The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

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This is the story of a governess who, upon taking charge of two young children, finds herself worrying that something malevolent is after them. She begins to fear that two deceased former employees are haunting the house.

I’ve read this creepy little story before, but it’s been quite a while, so I figured the time was ripe for a reread. I’m pleased to report that it’s just as eerie the second time around as it was the first.

While the pacing is excellent, building tension slowly, it’s the uncertainty of everything that stands out to me. Are the children really haunted, or is it all the product of the governess’ imagination? I love that it’s up to the reader to decide.

The characters are surprisingly well-developed, considering the shortness of the story. At barely over a hundred pages, this is easily read in a day. It’ll take a lot longer to mull over, though.

I quite enjoyed this spooky tale. If you haven’t read it yet, it’s worth giving a go. Henry James is a fantastic author, and this story is engaging and thought-provoking.

If you’ve read this book, what was your takeaway? Were the hauntings really there? Was the governess hallucinating?

The Unicorn Anthology by Peter S. Beagle and Jacob Weisman- Buddy Read

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Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This book is available now.

When I was in second grade, my school class would go to the school library once a week. There was collection of short stories about unicorns that myself and another girl would race to check out first. If she got to it before me, I’d give her a good -natured scowl. But if someone from another class checked the collection out before either of us, we were both united in our thirst for revenge.

So, I was waxing nostalgic when I started this anthology, full of hope that it would be as enjoyable as the other one was. Sadly, it was not. It was ten types of terrible. The stories ranged from forgettable and a bit disappointing, to flat-out disturbing. There was one in particular that had an icky Stockholm Syndrome story line, which was incredibly upsetting.

I felt that these stories were all written with the intent to be edgy and dark. Gone was the sense of wonder and fun that I expect in anything involving unicorns. It was all death, doom, and destruction, with a bit of boredom thrown in for good measure.

While the mechanics of the stories were all solid, I was ultimately very disappointed by what the authors chose to write. I read this book and discussed it with Beth from Before We Go. Check her post out! And, maybe skip this book and look for something less disappointing.

Fowl Language: Winging It by Brian Gordon- ARC Review

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The world’s finest parenting cartoon featuring ducks presents a comprehensive view of the early parenting years in all of their maddening cuteness and sanity-depriving chaos. In addition to dozens of previously unpublished cartoons, Fowl Language: Winging It is organized into 12 thematic chapters—including “Babies: Oh Dear God, What Have We Done?”; “Siblings: Best Frenemies Forever”; and “Sleep: Everybody Needs It, Nobody’s Gettin’ It”—each of which begins with a hilarious, illustrated 500-word essay. (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book, in exchange for my honest opinion. It will be available to purchase on October twenty second.

Who knew that it would be possible for me to relate so much to a duck? I struggle with reading graphic novels, but I love a good web comic. Back in the day, I used to read Penny Arcade, and comics along those lines. Then, one fated night, long after the cranky baby should have been sleeping, while surfing Facebook in an effort to stay awake myself, I stumbled across two panels of parental hilarity. Finally, someone got it. Being a parent is amazing, a miracle, and I love every moment of it…except the moments that I loathe.

Those times that everyone who’s well-rested claim I’ll look back on fondly? Yeah. This author nails my mixed feelings on those perfectly. The painful struggle that is toilet training? That’s in here too. That moment when I tear up because my oldest isn’t little anymore and why is he growing so freaking fast? Yep, this fowl little parent understands.

This collection of parenting comics is fabulous. If you’ve ever experienced the joys and trials of parenting, especially if you’re in the trenches now and need a little tongue-in-cheek humor, this book is for you.

Be aware that this fowl is a bit foul. He’s also funny and very real. Parents: pick this book up. When you’re done laughing, you’ll thank me.

Being Sherlock: A Sherlockian’s Stroll Through the Best Sherlock Holmes Story by Ashley D. Polasek- ARC Review

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Being Sherlock shares the best collection of Sherlock Holmes stories fans have never had, until now. Shared by Sherlockian Ashley D. Polasek, she nimbly sets the stage for each story and shares interesting Sherlockian tidbits about the incredible evolution of this iconic character. Famous former and current Sherlocks include: William Gillette, Basil Rathbone, Christopher Lee, John Cleese, Robert Downey Jr., Sir Ian McKellen, and Benedict Cumberbatch among others. Featuring lesser-known photography and behind the scene shots, this book is for every Sherlock Holmes fan bookshelf. Unlike other Sherlockian guides, this book attempts to answer why the Sherlock narrative is so popular and decree the best and worst representations. (taken from Amazon)

                            I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion. This will be available on October first.

For those who don’t have the dubious pleasure of knowing me personally, let me say: I love Sherlock Holmes. I have read the Complete Sherlock Holmes multiple times. I’ve  enjoyed many different works in the Holmes pastiche, including (but not limited to) Mycroft Holmes by Kareem Abdul-Jabaar and Anna Waterhouse, the Charlotte Holmes books by Brittany Cavallaro, and The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

This book is a superb addition to the list of Sherlockian books. It added a new angle to the lore and many iterations of Conan Doyle’s famous detective that have sprung from his original works.

I loved the addition of the photos and the author’s viewpoints, as well as her reasoning behind what she included in the book. She points out aspects of Conan Doyle’s writing that I’ve taken for granted up until now. It’s given me an even greater appreciation of the genius of his writing.

My only suggestion would be to read the full original works before picking up this book, simply because it will cause you to appreciate this introspective stroll through Sherlock even more. If you love Holmes, this book is for you.

The Whispered Tales of Graves Grove by J.S. Bailey, Mackenzie Flohr, Elise Manion, D.M. Kilgore, et al- ARC Review

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Graves Grove isn’t your ordinary town…

Nestled within the folds of the Canadian Rockies, Graves Grove probably isn’t the picturesque place you’d like to stay for long. Peculiar things happen here. The citizens seem normal superficially—they function well enough. But each one is deeply disturbed, wrapped in secrets and neuroses which drive them to strange behaviors.

And then there are all the missing children. And why is everyone afraid of that sycamore tree?

The Whispered Tales of Graves Grove is an anthology of stories taking place throughout the history of this mysterious town, from its founding to its future. Read them…if you dare. (taken from Amazon)

                    This book was provided by Netgalley, in exchange for my honest opinion. It will be available on October thirteenth.

If Twin Peaks had a more horror-based neighboring town, Graves Grove would be it. Bizarre and creeptastic, this shiver-inducing collection of short stories is a blast to read. I love reading stories that have a common thread, but still showcase each author’s individual style. That’s what this collection did: while all the tales were part of a larger narrative, each one was individualistic and creative.

There were many stories that I loved, and just a few that were “meh”. A couple of them mentioned fairies which didn’t seem to jive with the rest of the book, but they were still interesting even though they felt a bit disjointed.

I loved Where’s Matheson Lam and The Flash in particular. The both left me with that feeling of what if?, which is so much fun in supernatural and horror books. I also loved that there’s a distinct lack of over-the-top gore.

This book collection was a lot of fun. I highly recommend it.

A Midnight Clear by Sam Hooker; Seven Jane; Alcy Levya; Laura Morrison; Dalena Storm; Cassondra Windwalker- ARC Review

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Six stories of not-so-merry Yuletide whimsy from the authors of Black Spot Books.A woman so cold she hardens to ice on a winter’s eve. Risen from his grave before his time, a winter god alters the balance between seasons. A wolf’s holiday season is interrupted by a strange curse. From a murder at the Stanley Hotel to demons of Christmas past, present, and future, and a mad elf and Santa’s Candy Court, the authors of Black Spot Books share their love for winter holidays in this collection of dark winter tales, destined to chill your bones and warm your heart for the Yuletide season. (taken from Amazon)

            This book was provided by Netgalley, in exchange for my honest opinion. This will be available on November fifth.

This collection of stories was full of dark humor, and more than a bit of creepiness, taking the usual Christmas cheer and turning it upside down. This collection would be as easily at home during Halloween as Christmas. Some of the stories hit the mark better than others, in my opinion. It’s a solid collection, but nothing to write home about.

There were two that stood out to me: The Dauntless, in which Snickerdoodle the elf has to defend Gumdrop (another elf) from murder charges. Yep, you read that right. It was odd and funny, and I couldn’t stop snickering every time I thought of a lawyer named “Snickerdoodle”.

My favorite story was The Poetry of Snow and Stars. I thought it highly entertaining that it takes place at the hotel from The Shining. The writing in this one was strong, and it was quite evident that the author, Cassondra Windwalker, was fully confident in her writing ability. There wasn’t a false step in her writing.

While obviously not written for everyone, this book would be a great Christmas gift for anyone who likes their holiday with a hint of the macabre.

Fairy Tales for Fearless Girls by Anita Ganeri- ARC Review

This inspiring collection of 15 stories from around the world showcases narratives that celebrate strong, independent women. These heroines aren’t reduced to being wives or witches! They run free and possess the qualities we would hope for in our daughters and friends: self-confidence, strength, wits, courage, fearlessness, and independence. They live freely, happily ever after, without restraint or narrowly defined roles. (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book, in exchange for my honest opinion.

I adore fairy tales. I grew up on them, and firmly believe that you’re never to old for them. So, of course I was excited to read this collection. Some of the stories I already knew, such as Feng Mian, the Head of the Family, but many were new to me.

Alas, while I liked this book, I didn’t love it. I think the reason I enjoyed it but don’t feel the urge to gush is simply the arrangement of the stories in the book. The first two or three are incredibly similar, which diminished my enjoyment a bit. If they’d been spread out among other, different types of tales, I would have liked each one much better.

There were a few tales that I felt were much more interesting than others: Unanana and the Elephant being one. It follows a mom, first of all, and she’s both clever and determined. I could relate to her willingness to do anything to protect her kids. I also really liked Tatterhood and Dacia, which teaches a lesson about the importance of personality over looks.

Where this book really shines is in the gorgeous illustrations. After I finished the book, I went back through just to see them again. Khoa Le captured the feel of each story in a fascinating and original way.

Even though I didn’t love it, this book is still a worthy addition to any fairy tale collection.

Ghosts of the Shadow Market- Cassandra Clare

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                                             **Spoilers for previous books**

Phew! I’m breathing a giant sigh of relief here: after the disaster that was Queen of Air and Darkness, I was nervous to read any more books in the Shadowhunter world. Thankfully, both The Red Scrolls of Magic and Ghosts of the Shadow Market were much, much better.

This series is a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. It contains pretty much every trope that I usually despise, but I love the world anyway. Plus…Magnus! He’s absolutely fantastic. While he’s in a few of these short stories, the collection is mainly told from Jem’s perspective, as he slips in and out of the various narratives throughout the books’ timelines. It’s a very clever way to cover a large expanse of story line.

I enjoyed all the stories in this collection, with the exception of the last one. I didn’t love that one simply because it continues where Queen of Air and Darkness left off and that was such a disappointment for me.

I have a few favorites, of course. I loved Learn About Loss, and the beginning of the lost Herondale storyline. The idea of a carnival covering up faerie mischief- and mischief of a more demonic nature- was a lot of fun to read about. Plus, having Jem interact with another character showed both his removal from human emotion, as well as his desire to hold onto what makes him human.

Son of the Dawn was also fantastic. This one tells the tale of Jem’s encounter with a very young Jace. He sees underneath the arrogance and self-possession to the scared child beneath. This was a wonderful pre-City of Bones introduction to Jace, as well as a window into his early relationship with Isabelle, Alec, and Mayrse.

Through Blood, Through Fire is quite possibly my favorite story in this collection. This one is actually told from Alec’s perspective, although Jem makes an appearance. It highlights both Alec’s strength and compassion, gives the origin of little Rafe, and has a story line that is, sadly, relevant in our world today. It was beautifully told.

This book is a worthy addition to the Shadowhunter books. Enjoy!

Have you read Ghosts of the Shadow Market? What did you think?

Between Worlds: Folktales of Britain and Ireland by Kevin Crossley -Holland- ARC Review

Rich and strange, these eerie and magical folktales from across Britain and Ireland have been passed down from generation to generation, and are gathered together in a definitive new collection from the master storyteller and winner of the Carnegie Medal, Kevin Crossley-Holland. Dark and funny, lyrical and earthy, these fifty stories are part of an important and enduring historical tradition that dates back hundreds of years. Described by Neil Gaiman as the “master”, Crossley-Holland’s unforgettable retellings will capture the imagination of readers young and old alike. (taken from Amazon)

                     Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this, in exchange for my honest opinion. This will be available to purchase on October 8th.

This is the sort of book I love. I’m a huge fan of fairy stories and folktales, especially those from Ireland. They’re rich and magical. So, I went into this with the expectation that I’d enjoy it. And I did, indeed.

This is a very well-rounded collection. There were some stories that I’d already heard versions of, such as Tom-Tit-Tom, but also many that I hadn’t. The book was divided into different sections, based on the type of story was being told. For example, one section was devoted to Tricksters and Fools.

This book had it all. I’m a sucker for fairies, and there were fairies galore. And changelings; boggarts; giants! Everything my fantasy-loving heart could desire. They were told with great care taken to ensure the integrity of the way the stories were originally told. It was wonderful. I was reminded of the stories I read when I was young that made me fall in love with fantasy of all kind.

If you enjoy fairy tales, or fantasy of any kind, this is one to add to your collection.

The Big Book of Classic Fantasy edited by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer- ARC Review


Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion.  This will be available to purchase on July second.

In case it isn’t painfully obvious based on my other blog posts, I love fantasy of every kind. I was so excited to delve into this collection of stories, some that are well-known to me, and many others that I read for the first time.

And let me tell you; this selection is vast. The editors went through a ton of effort to gather a varied representation of an enormous genre. There were the usual culprits: the Bros. Grimm, Tolkein, Hans Christian Andersen. It was great to see them all gathered in one place. But what makes this book stand out are the surprising contributions: Louisa May Alcott, Tolstoy, and even Kafka made appearances.

I loved that there are stories from all over the world. It was fantastic to see the differences- and similarities- between the fantastical tales. It took me longer than I expected to finish this book, simply because there’s so much to digest and I didn’t want to rush it. This is a book to be savored, one that I would recommend owning so that you can return to it time and again.
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