Review: BABY TEETH by Zoje Stage (2018)

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

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Listened to the audiobook
Content warnings: abuse, Crohn’s disease, parental neglect, attempted murder, hitting a child, gaslighting, burning

Usually when there is a horror trope of an evil child, the kid is either possessed or we see the entire thing from the parent’s point of view. In this book, we get the point of view of the mother, Suzette, and the daughter, Hannah. Suzette has Crohn’s disease, body image issues, and really wants a life that isn’t being a stay at home mother. Hannah, meanwhile, has been expelled from several kindergartens and refuses to speak. Something dark lurks beneath and she wants her mother out of the picture.

Baby Teeth is designed to make the reader deeply uncomfortable with sharp prose that’s intense from start to finish.

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ARC Review: BUTCHERBIRD by Cassie Hart (2021)

Genre: Adult Supernatural Horror
Year Release: August 2021
Buy Links: Huia Site | Barnes & Noble (Nook)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read an eARC from the publisher
Content warning: Arson, cancer, death of immediate family, self-disembowelment, alcoholism, murder, violence against birds

Jena Benedict returns to her family’s farm twenty years after a tragic fire which claimed the lives of her parents and her siblings. Her grandmother, her last familial connection to the property and tragedy, is dying of cancer and Rose knows more than she leads on. Will, Rose’s live-in caretaker, has a penchant for the supernatural and follows Jena down the rabbit hole of darkness that surrounds that fateful night.

Māori/Pākehā author Cassie Hart weaves a ghost story full of eerie birds, cursed jewelry, family secrets, and chills to keep the reader up at night from start to finish.

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July 2021 Reading Recap

What even was July? It was my last month in Chicago, I moved to Texas (am still moving in Texas, no, I won’t be getting into more specific details). Reading was a bit fraught. I had lofty goals, like reading everything I borrowed from the library (didn’t happen). But I did enjoy a bunch of what I read, which is always a blessing.

I had two authors interviews on my blog for their debut works. First, horror YA writer Ryan Douglass talked about his debut, The Taking of Jake Livingston, and short story writer Charles Payseur told us a bit about his process of putting a short story collection, The Burning Day and Other Strange Stories.

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Genre: Adult Speculative Fiction Short Story Collection
Year Release: July 2021
Buy Links: Unabridged Books | Amazon

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Read an ARC from the author

Short story writer Charles Payseur is prolific in both his reviews and his short story career. This collection is a compact, but mighty sample. There is something for everyone, from stories taking place down on earth, to space exploration, to tales about black holes and space ships full of cats.

They’re queer, they’re speculative, with lovely imagery and relationships that feel all-too human throughout. Some stories are also chilling, in more ways than one. There is a breadth here of speculative experience that is a wonder to behold.

Author Charles Payseur will be featured as this blog’s next interview guest on July 18th, 2021.

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Author to Author with Ryan Douglass

The Taking of Jake Livingston tells the story of the eponymous medium, hunted by the ghost of a teen who committed a mass shooting years before. This book is the kind of scary where I read bits of it through splayed fingers. Jake is one of my new favorite horror protagonists, and all I wanted for him was a happy ending and some peace. The prose is atmospheric and horrifying while also touching on less supernatural fears like being a bit of an outcast and the only Black kid in a private school.

Today, I’m thrilled to celebrate author Ryan Douglass’s debut day with an interview about the process of crafting this spooky read. XOXO, Sierra also put together a debut box with a finished copy of the book and related goodies. Check it out here.

Buy Links: | Unabridged Books | Audiobook

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Manga Review: DAI DARK Vol. 1-2 by Q Hayashida (2021)

Genre: Science fiction horror comedy shonen
Year Release in English: 2021

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

In short, perfect for fans trying to fill in the space skeleton dark fantasy horror void while waiting for any news about Alecto the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
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June 2021 Reading Recap

June was my birth month! I also finished writing an entire project! It’s an exciting time of reconnecting with myself and art, and it’s been lovely. I also spent a lot of time at the gym getting into the rowing machine and preparing for my big move in August.

I am so excited to have hosted Fran Wilde to cheer on The Ship of Stolen Words and Jen Karner to celebrate the release of their debut, Cinders of Yesterday.

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ARC Review: THE TAKING OF JAKE LIVINGSTON by Ryan Douglass (2021)

Genre: Young Adult Horror
Year Release: July 2021
Buy Links: | Unabridged Books | Audiobook

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read a NetGalley eARC
Content warning: Gore, school shooting, revenge porn, attempted rape, bullying, homophobia, abuse by parents

Jake Livingston is one of the only Black student at St. Claire’s Prep. The ghosts reliving their deaths and ghouls following him don’t make high school any easier. When a mass shooter from the town’s recent past decides to pick Jake as his next target, it’s a race against escalating violence as Jake comes into his powers as a medium to banish the spirit once and for all.

An atmospherically horrifying new voice in horror that had me reading this book through splayed fingers from start to finish, while clinging onto the hope for a happy-for-now ending for Jake.

Author Ryan Douglass will be featured on the blog on release day, July 13.

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Light Novel Review: BOOGIEPOP AND OTHERS by Kouhei Kadono & Kouji Ogata (2006)

Genre: Horror
Year Release in English: 2006

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Content warnings: Gaslighting, violence, blood, gore, murder, dismemberment, kidnapping

I had watched the Boogiepop Phantom anime several years ago and due to my recent foray into manga and light novels, decided to give the source material a try. It is a treat.

Told non-linearly, we follow a collection of high schoolers as some of their own disappear and others turn into either Boogiepop or their enemy the Manticore. Souls get devoured in a technological attempt to subjugate humanity, and Boogiepop needs their own set of allies to set things straight.

The craft here cleverly plays with reader’s sense of reality as the grounding of real vs. surreal becomes upended from the point of view of the character narrating that chapter. The kids are certainly not all right, and the adults are strangely absent. I’m interested in seeing if we get any of them involved. There seem to be strict rules about attendance, phone use, dating, etc. but when one of them goes missing, no one talks about it. It’s eerie in the same way groupthink is, and it just adds to the unsettling nature of this story and its telling.

I’m lucky to have already purchased the second novel, and I’m excited to dive in.

Review: THE OTHER BLACK GIRL by Zakiya Dalila Harris (2021)

Genre: Adult Literary Suspense
Year Release: 2021
Source: Audible

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Listened to the audiobook
Content warning: Microaggressions, racism, stalking, kidnapping

A new co-worker in the office tends to be exciting. When another Black girl arrives and Nella Rogers is no longer the only Black girl her at her company, strange things begin to happen. Mysterious notes and cryptic texts telling her to leave Wagner send Nella in a spiral that could unravel the fabric of reality itself.

Excellent in its twists, and takes its sweet time establishing understanding, The Other Black Girl interrogates the publishing infrastructure for its lack of diversity while also introducing dread and menace in a tightly woven mystery.

If this has been pitched to you as Get Out meets The Stepford Wives but make it publishing, you’ve got an accurate description of this book.

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