Women in Horror Month – Last Weekly Update (Summary)

Whoops, February has been over for a solid weekend now, and I still have yet to post the conclusion to my readathon! Here are the previous weekly updates I’ve posted for February’s Women in Horror Month readathon hosted by @ladiesofhorrorfiction on Instagram:

Weekly Update #1

Weekly Update #2

Weekly Update #3

I love horror but I’ll be honest, I usually sprinkle my horror reading with other kinds of books. This entire month I’ve been a bit on edge and I think that my mood has been largely impacted by the material I’ve been reading. The positive aspect of my month’s readathon has been that I got the chance to read some amazing novels and collections that I would not have even found otherwise. I highly recommend doing a themed readathon yourself, if only to freshly discover underrated talents.

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Finished This Week

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Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

Sub-genre: short story collection, predominantly psychological (madness, paranoia)

Page count: 241 pgs.

Release date: October 3rd, 2017 by Graywolf Press

Goodreads

This collection is perfection in my eyes. From the very first story that reimagines a classic urban legend to the very last involving the remnant impact of a home invasion, Carmen Machado writes beautiful female-centric and queer stories that had me raging throughout. My favourites amoung the eight amazing tales would have to be:

The Husband Stitch –  A wife and mother tries to keep some secrets to herself, like why she wears a green ribbon around her neck. As she attempts to dissuade her husband, an otherwise kind and average man, from taking control of the one aspect of her life she keeps separate, things start to fall apart at the seams.

Especially Heinous – Told through a Law & Order: SVU episode guide, two detectives battle crime, doppelgangers, and the paranormal in this hilarious short story. I love horror comedy and this one is insightful and poignant as well! Read if you like Welcome to Nightvale.

overall rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

y648 Asylum by Madeleine Roux

Sub-genre: YA, Paranormal (ghosts & possession), serial killer

Page count: 317 pgs.

Release date: August 20th, 2013 by HarperTeen

Goodreads

Okay, so I initially ragged pretty hard on this teen read, but I have to say, it was super creepy and really entertaining. Daniel is a lonely, studious teen who decides to spend his summer doing extra credit work at a university that has been fashioned from the remnants of an old mental institute. Once there, he and his friends start to experience spooky ghost-like phenomena. Creepiest of all, Dan starts to receive mysterious letters he believes belong to “The Sculptor”, an old homicidal patient of the institution.

rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Corvus Hall by Bibiana Krall

Sub-genre: paranormal (prophecy), psychological (paranoia)

Page count: 112 pgs.

Release date: December 6th, 2018 by Black Calyx Books

Goodreads

A lot of other readers loved this, which is really surprising to me. The writing is really terse and tries to build tension over a mere one hundred pages. The story begins with a natural calamity that plagued the main character, and for me, it’s never really clear why this portion is included to begin with. The episode takes up about twenty pages and I don’t think it benefits the story at all. The rest of the plot is very traditional in terms of establishing a haunted Irish castle complete with ominous prophecy.

I also felt discombobulated and found myself trying to situate the story in terms of place and time. When I read a section about the main character using Netflix and modern tech, I was really surprised because up until that point, I had just assumed the story was taking place in the 1920’s. Overall, I was just really disappointed because I felt that there was a lot of potential here but the narrative was not fully fleshed out.

rating: ⭐⭐ and a half

Unfinished

Unfortunately, I really think I took on too many books this month given my obligations and last week I could tell, at 4 books on the go, some of them would fall by the wayside.

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Ghost Summer: Stories by Tananarive Due

Sub-genre: short story collection

Overall progress: (31/335) 9%

Release date: September 8th, 2015 by Prime Books

Goodreads

I probably should have started with Tananarive Due but the library wasn’t able to answer my recall request until about week two of the challenge, in which case I was already halfway through four other books. This is definitely a collection I want to finish, as the first story about figurative and literal monsters really had me hooked.

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The Graveyard Apartment by Mariko Koike

Sub-genre: Paranormal (haunting)

Overall progress: (88/325) 27%

Release date: October 11th, 2016 by Thomas Dunne Books

Goodreads

Everything was going swimmingly until I hit a block of some kind. I sort of put this book down two weeks ago and haven’t picked it up since :/ I’d eventually like to finish it, but I don’t think it will be anytime soon, just because I’m not in the right headspace to do it.

Books I Didn’t Get To

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The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

sub-genre: ???

page count: 466 pgs.

release date: May 5th, 2009 by McLelland & Stewart (this edition)

Goodreads

ugh, I’m gutted that I didn’t manage to squeeze this one in but there’s no sense keeping the library book on hold and deny the good people of Vaughan a chance to read it when I can’t. I’ll have to get myself a copy at some point.

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Here is my month dedicated to women in horror. Is there anything I should have read that I didn’t? Have you read the Little Strangers and have thoughts to share? Link or comment below 🙂

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March TBR ~ All Things Non-Horror

February was a crazy ride and I’m happy to have survived it! While I was swinging away at an amazing and eye-opening reading challenge, in my personal life, I was also dealing with midterms, a mental breakdown, an internship that fell through and a new one that came up (all in a matter of 2 and a half weeks!). I also went to see My Favorite Murder, the best “true crime & comedy” podcast around and I went nuts! Hopefully, March will be a month where the only drama that happens to me is in the pages of the books I want to read. This is what’s up for March:

New Acquisitions

Alright, so I know I said that I wouldn’t buy any new books this year until my finances sorted themselves out, but I still had a little bit left on a gift card and I do get a sweet 30% discount at work (#indigoemployee!) HENCE:

13872Geek Love by Katherine Dunn

Genre: literary fiction, drama

Page count: 348 pgs.

Release date: June 11th, 2002, by Random House Vintage (this edition; originally in 1989)

Goodreads

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This Month’s TBR

Last month, I spent the entire time delving into horror fiction written by women. It was both amazing and not so amazing (updates 1, 2, 3, with 4th forthcoming). While I really reeeaaallllyyy love horror, I need a break so this month, I’ve lined up:

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1. In the Land of Penny Gnomes by Wesley T. Allen

2. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

3. Alice Isn’t Dead by Joseph Fink – along with Little Women I received as a gift in early January

4. Geek Love, and as mentioned above, this is a new buy this month

5. The Autobiography of Malcolm X, As Told to Alex Haley

and if I have time, some other stuff I haven’t decided on yet XD

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What are you hoping to read this month? Are there any challenges you hope to participate in? Feel free to link your posts or comment below 🙂

Women in Horror Month – Weekly Update #3

I’m actively involved in this month’s Women in Horror Month (WiHMx) readathon sponsored by @ladiesofhorrorfiction on Instagram. If you want to start at the beginning, feel free to check weekly updates #1 and #2.

Finished

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Broken Monsters by Laure Beukes

Genre: Giallo (gruesome crime), thriller

Total page count: 436 pgs.

Release date: June 16th, 2015 by Mulholland Books

Goodreads

It took me 2 and a half weeks, but I did it! Broken Monsters is an amazing story with a lot of moving parts, told from the varying perspectives of the characters that all eventually come together at the apex. We have Detective Versado, plagued by a series of strange and gruesome deaths involving animal parts. We have Jonno Haim, a journalist new to the city of Detriot, trying to offer up new and fresh insights. There is Versado’s daughter, Layla, trying to catch a predator online and also trying to keep it together as her life continues to become more complicated and dangerous. TK is a homeless man on the streets trying to keep his community safe and then there is the killer himself, falling into madness.

Overall, I loved this book. It is super fun! If you like scripted procedurals like Criminal Minds or Bones, you’ll probably like Broken Monsters. The different narrative perspectives kept things interesting and I was completely enthralled with this criminal case. There are some characters I could have done without because I was mostly just interested in Detective Versado’s hunt for a serial killer but it pays off in the ending when everyone’s fractured account of the events come together to make something whole.

There were some small moments throughout that seemed a little preachy and a little bit obvious in terms of the point that the author was trying to make. For example, there is a lot said about the permanence of information on the internet and what it might mean for youth caught in compromising situations. There’s also some rumination on citizen journalism and homelessness in America. There’s just a lot and while the subtext can speak to these things, I don’t necessarily need the author to offer it up so easily.

rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Still Reading

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The Graveyard Apartment by Mariko Koike

Sub-genre: paranormal (ghosts)

Pages read this week: 10 pgs. 😦 😦 😦

Release date: October 11th, 2016 by Thomas Dunne Books

Goodreads

My interest waned a bit on this one because while there is a lot of cool ambient stuff going on, I’m waiting for things to actually happen.

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Asylum by Madeleine Roux

Sub-genre: paranormal

Pages read this week: 54 pgs.

Release date: August 20th, 2013 by HarperTeen

Goodreads

This book is definitely getting creepier and while it’s meant for a young audience, I find myself avoiding this book at night. The romance is kinda cute and a welcome distraction from the abandoned mental institute-turned-boarding school. Still smell that plot twist but I’m entertained as all heck.

43171106Corvus Hall by Bibiana Krall

Sub-genres: paranormal (haunted house), psychological (paranoia)

Pages read this week: 39 pgs.

Release date: December 6th, 2018 by Black Calyx Books

Goodreads

Yep, your typical haunted castle and prophecy!

Just Started

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Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

Genre: short story collection

Pages read this week: 65 pgs.

Release date: October 3, 2017, by Graywolf Press

Goodreads

Last week I said that the Joyce Carol Oates collection was my favourite so far, but times, they are a-changin’!

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There are still a bunch that I want to get through this upcoming week, while also finishing off the ones I’m still reading. Will I be able to do it, even though I have THREE TESTS AND AN ASSIGNMENT DUE??? Stay tuned…

Are you participating in the readathon this month and if so, how are you progressing? Are there any writers you would recommend? Feel free to comment or link below 🙂

Women in Horror Month – Weekly Update #2

Weekly Update #1

This is a little series I’ve been working on to chart my progress through the WiHMx readathon sponsored by @ladiesofhorrorfiction on Instagram. I’m also participating on Instagram if you are more visually-oriented, but here is the nitty-gritty:

Finished

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DIS MEM BER by Joyce Carol Oates

Sub-genre: short story collection

Page count (in total): 237

Release date: June 6th, 2017 by Mysterious Press

Goodreads

I probably never would have read this book had it not been for the Women in Horror prompt. I only discovered Oates when I researched female writers in the genre, but boy, am I glad I did! The collection resonates with me because this type of horror is female-centric and explores the roles that women are often positioned in, as victim, as witness, as murderer.

DIS MEM BER – A young precocious pre-teen describes her troubling relationship with a distant male family member. The story examines appropriate boundaries, grooming/manipulation, and serial killer red flags everywhere. Oates also nails this feeling that I think permeates the female experience, where girls who are feeling uneasy will sometimes risk acting in their own interest so as not to seem rude to the threatening person.  What results is a feeling of resounding dread that I did not think was even possible in horror fiction.  DIS MEM BER was my favourite story in the entire collection and will probably be my favourite horror story forever. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Crawl space – My second favourite story in the collection that tells the story of a widow who, when invited back into her old family home, is confronted with strange boxes left by her dead husband. Creepy things happen and the ending was a complete surprise to me⭐⭐⭐⭐

Heartbreak – As an unpopular and overshadowed young person, the protagonist Stephanie really resonates with me. Follow her as she acts in a haze and does something she will come to regret. She will change her own fate as well as the relationships she has with her blended family. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

the Drowned Girl – This story focuses on one student’s obsession with the death of another young female student (and bears a surprising resemblance to the Elisa Lam suspicious death case). With the current murder documentary craze, I recognize the narrator in a lot of young women who find themselves engrossed in a specific crime. This does drag a little bit but the morbid nature of the story really speaks to me ⭐⭐⭐&1/2

the Situations – A vague collection of fleeting moments, centered on children travelling the road with their fathers; casual animal violence sprinkled within. I was mostly just confused by this one but others might find it strange and poetic. ⭐⭐

Great Blue Heron – A widow reflects on her life and her natural surroundings after the sudden death of her husband. As her lecherous brother-in-law tries to overpower her will, this woman looks to the great predatorial birds on the marsh in order to harness her own inner power. For the most part, I found this story really slow and sad but I do appreciate that the story explores all of the feelings that emerge during grief work. ⭐⭐⭐

Welcome to Friendly Skies! – a quick, fun satire of airplane safety in economy seating. This one is structured like the flight attendant monologue before take-off and while I’ve ridden on terrible airlines before, nothing rivals Friendly Skies! ⭐⭐⭐1/2

overall: ⭐⭐⭐1/2 out of 5

Still Reading

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Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

Sub-genre: Giallo (gruesome crime)

Pages read this week: 109 pgs.

Release date: September 16th, 2014 by Mulholland Books

Goodreads

Started

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Covus Hall by Bibiana Krall

Sub-genre: Paranormal

Pages read: 14

Release date: December 6, 2018, by Black Calyx Books

Goodreads

 

A1Y36cJ0bsL.jpg The Graveyard Apartment

Sub-genre: Paranormal (ghosts)

Pages read: 78 pgs.

Release date: October 11, 2016 by Thomas Dunne Books

Goodreads

This one seems really promising and features a family who experiences chilling encounters in their new apartment building. Surrounded by a graveyard on two sides, atmosphere is a huge factor in this Japanese ghost story.

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Asylum by Madeleine Roux

sub-genre: YA, paranormal

Pages read: 61 pgs.

Release date: August 20th, 2013 by HarperTeen

Goodreads

So I actually just started reading this one on the bus and I have to say, sometimes I can read YA and enjoy it from my adult perspective and other ones, like this, I have to try to figure out how a younger person would rate this book. The writing is pretty simple, and I’m not sure, but I think I smell a plot twist. Fun or nah? tbh

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So that has been my week! Are you participating in Women in Horror Month? Do you have any recommendations or reading updates you would like to share? Feel free to comment or link below 🙂

 

 

2019’s Reading Challenge

Alright, so I’m relatively new to reading challenges and because of this, I chose a super easy *26 total* reading challenge to complete this year. If you live in Toronto or go to school here, you can become a member of the Toronto Public Library network and compete in this challenge too. Once completed, you […]

Women in Horror Month – Weekly Update #1

I was initially really conflicted about participating because February has traditionally been Black History Month, with increased readership in works written by POC. As you can see here, all of my Women in Horror picks are predominantly written by white women and I’m hoping to focus on female writers of colour in the upcoming weeks. I have a few picks in transit at the library for next week but I would also really appreciate any recommendations you might have!

So, if you haven’t seen this floating around on the internet, Women of Horror Month encourages readers to explore horror fiction written by (you guessed it!) female authors. I was initially going to pass up this amazing opportunity because of other reading engagements but I thought, why not both? Take a look below for my late foray into WiHMx.

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Completed

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Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson

sub-genre: YA, Monster horror (undead zombies)

page count: 305

release date: May 8, 2018, by Razorbill

Goodreads

Okay, so this one might not be horror. It might be YA adventure/mystery but you know, what? Spooky shit happens and I was already reading it, and it’s close enough. It’s also devastating and really nails what it is like to be a teenaged outcast, trying to keep people at a distance to ultimately protect yourself from heartache. Undead girls are pretty cool and fun. I like how they remind me that we can have complete opinions about people we don’t really know but that if we do get the chance to spend time with them, we might realize how sweet, or resourceful, or optimistic they are. My only regret is not reading this book when I was actually in high school because it would have really helped me come to terms with being myself and putting myself out there.

Also, major props for handling death care and grief with nuance and sensitivity *kisses fingers like Italian chef*

5 stars

Started

91kdhbVTbcL.jpgDIS MEM BER by Joyce Carol Oates

sub-genre: short story collection

pages read this week: 196

Goodreads

 

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Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

sub-genre: giallo (crime featuring gruesome murder)

pages read this week: 53 pgs

Goodreads

 

Abandoned

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Bleed Like Me by Azzurra Nox

sub-genre: YA, poetry

release date: February 12th, 2019

total pages read: 105 (DNF at 35%)

Goodreads

Once again, not a blatant horror choice but this collection features dark imagery like death, decay, coffins, bodily harm, etc. This is the first time I DNF an ARC! A lot of this poetry seemed a little too cliche/ too immature for me. I’ve felt heartbreak before and I tried to be in that headspace while considering the pain in these poems but no dice. There are some cool little lines every once in a while but Nox mostly repeats herself and also blames her partner every time for her sadness, which isn’t really cool with me.  There might also be some casual orientalism and ableism in this one…? AND if I didn’t finish this collection, imagine what else is floating around in there. oof.

(A big thank you to the publishers for a free review copy of this book in return for an honest review. Bleed Like Me: Poems for the Broken by Azzurra Nox is available for purchase starting February 12, 2019)

1 star

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That’s my update for week one! If you are interested in participating in this month’s readathon, you can find more information by clicking the logo below:

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If you would like to follow my updates, check back next Friday for week two’s progress!

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What are you reading this month? Do you have any recommendation reads for me? Comment or link below 🙂

January Wrap-Up

Wow, so January felt like forever until it was the 31st, and then it was gone so suddenly! Here is my update for the worst month so far of 2019! Books Read in January Fallen Mountains – Kimi Cunningham Grant ★★★★ A Danger to Herself and Others – Alyssa B. Sheinmel ★★★★ Ripley’s Believe It or […]