All the ghosts were home too: Reviewing Nothing but Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw

Hi everyone! I hope you are all doing well. The weather is finally nice and seem to realize how much more productive I feel during the warmer times of the year. Why do I open up my posts with comments about the weather? I’m bad at conversation, even on the internet. But I don’t let the warm weather stop me from enjoying the thrills and chills that come with a good horror novel. I do have some reviews for longer books in the near future, but I thought I would give you this novella review in the meanwhile. With that being said, let’s talk about Nothing but Blackened Teeth.

A group of young, thrill – seeking friends decided to stay the night at a crumbling Japanese manor. The manor is haunted by a ghost bride and girls sacrificed to keep her company. It’s the perfect place for a wedding. After a night of drinking and eating, nightmarish figures begin to appear, including the ghost bride and she is tired of. being alone…

This was a fairly short novel with just over one hundred pages, but that doesn’t make it any less creepy. Khaw doesn’t hold back on any of the gruesome details that comes with the traditional Japanese folklore in this novella. There is a self – reflective element of this novel that I particularly appreciate when it comes to the horror genre. I do have a particular love for Japanese folklore and wish I could properly pronounce everything in this novel. Even if you don’t know anything about Japanese horror, there are plenty of this in this novel to research. If you are looking for a quick, biting, and exciting horror novel, then I will go ahead and give you my recommendation for this delightfully nightmarish read.

Do you want to drown the world in blood?: Reviewing The Tower of Swallows (Book Four of the Witcher Series) by Andrzej Sapkowski

Hi everyone! I hope you are all doing well. I’ve fallen a little behind in my TBR but you can blame that on a sudden windfall of good streaming content. Does anyone else notice that there are either a ton of good shows out or there’s absolutely nothing good out? Maybe I just watch too many shows, but that is beside the point. I am still determined to read this whole series and my committment has not been shaken. So, let’s talk about the fourth book in The Witcher series.

Despite Geralt’s best efforts, Ciri has seemingly completely vanished. Unbeknowst to Geralt, though, Ciri continues to hone her strength and finds several odd allies along the way. With his own group of allies, Geralt continues to search for Ciri but has his own threats following close behind. He must travel through the Tower of Swallows, where he finds that the fate of the world hangs in the balance.

The problem with high fantasy novels, in my opinion, is that sometimes the world in the novel just gets too weighed down by an excess of characters. That was my main issue with this particular book in the series. When the book was focused on Geralt, Ciri, or Yennefer, it was at its strongest. I do enjoy how Sapkowski crafts these strong action sequences. The world building is truly interesting, but like I said, the pacing is pretty slow at points. So far, this is not my favorite book in The Witcher series but I am still going to dilligently finish this series for my followers.

Hot, Hungry, and Haunting: Reviewing Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo

Hi everyone! I hope you are all doing well. I am coming to you, yet again, writing a review instead of sleeping. I can either read a book in a month or in a day; there is no in-between. I am not sure if I have ever said this before but I am a fan of American Gothic/Southern Gothic literature. It is a very underrated genre, in my personal opinion. When I found Summer Sons while browsing Amazon, I quickly saved it to my list. Now that I have finished the book, it’s time to get spooky (yet again) and talk about it.

Andrew’s life is turned upside down by the apparent suicide of his closest friend, Eddie. Having known each other since childhood, Andrew thought he knew everything about him. That is until Eddie left him abruptly to attend graduate school. Now, Andrew must sift through the remains of his dearest friend’s life, only to discover a horrifying phantom that latches onto him. Desperate to be free of this curse, Andrew recruits Eddie’s enigmatic friends to help him discover the truth behind his death and lay him to rest once and for all.

If you are looking for a book that is part Southern Gothic horror with a touch of dark academia, then look no further than Summer Sons. Maybe I am a bit biased towards this novel because it reminds me of the early seasons of Supernatural (which Mandelo lovingly references), but I loved the way that Mandelo captures the atmosphere and aesthetic that is so crucial to crafting a Southern Gothic novel. Some people may find the attention to detail to be a bit too much, but I enjoyed how visceral this particular version of a haunting was in the novel. What I particularly liked was the way that Mandelo blends together the human elements with interesting drama and the inherent tension of a lurking supernatural threat. I personally would recommend this book if you are looking for a fresh take on the Southern Gothic genre with the welcome addition of LGBTQ+ representation.

Intimacy is About Truth: Reviewing The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Hi everyone! I hope you are all doing well. This review is a bit of a departure for me as this book is typically within my favorite genre, but sometimes you just need to embrace the impulse. Many of you are probably aware that this book has become a darling on BookTok so I will now offer my review of it. Let’s get into The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.

Monique Grant is stuck. Between her stagnant writing career and divorce, she is looking for something pull her out of her slump. Out of the blue, she is approached by the glamorous and enigmatic Evelyn Hugo to write her biography. Together, the two women explore Evelyn’s complicated love life and storied career in Hollywood. It becomes clear to Monique that her and Evelyn’s stories are tied in ways she couldn’t imagine and that this woman will change her life forever.

This was a suprising novel to me for many reasons. First of all, I was expecting something rather explicing and scandalous. Reid, however, takes an honest and emotional look at the complicated lives of celebrities. Evelyn Hugo is a fascinating character to study who is as multi-faceted as a gem. While Monique is mostly in the background, she does bridge the gap between the Golden Age of Hollywood and the world of modern fame. Most importantly, this novel has wonderful LGBTQ+ representation as it explores the complicated lives of those forced to hide their love from the public eye. I was truly captivated by this book. In my opinion, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo defies expectations, which is essential to the overall theme of the book.

Our Kingdom, Our Throne: Reviewing Neon Gods by Katee Robert

Hello everyone! It is allergy season, which means I won’t be able to breathe properly for the next couple of days. That doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a good book (and a spicy one at that). Before I even begin this review, I want to give a heads up that this is a very adult book. If you are under the age of 18, please keep scrolling. I won’t be going into graphic detail, but this book does indeed have rather graphic detail. Now that my PSA is done, let’s get a little spicy and a little mythical with Neon Gods.

Persephone Dimitrou has always been the good girl, Demeter’s obedient daughter. She has always done her best to keep out of the spotlight in the turbulent high society of Olympus. She is thrust into the spotlight when Zeus, the most powerful and dangerous man in Olympus, proposes to her out of nowhere. Fearing for her safety, she flees across the River Styx and right into the arms of Hades, who isn’t supposed to even exist. Wanting to escape her life in Olympus, Persephone and Hades strike a deal with each other to get revenge on Zeus. Soon, the two begin to fall for each other and realize that there is nothing they won’t do to be together, even if it means destroying Olympus itself.

If you are looking for a faithful retelling of the myth of Persephone and Hades, then this might not be the novel for you. Katee Robert does take some creative liberties with Greek mythology in general and, while it initially deterred me a bit, I quickly realized that I actually liked the restructuring that Robert does. Most importantly, I really liked the way that she portrayed Hades and Persephone. I liked the way that their relationship developed into love and trust. It was genuinely sweet. This genuine relationship, plus the spicy love scenes, made them a fantastic couple. I also appreciated that they had healthy communication, which you don’t get much of in adult romance books. If you are looking for something dark, sexy, and rather sweet, (and you are an adult) then definitely read Neon Gods.

Side note: Katee Robert just released the second book in this series that is a retelling of Eros and Psyche. I was initially iffy about the premise but I think I will be giving it a shot now.

Love Makes Monsters Of Us: Reviewing A Dowry of Blood by S.T. Gibson

Hello everyone! I hope everything is going well for you and you all have been reading plenty of good books or watching good movies and/or tv shows. I must be the first to admit that I haven’t entirely left my love for vampires in my tween and teen years. I was very into the Twilight series and The Vampire Diaries series. I was also really into The Mortal Instruments. My mom introduced me to Buffy the Vampire Slayer at a young age. My first R – rated movie was Interview with the Vampire. I fell in love with Bram Stoker’s Dracula in my later teen years, which turned into a love for all things Gothic. Needless to say, I can’t resist a good story about those blood-sucking bastards. Let’s talk about A Dowry of Blood.

Constanta was left to die in the midst of a war when a handsome and dangerous stranger finds her. He turns her into something powerful and beautiful. She becomes a bride to her undying king. Constanta revels in her newfound power until Dracula draws in other brides. They all become entangled in his web of deceit and passion. She begins to realize that her husband is hiding dark secrets that he could use to destroy her. With the help of her fellow consorts, Constanta must find a way to escape from the deeply forged bonds of her unholy marriage.

I certainly enjoyed this novel. Constanta as a narrator is surprisingly human and vulnerable, despite her being a vampire. The novel does not lean so much into the lore as it does focus on the relationships between Dracula and his brides. I personally appreciated that aspect as it helped make the novel all that more immersive. With that being said, this is a book I only recommend to mature readers as there are graphic scenes of both violence and sex. They were very well written, though. It was an enjoyable and rather empowering read. If you are looking for something that is equal parts dark and sexy, then I would recommend giving A Dowry of Blood a read.

A Focused Kind of Madness: Reviewing The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling

Hello everybody! I am here, writing this review, instead of sleeping. I have always been a bit of a night owl anyways. Besides, who among us hasn’t stayed up to finish a good book? I may or may not have mentioned this before but I am actually quite a big fan of horror literature. Weirdly enough, I don’t like horror movies, though. I will happily read gory details but won’t watch anything with blood. I feel like that is a “me” problem, though. Let’s get into my latest spooky read, The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling.

Jane Shoringfield is a practical and quiet young woman with a fascination for numbers who knows the best way to secure her future is through marriage. She approaches the timid Dr. Augustine Lawrence with her unusual proposal for a marriage of convenience. He agrees but with one condition: she must never stay in his family home of Lindridge Hall. Jane agrees, but a freak storm leaves her with no choice but to stay in the crumbling manor. On that night, she has a frightening encounter with Augustine and quickly realizes that he is not the man she thought he would be.

This was a lovely homage to the gothic romances which I have studied over the years. I loved Caitlin Starling’s elegant, yet gruesome, take on the horror genre. The novel slowly becomes something that I absolutely did not expect and I enjoyed every twist and turn. Jane is a captivating heroine who utilizes her strengths in the face of the unknown. Like I said, I loved Starling’s unflinching look at some of the gorier moments of the novels and how they are not just bloody for the sake of blood. With that being said, if you do have a weak stomach then this novel might not be for you. If you are, however, looking for chilling experience then I would definitely recommend The Death of Jane Lawrence.

Yesterday a Dream; Tomorrow Dust: Reviewing Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno – Garcia

Hello everybody! I hope you are all doing well. I’ve been in a better mood lately. I have actually found the motivation to write again, which I haven’t done in a hot minute. Something broke down my writer’s block. I don’t know what but I am not going to question it. Before I start this review, I should mention that I reviewed Mexican Gothic, which is another novel by Silvia Moreno – Garcia. Feel free to check it out if you please. Now, it’s time to talk about Gods of Jade and Shadow.

Casiopea Tun lives a hard life, forced to work for her cruel grandfather and equally cruel cousin. She is certain that she will never be free from her dismal town until curiosity compels her to open a strange wooden chest. In doing so, she unleashes the Lord of Death and inadvertently ties herself to him. Now, Casiopea is on a journey where she must face all kinds of supernatural threats with only her strength and wits.

In the best way, I would describe this novel as a fairy tale for adults. The writing shifted beautifully from the dazzling world of 1920s Mexico to the deep and mysterious Mayan Underworld. You don’t have to be super familiar with Mayan mythology to appreciate the full extent of this novel. As someone with an interest in different mythologies, I did appreciate what I learned from this novel. It is a relatively short read but captures a spell-binding journey through fantastical places. At the heart of it all is a surprising love story. I should also note that Casiopea is a fantastic protagonist. In a way, I found this novel reminiscent of Stardust by Neil Gaiman. I really enjoyed Gods of Jade and Shadow as a fresh take on a classic hero’s journey. I will definitely be looking forward to reading more by Silvia Moreno – Garcia in the future.

Let There be Light: Reviewing The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris

Hello everybody! I have to be up early but I am writing a review instead. Now, I have a soft spot for Loki as a character. Admittedly, it all started with the Marvel movies, but I was lucky enough to take a course on Norse mythology. I now have a newfound love of Norse mythology and definitely want to read more interpretations of it. So let’s talk about The Gospel of Loki.

Loki has been known by many names: the Trickster, Wildfire, Silver-tongue, the Light Bringer. There is much more to him than his tricks and exploits. Told from the point of view of Yours Truly, The Gospel of Loki sheds light on the side of the story that others don’t often hear and there is much more than meets the eye when it comes to the God of Chaos.

This certainly was a fun read. Harris lets Loki’s complex nature shine through in this retelling of classic Norse myths. The narrative is equal parts humorous, thoughtful, and thought – provoking. I really enjoyed Harris’ take on Loki as he was equal parts sympathetic and rather questionable. My biggest gripe with the book was the use of modern terminology. I get why Harris wanted to use modern slang but it just took me out of the narrative. Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is a quick read with a fun twist on familiar stories.

May the Force Be With You: Reviewing The Last Command (Book Three of the Thrawn Trilogy) by Timothy Zahn

Hi everyone! The snow is starting to melt here, but you can’t really trust the weather. I am in a marginally better mood, however, I hope to see some change in my future. I am still very much in the mood for Star Wars after finishing The Book of Boba Fett. I personally enjoyed it quite a bit. A die hard Star Wars fan might disagree with me, though. I digress. Let’s talk about the final book in the Thrawn trilogy.

Grand Admiral Thrawn continues his ruthless attacks against the New Republic with a new weapon at hand: an army of clone troopers. Han Solo and Chewbacca struggle to recruit their fellow smugglers as a last ditch effort to defend against Thrawn’s attacks. Princess Leia must seek out an enemy in the Alliance while also preparing for the birth of her twins. The last hope the New Republic has is in destroying the dark Jedi Master C’baoth and he has only one goal in mind: to bring Luke Skywalker to the dark side or kill him.

This was a pretty satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. My biggest gripe is with the focus on some of the new characters. I personally didn’t get very attached to the some of the new characters that Zahn created but I do respect how these characters helped build the world further. Zahn did do a great job handling the established characters like Luke, Leia, and Han. It felt like a natural progression for them after the original trilogy and they got to have more time to shine. Thrawn is also just a great character to read about. Arguably, he is one of the best Star Wars villains and I would like to see him in live action. I would still recommend this trilogy to any Star Wars fan and I am definitely going to check out more Star Wars novels in the future.