went missing on New Year’s Eve, only to return to their parents with white hair and black eyes without a clue where they went or what happened to them. In the present, Iris is doing all she can to be a normal teen while her oldest sister, Grey, is a global fashion powerhouse, and her older sister, Vivi, traipses across Europe as a rockstar. When the sisters are supposed to reunite, Grey goes missing, and Iris and Vivi stumble down a horror/fairy tale rabbit to get answers to both Grey’s disappearance and the truth about their past.

This strange, scary adventure is a fantastic exploration on the layers of messiness when it comes to femininity, identity, in family with fabulously double-edged prose that’s equally unnerving and beautiful.

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