Just because it’s November, it does not mean I am done reading scary books. This book I’m sharing today did not disappoint. It is perfect for horror movie fans.
Good Girls Don’t Die [#ad] by Christina Henry releases on November 14, 2023. [NOTE: This post contains affiliate links. Please see the disclosure at the end of this post for more information.]
This is not your typical horror novel. Take your horror films, cozy mysteries, and the insanity that is our world today, throw them in a blender and what do you have? Good Girls Don’t Die. [#ad]
Figuring out what was really going on was not so easy. I was confused at the end of each story, thinking, “What just happened?” At first, I thought this was reading like The Mill (a movie on Hulu), where it’s just a bunch of people going through some virtual reality. No, that wasn’t it.
Then the Cabin in the Woods story began, and I started thinking there is no way what I think is happening is really happening. Not at this scale. Are they stuck in some strange Truman like show? No, that definitely cannot be it.
Throw the Squid Game into this and you really are wondering what is going to happen after they all escape their strange scary stories.
When I got to the end, I sat there trying to wrap my head around what was going on. I kept thinking that this could actually happen because we see this kind of behavior out there in the world today. Women are murdered for these exact reasons, and that is scary.
I am not going to spoil this one for you. You are going to have to find out for yourself what happened. All I am going to say is that there is absolutely no way you are going to guess the ending at all. Good Girls Don’t Die [#ad] is straight out of several horror movies and stories ripped from the headlines.
About Good Girls Don’t Die
A sharp-edged, supremely twisty thriller about three women who find themselves trapped inside stories they know aren’t their own, from the author of Alice and Near the Bone.
Celia wakes up in a house that’s supposed to be hers. There’s a little girl who claims to be her daughter and a man who claims to be her husband, but Celia knows this family—and this life—is not hers…
Allie is supposed to be on a fun weekend trip—but then her friend’s boyfriend unexpectedly invites the group to a remote cabin in the woods. No one else believes Allie, but she is sure that something about this trip is very, very wrong…
Maggie just wants to be home with her daughter, but she’s in a dangerous situation and she doesn’t know who put her there or why. She’ll have to fight with everything she has to survive…
Three women. Three stories. Only one way out. This captivating novel will keep readers guessing until the very end.
About the Author
Christina Henry is a horror and dark fantasy author whose works include Horseman, Near the Bone, The Ghost Tree, Looking Glass, The Girl in Red, The Mermaid, Lost Boy, Alice, Red Queen, and the seven-book urban fantasy Black Wings series.
She enjoys running long distances, reading anything she can get her hands on, and watching movies with samurai, zombies, and/or subtitles in her spare time. She lives in Chicago with her husband and son. Learn more online at www.christinahenry.net.
[Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a review on this site. My review is not influenced by the publisher or the author in any way. This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website. Your purchase helps support my work.]
Today’s fall horror book comes from Erika T. Wurth, and it is called White Horse.
[Disclosure: I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this website. Your purchase helps support my work.]
I’ve been sitting on this book for a little while now, because I’ve been mulling it over. That is actually how I know the book is really good…if I am still thinking about it long after I read it.
For me, what I am mulling over is Bigfoot. Weird, right? Kind of reminds me of Big’s obsession with Bigfoot on Reservation Dogs. If you are like most, Bigfoot is just some urban legend that no one really believes is out there. Never once did I contemplate just where the story of Bigfoot came from.
Imagine my surprise that Bigfoot’s roots come from Indigenous cultures.
As I dive more and more into Native American stories and their culture, I am learning how protective they are of their stories. One book (I’ll be sharing soon) lists most of their horror stories as the white man being the monster. And truthfully, it is rather eye opening to see the story through the eyes of a Native American. I usually just nod my head and go, “Wow, you are so right.”
With White Horse, you can see the monster through different eyes and it is equally as terrifying. Watching history and folklore cross paths to explain the monsters around us, really made my heart sad. I think I didn’t want to talk about this horror story so soon, because my heart wept. To have that sort of emotional feeling during a horror story, that means you need to read it.
All I can say is that I don’t think the horror story ever really ends. There are so many levels of horror that stick with you long after you turn the last page. That is what makes this debut novel an incredible horror story.
Some people are haunted in more ways than one…
Kari James, Urban Native, is a fan of heavy metal, ripped jeans, Stephen King novels, and dive bars. She spends most of her time at her favorite spot in Denver, a bar called White Horse. There, she tries her best to ignore her past and the questions surrounding her mother who abandoned her when she was just two years old.
But soon after her cousin Debby brings her a traditional bracelet that once belonged to Kari’s mother, Kari starts seeing disturbing visions of her mother and a mysterious creature. When the visions refuse to go away, Kari must uncover what really happened to her mother all those years ago. Her father, permanently disabled from a car crash, can’t help her. Her Auntie Squeaker seems to know something but isn’t eager to give it all up at once. Debby’s anxious to help, but her controlling husband keeps getting in the way.
Kari’s journey toward a truth long denied by both her family and law enforcement forces her to confront her dysfunctional relationships, thoughts about a friend she lost in childhood, and her desire for the one thing she’s always wanted but could never have…
There are a lot of new books coming out this month. A LOT!!! From horror to cookbooks to Native American stories, you will find a whole array of new titles you will want to get your hands on.
One of my favorite new titles this month is Jo Nesbo’s The Night House. Want to get into the mind of a horror writer, plus throw Inception on top of it all? This one will creep you out. It is a great read to get you in the mood for spooky month.
The phone ate the kid!
That is all I am going to say.
I will also be picking up a bunch of copies of Yung Pueblo’s The Way Forward to give out as Christmas gifts this year. His words are just the right words needed to inspire you. It will make a great gift for those you hold dear.
I am making my way through all of the other new books coming out this month (there are a lot of them).
You can easily find all of the titles listed below at PW’s Amazon Store. [Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, I earn a commission from qualifying purchases.]
The Malus Domestica series from S. A. Hunt is one of my favorite scary series. It starts with Burn the Dark, followed by I Come With Knives, and The Hellion. This series is perfect for those who love their scary books to be on the extreme side, as in explosive action featuring witches, demons, and lots and lots of scary stuff. I don’t think I will ever get that cat scene out of my head.
This is also perfect for those looking for a trans author to read and follow.
What I loved about this series was all of the explosive action, followed by everything super evil you can think of. I may end up going back to read this series again.
This series is one you need to share with everyone who loves horror. It is really, really good.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina meets Stranger Things in award-winning author S. A. Hunt’s Burn the Dark, first in the Malus Domestica horror action-adventure series about a punk YouTuber on a mission to bring down witches, one vid at a time.
Robin is a YouTube celebrity gone-viral with her intensely-realistic witch hunter series. But even her millions of followers don’t know the truth: her series isn’t fiction.
Her ultimate goal is to seek revenge against the coven of witches who wronged her mother long ago. Returning home to the rural town of Blackfield, Robin meets friends new and old on her quest for justice. But then, a mysterious threat known as the Red Lord interferes with her plans…
[DISCLOSURE: I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this website. Your purchase helps support my work.]
The Nightmare Man by J. H. Markert was my first five star read of 2023. As a writer, I think this one scared me more than most horror books because the idea that your horror story could come to life scared the crap out of me. This scary story is for those who fear their own nightmares.
For parents, if you could find a way to save your children from having recurring nightmares, you would help them, right?
What appears to be a miracle for children to have their nightmares removed turns into a real-life nightmare for them as adults when their nightmares start hunting them. More and more people are found dead, and they all have one thing in common.
This debut made me such a huge fan of this author. Finding the next master of horror is a difficult task in and of itself. To find a story that just scares the crap out of you and it be delivered so well…I mean, how can you not become a fan?
I will say, I will be reading all of his books. His next book, Mister Lullaby, releases on November 21, 2023. That is a book I plan on adding to my collection alongside The Nightmare Man.
Blackwood mansion looms, surrounded by nightmare pines, atop the hill over the small town of Crooked Tree. Ben Bookman, bestselling novelist and heir to the Blackwood estate, spent a weekend at the ancestral home to finish writing his latest horror novel, The Scarecrow. Now, on the eve of the book’s release, the terrible story within begins to unfold in real life.
Detective Mills arrives at the scene of a gruesome murder: a family butchered and bundled inside cocoons stitched from corn husks, and hung from the rafters of a barn, eerily mirroring the opening of Bookman’s latest novel. When another family is killed in a similar manner, Mills, along with his daughter, rookie detective Samantha Blue, is determined to find the link to the book—and the killer—before the story reaches its chilling climax.
As the series of “Scarecrow crimes” continues to mirror the book, Ben quickly becomes the prime suspect. He can’t remember much from the night he finished writing the novel, but he knows he wrote it in The Atrium, his grandfather’s forbidden room full of numbered books. Thousands of books. Books without words.
As Ben digs deep into Blackwood’s history he learns he may have triggered a release of something trapped long ago—and it won’t stop with the horrors buried within the pages of his book.
[Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for purposes of a review. All opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way by the author or the publisher. This post contains affiliate links. Should you click on the link and make a purchase, I will receive a commission at no additional cost to you.]
The temperatures are starting to drop. People are running to pick up their pumpkin spiced lattes. For us bibliophiles who love spooky season, we are looking for every new and old scary book we can get our hands on to commemorate every thing we love about fall.
To start off the spooky season, I have a new title for you that is set to be released on September 5th called The September House. This book is for all those who love the haunted house and murderous ghosts vibe. This is for those who love The Haunting of Hill House.
Throughout most of this book, you may think it is comical how an older couple with a grown daughter could purchase a beautiful haunted Victorian and not care one lick that it is haunted. The wife loves the house so much that she will put up with the blood running down the walls every September. She will tolerate all of the ghosts that look the way they did when they were murdered. She can even put up with the priest that comes every other month to sanctify the house from whatever evil lurks in the basement.
Even when her husband goes missing, she does not bat an eyelash that something could be amiss, because she has her dream house. She can live with the ghosts, so long as she has her perfect Victorian.
But things start to go all sorts of wrong when her daughter starts asking for her father. He has not returned any of her calls. She is getting tired of hearing her mother make up excuses on why her father won’t come to the phone or return her calls. So she decides to show up right when the September season is in full swing, when the house is at its worst.
As the daughter begins to think her mother is suffering from dementia and is seeing things, the police show up thinking that she’s killed her husband. Yet, the house decides to take matters into its own hands to prove that it isn’t just haunted, there’s an evil being living in its basement. It plans on killing everyone in the house.
As you read through this book, stick with it until the end, especially if you love the good ole gory stories. What may seem as all innocent and comical at the beginning, can turn into a complete bloodbath at the end.
That’s the part I was not expecting from this. You hope it will turn out that way, but you start to give up hope that it will. Maybe it is just a feel good kind of haunted house story. Oh no. It turns into a bona fide bloodfest horror story towards the end, sure to make any horror lover happy.
A woman is determined to stay in her dream home even after it becomes a haunted nightmare in this compulsively readable, twisty, and layered debut novel.
When Margaret and her husband Hal bought the large Victorian house on Hawthorn Street—for sale at a surprisingly reasonable price—they couldn’t believe they finally had a home of their own. Then they discovered the hauntings. Every September, the walls drip blood. The ghosts of former inhabitants appear, and all of them are terrified of something that lurks in the basement. Most people would flee.
Margaret is not most people.
Margaret is staying. It’s her house. But after four years Hal can’t take it anymore, and he leaves abruptly. Now, he’s not returning calls, and their daughter Katherine—who knows nothing about the hauntings—arrives, intent on looking for her missing father. To make things worse, September has just begun, and with every attempt Margaret and Katherine make at finding Hal, the hauntings grow more harrowing, because there are some secrets the house needs to keep.
Get Your Copy
The September House is out on September 5th. This book is the first in this year’s Perfectionist Wannabe’s Horror Picks for the fall season. There will even be a few witchy books (that may not be scary, but are excellent reads for those who love the season, but hate the scare factor). Stay tuned for more finds and suggestions from now until Halloween. Happy Haunting!
[DISCLOSURE: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for purposes of a feature on this site. All opinions are my own and are in no way shaped by the author or the publisher. This post also contains affiliate links. That means that should you purchase the book in the link, I may receive a commission from the sale at no additional cost to you.]
This story is not about Medusa. This is a story about Medusa’s sisters; and they have their own stories to tell.
Medusa’s Sisters by Lauren J. A. Bear is a retelling of the stories of the gorgons, the gods, and humanity during Ancient Greek times, but with a little spin. This story is not about the legendary Medusa. This story is about her sisters, Stheno and Euryale.
From their birth, these triplets became a part of each other’s fates, the good and the bad. They are not monsters born from Titans. They are born with the same shape as humans and the gods of Olympus. Only Medusa is mortal, while her sisters are immortal.
Stheno, the eldest, is their protector. Euryale, the middle child, is just a woman yearning to fall in love and to live in the world of the gods. Medusa, the youngest, is the one everyone loves.
As the sisters watch the devastation of Pandora’s jar to Zeus creating humans over and over again until he gets it right, they one day decide to join the world of the humans in Thebes. After Thebes, it’s Athens.
It is in the land of Athena that they meet their doom of not only Medusa’s demise, but their own. All three sisters turn into gorgons. This is where the true tale of Stheno and Euryale begin.
They watch as Perseus takes the head of their sleeping Medusa, unable to stop him. They witness Pegasus and Chrysaor emerge from her decapitated body. After Medusa’s death, Stheno and Euryale continue to live on their island of Sarpedon. This is where they plot their revenge.
If you are like me, you probably know the Clash of the Titans version of Medusa’s story. I did not know she had sisters who were also turned into gorgons after Poseidon raped Medusa on the altar of Athena’s temple. Nor did I know that Medusa was pregnant with Poseidon’s children and Pegasus was a result of that rape (or that Pegasus had a twin).
Also, I did not know that Orion is the son of Euryale and Poseidon. In other words, I learned a lot from this retelling. I fact checked a lot of the elements in the story I did not know about, and those facts checked out. Hollywood really changed the story of Medusa, and I am not OK with that.
Medusa’s Sisters vindicates Medusa and her sisters. They are the victims. This book uses the actual myth from the original stories, and it does not stray too far from it. I do like, though, the one change where the sigil of Medusa’s face on Athena’s shield isn’t meant to be looked at as Athena honoring Medusa. It is meant for the goddess to remember what she did to their sister. Euryale painted the sigil onto Athena’s shield so she would remember how she had destroyed the woman she loved, all because she thought Medusa betrayed her.
Within this story, is the story of Orion and his dog Sirius. Oh, how I loved their story. I loved the tale of a boy and his dog. The tears were flowing when Orion was killed and then the gods chose to honor him and Sirius by placing them in the stars above Sarpedon, so Euryale could see them every night. [I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it.]
Even in great tragedy, there is beauty. In sorrow, we find healing, even from our own enemies. This book is a wonderful tale of sisterhood, motherhood, and family. It is a story of love, hope, and strength.
For those who love tales of Ancient Greece, you will definitely enjoy this story.
[DISCLOSURE: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for purposes of a book review on this site. My opinions are my own, and are in no way influenced by the publisher. Should you choose to purchase the book or the movie through one of the links in this post, I will receive a commission from the sale at no additional cost to you.]
[Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. I received copies of the books contained in this post for purposes of review.]
September has a lot of great new book releases from true crime to historical fiction, to apocalyptic novels. Here’s what is on my radar this month.
Always the First to Die by R. J. Jacobs. A horror film actress returns to the manor where her first film was made, a place she swore she would never return to after the horrors that took place there. She is forced to return to the island to find her daughter as a category 4 hurricane hits, replaying the plot of the infamous horror film that made her famous. Releases September 13.
Children of the Catastrophe by Sarah Shoemaker. This historical fiction story begins in Smyrna, Ottoman Empire, 1908. Liana Demirgis is being thrust into the spotlight by her mother in order to find a husband. An arranged marriage is made between the Demirgis and Melopoulos families and Liana is wed to Vasili. We follow the couple’s lives as the massacre of Greeks and Armenians after World War I takes place. Paperback releases September 6.
Duet: Our Journey in Song with the Northern Mockingbird by Phillip Hoose. National Book Award and Newberry honor-winner Phillip Hoose dives into the history of the mockingbird and it’s present day use as the rallying call in the Hunger Games. This YA book uncovers the connections between humans and the mockingbird over the centuries from the White House to modern day books. Releases September 13.
Enola Holmes and the Elegant Escapade by Nancy Springer. Oh, I love Enola Holmes and she is at it again. This time, trying to keep a friend with dual personalities out of trouble, while her older brother Sherlock is tasked with bringing the girl back home. What trouble will Enola find herself in this time? Releases September 6.
Fall Guy by Archer Mayor. Book 33 in the Joe Gunther series. This one is for those who love detective novels. When the body of a burglar is found in the trunk of a stolen car, the Vermont Bureau of Investigation discovers evidence in the car linked to an old unsolved child abduction case. Joe Gunther leads his team on the hunt for this psychopath before he kills again. Releases September 27.
Harrow by Joy Williams. Her first novel since Pulitzer Prize-nominated The Quick and the Dead, Joy Williams creates an apocalyptic story about a gifted young girl who stumbles upon a resort filled with elderly inhabitants who want to violently punish corporations and those who created the environmental apocalypse. Releases September 14.
Monsters Born and Made by Tanvi Berwah. This is an incredible story that leads to complete doom every which way Koral turns. This new world was hard to understand in the beginning, but once the races begin, you get snared into its net and can’t help but hope that things will get better for Koral and her family. Will she win the race and help her family out of their ruin, especially when the entire world is stacked up against her? This South Asian inspired story releases September 6.
Nothing But the Night: Leopold & Loeb and the Truth Behind the Murder That Rocked 1920s America by Greg King and Penny Wilson. For my true crime lovers, I can’t sum this up any better than the actual synopsis. The synopsis alone makes my jaw drop. SYNOPSIS: Nearly a hundred years ago, two wealthy and privileged teenagers―Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb―were charged and convicted in a gruesome crime that would lead to the original “Trial of the Century”. Even in Jazz Age Chicago, the murder was uniquely shocking for the motive of the killers: well-to-do Jewish scions, full of promise, had killed fourteen-year-old Bobby Franks for the thrill of it. The trial becomes even more sensational by the revelation of a love affair between the defendants and by defense attorney Clarence Darrow, who delivered one of the most famous defense summations of all time to save the boys from the death penalty. The story of their mad folie à deux, with Loeb portrayed as the psychopathic mastermind and Leopold as his infatuated disciple, has been endlessly repeated and accepted by history as fact. And none of it is true. Using twenty-first century investigative tools, forensics, and a modern understanding of the psychology of these infamous killers, Nothing but the Night turns history on its head. While Loeb is seen as the architect behind the murders, King and Wilson’s new research points to Leopold as the dominant partner in the deadly relationship, uncovering a dark obsession with violence and sex. Nothing but the Night pulls readers into the troubled world of Leopold and Loeb, revealing a more horrifying tale of passion, obsession, and betrayal than history ever imagined. Releases September 20.
The Best Friend by Jessica Fellowes. For those who love thrillers, this book explores the friendship between two women. Friends at a young age, their story takes a dark turn after men come into their lives. Releases September 13.
The Deceptions by Jill Bialosky. This book qualifies for the tag of writing about strong women. As a woman’s life unravels at the seams, this teacher/poet spends her days in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, sitting before the Greek and Roman gods. They come to life, forcing her to choose between myth and reality. This book is an exploration between ‘female sexuality and ambition.’ Releases September 6.
The Witch and the Tsar by Olesya Salnikova Gilmore. This retelling of Ivan the Terrible intertwines the tsar’s story with the mythical witch Baba Yaga. Yes, the witch who lives in a house with chicken legs. Part goddess and mortal, she is blessed with youth and a very long life. She is thrown into the tsar’s court to care for his ailing wife, Anastasia Romanovna, who is being poisoned by someone in the tsar’s court. The rumor is Ivan’s volatile behavior came from Anastasia’s death, thus beginning his reign of terror across Russia. This book intertwines the myths of the gods of old with the new Russia that formed as Christianity took over the land. Yaga faced more than just an irate tsar, she also faced an unknown evil that was taking over the land. Was this evil the workings of a madman or the amusement of the gods? Gilmore does an excellent job of making Yaga a participating spectator during this time in history. Yaga is an inspiring demigod, a heroine, and not just an ugly, old witch. Releases September 20.
When I first read a few years ago that women detained by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in detention centers were being sterilized involuntarily, I thought that cannot be true. After reading “Take My Hand” by Dolen Perkins-Valdez, I now understand the US Government has been using sterilization on the poor, especially on people of color over the last 100 years. And I’m mad as hell about it.
“Take My Hand” is a historical fiction novel loosely based on the 1973 Relf v. Weinberger case where two sisters, ages twelve and fourteen, were sterilized without their consent in Montgomery, Alabama by a federally funded agency. In this story, we follow Civil Townsend, a nurse hired by a clinic to help women and girls with their reproductive health. She believes that all women and girls should take care of their reproductive health. Her mission is to help them.
She is responsible for administering Depo-Provera shots to two girls living in a one room shanty where they live with their father and grandmother. They live in complete squalor.
The girls are ages 11 and 13. The youngest does not speak and has developmental issues. When Civil learns that the youngest has not even had her first menstrual cycle, she questions why the girl is required to receive birth control.
Her friend, Ty, informs her the shot is not FDA approved and causes cancer in animal subjects. This alarms Civil and she realizes this may be similar to the Tuskegee experiments. She decides to stop giving the girls the shots and either get them on birth control pills or altogether stop administering birth control to them since they are not sexually active.
But her supervisor is monitoring the situation and notices the doctored reports. She shows up at the girls’ home and gets dad and grandma (both cannot read) to sign a slip of paper to take the girls to the ‘clinic’ for their shots. At least, that’s what they thought they were signing.
When Civil visits to let the youngest girl know she got her into a special school, she discovers the girls were taken to a hospital to be sterilized. By the time she gets to the hospital, it’s already too late.
Ty’s parents are lawyers and decide to help the family get justice for what has happened. A young white man is assigned to the case to help them. It catches the eye of Senator Ted Kennedy and he brings the family to Washington, DC to tell a Senate committee what happened. The story makes national news and more stories surface from across the nation of women and girls forced to be sterilized by federally funded agencies.
Reports appear of mothers in the midst of childbirth forced to sign papers that will allow the doctor to sterilize them after the birth of their child. The doctors threaten to not deliver the child if they refuse to sign the papers. In California, doctors report that poor Hispanic women are forcibly sterilized. More and more stories come to light as to how bad the situation really is.
We have found that sterilization is the rule, not the exception. It is widely endemic in this country. It is a form of reproductive control.
Last year we did a survey and found that although two-thirds of federally funded clinics’ patients were white and only one third are Black, 43 percent of those sterilized are Black. A report from the United States government…found that between the summer of 1972 and the summer of 1973, twenty-five thousand adults were sterilized in federally funded clinics. Of these, 153 were under the age of eighteen.
“Take My Hand” is terrifying and shocking as you learn that this atrocity happened and continues to happen. This is a war waged against women, especially those who are poor.
Our bodies belonged to us. Poor, disabled, it didn’t matter. These were our bodies, and we had the right to decide what to do with them. It was as if they were just taking our bodies from us, as if we didn’t even belong to ourselves.
The fact that involuntary sterilization still occurs is unfathomable. How is it that an administration that is anti-abortion and pro-life is also pro-sterilization?
There’s also a conversation that underlies all of this and that is the importance of women’s sexual and reproductive health. Throughout the world, talking about any of this is taboo. From first periods to menopause, no one talks about women’s health. It is shunned. In some parts of the world, women and girls do not have access to sanitary napkins or tampons. Girls end up dropping out of school when they get their first periods, because they do not have access to something as basic as pads or tampons.
Sexual health is health care.
Women needed access to reliable birth control and information about their reproductive health.
One item that is very important to mention is that many of these women and girls felt like they had no choice but to accept sterilization. Those who accept government assistance (welfare, food stamps, housing, Medicaid) are subjected to constant government intervention. Government officials constantly came and went out of their homes. For some people, they were threatened that if they did not submit to sterilization, mandatory birth control, etc., they could lose their government assistance.
In some cases, people were not given the proper information on sterilization and Depo-Provera. They were not told that the surgery was not reversible. Side effects of Depo-Provera were not discussed. At times, clinics were not advised on the procedures regarding sterilization or the administering of it. Women and girls were not given alternatives to birth control. For thousands of women and girls, their right to have children was taken away from them without their consent.
That’s the most important thing here…their right was taken from them without their consent.
Women in prison as recently as 2006-2010 faced forced sterilization. Less than a hundred years ago, sterilization was forced on those institutionalized. Many women during that time were not mentally ill. A woman with irregular periods, or a woman whose husband wanted to rid themselves of their wife to marry another woman, could be institutionalized.
During the Trump administration, rumors of detained female immigrants who were forced to be sterilized made the news. But the only response became disgust, and then yesterday’s news.
The war on women needs to end. We don’t hear of men undergoing forced sterilization because they are poor or an immigrant. Their right to their own bodies is not under attack by the government. But for women, we are constantly threatened. It needs to stop. We need to stop being a taboo. Our reproductive health and overall women’s health needs to be considered important in the medical field. When I want to talk about menopause and what happens to the body changing, I need my doctor to be able to know what exactly that is and advise me on what to expect. When we are provided a vaccine, make it not just for men in mind, but women, too. Sanitary napkins and tampons should not be taxed. They are a necessity. It should be covered as a health need.
Why not provide adequate birth control to all women? There would be less abortions if women had the proper medical care and access to it. Give them other alternatives to birth control. Sterilization should be a choice, not something forced upon women by the government. Truthfully, I have to ask, why is the government so obsessed with controlling a woman’s body? Women must really scare them.
I have to say, this book made me mad. It is a difficult read, but necessary. Everyone needs to understand the way war is raged upon women, especially those who live in poverty and are a person of color. Women are not yesterday’s news. We are victimized daily in a numerous amount of ways, because we are women. It needs to end.
[All quotes are from “Take My Hand” by Dolen Perkins-Valdez]
[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for purposes of a review. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]
I am relatively new to the steampunk world. It was a little difficult for me to understand that universe in the beginning. I felt like I needed to read a steampunk guide in order to understand. But after the submersible (submarine) was introduced, I finally got the hang of things.
This story takes place in Victorian London and Romania. In this world, they have automatons (think Bicentennial Man) and ray guns. They refer to electricity as Tesla (as in Nikola Tesla), especially the specific type of light bulbs used. Carriages are drawn by mechanical creatures, not live animals.
That is the gist of the steampunk universe. Now, on to the story…
This story is a mixture of “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” “Dracula,” “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” “Tangled,” and “Into the Woods.” Crazy, right?
Hazel is a young woman employed by Dr. Sam MacInnes. She has an extraordinary ability to heal people. She is an academic and loves to spend her time at lectures and reading books. She is on the fringes of society, while her employer is smack dab in the middle of society. The two differences in their social status keeps them from courting, even though they are attracted to each other.
At an event one evening, a mysterious count arrives. He cannot take his eyes off of Hazel and asks her to dance. Sam feels like he needs to protect her, since she has no family members (besides her adoptive mother) to watch out for her.
What Hazel soon discovers is that she is the niece of this mysterious count and that she has a twin sister. The count came to London to persuade Hazel to come to Romania to help her sister. Her healing powers could help her twin’s madness.
She agrees to go to help her sister, because she has seen her twin’s deterioration in her dreams. Sam decides to invite himself along on this journey, because someone needs to look out for her (and because he does not trust Count Petrescu).
Their mode of transportation from London to Romania is a submersible (a submarine similar to Captain Nemo’s submarine). This, of course, makes Sam sick to his stomach, because he has claustrophobia. But he bears it because he needs to be there for Hazel.
On the trip over to Romania, strange things happen on board. All the while, Hazel and Sam are trying to uncover the mystery behind the count. They suspect he is a vampire.
Petrescu’s intentions are nefarious, something that is suspected throughout the book. What he wants with Hazel is maddening, but that is something you won’t discover until the end. She follows him to Romania, because first and foremost, she needs to save her sister.
I loved “The Lady in the Coppergate Tower.” The Vlad the Impaler reference really lifted this to five stars for me. Once Count Petrescu was introduced, I was hooked. I didn’t know what he wanted with Hazel. I kept trying to guess, but I had no clue what he wanted her for. When that is revealed, the word “maddening” is the correct word to explain it.
Being new to the steampunk universe, I have to say that Nancy Campbell Allen did a marvelous job intertwining all of the different types of stories together. From Jules Verne to gothic to the Disney version of Rapunzel, she did a great job of bringing these elements together to create a rather scary love story.
For those who are not big on romance, just FYI, the romance takes a back page to the nefariousness of Petrescu. But like any good movie, you have to throw a little bit of a love story in there, even if it is not the main part of the story.
I think I’m still a little giddy that Vlad the Impaler is a part of this book. I have to admit, I just loved that part. I can handle vampires. Zombies, not so much.
I recommend reading this adventure. It is PG, so not too dark and not too mushy with the love stuff. It is a little scary, but very thrilling and shrouded in mystery.
[Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.]
Ever feel like taking a chance in life and leaving your comfort zone for the great unknown? Erik and Emily Orton decided to do just that. They left their lives in New York City behind to spend a year on a sailboat with their five children and they tell their story in “Seven at Sea.”
Erik wasn’t even an experienced sailor six years before their trip. Watching sailboats pass by as he looked out his corporate office, he decided he wanted to learn how to sail. He signed up for classes at a nearby marina and began to learn. Soon after, he realized it would be cheaper and easier if he enlisted his family to take the classes with him to become certified to sail.
Now, don’t think Erik and Emily are multi-millionaires and can do whatever they please whenever they please. They are not rich. They are just a normal middle class family with a dream to be free from the doldrums of the corporate world, and free to set their days as they please.
Even as a family of seven, they were able to find a way to make it work…this dream. They got in as much training as they could, finding economical ways to rent boats, earning money while shuttling their friends around on excursions. But the big step they wanted to take was to buy a boat of their own to take some time away from the city with their family to sail to parts unknown (to them).
It took six years to make that dream a realization, but they stuck to their goal together as a family. Then one day, they bought a boat and their adventure began.
What “Seven at Sea” teaches us is that we should all work towards our goals and dreams. For the Ortons, it took a lot of planning, preparing and learning before their dream could even begin. Even at the start, when they first arrived on their boat, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. There was still more to learn and mistakes that needed to be made, because no matter how much you prepare, when you are in the thick of it, it is not necessarily what you envisioned.
With Erik micromanaging their schedule, he quickly learned that you can’t plan life or dreams. You have to sort of go with the flow. They spent the first few months in their first port of call, Sint Maarten (the Netherlands side – the French side of the island is Saint Martin). Between fixing the boat and equipping it with the things they would need to make their journey, they were stuck on Sint Maarten/Saint Martin.
But it was a good thing this happened. It allowed them to get their sea legs taking short jaunts to nearby islands, preparing them for the longer stretches. They made friends with other families doing the same thing as them (always good to know you’re not alone). Thanks to fellow sailors, he was able to learn how to fix his boat – a vital source of knowledge when you’re alone on the seas and no one nearby who can help. These are all things he could only learn with hands on training. Books and the internet can only get you so far.
I will admit, reading this book turned me off from that fantasy of learning how to sail. It’s something I always thought about doing, not necessarily around the world, but maybe off the coast of New England or in the Mediterranean. I’ll explain why I was turned off – learning how to fix your own boat, the problems that could arise, being stuck on a boat with other people – really, it was all of the technical details that turned me off from learning how to sail. Then again, I would probably be the worst sailor of the group like Emily, so maybe someone else can sail and I can just be the matron.
At any rate, being on a boat allows you to have some soul searching moments. Erik shared a lot of his thoughts in this book and they really rang true with how we should look at life, especially the dreamers.
“A lot of times people feel like, ‘Oh we have kids so we can’t do that until the kids are out of the house.’ The time to go is when you have your kids with you because you only have them for a short period. There will be plenty of time to make more money. There’ll be plenty of time to take it easy in retirement when you’re older, but the reason we’re going now is because we want to go while our kids are with us. Let your kids be a reason rather than an excuse.”
I also appreciated Erik’s thoughts on having patience and playing the waiting game.
“For so many weeks, I’d been trying to push and force the situation. I wanted the engine fixed on my timeline. I wanted to hustle off to the BVI (British Virgin Islands). I wanted to know when and where we would arrive in the Bahamas. The truth is, there was no way of knowing. I would have to let it emerge. I could predict, plan, and hope, but in the end, the wind, sea, and a thousand other breezes would shape the unfolding events. I had to wait, just like everyone else. No amount of planning or willpower could make it otherwise. I learned to become fairly zen about it. “It will emerge” was the yin to the yang of “trial and error works every time.” Tenacity has its place. But so does waiting; engaged, curious, and resourceful, but patient.”
On fear and the uneasiness of taking the first jump:
“At the moment, Jane was happier to be at the top of the grotto, barefoot, hot, and scared, than she was to be in the cool, clear water below. Her anxiety over what she could no longer see, and the fear of what it would take to get there, were more powerful than her will to jump. We did our best to help her shift the balance, but it was up to her. Only she could decide when she wanted to move and how she would do it. She could climb back down or she could jump. The push of her current situation, the pull of her new situation, her anxiety about her future, and her loyalty to her present were all shifting moment by moment. We change when we’re more excited about getting the new thing than we are scared about losing the old thing. I go through this same semiconscious process every time I face my own fears. I think we all do. It’s very personal. I internally weigh all these factors in the balance, and something happens or it doesn’t.”
Karina Orton, after being asked how she had changed on Fezywig (their boat):
“I don’t think I’ve changed,” she said. “I’ve become even more myself. I’ve gone further down the path that I was already on.”
Emily Orton on the ‘confidence that it will emerge’:
Erik – “Why do you think the last one is more important?”
Emily – “Because it lets us get started. We don’t have to know everything. We don’t have to control everything. It lets us be patient while we’re figuring it out.”
Why you should read “Seven at Sea”: If you’re a dreamer thinking ‘someday,’ this book will help give you the confidence to take risks and chase after that dream. It is a raw look into how difficult it is to make your dreams come true. From making excuses to planning and researching for that big day, it’s all about getting over that fear and taking the leap. You have to have patience that the journey “will emerge.” You can’t force it to happen on your timeline. It will emerge on its own.
There are a lot of life lessons here for those who have dreams that want to make them come true. This book is not just about a family who bought a sailboat and sailed from the Caribbean to New York City one year. This is about living your best life and taking the chance to live your life to the fullest and the Ortons are here to inspire you to do so.
[Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review. This post contains affiliate links.]
For all of those lovers out there who need a little bit of Valentine’s Day reading, I would like to introduce you to “Healing Hearts.” This is the latest title from Proper Romance (Shadow Mountain).
If you are a fan of Jane Austen or the Bronte sisters, then Proper Romance should be your “go to” source for romance books. The books are PG-rated (so no blushing in public during the heated scenes).
“Healing Hearts” is a heartwarming story that will make you smile. When Miriam arrives in Savage Wells, she believes she is there to take a position as a new nurse. As the town whisks her into the local chapel, she realizes she was misled. Doctor Gideon MacNamara has requested a mail order bride, who can also serve as the town’s nurse.
When Miriam realizes she is supposed to marry Dr. MacNamara, she runs from the chapel.
Even though Gideon’s pride is hurt, he cares about the town more and is willing to let bygones be bygones and hires her on as a nurse. After all, it was not her fault that she did not know this was an arranged marriage.
With Miriam comes many dark secrets. These secrets eventually see the light of day as Dr. MacNamara and the town gets to know her. Even though she starts off on the wrong foot by not marrying the good doctor, the town grows to forgive her after she saves them from an epidemic that spreads like wildfire.
And when her past comes back to haunt her, the town rallies around her to save her.
You will enjoy this story from start to finish. There are parts that will leave you smiling with pure happiness. Then there are parts that will leave you at the edge of your seat, wondering just how bad things really are for Miriam…what is she escaping? And when you discover what she’s escaping from, it will leave you horrified.
I always say this about the Proper Romance books from Shadow Mountain, but I really love the stories they publish. Romance books that leave me blushing while I am reading on the train or on the bus are just not the type of books for me. The good old fashion stories from Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte where a simple kiss is all that is needed, as well as honesty at how one feels about another, are the perfect romance stories for me.
I enjoyed this story because I could see a little of myself in Miriam. When she says to the doctor that if he really knew who she was, he would find it a blessing he did not marry her, I know I’ve felt the same way time and time again. In a way, it’s rejecting yourself for the other person because you know they will reject you if they really knew you. It saves yourself from whatever heartache will follow.
Of course, in Miriam’s story, he didn’t care. But isn’t that what every person that rejects themselves wants? To be told everyone is broken somehow, so it does not matter?
One very important aspect of the story I found extremely interesting is insanity and how women were treated. It is only in the last few decades that we’ve treated illnesses differently. Women lost all individual rights and deemed insane if they had a seizure or had heavy or erratic menstrual cycles. They were committed to asylums to be forgotten by loved ones. People with dementia or Alzheimer’s were “treated” until they stopped showing any signs of life.
Can you imagine today being committed to an asylum and labeled insane just because you suffered from epilepsy or had a horrible menstrual cycle? These were the issues women faced back then.
“Healing Hearts” brings a lot of these matters to light. It will shock you to discover just how bad things were back then. Even though this is a work of fiction, what happened in asylums, especially to women, still rings true historically.
I highly recommend picking up a copy of this book. The love story will warm your heart. The part where you can’t stop turning the pages is when you discover what happened to Miriam. Stories like this will not only help you to understand the past, but to see that many of the issues that broken people face are still the same. It takes a lot to convince them that people will not hurt them and that they can actually trust people.
That’s the thing with this story, there’s proving to people that you are not what they think you are. You are better than their misconceived notions. You can change the way they think by being yourself. But it takes a lot to trust an entire community with your secrets that they will protect and save you and not turn you over to those who seek to do you harm.
Getting to that point that you can trust people…that is something that Miriam will make you ponder if you could do the same if you were in her shoes.
[DISCLOSURE: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for purposes of an unbiased review. This post contains affiliate links.]
My 2018 New Year’s Resolution was to read 100 books. I did not accomplish that goal this year. I was 16 books short. The prior year, I read only 64 books. This year, I read 20 more books than the previous year for a total of 84 books. That’s not bad. That’s 1.6 books each week.
If I keep this up, I’ll be able to finally reach my goal of 100 books in 2019.
Along the way to my goal, I discovered the secret to getting in an extra book a week. On Sundays, I choose an easy read that’s 225 pages or less and read it in one day. Of course, I didn’t discover how this could help my numbers until I was 3/4 of the way into the year.
In 2018, I became more selective with what I chose to read instead of reading whatever is sent to me. I am fortunate that the books I read were the ones that helped me grow this year. I learned so much from every single book, but more importantly, I learned more about myself this past year.
All 84 of the books I read this year helped me to answer the questions burning inside of me. They educated me. I learned that everything happens for a reason, and books can find their way into your hands when you need them the most. In May, I was asked to leave New York and travel the world indefinitely with this guy I’ve been crushing on for the last 7 years. When I decided to stay, I realized what was really going on in the grander scheme of the universe. This beautiful man was trying to wake me up and free me from the cage I had built around myself since the tumor was removed (2013). I was blind to what I had done to myself out of fear.
As my crush left for Tibet, Tal Gur contacted me and asked if I would like a copy of his book to review. I read it and thought to myself…WOW. This was the book I needed in this moment. I understood what I needed to do. I needed to free myself so that the next time when the hottest guy I know offers me the world, I will be in a position where I can drop everything and run away with him, because in my heart, that’s what I really wanted to do.
Publishers and authors sent their books. As I read each one, I realized that each book isn’t just an escape from this horrible 2018. It was also the universe’s guide book into helping me get back on my feet again, to seeing what I was doing to myself out of fear, but most importantly shining the beam of light to show me how to be me again.
Sometimes it was the entire story, or it was just a sentence or a paragraph. All 84 of the books listed below were the words I needed in 2018.
The Best of the Best
For those looking for some ideas on what to read, these are the books that I found to be the best reads of 2018.
The Books I Curated Into My Library: For the books I thought were the best of the best were very few. It’s a given that I curate all autographed copies and classical literature into my library. But the books that entered into my collection based on its own merits (i.e. the books I would want saved for mankind to read if there was some cataclysmic end) are as follows: Slade House, Hag, The Air You Breathe, Melmoth,The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock, Scribe, Dietland, Neverwhere, Sommelier of Deformity, The Stuff of Stars, Everything Happens for a Reason, A Higher Loyalty, Anansi Boys, and The Tuner of Silences.
The Stuff I Learned from Self-Help: This year was a tough year. I literally fell apart. My poor work husband spent most of this year trying to put me back together again. When he wasn’t around, I read a lot of self-help books to try to get back to who I was. Of all the books I read, I think The Abundance Project and Make Peace with Money were two of the most important books, because they speak my language. At work, the Speed Reading book taught me how to perfect my craft (reading).
What really helped me in understanding why everything was happening was Everything Happens for a Reason. When one of my colleagues left to travel the world, Tal Gur contacted me about his book, The Art of Fully Living. I made the difficult decision to not run off with my colleague. While I do regret doing so, I thought…maybe my circumstances will change. Gur’s book helped me to make the decision to free myself from the cage I built around myself that prevented me from running off with the hottest guy I know who was trying to give me the entire world. [Review: The Abundance Project]
The Best YA/Children’s Books: When I tell publishers I read almost everything, that includes children’s books. Oh, and I love YA. Besides Brad Meltzer’s “I Am” collection (I curate all of his titles into my library, because he signs everything I have), I curated in The Stuff of Stars. When I met the author, there was a moment between us when she asked me to read/review her book. I haven’t written about her book yet, because I don’t know how to describe it beyond it being the most wonderful children’s book I’ve ever read. It gave me goosebumps. I cried at the end because it was so beautiful. I thought…if I had a kid, this is exactly how I would feel telling them the story of how they came to be in my life. It was just…I have no words. The story took my breath away. I feel like this book became a little secret in my life that I want to tell the world, but I don’t know how to accurately describe how this book made me feel. So parents…pick up the book. Read it to yourself and then decide.
As for the others, Prince & Knight was beautifully done. Loved it! To finish off the year, I ended with Wundersmith, Book 2 in the Nevermoor series. I love this series. It sucks that I have to wait for Book 3 now. [Review: Nevermoor]
Proper Romance Changed Me: I have a rule. Or maybe I should say I had a rule. I don’t do romance books. But Shadow Mountain Publishing changed my mind about romance books when they launched their Proper Romance group. The book that changed me was Promises and Primroses. Lies, Love, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s followed. They even have a steampunk series that I’ve been trying to finish (when I’m not trying to meet deadlines). What I like about their stories is that it’s not mushy all unrealistic lovey dovey romcom books. There’s no over the top “well this is just unrealistic” love stories. It’s all PG rated. None of that 50 Shades stuff I turn up my nose to. In other words, it’s a clean romance. It’s the way I like stories to be told (in a Jane Austen kind of way), especially because I am the type that will vomit after I say the words “be in a relationship with” or “get married.” [Review: Lies, Love and Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Christmas by Accident]
The Scary & the SciFi Books: I read a lot of the Cirque du Freak series this year. I have two books left. Neil Gaiman’s books are excellent. American Gods is still my favorite, but Anansi Boys and Neverwhere were just as good. Erik Therme’s Roam scared me. Scribe was one of the best ghost stories I’ve read in a while. Melmoth made my mouth drop. It disturbed me so much, I had to text my brother (who never reads) about it. Did I mention I curated Melmoth into my library? Hag was excellent (my first book I’ve read that has roots in Scotland). But the story that really scared me this year was David Mitchell’s Slade House (another curated book).
The Best Stories: The stories I really enjoyed in 2018 beyond the ones mentioned above are: Before We Were Yours, The Air You Breathe, The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock, Sommelier of Deformity, Dietland, The Escape Artist, The Girl You Left Behind, and The Other Side of the Bridge.
The Book Deserves Its Own Category: James Comey. A Higher Loyalty. The book was excellent…until the last 3 chapters. This book helped me to understand my guys a lot better, because they used to work with Comey. There’s so much about leadership that I recommend for all lawyers/public officials to read. But the parts that really stood out to me is how he found a silver lining in life when he was faced with tragedy. It made me understand the book Everything Happens for a Reason so much better. [Review]
Food: Every single cookbook I read this year was so amazing. I loved Siriously Delicious so much, I bought the book. Then I found out Siri Daly was signing the book. I showed up and told her who I was and she said she read my review and loved it. Copycat Cooking from Six Sisters’ Stuff is also one of my all-time favorite cookbooks now. The In N Out Burger and fries recipes were so much better than the real thing. I can’t visualize a burger any other way now. Glow 15 made me look at caring for myself differently now. I take different vitamins now and eat differently because of it. I recommend all 3 of these books. [Reviews: Siriously Delicious, Copycat Cooking, Glow 15]
The Classics: My work husband saw Villette sitting on my desk and he asked me about it. He was a literature major in college, so naturally, he would ask. I didn’t have the heart to tell him why I was reading it. It’s a book you read when your heart has been broken. It’s about unrequited love. It took me most of the year to read it, but when I got to the end, I sat there heartbroken for Charlotte Bronte. My friend was going through something similar where someone was in love with her and acting like M. Paul. She couldn’t understand his crazy. I explained to her what was really going on. Men haven’t changed so much in the last 200 years.
I finally read another monster classic: The Invisible Man. I will say I was unimpressed. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow read exactly like the Disney cartoon. Kudos to Disney! I don’t understand why Of Mice and Men is a classic. I’m wondering if it has more to do with the language Steinbeck chose. The highlight and uplifting classic of the year beyond Villette was T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets. It had a very profound affect on me.
I also finally read The Great Gatsby. I read it alongside The Art of X-Ray Reading by Roy Peter Clark. It helped me to really understand the depths of how beautiful this book is. I do not recommend reading The Great Gatsby without Clark’s commentary (it’s only a chapter in X-Ray). You will miss the importance of some of the elements used in the book, like color.
Best Non-Fiction: Slave Stealers. I learned so much about slavery then and now. It’s not so different. The providence at work for Tim Ballard and his team as they try to free children from the depths of hell just amazed me. I remember sitting in bed, reading, exclaiming out loud, “No fucking way!” Just amazing to see the Universe working to help people who are saving the innocents. I highly recommend this book about real life work around the world to stop human trafficking (aka slavery). [Review]
Below is the complete list of books I read this year. If you’re interested in any of them, just click on the book and it will take you to Amazon where you can read more about the book and you can order it from there.
Today, I am introducing a new feature at Perfectionist Wannabe. I will be showing you at the end of each month the books I read that month. At the beginning of each month, I’ll show you my To Be Read pile.
The To Be Read pile is usually advanced copies of books coming out that month I need to get through. I try to read at least one classic and whatever looks good on my shelf I’ve been meaning to get to.
So let’s get to the current October stack. I tried to read as many scary books as I could. Six of the eight books featured are, at the minimum, about a ghost or a witch.
I did not include below “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving, because the story is part of a collection of stories. I will include that when I finish Irving’s book.
A young girl, Dores, is a kitchen servant on a sugar plantation. She’s been there since she was born. During the lean years, when sugar prices bottom out, she remains on the plantation with the head cook, when the sugar baron’s family leaves for the city.
But then the next sugar baron in the family arrives with his family. Their child, Graça, is around the same age as Dores. They do not get along in the beginning, but soon Dores becomes Graça’s playmate. They do everything together.
Graça’s mother realizes that unlike her daughter, Dores is intelligent and absorbs everything she is taught. She offers Dores the same opportunities given to her own daughter, but with limitations.
One day, she introduces Dores to music and her world changes.
Music is what shapes this story of the two girls growing up together on a sugar plantation. They later escape to Rio de Janeiro to try their luck at fame and fortune. One girl is the beauty and the voice, the other has the smarts and the talent with words.
Their story is filled with love, loss and obsession. You’ll learn how these girls help make samba a revolution, and how Hollywood changes their lives forever. This is a story that will whisk you away to a time before the great war. You will fall in love in Brazil, and you will grow to appreciate the world of samba.
Hag is a witchy tale that starts off in Scotland and transports you to Colorado and then London as we follow Alice, the descendant of the Cailleach (an ancient witch who takes residence in the Scottish cliffs).
As Alice grows up and tries to understand the weird things she can do, she has no idea her daughter will bring all of the Cailleach ancestors of witches together, bringing the story of the Cailleach full circle.
What I liked about this story is that I saw a lot of myself in Alice. For people that know me very well, they know there are a few things I can do that is just not explainable. I used to tell my dad that if we were back in the 15th or 16th century, he probably would have had me burned at the stake for being a witch.
After reading this book, I think I became a little more accepting of who I am. Sometimes people have a better intuition than others, or as my friend says, I am better in tune to the universe than most people. I think maybe back in the day, I would have been labeled a witch.
In this book, I believe the author was well versed in the subject of witchcraft and what it has evolved into today. Not all witches are brewing potions or practicing magic. Some are just regular people living their lives, but are a little bit more in tune with the universe and the universe responds.
The Witch of Willow Hall
The Witch of Willow Hall is my favorite scary read this month. Speaking of women trying to understand who they are, the weird things they can do and thinking that back in the day, they would have been burned at the stake or hung by the neck. It is 1821 and right outside of Boston in a town called New Oldbury, Lydia and her family have relocated to Willow Hall to escape the embarrassment her family endured in Boston thanks to her older sister Catherine and brother Cyrus.
Willow Hall is filled with ghosts and secrets, which makes it a perfect place for the Montrose family.
Lydia and Catherine are always at odds. When they lose Emeline, the youngest Montrose, the family begins to completely fall apart as Catherine’s sins unravel before them.
Lydia is not aware she is a witch. She can see ghosts and notices storms brew when she becomes upset. It takes her mother being on her death bed to reveal Lydia’s true ancestry.
For this story, it’s the ghosts that will scare you. What will make your stomach turn is how evil Catherine can be and how she will do everything she can to destroy her sister’s happiness. Oh, and there is a bit of a love story in there, blackmail, incest and scary dead witches…but damn, if this isn’t a great book.
The Clockmaker’s Daughter
The Clockmaker’s Daughter is a ghost story. This book is a popular new release for the month of October. I stood in line for a long time to get this book.
I will warn you right now that I had a hard time getting through the first 60% of the book. It kept putting me to sleep. But the last part of the book, I could not put the book down. I kept thinking…why in the world was I having a difficult time reading this book in the beginning? Maybe because she saved the best part for last?
This story jumps between the present and the past. We follow the story of Elodie in the present day. She discovers a leather satchel with a sketchbook and a photograph. One of the sketches reminds her of a story her mother used to tell her before she died. She becomes so obsessed with the picture that she starts to investigate the truth of its origins.
We are then transported back to a different time…around 1862. A group of artists spend the summer at Birchwood Manor. What happens in Birchwood changes their lives forever.
Over the next 150 years, a ghost haunts the old manor. It is her story that is being told and it is up to Elodie to unravel the mystery of Birchwood Manor. The ending is well worth it.
Violin is another ghost story. This time it comes from the queen of vampires, Anne Rice. Believe it or not, it has taken me a few years to get through this book. I started it years ago and then put it to the side. I decided to finally finish the last 150 pages.
It was time to find out what becomes of Stefan, the evil fiddler and the woman he is haunting.
I did not expect that Triana would become a world class violinist that mesmerizes her audiences with the haunting violin that actually does not even exist. This violin was destroyed back when Stefan was alive, but in death, he took the essence of the violin with him and made it real. He made himself (and the violin) real again to those who could hear his hypnotic melodies. So when Triana steals it from his grasp, the violin transforms her world. Stefan will do anything to get his violin back…but how far will he go?
Villette is a classic tale from Charlotte Bronte. I love Jane Eyre so when I got my heart broken, I decided to read this book. It was recommended for people with broken hearts.
This is a somewhat true story of Charlotte’s life…about unrequited love.
It is funny how I saw the things happening in my life, as well as my friends, echoing what I read in this book. Men act funny when they are in love with someone they know they cannot have. It seems that things still have not changed 170 years later.
One person on Twitter told me that she noticed there are a lot of people that have a difficult time with this book because of the ongoing misogyny. But if you press on, you’ll really enjoy how the book ends. I have to agree with her on that. It was very difficult to not want to reach into the book and punch Monsieur Paul, but you’ll find as you continue that he has some redeeming qualities.
Bronte is supreme at writing. What I appreciate about Jane Eyre continues in her writings here.
The rise of the Vampaneze Lord brings Mr. Tiny to Vampire Mountain to issue a new prophecy and a quest for Darren and Mr. Crepsley. They return to the Cirque du Freak to have their first of four encounters with the Vampaneze Lord.
I’m probably going to spoil the next few novels, but my guess is that the Vampaneze Lord is Darren’s best friend from the time when he was still a mortal. This friend is the reason why Darren became a vampire to begin with…to save his life.
Don’t tell me…I want to figure it out myself in the next few novels.
Anita is an immigrant from Mauritius who meets her husband at a New Year’s Eve party in Paris. They have a child together and decide to move to the country where Anita freelances as a journalist and Adam is an architect.
When Adele, another Mauritius immigrant, enters their lives, she turns their lives around. She helps care for their home and their daughter. But she has this magnetic pull about her that inspires Adam to be the painter he always wanted to be and Anita to finally write the novel she’s been dreaming of. But the strange thing is that the subject of their work is Adele.
As the novel goes on, we find Adam is in prison and their daughter is in a wheelchair. But why? What happened? I will say that I never saw the ending coming. It was very surprising.
This is a quick read. Only 176 pages.
The Curated Collection
Each month, when I finish reading the books for that month, I try to decide which books will be curated into my library. This month, I decided to keep Villette (I like to keep all classic novels), The Clockmaker’s Daughter (signed), The Air You Breathe and The Witch of Willow Hall (signed). Generally speaking, if the book is signed, I will keep it. For books not signed, it has to be an exceptionally good book in order to be placed in the curated collection. The Air You Breathe was really that good and deserved to be placed on the shelves.
From the author of Salvage the Bones comes another great American novel set in the rural south of the Gulf Coast of Mississippi where young Jojo lives with his grandparents and baby sister. His white father (Michael) is locked up in the state penitentiary. His mother (Leonie), a drug addict and sometimes mother, is absent from their lives most of the time. This leaves Pop with the duty of teaching Jojo how to become a man, while they take care of Mam, who is dying from cancer. When news comes that it is time for Michael to be released from prison, Leonie decides to take the kids with her, along with a friend, to pick him up. This proves to be a thoughtless decision, because she does not have a mothering bone in her body. This road proves to be a horrible mistake for both Leonie and the children. In the spirit of those deep seeded southern stories of the supernatural and spirits of the dead walking the earth, we find that this family has a special gift. This gift will bond mother and daughter, brother and sister during some of the most challenging times in their lives.
We live in a time where there are very few well written novels entering the market. Jesmyn Ward is one of the most exceptional writers of our modern time. For book collectors, her works should be added to your library. She was added to mine. This book is one of the most important books to read in 2017.
This book is due to be released on August 1, 2017. This is by far one of the best stories I’ve read this year. I gave it 5 stars because this is more than just a Spider-Man story. This is about a kid facing adversity, just like every other kid out there. He may have super powers, but it does not mean that he is not a victim of society. He is learning how to be a hero, not just a superhero fighting super villains. Jason Reynolds is an excellent writer. The story is absolutely incredible. I had a hard time putting the book down. I couldn’t wait to get back to reading it again. This is a must read for everyone. Get this book for your kids. Read it yourself. I don’t like Spider-Man, but I do love Miles Morales. Excellent read. [PW REVIEW]
[Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a commission.]
This book is due to be released on August 29, 2017. A coming of age novel set in Royston, Massachusetts. Two girls, Julia and Cassie, grow up together in this small town. Julia is from a good, middle class family, while Cassie is from the other side of town. Having known each other since nursery school, the girls spend one last summer together before middle school. They seek out and discover an old asylum where they spend their days playing and pretending. Without knowing it, these are their last days together being close friends. When they enter middle school, Cassie finds new friends and becomes popular. She starts dating the boy Julia has a crush on, a complete betrayal. Then one day, Cassie’s mother marries, changing the dynamic in their household. Cassie slips into a deep depression that changes everyone’s lives. She disappears. Even though they are no longer friends, Julia is the only one that can save her. She must go back to the place where she lost her friend. This is a story about friendships and dealing with depression. It doesn’t effect just one person, it changes the lives of everyone around that person.
[Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a commission.]
Looking for something new to read this summer? There are a few that are out that you can purchase now, and a few coming out this August.
1. Unraveling Oliver. Considered to be one of the IT books of 2017, “Unraveling Oliver” tries to explain why Oliver Ryan, a prominent Irish children’s book author, beat his wife into a coma. Never having displayed violence before, Oliver’s friends try to explain what happened to him. From his childhood all the way into his adult years, Oliver’s story is unraveled piece by piece.
At first, you will feel sorry for Oliver. As the story completely unravels, you realize just how horrible of a human being he was. He commanded the respect of others for decades. One act brought him down.
[Due to be released August 22, 2017.]
2. The Leaf Reader. This mystery will keep you guessing all the way until the end. Marnie Wells is an outcast, because she’s one of the weird kids. She starts reading tea leaves for the popular kids and winds up deep into the tale of what happened to Andrea Quinley, one of the girls that went missing.
Her best friend, Matt Cotrell, seeks Marnie out to see if she has the answers he’s looking for, sending them on a chase to find Andrea, who is presumed dead. Instead, they uncover a much deeper secret that threatens both of their lives. Andrea’s disappearance is linked to Marnie, just not in a way anyone could ever imagine.
This book will have you guessing all the way until the end. The details are always unraveling. Nothing is ever set in stone where you can guess who did what. A must read for those who love thrillers.
[Book is out now.]
3. The Hearts We Sold. Imagine we live in a world where demons walk beside us and they are out in the open. Everyone knows demons exist. People trade parts of their bodies for wishes without ever asking what they do with the body parts.
Dee Moreno is in a tough spot when she discovers that her scholarship to a boarding school is drying up. She has to come up with the money for the rest of school or find somewhere else to go. She doesn’t want to return to her dysfunctional home.
When she sees a demon knitting outside of the hospital where she volunteers, she decides to take a chance. She gives the demon her heart in exchange for money that will get her through a doctorate program (if that’s what she wants). In return, she has to do the demon’s bidding over the course of 2 years.
What she doesn’t know is why the demon is sending her and a group of teens to do his bidding. She has no idea what these demons are trying to do with their body parts. What they discover is much scarier than the thought of demons walking the Earth.
[Due out August 8, 2017]
4. DragonWatch. If you are looking for your next YA series, FableHaven is a great place to start. FableHaven is a 5 book series that takes place at a sanctuary for mythical creatures. DragonWatch picks up where FableHaven leaves off.
With the Demon King vanquished, the Dragon King rises. He wants out of the sanctuary and into the world. Our heroes Seth and Kendra head off to the dragon sanctuary to be the new caretakers.
The kids need to prove to everyone that they can do the job and keep the dragons at bay. Their adventure takes them on an adventure to find a way to keep the castle safe. If the dragons overtake the castle, they can escape into the world. What the two discover is that they need each other to be strong, but they also must learn how to be fearless on their own.
Brandon Mull is one of my favorite young adult authors. The FableHaven series (and now DragonWatch) is an incredible universe to escape to. You will see the beauty in fairies and unicorns, but also the very ugly and scary in demons, trolls, and creatures that you don’t want to bump into.
For those looking for a series, this is one worth diving into. You’ll fall in love with this world.
[All books in the series and DragonWatch are out now.]
5. A Dog’s Purpose. For those who love animals (especially dogs), this is the book for you. We follow one dog’s soul as he (or she) goes from one dog’s life to another. Each life bears an important part in the dog’s future lives.
The story though is about Bailey and his boy, Ethan. The two grow up together and have many grand adventures together, including getting lost in the woods. But Bailey can’t live forever and eventually dies at an old age. He is reborn again and again.
As a police dog, she learns how to search and find. She sees her purpose is to help save lives. In her next life, he uses that search and find technique to find his boy again.
This time his boy is an old man who is alone and has no purpose. It is up to Bailey to help Ethan find his purpose. All the while, he hopes that Ethan will realize that he is really Bailey.
A wonderful story as told by a dog. This book will make you hug your fur babies (and monsters) a little closer. It will make you love and appreciate them a little bit more.
[This book is currently out.]
[Disclosure: I received a free copy of books 1-4 above from publishers in exchange for a review. This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation.]
Book Two in the Dark Cycle Book Series. For those who love stories about good vs. evil, heaven vs. hell, this is your kind of book. In book two, Aidan is still learning more about his powers and what happened to his sister Ava. Stuck between his love for two girls, all struggle in their choices. One love was a spell and that spell is killing her. The other is his soulmate. The one he chooses though, hurts everyone in the end. It’s not his fault that a wrench was thrown into the fate lines. Somehow, they have to fix this. Meanwhile, Aidan and his crew must keep darkness at bay, and keep the demons from entering the earthly realm.
[Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive compensation.]