Sunday, June 9, 2024

BOOK REVIEW: The Road to Woop Woop and Other Stories

The Road to Woop Woop, and Other Stories 
by Eugen Bacon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m going to try very hard to be fair here. This is about 3.5 stars for me. I love clever, quirky, and twisty short stories with last line reveals. None of these are that kind. That doesn’t mean they aren’t good; because they are. Overall this is a decent collection of stories with paranormal, fairy tale, or existential spins. Worth a read.

It’s also note worthy as it is written by an Australian woman of colour. Certainly a minority not often found in writing circles. I would absolutely read more from Eugen Bacon in the future. In fact a couple of the stories in here, I think, need desperately to be made into longer stories. They have a lot of potential and could easily be fleshed out to be more than how they were presented here.

I know it’s always a fine line between word count and content and it’s certainly not always the right decision; but at least two stories have that quality. In between each of the stories are little snippets of tales that seemed to be native to Australia and like the type of tale you might tell to a child. I really adored these, and the illustrations were lovely!! They broke up the larger stories nicely, and in some cases setup a feel for the next story. This showed that the order of the stories was very intentional and I do appreciate that kind of effort being put in to make the reader feel immersed; even when each story is its own.

Certainly worth a pickup and read; and an author to watch for!

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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Thursday, June 6, 2024

BOOK REVIEW: What Feasts at Night

What Feasts at Night 
by T. Kingfisher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

How do you follow-up a clever horror story that owes its roots to Edgar Allen Poe? T. Kingfisher will (perhaps) tell you that you go to a simpler horror format. More of a fairy tale type horror that brilliantly integrates PTSD with the myth. I cannot over state how smart I think What Feasts at Night is in its use of PTSD to both explain, justify, and debunk the story. On each page turn near the end you can argue that, our lead character, Easton and his PTSD is both fuelling, debunking, and creating the horror story. That is the kind of creepiness I like!

For book two we have our leading man back and side appearances by other known characters from book 1; but really it is Easton’s show. I would probably call this more of a 1.5 in the series book. Although not as long as book 1 (a novella) it felt much shorter to me. Whether that was due to the excellent writing or the pacing being a bit faster I’m not sure.

My biggest disappointment here was that it felt as though the characters from book 1, besides Easton, were just there because readers would like seeing them again. I’m not convinced we needed them; and in fact, it might have been scarier if we didn’t have anyone with Easton who had experienced Usher house and was used to bizarre happenings. A little more isolation with the cabin caretaker and widow homemaker might have been just the extra spice this needed to make it a five star book.

I felt the narrator on the audiobook (which I gave up on after like 15 minutes and returned to my ebook) sounds far too young to be the voice of Easton. Not that they aren’t a good narrator, as they are; but Easton is a war-torn soldier whose been around thus for his narrator to sound like they are a youngin’ just didn’t work for me. I wanted a deeper, more masculine voice (I know bad me on the stereotypes, but come on war torn soldier!). That’s not to say that Easton needs this narrator (as Kingfisher’s writing is more than good enough!); it’s just my image of him is a certain way and it didn’t match up with the narration. That’s okay, to each their own when it comes to how a character might sound. Plus audiobooks are still a struggle for me sometimes so I’ll always happily return to my e/print copy.

All that said, I enjoyed visiting these characters again and will certainly follow along in reading this series (as I hope there is more to come). Kingfisher continues to prove she is at the top of her game and I cannot wait for more stories from her, in any genre, that I can gobble up in a day or two.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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Sunday, June 2, 2024

Book Review: A Botanical Daughter

A Botanical Daughter 
by Noah Medlock
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The first three quarters of The Botanical Daughter is beautifully written with a rich gothic feel. We meet our closeted gay men and feel the sorrow at how close a secret their relationship must be kept. As we progress into getting to know our other main character, and leading lady, we realize she too has the calling of ‘forbidden love’ (ugh, hate to call it that but it’s the right terminology for the day) and has been hurt. Throughout the first sections of the book we meet the plant entities (in various forms) and create a bond with the botanical character that surprised me. I loved it and felt it was just an innocent in all everything, even in some of its more horrific moments.

There are clever messages of love is love embedded into the narrative, both blatant and subtle; even making myself (a bisexual woman) wonder if there is a limit to love being love. For the record, the answer is no. Love is always beautiful and always correct. When love becomes obsession or greed it is different; but in its rawest form love is never wrong, by any definition. Noah Medlock does a beautiful job of expressing and showing this sentiment that in different ways and creates a truly safe space for sexuality and identity of any/all kinds (even for a plant).

Moving through the story we have some bloody moments, of retribution and revenge, that are all very gothic and satisfying. It’s all wonderful! Then we reach a point, around the last 100 pages, in which things start to unravel a bit. The pacing felt lost, the outcomes were disjointed, and lacked common sense. For a very smart story, with very clever characters, to suddenly feel less intelligent hurt. Additionally the plot choices continued forward in ways I did not expect that just didn’t satisfy my gothic/horror desires. I have come up with three distinctly different ways to close off this novel that would have been more gothic, satisfying for the reader, and still have held to the final message of the story.

Thus the final conclusion was, for me, very unsatisfying. Not necessarily because of the events but more so that the gothic overtones are played down, there is a lack of scientific discussion to talk about what the future might hold based on the ending (where some horror could have been injected), and in general I just had trouble focusing (and started wanting to just be done with the book). I would have ended the story a bit sooner with a more open ended ending that would have fit the gothic romance feel quite well. Or if taken to where it was I would have at least given some scientific questions for the reader to ponder about the implications of the final state of things. Sadly we get neither of these and therefore I just can’t give this a higher rating.

All that said, for a debut author, this is amazingly well written up to that last 100 pages. It does have an odd pacing at times, but that kind of fits with our quirky men and the unpredictable nature of plants growing. Sometimes they grow quick, other times slow. I would still recommend A Botanical Daughter as a good gothic read; but I would warn the potential reader to brace themselves for an ending that may not be as satisfying as one might have hoped for. I will however watch for future stories by Medlock as I think all the right foundation is there, it’s just the final execution (admittedly always the hardest part of any horror novel) that suffered here. In a different story, and with some different feedback I think Medlock could deliver us the kind of LGBTQ+ gothic romance that most readers will be craving by the end of The Botanical Daughter.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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Monday, May 20, 2024

Book Review: Godly Heathens

Godly Heathens 
by H.E. Edgmon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 - 4 stars. I didn't love everything about this... about 75% of the way through I felt like I lost the thread and didn't really get back to it until closer to the end. However I'm glad I stuck it out as I suspected at some point this confusion was intentional. H. E. Edgmon is making the reader feel as disoriented and confused about who is who (as each character has multiple names, memories, and recognition of themselves) in such a way as it is the closest I (as a bisexual woman) may ever come to having even an iota of understanding what it might be like to be confused about gender and sexuality as a teen (my own understanding of being bisexual was helped along by some key late 90's, early LGBTQ+ Internet pages) .

I'm looking forward to recommending this to my trans cousin and seeing what she thinks. I am confident she will want to read it when I tell her it's complex like Gideon the Ninth (Tamsyn Muir), as godly as Banewrecker (Jacqueline Carey), and as teenage romantic as Aristotle and Dante (Benjamin Alire Sáenz). It also features realistic physical moments between a trans character and their partner; such as running fingers over top surgery scars. I shivered a little at this at felt so genuine and definitely very intimate.

All that said... there are three important things to know, in my opinion, going into Godly Heathens: 
1) The ending is abrupt and a cliffhanger. I was lucky to have book 2, Merciless Saviors at my fingertips to start immediately. You are likely to want to do the same. It is about one minute between the end of the first book and the opening line of book 2. I greatly dislike this, as it gives no reminder of the story if there has been some time between books (it's also just rude to readers to give no real ending at all...). I'm also not a fan of reading books one after another for fear of getting tired of characters or the story. That said, her I am making the exception for the first time in years.

2) There are a lot of characters with different names, abilities, memories, and situations. It's a lot to keep track of. I did not realize, until near the end, that there is a cast of the god characters at the back of the print book. However it should be noted that the list has spoilers for events in this first book.
One thing that does help a lot with this issue, and perhaps saved me at times, was listening to some chapters on audio. The narrator does a brilliant job of defining the characters and being consistent with the voices of each. In the end it helped me keep things together enough to keep going and not feel like I needed to reread/listen to sections, or just give up on the whole story. I did swap between audio and print a few times, and I'm glad I did. This gave me time to absorb some of the story in my head in print; but the audio helped define the different characters when I was lost. Kudos to the narrator for keeping the voices consistent and distinct (without being silly or obnoxious).

3) Morality and love are brilliantly put in opposition of one another in Godly Heathens. Edgmon takes us on a crazy journey and confuses us as much as the leading POV character is. It is brilliant; and it is frustrating. At times I wanted to yell at our non-binary lead to tell them to just do something!! Yet I also understood why they didn't (generally because of their heart being in the way). At the end of the day I love Edgmon's continuing message: "Surviving does not make us evil".

And now I am doing something I almost never ever do... I am heading into book 2 immediately. As I went to listen to the first chapter or two; and now I'm sucked in. (Insert a maniacal winning laugh here from Edgmon and the publisher that I'm caught in their web, lol.) So I suppose they win this round as I break my usual rule of waiting a book or two before heading into the next in a series.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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Sunday, May 12, 2024

Book Review: A Haunting in the Arctic

A Haunting in the Arctic 
by C.J. Cooke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this in two halves (essentially) because I was very busy for about 3 weeks in April and barely read anything at all. I think that affected part of enjoyment. This is the kind of book that would be best read in a weekend or over a short period of time. Thus what was maybe a 3 star read for me, I’m upgrading to 4 stars. I think there is a lot of great pieces to The Haunting in the Arctic in terms of the spooky atmosphere, the simulated isolation, and thus desperation for attention that both the reader and our characters are feeling. I also loved the use of the selkie fable/myth and its integration into the core story.
Overall the book is worth reading…

But here’s where things get tough… in order for me to really talk about this book and my feelings there is a good chance you will figure out the twist… so fair warning from here forward there is a possibility of SPOILERS.

Again, possible spoilers below.

As I have discussed many times before when it comes to cold settings authors constantly get the details incorrect. Whether the overall effect of cold, snow, ice, etc on the body or how your brain starts to slow and mania or insanity sets in.
For me there was only two outcomes for this book:
1) I either knew the twist within the first 100 pages, or
2) Cooke was doing a terrible job of handling the bitterly cold conditions on the ship in the 2023 timeline.

At one point hear the end I had convinced myself I had the twist wrong and therefore posted a rant about how poorly written or understood cold is, and how disappointed I was in Cooke making such a rookie mistake. Then, lo and behold, a couple pages later the twist is revealed. And I was super annoyed. Held off to the last 10 pages of the book, so transparent (if you know what should have happened after certain events) that it was comical to me, and yet I had convinced myself out of it and that Cooke was just a poor fact checker on biology.

So where does this leave me?
I think it leaves me in a spot where a reread would be good (not right away) as now that I know the outcome I will not be bothered by numerous details like the first time. Perhaps I might be able to appreciate more of the atmosphere, timeline linking, and character processing of trauma.
Ultimately it leaves me with a very unsure feeling towards this book. Yes it’s good, yes lots of people (non-cold climate folks for sure) will likely not pick up the hints to the final twist, and yes the writing is superb. I’m almost sad that I know the cold so well that I knew what could or could not be ‘happening’ at times.

Overall I’d say if this book interests you then pick it up. It’s not bad, it’s quite well written and intriguing. For myself, I will definitely still look forward to the other Cooke novels on my shelf and hope that my knowledge of a particular subject doesn’t sink me like it did here. I will also keep it on my print shelf to possibly reread, and because the book cover itself is gorgeous.

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Book Review: The Year of Return

The Year of Return 
by Ivana Akotowaa Ofori
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a clever little story this is! I want to get a million copies and put this in the hands of everyone, but especially white folks (like myself) so they can begin to understand that generational, racist trauma stems deep. Ivana Akotowaa Ofori does a brilliant job of bringing together many of the key events during the height of the COVID pandemic and putting them in a science fiction short story that anyone could relate to.

From the lockdowns (where we saw the privileged of society whine the most), to disproportionately increased Asian discrimination, to Black Lives Matter protests; Ofori brings these elements together and uses them to show the generational trauma from African slavery. It’s so smart to take feelings we (as a world) have recently felt and change them subtly enough such that the reader can start (at least) to understand (or hopefully appreciate) some of the trauma involved in continuing (forever and ever) to atone for slavery. The weaving of this story brings elements together so well that it’s impossible (in my opinion as a white girl, for whatever that is worth) to deny the huge weight slavery still has today, especially on a population subject to diaspora around the world.

Ofori gives us a relatable main character with a degree in African Studies, from an Ivy League university (something her Ghana mother thinks is ridiculous) who is now a journalist. This gives our leading gal the ability to report on the many theories of the odd appearance of ‘ghosts’ and use the Internet to compile sightings, research, and provide her own theory and commentary on what is happening in the story. There is a cleverness to the core story that I also admire. I don’t want to say much about it as it could take away the creepiness and impact of each revelation that comes about.

This is the second short story by Ofori I have read and I am keeping my eye on her! She has an amazing way of sucking the reader into the story and feeling instant empathy for the characters and situation. If anyone can make people start to understand, even a fraction, of the trauma POC have experienced between generations of trauma, and the awful racism of today, I believe Ofori has the magic in her writing. Her stories and characters are relatable and current in a way I have not experienced before. I would put this story in the hands of every single white person in the world if I could, and even if only 1% of them started to think more about the long term, never going away, trauma of slavery then it would be well worth the effort.
Watch this writer! She has talent and I cannot wait to see what she brings us in the future.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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Sunday, May 5, 2024

Book Review: Magical Elements of the Periodic Table

Magical Elements of the Periodic Table Presented Alphabetically by the Elemental Dragons 
by Sybrina Durant
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is super cute AND could be infinitely helpful. If someone had given me a book that incorporated dragons with learning the periodic table of elements I might have done a lot better in science classes!!

Highly recommend this for anyone really. Even a high schooler trying to learn the table might find some acronyms, comparisons, etc here that help them remember what is where. Regardless of how you memorize things like common calculations, table elements, multiplication/division, conversion factors, etc. it can help you be quicker with answers and a better problem solver to know this information on a quick recall.

As someone who still can’t do 6x7 quickly (I have trouble memorizing number combinations ) I would encourage an device (like this super cute book) that helps kids not only learn but remember what they have learnt!

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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Friday, May 3, 2024

Book Review: The Last Bloodcarver

The Last Bloodcarver 
by Vanessa Le
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

With twists and turns, romance, friendship, and injuries to all; The Last Bloodcarver is likely to thrill any teen/YA reader that picks it up (and most of us YA adult readers too). In her debut novel, Vanessa Le introduces us to the unique magical power of our leading girl in the confines of a private home where she is using her magic in secret. From there we are whisked away on a journey where: hiding is necessary, betrayal is looming, a hint of romance presides, and a larger than life friendship keeps us company.

The magic here especially interested me as I have fibromyalgia, a nerve condition with no cure, no known cause, and only current offerings are medications to help get ‘quality of life’ as high as possible. Therefore hearing of our girls power to turn her pain receptors off, repair physical damage to many organs, including the brain, or the vascular system, greatly appealed to me. What I wouldn’t give to have this ability myself, or for someone with it to bless me with relief!!

Interestingly, and brilliantly, Lee shows us that this same magic can be used to kill and destroy just as readily as it may heal and save. Where one might use it to for healing individuals ailments; another might use it to decimate their enemies. Putting ultimate power of life and death in the magic welder’s hands.

This was the point at which I wished I wasn’t reading a YA fantasy (with some typical romance, of course) and instead wished this set-up in the hands of a writer of grimdark adult fantasy. Where an author could really elevate the game and discuss the morals and options posed to our characters at a level that would leave interpretation open to the reader.
Alas this is a YA novel, and so instead we get some typical romance on the side, the uncertain confidence of a teen, and the reluctance to become an adult (and having to take responsibility for your actions). As a YA novel it’s bang on to the genre. My difficulty is l see how it could be so much more!

That’s not to say this isn’t good; because it is. And I could definitely see many a pre-teen/teen becoming obsessed with it (especially if it’s one of their first gripping fantasy reads). I hope future novels in the series take a closer look at the politics and conundrums of society as it relates to the magic I n The Last Bloodcarver. I have great hope for the future books promised to come and that Lee will open up the discussion of morality, good versus evil, and the cost of healing over death. At the end of the day I will be seeking the sequel next year and definitely picking it up sooner rather than later.

A solid choice in the teen fantasy realm and one that is well written by a debut POC!! A refreshing breath of fresh air compared to so many in this genre that are stale or stagnant of late. Just remember it’s written to its audience (as it should be) even if it could be so much more!

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Book Review: Fifth Avenue Glamour Girl

by Renée Rosen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An interesting fictionalized version (based on lots of direct resources from Estée Lauder herself and her son, friends, etc.) of Estée Lauder’s time from nobody to becoming a beauty icon. I really enjoyed the anecdotes and tidbits of Lauder’s philosophy on sales, beauty, and refined society. I don’t agree with her; but it was a well written story that showed both the strengths and flaws of Lauder in the end.

What’s confusing about Fifth Avenue Glamour Girl is how little there is about WWII. Given this story happens simultaneously with the war it seems odd that so little of the war situation (even though we are in America) affected our leading ladies. It’s as though a piece of the story is missing to give it true historical context. Unfortunately that makes me wonder about some of the truth in the story. While well researched, and a good authors note in the end; the element of war being such a non-factor kept taking me out of this story and making me wonder if it could be true that Lauder was so sheltered from the war activities (before and after Pearl Harbour). Thus only a four star rating from me. That said, I would absolutely try another book by Renee Rosen in the future.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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Book Review: The American Queen

The American Queen 
by Vanessa Miller
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The first 75% of this was wonderful! Beautifully written, great story telling, characterization, and wonderful analysis and inference of what each character may have been thinking. I both read in print and listened to some of the audiobook. Both were equally joyful ways to consume this story.

Unfortunately, the last 25% got too preachy for me. I tired of hearing how our leading lady, Louella, would just have to hope that God would hear her need. My weariness continued as she spoke/thought of the forgiveness she gave everyone around her, constantly, even after they had ruined everything. The best writing in the world cannot make up for when I feel talked down to, preached at, or otherwise ‘told’ that I should feel or do things a certain way. I can assure you I would have felt much differently than Louella in the end given all the circumstances.

That said my 3 star review should not stop anyone from reading this book. It’s an interesting history, about a relatively unwritten time period from the viewpoints of those freed during emancipation. In no way would I discredit the story told here and its importance. I just would have liked to have the last pieces of the story told with a little less required faith; and a little more common sense on how our leading lady and her ‘followers’ came to be where they ended up.

I realize now that this author is a devoted Christian herself and was merely justifying the actions as she finds reasonable. However, I would challenge any author (regardless of religious affiliation) writing a story based on historical fact to be careful how much of their own beliefs they inject to justify actions. Lastly, it was odd to me that freed slaves so readily put all their faith in the god of those who enslaved, oppressed, murdered, and tortured themselves and their loved ones. It just felt a bit too much for me to swallow in the end.

I would love to read a non-fiction book about Louella and William, and their socialist practices that built a beautiful sounding community.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Book Review: The Poisons We Drink

The Poisons We Drink 
by Bethany Baptiste
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I tried very hard to like this.
The overall idea of the way magic works, the price the magic user has to pay, and the morality involved with using said magic should have made for an excellent novel. (This is the only reason this books gets two stars and not one). Bethany Baptiste had an opportunity to really send a message to her readers in this YA/Teen novel that sometimes the ‘right’ decision is hard. It could have promoted self reflection, critical thinking, and the difficulty of determining morality. Instead, the best word I can come up with to describe the justifications for the choices made in The Poisons We Drink is problematic.

There is blatant hypocrisy from: toting freedom, free will, and autonomy, alongside binding blood oaths and love potions (given to people unknowingly!) without any morality being addressed. Bethany Baptiste addresses this once (maybe twice), early on, as the lead gal has a conscience momentarily. But then it’s gone and it’s like the entire book is built off the premise that our leading character crew ‘know best’. This kind of attitude is what leads (eventually) to discrimination, egoism, and a divided society!! How ironic that in a book about bringing down the egoist barriers they literally put up new ones that seem okay; but only if you 100% believe in our characters being ‘right’. Sorry but that doesn’t work for me.

Wheres the Remorse?
Additionally, there is little to no remorse (especially towards the end) for the usage of magic that takes away free will. From the beginning we are told that the oppression of the magical community is abhorrent, the proposed registration act is a disgusting attempt to control people, and that the world assumes magic users are dangerous because of their inherent powers which is unfair. I agree these are all awful things and solid themes that should be discussed. Instead of critical representation and questions we are given a slew of excuses for why it’s okay to hurt others to gain something important. Even going so far as to say:
”Only monsters get things done.”
Not only is reality not that simple; but I’m not convinced half our ‘good’ characters are in the right! If you are going to write YA/Teen books then you should consider your core audience and how impressionable they are. Choosing to be awful as the only way to survive is not what I want any child, teen or, for that matter, adult thinking is necessary. This argument is not an acceptable justification to make potions that take away people’s free will and convince them of things that aren’t true, or make them flat out follow orders.

A continuing theme in the end is that It’s okay to do these awful things as they are in the name of good. It’s not okay to use similar tactics to control others just because they are using them to oppress you! This seems obvious to me, but as of late there are a lot of YA/Teen books (Iron Widow comes to mind) that seem to tote power or control as equality. This book even goes so far as to justify someone’s persecution because they did other ‘bad things’ even if they didn’t do the thing they were initially accused of and received punishment for! (I could also rant about fair justice and not prejudging situations or people; but this review is long enough already!)

The Writing
Moving on to the actual structure and writing of the book. I really disliked the narrator of the audiobook. Some of her character voices were annoying and at times ridiculous. It’s perhaps worth noting I’m pretty new to audiobooks (only my 8th ever) but I just couldn’t handle the narration; so I switched to an ebook halfway through to complete The Poisons We Drink. I had hoped that the issues I was starting to have with pacing and immature writing (don’t tell, show!) were partially because of the audiobook. Sadly they were not.

This book goes from being boring, to sudden activities that knocks you over the head. However each step of the way events are convenient and clearly fits into a pre-set puzzle. The plot is so transparent that the ‘twist’ fell flat for me. In no way did the twist feel smart, clever, or even all that unique for me. Unfortunately the one emotion I did have upon finishing this novel was relief. I was relieved to have it be over, thankful I get to post a review about it it’s issues, and ready to tell folks not to bother with this problematic story.

Sorry to hate on this
I know many of you love this one and I’ll probably get comments about how I’m being too harsh or otherwise judgemental. I’m truly sorry you may feel that way.

For me, I cannot in good conscience endorse problematic stories. You can be a good person who gets caught up in a bad situation (which is the attempted argument in this book) but you don’t get to then continue being awful ‘just because’ once the immediate situation is resolved. What the story should be about is feeling remorse for your actions and how to come to terms with what you did (accepting the terms NOT justifying them). Think of the third Hunger Games novel where Katniss struggles to reconcile her numerous kills even though without them she would not have survived. This is what I think novels like this should address and struggle with because it’s realistic and sets up serious critical thinking by the reader.

Needless to say I will not be reading book 2 in which (I assume) our gal and her crew rise to more power to further their interests and toss aside anyone (using a potion of course) that is in their way. No thanks.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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Saturday, March 30, 2024

Book Review: All the Dead Shall Weep

All the Dead Shall Weep 
by Charlaine Harris
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A full five stars for being a comfort read. Am I biased? Probably. Is it weird that this western, outlaw, magical series has become a comfort (or easy break) read for me? Maybe. But if you appreciate the way Charlaine Harris develops her characters, and makes the readers love them, then perhaps you get what I mean.

This is book five of the ‘Gunnie Rose’ series. You could start here, but I wouldn’t, especially because the first book is solid and sets the tone for the rest to come.

Just like when I read the Sookie series 20 years ago (gosh am I getting old!!); I’ve become attached to these books and even if the premise is silly, the plot a bit jolting (yes I will concur it was a bit odd the way things just suddenly ‘happened’ in this one), or the story seemingly unplanned, I’ll keep on coming back. Because Harris gives us love, hope, crushing loss, and violent encounters; what more can you ask for? ;)

Besides the next book is going to feature (I hope and assume) a debutante’s ball for grigori (wizards). Thus I have to assume it will be wonderfully pretty and (because you can’t have a Lizbeth or Felicia story without it) a bloody mess. :)

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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Sunday, March 24, 2024

Book Review: Episode Thirteen

Episode Thirteen 
by Craig DiLouie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well this was different. Starts off creepy and fairly scary, then gets weird as it goes on… Overall a good, engaging read.
Some of my typical complaints about ‘found’ journals are here; like why someone would stop to write down a scary event when they are still trapped, or waste battery power for light to write. Things like that which always irk me a bit. However majority of the story is ‘footage’ found on video cameras so it works.

Would have loved more of the ‘analysis’ at the end to hear theories about what happened, or how it could have, or how it fits into quantum mechanics or other scientific theories. Although maybe the average reader of horror isn’t as geeky as me and doesn’t care once the scary jumps are done. Lol!

Overall this is a weird little book. The ending is reminiscent of Stephen King (just so odd you couldn’t ever have guessed it from the beginning). I appreciated the archetypes of characters used here. A couple characters could have been more fleshed out for me; but it wasn’t critical in the end. I’d really love to see this made into a limited series where each character could have some good screen time (and the ending could be over a 2-hour, 2-part episode).

Will be passing this onto my horror buff husband with fairly good certainty that he will enjoy the first 3/4, and likely go with the way the ending plays out. I did get a print copy of this one for us as it just seemed too good to pass up a book that we would both be interested in. I’m glad to see it on our horror shelf (most of which I haven’t read). Highly recommend this one for anyone looking for something spooky!

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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Book Review: Thornhedge

by T. Kingfisher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is smart!
Some may find it funny that my favourite part of the book wasn’t the actual story; but instead Kingfisher’s explanation of why she felt the Sleeping Beauty story should go more in the direction she took it; than in the conventional beautiful princess kissed by a prince one. I love the twists here, and I don’t know that I’ll ever think of Maleficent and Aurora the same way again. (For the record Maleficent had been one of my fave Disney characters since I was a child. I just wanted magic and the power to turn into a dragon! Lol). 

Our fairy here is a cute little toad. She’s so sweet and endearing. I don’t want to give anything critical away; but just know that the introductory chapter really sets the tone for the innocence of our fairy, there’s not a spec of evil anywhere in her it seems. And yet for me she was a bit too flimsy and the primary reason for my taking a star away.

We then have our reluctant knight. This angle was very smart. Kingfisher approach’s the story in a more realistic way. Let’s face it, likely, It wouldn’t be the top Prince of the land that comes looking for a princess from a long told myth or story. Instead it’s a nobody with no prospects figuring it’s worth a shot.

All the steps in this novella inject realism (ironic for a fairy tale). This is Sleeping Beauty set in a less Disney-esque world and one more grey (like ours). Thus this story is absolutely a way the story could go. Huge props to Kingfisher for being so clever and for knowing exactly why each character does what they do (as explained in the authors note). If more authors considered their characters motivations to do things (instead of forcing the plot forward) there would be an exponential number of much smart books. In the meantime I’ll continue consuming everything I can get my hands on from Kingfisher.

A note on audio:
I did listen to a few chapters in audiobook format. This narrator wasn’t really for me. She wasn’t bad, but just didn’t hold much excitement for me. I found the story more engaging in print format for me to read. That said I’m still getting used to audiobooks so take that with a grain of salt.

Please note: I received an audiobook eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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Monday, March 18, 2024

Book Review: The Dress in the Window

The Dress in the Window 
by Robert Tregoning
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

”One beautiful dress for my beautiful son.” 

This line really sums up this amazingly sweet book. Not once does anyone tell this boy he can’t wear a dress. The whole neighbourhood works with him to find chores to do so he can get money to help pay for the dress. 

It’s absolutely fabulous! No talk about being a boy or girl, and none is needed! Instead it’s about a child wanting a super pretty red dress.

The addition of the rhyming couplets and superb illustrations elevate this children’s picture book to a notch above most others on the shelf.
Love it!

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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Monday, February 26, 2024

Book Review: Last Winter

Last Winter
by Carrie Mac
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was not what I had hoped for. A small part of it was about wilderness survival; but it was mostly about a wife and mom, and her bi-polar disorder that ravaged both her, her husband, and her family. Which is not to say it wasn’t well written, because it was. To the point where it had my own mental health reacting to the words of the story. My anxiety spiked multiple times during this story; not because of the cold, winter, or avalanche; instead it was because of the intensity of Mom’s actions, thoughts, and struggles.

I don’t know why this is marketed the way it is. The Last Winter is NOT a story about a town or avalanche at its core. It’s actually about a little girl and her bi-polar mother, and amazing father. It’s about how hard it is to keep a family together when one person is unstable, unpredictable, and hard to manage. And it’s sooo incredibly intense because the author herself is bi-polar.
I love that this is written by a Canadian queer woman with a mental health issue (which is awfully close to what my own bio could say…). I just wish I’d known more of what I was going into in advance.

It’s possible I’d give this 3-stars in another situation, just for being other than expected, but I can’t imagine doing so given how much this book affected me. The writing is brilliant AND (most importantly to this Canadian) it’s an actual reflection of how dangerous snow and cold actually are!! I cannot emphasize how important it is that hypothermia, frostbite, dehydration (even when surrounded by snow) and other cold ailments are properly portrayed. If for no other reason than because I live in a cold and sometimes dangerously cold place, I think it’s important people remember that Mother Nature has always been able to beat our species.

While I’m so glad to have read this, I’m also glad to put it behind me and move on. It was just too intense in ways I wasn’t ready for.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Book Review: The Circus Infinite

The Circus Infinite 
by Khan Wong
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've been struggling to complete a review of this book for (believe it or not) months. It's not that I didn't like it; or that I loved it. It's a good enough read. The kind of thing I'd be pleased to pick-up at a local bookstore if it was curated content (ie: local, POC author, met a monthly theme, etc.); yet it wasn't quite good enough to give five stars. But it's not really fair for me to say that as I can't seem to articulate why it wasn't five start quality.
Upon thinking on this for quite some time I think it maybe comes down to two things:
1) wordsmithing: being able to really pick the exact right word and par your sentences down is a real skill that has to be learned. I think there is a lot that could be cut here; not in plot or characterization, but maybe in the descriptions, set-up, etc.
2) outcomes: I think it wasn't clear what the real outcome Khan Wong had for his readers was. And no I do not think that just to 'have a fun time' is enough to justify a story. There needs to be some meaning, connection, or message that is being developed, portrayed, or told. The Circus Infinite maybe just needs some more finessing to really highlight what the author wants the reader to take away.

Overall this is a good read. Well above the fan fiction 'standard' that has been set, and certainly above most YA trash standards. So if the plot, characters or blub at all intrigue you give it a shot.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Book Review: The Bone Shard Emperor

The Bone Shard Emperor 
by Andrea Stewart
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As I write this I am halfway through the third, and final, book of this series. I know two things already: Andrea Stewart is now on my 'must-read' list, and second, that I LOVE the diversity of the points of view Stewart shows and her ability to give us realistic, meaningful characters. Even the companions (who are creatures of a sort, but they talk) are sooo well done.

My worry going into a second book in a three part series is always that it will just be set-up and nothing else. Thus falling into middle book syndrome (as I call it). Let me reassure you The Bone Shard Emperor does NOT have that problem. By the end of this book so much has changed that you couldn't have anticipated the next book's plot from the start of book two. This is a real talent, to see ahead but still develop and give meaningful moments for your characters as you get to the climax of each novel in a series. And boy does Stewart give us a climax!

As I said for book one I love the uniqueness of this series, the struggle with determining what is 'alive' or 'human' versus just a 'thing', the creativity of the bone shard magic, the complexity of the history of the realm (especially the Allanga), and the intricate politics that each of our characters is carefully navigating. This is one of the best fantasy series I have read in a little while (that wasn't written by someone we already know can write fantasy). There is a special something you have to have to write fantasy novels well and without a doubt Andrea Stewart has it!
But be sure you start at book 1. As with most epic/high fantasy, there is no jumping in mid-way. And besides you wouldn't want to miss out on all the juicy events that happened before you get to the start of this installment.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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Monday, February 12, 2024

Book Review: Me and My Dysphoria Monster

Me and My Dysphoria Monster: An Empowering Story to Help Children Cope with Gender Dysphoria 
by Laura Kate Dale
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Even if the only thing a child understands from this book is that boys are sometimes girls, and girls are sometimes boys, for me that would be enough. Yet I think there is a whole lot more here that even a 5 or 6 year-old could understand. From what dysphoria is (because lets face it this is a new word for a lot of us), to the idea that you might feel a certain way and not be sure why (ie: hate or love dresses, etc.) all the way up to the idea of what it means to be transgender and how that manifests at a young age. And to be clear, it does manifest when children are very young.

Occasionally we might be surprised that a child or teen or even adult approaches the world and says they are trans. It absolutely happens. But in the majority of cases these kids know. They inherently have known since they were very young.
No different than at 11 years old I couldn't figure out why I could have Keanu Reeves on my wall as an 'idol' but my Mom acted weird about me wanting to put up Reba McEntire next to him as equally 'pretty'. I knew then I liked boys and girls; I just didn't have words for it (it was the 90s after all) and I wasn't really sure it was a 'thing' that could be true. However looking back, I knew. I've always probably known I was bisexual. It wasn't until I had a word for it and a definition that I could apply it to myself. That is why this book, and others like it, are SOOO important to get into the hands of little ones.
Let's give all children (and adults) the vocabulary to properly express themselves. Lets give them the safe space to do so, and the love and support every child deserves no matter what gender.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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Thursday, February 8, 2024

Book Review: Weyward

by Emilia Hart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Went in expecting the typical persecuted witches (across a couple generations) story. And while Weyward is that, at its core, it’s also distinctly different and has some great twists on the idea. For a debut novel, Emilia Hart has done an incredible job of making sure you are drawn into the story, compelled to flip the page, and rooting for our three leading ladies.
A tough part for me, and likely won't bother too many others, is that there are a few too many bugs in this. I have a huge bugs-phobia. That said it wasn't so bad I couldn't skim the text or get over it. A couple scenes gave me some good goosebumps and the creepy crawly feeling. Thankfully I was able to get past them quick enough and didn't have to give up on the book. That said, I loved the crows!!! And I feel like if this was to become a movie, or a huge fan series, everyone would covet a crow feather (like we do the Mockingjay pin).
Overall this is a great generational trauma story. I love that our witches are clever, herbalist women, and that it really perpetuates that even today it's possible to be brought down by one powerful man; just like it was hundreds of years ago. I especially look forward to what Hart will bring us in the future. If she improves from this debut then it should be stunning!

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Book Review: Deep as the Sky, Red as the Sea

Deep as the Sky, Red as the Sea
by Rita Chang-Eppig
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Please note this is NOT a middle grade, or young adult book. It may look like one on the cover, and read like one in the blurb but it has prostitution, violence, sex, etc. i it. Nothing worse than Sarah J. Maas has in Court of Thorn and Roses; but it should be listed as Teen, in my opinion.

Onto my review...

Piracy in Asia looked a bit different than you might think… or at least according to Rita Chang-Eppig and her leading lady in Deep as the Sky, Red as the Sea.
We meet our lead gal as she is in a conundrum. Her husband has just passed and she needs to find a way to hold onto the captaincy of her ship, a small fleet, and protect those she loves on board her vessel (and keep herself alive as well). Thus she makes decisions that are justifiable; but perhaps not always in everyone's best interest. Although it is worth noting she is a pirate after all...
In no ways is our leading gal a hero; but she's not a villain either. Instead she is the perfect kind of morally grey character most of us are in life. We make good decisions, we make bad decisions; and overall we just have to keep on moving to stay alive. This is the main theme and take away from Chang-Eppig's story. Sometimes it's just about surviving.

I loved the enduringness of these characters, the detail and narrative of the story was also excellent. Although near the end I was kind of tired of our crew and certainly of our leading gal. You can only hear someone express regret so many times before you lack empathy, sympathy, or even any emotion towards them. And so I think a quicker ending would have served this book and our leading lady better.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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Book Review: At Midnight (anthology)

At Midnight 
by Dahlia Adler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Really solid. 15 stories inspired by 15 fairy tales. Like with the Poe edition the original story (or a version of it) is at the back of this book. So I read the original and then the retelling.
The biggest downfall here is maybe the selection of which fairy tale original was published. There’s so many versions of these tales and to go back to THE Grimm one (for example) is harder than you think as the Grimm Brothers published many variations of the original stories themselves!
Highly recommend this one for anyone who loves a good fairy tale.

A few notes about each story:
Story #1 - Sugarplum Inspired by The Nutcracker
It has just rung New Year’s 2024 as I write this. It is perhaps ironic that the first story here is about the holiday I just got through.
As our leading gal feels stifled in her Christmas Eve event, so too do I feel (in general) about Christmas.
An excellent little ditty with many nods to the SugarPlum Fairy dance.

Story #2 - In the Forests of the Night by Gita Trelease Inspired by Fitcher’s Bird
I didn’t think I knew this story; but as I got into the original I realized I’ve certainly heard the tiger story before. I just didn’t know the name Fitcher.
The retelling is well-written; but I found the authors blurb more interesting and wished I could hear more of the real tiger that inspired her…

Story #3 - Say my Name by Dahlia Adler Inspired by Rumpelstiltskin
I often forget little there is to the original Rumplestiltskin story. I love the concept, character, & power being in a name.
I can’t help but roll my eyes at the Twilight reference in this retelling. Although, every minute since reading it the idea is growing on me. If power is in a name; then a name can also steal power away…clever

Story #4 - Fire & Rhinestone by Stacey Lee Inspired by The Little Match Girl
Brilliant!!! I adore this one!
It’s smart, clever, and tells of a historical event giving a (fictional) backstory. It also shows the awful treatment of both women and people of colour from that day (and sadly today still).
This book is worth reading if this is the only amazing story; although I’m confident it won’t be.

Story # 5 - Mother’s Mirror by H. E. Edgmon Inspired by Little Snow-White
I LOVED this amazing version of Snow White that focuses on the ‘beauty’ of a trans man. The way this story shows the ‘ugliness’ that the lead character sees when their mother sees a different kind of ugliness is clever. A brilliantly written, accessible transgender story. This should be mandatory reading for everyone!

Story #6 - Sharp as any Thorn by Rory Power Inspired by Sleeping Beauty
While I liked this story, it’s a huge stretch to say it’s inspired by or based on Sleeping Beauty. The entire premise is skewed and makes no sense. The twist ending is great as a story; just not one related to Sleeping Beauty

Story # 7 - Coyote in High-Top Sneakers by Darcie Little Badger Inspired by Puss in Boots
This story is adorable! I’ll confess I don’t really know original Puss in Boots, or even many retellings (besides Shrek’s version, lol) so I can’t say much about its relationship or the original included here. However, I can say that this story was adorable! I just don’t meet enough talking coyotes!

Story # 8 - The Sister Swap by Melissa Alberta; whole new fairy tale)
Interesting to include a non-retelling in a re-telling anthology. Not sure I get why this was done. Regardless the story was fine. Nothing mind blowing; but I did love the gothic masquerade setting!

Story #9 - Once Bitten, Twice Shy by Hafsah Faizal Inspired by Little Red Riding Hood
If it’s possible to fall in love with a character in only a handful of pages then certainly I just did!
I love this leading gal. She’s a Muslim who wears a hijab. This, of course, makes her even more visible and ‘obviously different’ than just being a POC. Great heist-style story. I’d love to read more!

Story #10 - A Flame So Bright by Malinda Lo Inspired by Frau Trude
I’ve always loved a good evil wins tale. I’m sure that puts me in some scary bucket of concerning or crazy but I can’t help but often cheer for the ‘bad guy’.
The pacing and flow of this story is beautiful. It’s truly prose, if not poetry at times. I quite enjoyed this set of stories.
May the witch ever win. ;)

Story #11 - The Emperor and the Eversong by Tracy Deonn Inspired by The Nightingale
Is there anything Deonn cannot make her own and retell better than the original?
Gosh just amazing!!
I can’t say anything else because it would give away too much. Just read this story!!

Story #12 - Hea by Alex London Inspired by Cinderella
I didn’t know I desperately needed Cinderella retold from a flamboyantly gay social media boys perspective! This is adorable and very clever. Kudos to London for keeping it both light and yet still shining a light on what it takes to be a ‘star’ and stay current in social media. I was exhausting just thinking about ‘creating content’.

Story #13 - The Littlest Mermaid by Meredith Russo Inspired by The Little Mermaid
Not for the first time, I question if the version here is the ‘original’ tale from Hans Christian Andersen. It is not the same tale as from a book (the ‘original’ tale?) I had as a child.
Love the trans rep in this retelling! The rest is just okay. It’s a bit too lovey-dovey for me. Overall lacks plot.

Story #15 - Just a Little Bite by Roselle Lim Inspired by Hansel and Gretel
This story is a wild ride!! I love it! Not just because it’s set in Canada during a blizzard (can’t help but love my own setting), but because it’s brutal, doesn’t apologize, plus kids are great. They kind of reminded me of the Winchester brothers. No nonsense, don’t screw with us attitude. Very clever interpretation.

Story #15 - A Story About a Girl by Rebecca Podos Inspired by The Robber Bridegroom
Well this story is okay. But next to the Hansel and Gretel one right before it fails to compare. They should have been swapped around.
I will however give Podos credit for her title being a clever play off a song Nirvana famously covered.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Cross Stitch Book Review: America the Beautiful

America the Beautiful Cross Stitch:
Stitch 30 of America's Most Iconic National Parks and Monuments
by Becker & Mayer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First, up-front disclosure: I'm an avid stitcher and have been stitching for 30+ years. I was 11 when I was first taught how to cross stitch. It is my primary hobby after reading.
Second disclosure: I'm Canadian. Which may seem weird to like this book but I've travelled to many areas of the USA (most by RV as a child) and so I love seeing these locations immortalized in stitching.

This is a lovely little book. It's very easy stitching. Definitely perfect for a beginner as there is just cross stitches and nothing else. Plus the instructions are easy to follow, the patterns are full-colour (with symbols of course) and you get the beautiful pages that they are laid out on. A great gift for someone going on a road-trip, returning from one, or for any beginning stitcher who appreciates the beauty of North America.

Note: My copy did not include all the patterns in the retail version of this book; but from what I saw it was all very consistent and lovely.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Book Review: The Dyatlov Pass Mystery

The Dyatlov Pass Mystery
by Cédric Mayen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The illustrations and writing here are wonderful. The choice to end this graphic novel without an explanation of what happens is intriguing. But I’m good with it as it encourages folks to research further the details of the Dyatlov Mystery.

There is a critical mistake made here in my opinion… so before I get into what that is let me tell you about the countless hours I’ve spent reading about this very mystery. As a Canadian, who literally just experienced the coldest day in my life only 5 days ago (-39C, windchill of -47C), I’m fascinated by snow, winter and cold. I believe people constantly underestimate Mother Nature and how deadly cold can be.

However, the additional supplemental information given, after the graphic novel ends, is incomplete. And thus I only give this three stars.
Missing from the scenarios and theories given is the one I believe to be quite plausible; not that I can or would discount the avalanche theory, but I just don’t see how anyone would have made it anywhere further than their immediate area after the avalanche stopped in the conditions of that day. Yet some of them did manage to trek back a distance. Thus, I fall back to the infrasound theory by Donnie Eichar as discussed in his 2013 book Dead Mountain.

Now as I get into why I believe this theory I want to explain; I’ve been on the side of mountains in winter conditions. Nothing this epic (obviously, who has?) but ones where decisions were made that were poor. I’ve also felt the undeniable power of the wind making noise that completely unsettles everyone. It’s creepy, it’s weird, and I might sound crazy; but I swear it’s the truth of my experiences. Angles, degrees, snow (is an odd substance), severe cold, and wind (undeniably strong wind) can create moments where you act with paranoia, panic and fear. Those infrasound moments have been scientifically proven to make people do crazy things. Actions against their training, common sense, or intelligence. This is what I believe happened on Dyatlov Pass.
I have experienced it twice before. Both times in the Rocky Mountains (Canadian side) where I live.

Once when my girl guide troop was lost on the side of the mountain (our leader missed the loop turn while we were cross country skiing). We were on the side of the mountain in -10C, not everyone had appropriate winter gear, with limited food and water (skiing was supposed to be 1.5 hours, we skied for 6.5 before making a fire/shelter and hoping for rescue in the cold dark of the forest). Why didn’t we turn back? Why did the adults keep us moving up the mountain for hours on end? It makes no sense… until you think that maybe we weren’t quite able to make coherent decisions that day. I was 12 years old; so I did what the adults told me. And (obviously) we were all afraid… but to venture so far and up the mountain when our path was meant to be short and at the base of the mountain? It makes no sense, until you consider infrasound theory.
The other time I was in a tent in winter. It was not on the side of a mountain but in a mountain valley with a large river nearby. I was 22 years old, a highly experienced winter camp and a leader of the Scout troop camped that night. I got up out of my tent around 3am with my tentmate and fellow female leader, we had no boots or jackets, it was snowing at the time. We found other boys outside their tents. I still can’t explain what made me leave the cozy, safe tent that night. Thankfully whatever it was didn’t last long and within minutes we were all getting boots and jackets, etc on and huddled up in our cookhouse for the rest of the night. No one talked much. The teenage boys included. Just like my previous experience when I was their age, we all knew we did something outside our training; but no one could explain why.

In both instances the wind was strong and I myself was irrationally scared. But not because I thought the cold, which I know is deadly, would kill me. Instead it was like an unseen force triggered my fight or flight response. Both instances, and others I’ve heard from winter mountain campers, skiers, and hikers; mirror the Dyatlov Pass groups reactions. Gear was left behind, irrational decisions were made, and within minutes of getting out of the immediate area, and making those decisions, no one could figure out why they had done what they had done.
Luckily I wasn’t in extreme danger like our Russian team, and didn’t have -40C snowstorm on the side of an open mountain to fight against to get back to my gear and safety.
Thus I’m disappointed that at least a mention of this theory is not included at end of this graphic novel. It’s great to tell the story still, get people thinking about this mystery, and keeping the memory alive of the hikers. I just wish the last couple pages had included the other ‘most likely’ scenario (besides the avalanche) of what happened that day in 1959.

Still a worthwhile read. And now as I sit in my warm home (where outside it’s a balmy -21C, which seriously feels warm after the coldest day of my life just a few days ago) I have slightly spooked myself. Lol. But not in a way where I can’t make logical, common sense decisions (thankfully). As there is no wind, creating infrasound here in my home, to trigger the brain to think irrationally.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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Friday, January 5, 2024

Book Review: Never Whistle in the Dark

Never Whistle at Night: An Indigenous Dark Fiction Anthology 
by Shane Hawk
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I knew it would happen one day… I would give an anthology five stars! Yes there are lessor stories in here; maybe three or four. However, the amazing stories more than make up for them. Especially when there are 28 stories included here!!
All kinds of horror are portrayed here. Clever concepts, folklore, myth, colonization, torture, gore, ghosts, monsters and so much more!

Normally I would have notes for each story in this collection but GR seems to be hiding them. So instead I’ll say, go buy this book!!! You will not be disappointed. :)

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