Like a caged beast born of caged beasts: Reviewing Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica

Hello everyone! It is officially October and a chill is in the air. I wanted to kick off spooky season ASAP for you all, so you could settle down with something chilling to read. I am fully committing this year and want to watch a couple of horror movies I have been meaning to get around to for a bit now. I will include a massive trigger warning for this novel before I get into it. I suggest you do some research for yourself, if you so desire. Let’s kick off October with Tender is the Flesh.

Trigger Warning: Violence, Gore, Animal Abuse, Sexual Violence, Derogatory Language

A virus has swept the world, infecting every animal and killing all livestock. In order to prevent starvation, society decided that the only suitable replace for animal livestock would be human livestock. Marcos Tejo makes his living at a processing plant, which he had to take over after his father developed dementia. Marcos is wracked by the guilt caused by his job, still mourning the loss of his infant son, and trying to get his wife back. One day, he is gifted a live female specimen by one of his business partners. Contact with her would result in Marcos being sent to slaughter, but that doesn’t stop him from developing feelings for her. For the first time in a while, Marcos has a sense of hope and may be able to create a better world for the future.

I’d heard amazing reviews of this novel and now I can say that it lived up to expectations. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was getting going into this, but I was shocked and riveted by every page. Bazterrica creates a terrifying introspective narrative that makes you question what it means to be human. The imagery is as gruesome as it is powerful. It was hard to look away from the violence being depicted on the page. It was a truly provocative experience that I want to read again, but will wait as I still have other spooky reads to get into. This novel isn’t for the faint hearts or the weak stomachs, which is what makes it all the more of an unputdownable novel.

To Be the Beginning and the End: Reviewing The Lady of the Lake (Book 5 of The Witcher series) by Andrzej Sapkowski

Hello everybody! Still holding up, I see. Good to hear. If you are not, then I do hope everything improves for you. I hope your books offer you just a modicum of relief from whatever it is you are going through. After this review, I will be moving right along to my horror novels, which I am super excited for. I, however, am still far too invested into the Witcher series and have two novels left before I finish it, which I was honestly not expecting. If you are so inclined, let’s have a chat about the fifth novel in the series, The Lady of the Lake. (Trigger warnings are going to be at the end).

After walking into the Tower of Swallows, Ciri finds herself in a completely different world that exists among many other worlds. As a child of prophecy, she is still being targeted for her powers and must learn to survive in a world that shouldn’t exist and find her way back home. Meanwhile, Geralt is still searching for her, as well as Yennefer, and continues to race to find them before their enemies catch up to them. A war still rages on and the world as they know it will never be the same.

This was probably the most stressful entry to The Witcher series, in my opinion. Sapkowski really knows how to make you wait for the good stuff. The lore goes even deeper than I originally anticipated with this series, though. This installment was particularly head scratching, but it made me read further. The action sequences were also particularly suspenseful and pretty devastating (no spoilers here). I was honestly surprised by how emotional The Lady of the Lake was. I am going to continue to recommend The Witcher series, if you are looking for a compelling fantasy series that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Trigger Warning: Graphic Violence, Sexual Assault, Strong Language, Gore, Drug Usage

Heroes and Villains and the Spaces Between: Reviewing For the Throne (Book 2 of the Wilderwood Series) by Hannah Whitten

Hi everyone! I hope you are enjoying the first days of fall and getting cozy with your favorite books. I have been looking forward to this drop in temperature for way too long now. I am looking forward to my TBR list more than ever before. I have quite a few novellas, if you are interested in quick, spooky reads. Before we get to that, let’s wrap up Hannah Whitten’s Wilderwood duology. (There will be a brief trigger warning at the very bottom if you wish to read it).

After having fought against a horrible darkness, Red and her Wolf have become a part of the Wilderwood and settled into a seemingly happy life. Her sister Neve, however, is trapped in the Shadowlands with Solmir, the man who tried to destroy the Wilderwood. The two set aside their differences, though, as they must destroy the Five Kings before they destroy the world. All the while, Neve and Red are trying desperately to reunite but their reunion might bring more ruin than they can imagine.

I liked the direction that Whitten took this deep, but richly created duology. Honestly, I think this could have made a good trilogy with all of the lore that Whitten packed into these two novels. If you want a high fantasy with a good journey, then this is will probably pique your interest. Neve’s story ended up being far more compelling than I though it would be since she wasn’t overly present in the first novel. While there are two love stories at play (an enemies to lovers one, if you are so interested), it is ultimately a story about familial love, which I greatly appreciated. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I will recommend checking this duology out if a dark adult fantasy (with a little bit of spice) is something you are looking for this fall season.

Trigger Warning: Gore, Violence, Some Strong Language

We are nothing if not absurd: Reviewing Alice Isn’t Dead by Joseph Fink

Hi everyone! I hope you are all still doing well and just enjoying every big or small piece of happiness in your life. Books tend to fit that criteria, at least for me. If you know me, you know I have talked about my love for the Welcome to Night Vale podcast. I have read three books based off of said podcast and co-authored by Joseph Fink, so feel free to check those out. While Alice Isn’t Dead isn’t part of the Night Vale universe, it is a podcast by the some company with a similarly dark and intriguing premise which I highly recommend you check out if you are interested. Let’s talk about its novelization. (I will be putting trigger warnings at the very end of this review, by the way.)

Though Keisha Taylor had her own struggles, she had finally settled into a quiet and comfortable life with her wife, Alice. Alice, though, disappeared while on work trip and was presumed dead, leaving Keisha in a deep depression that she couldn’t seem to escape. Just as she begins to feel herself moving forward with her life, Alice appears, showing up in news stories covering different tragedies. Keisha begins to investigate Alice’s past, which leads her to taking a job as a long haul truck driver. Using her job as a cover, Keisha discovers a dark, hidden secret within the heart of America. Because of this, she finds herself being targeted by a seemingly inhuman serial killer who is trying to stop her as she finds herself in the middle of a war that extends beyond even time and space – all this because of one woman’s sudden disappearance.

Jospeh Fink creates an exciting and bizarre mystery woven together strange sort of comforting nihilism that is fairly common to Night Vale and Night Vale – related pieces of media. Fink does a great job with pacing and changing the perspective while keeping true to the heart of the story: a hopeful, but tragic tale of love. I am normally not a huge fan of road trip stories, but I loved the way that Alice Isn’t Dead had this fantastically dark atmosphere overlaying the journey. If you are American and/or have taken a road trip through America, then you will definitely appreciate the way this novel highlights those weird sights that catch your eye as you travel. Even if you are not American nor have travelled here, Fink does a great job capturing the unsettling atmosphere of manufactured towns. This is definitely just creepy and thrilling enough to be a good read for spooky season but I would recommend Alice Isn’t Dead all year round.

Trigger Warnings: Violence, Gore, Racism and mentions of racism, Graphic Death, Strong Language

Do You Ever Feel Haunted?: Reviewing Borne by Jeff Vandermeer

Hi everyone! I hope you are all still doing as well as the last time you found one of my blogs. I am still impatiently waiting the arrival of autumn because I am sick and tired of being hot all the time. I’m over it. I need hoodie/sweater season to begin already. September is still young and there is still plenty of opportunity left in the year. Let’s discuss Borne by Jeff Vandermeer.

The world is in ruins ever since the Company created a massive, monstrous ursine creature called Mord. Among those ruins lives Rachel, a young scavenger just trying to survive, and her lover, Wick, who remains a mystery to her. One day, while scavenging in Mord’s wake, she stumbles across a strange creature she decides to take home. The creature, who she names Borne, begins to grow and evolve at a rapid pace. With no discernible shape or origin, Borne relies on Rachel to guide him and Rachel finds herself growing protective over this odd being. As Borne grows, though, Rachel fears he might be a danger to himself and the world around him. As a new force threatens to invade Rachel and Wick’s safe haven, she must make critical choices and the consequences will change her reality.

This is not my first time reading a Jeff Vandermeer novel. (Feel free to read my review of Annihilation if you wish). I find the way he portrays the power of nature to be fascinating and Borne was an interesting portrayal of an “eco-apocalypse.” Rachel served as an insightful narrator who helped to further enhance the strangeness and horror of the aftermath of man trying to mess with the balance of nature. Her relationship with Borne is as sweet as it is complicated. I liked how Vandermeer didn’t try to “uncomplicated” issues of people trying to control nature. His narrative is certainly thought provoking and it kept me interested through the whole novel. Though I am not usually a fan of apocalypse stories, I think Vandermeer breathes a breath of fresh air into the genre. If you want some eco-centric sci-fi, then you should definitely check out Borne.

Blood and Roots and Magic: Reviewing The Inheritance of Orquidea Divina by Zoraida Cordova

Hello everyone! Wow, I am on a roll with these books. It’s nice not being so mentally exhausted all the freaking time. I am not perfect, though, and like to re-watch my favorite shows far too often. That doesn’t stop me from powering through my TBR pile. Without further ado, let’s talk about The Inheritance of Orquidea Divina.

The Montoya family is used to magic and not knowing where it comes from. It provided them a good life but also created rifts. When their mysterious matriarch, Orquidea, tells them to come to collect their inheritance, they find her being transformed into a tree. She leaves them with mysterious gifts with no further explanation. Seven years after Orquidea’s transformation, cousins Marimar, Rey, and Rhiannon, find themselves in danger as a mysterious figure is seemingly hunting them down for their gifts. Determined to learn the truth, they decide to travel to Ecuador to find what their grandmother left behind and it will change their lives forever.

I went into this book blind and enjoyed what I found inside. Zoraida Cordova crafts a fast-paced, magical, and touching story of a family being reunited after a tragedy. I thought the magic was portrayed beautifully and the mystery of the plot kept me intrigued. I wouldn’t exactly call this book a mystery novel, but it definitely has that exciting quality, while not losing its heart to thrills. It is a relatively short novel, but it is certainly impactful. If you are looking for magical realism or a story about family bonds, then I would go ahead and read this one because it has everything and then some.

Nature Does Not Make Leaps: Reviewing The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno – Garcia

Hello everyone! I hope you are all getting through your TBR pile as I am. I am not going to ramble on for too long as I stayed up far too late to finish this review. If you are interested, I have reviewed two other books by Silvia Moreno – Garcia, so you are welcome to check those out. Let’s talk about her latest novel, The Daughter of Doctor Moreau, a retelling of H.G. Well’s The Island of Doctor Moreau.

Carlota Moreau lives an idyllic life on a beautiful estate in the Yucatan peninsula. Under the guidance of her eccentric yet brilliant father, Carlota studies diligently and prays constantly. She is not alone on this island as she lives alongside her father’s creations: half-animal, half-human hybrids who were created to be workers. With the assistance of Montgomery Laughton, an Englishman with a dark past, their little community exists in harmony. Everything is upended when Eduardo Lizalde, the son of Moreau’s patron, comes bearing news of his father’s frustrations at Moreau’s lack of progress. Soon, secrets are brought to light that force Carlota to confront the horrifying truth about her father. Now, with the help of Montgomery and the hybrids, Carlota must take a stand and fight to protect everything she holds dear.

I really enjoyed Silvia Moreno – Garcia’s take on this rather classic tale of man trying to control nature, only to have nature fight back in some way. I appreciated the carefully woven motifs about rebellion and what family truly is. The characters are complex and seem to move through the story of their own volition. I also appreciated the feminist undertones woven throughout the novel. Moreno – Garcia does an excellent job with character development, which has been my favorite thing about her novels. If you want a novel that harkens back to classic sci-fi while also putting a new spin on the genre, then I would definitely recommend giving this novel a read. (Read her other books too. They’re really good)

True Love Isn’t Always Diplomatic: Reviewing Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Hey everyone! I hope we’re all enjoying the final cool August days before the cold creeps in and I can finally pull out my Halloween decorations. Now, this is a review that is definitely out of genre, but I am nothing if not fairly adventurous when it comes to reading. As long as it is within fiction’s realm, I will try it. Now, I’m sure a good majority of you are at least somewhat familiar with this particular book as it has been making its rounds on Book Tok, Tumblr, Instagram, etc. I tried to read this one a while ago but couldn’t quite get into it. Without further ado, let’s talk about Red, White, and Royal Blue.

Alex Claremont – Diaz has a lot on his shoulders. As the son of the first female President of the United States, Alex is certain that he will follow a clear path into politics using his smarts and charm. Everything is thrown into chaos when he and the infuriatingly handsome and arrogant Prince Henry of Wales get into an “incident” that leads to the destruction of a $7,000 wedding cake. In an attempt to do damage control, the two are sent on a tour to parade their fake friendship. Soon, though, Alex begins to see past Henry’s facade and the two begin to fall for each other. With Alex’s mom’s reelection on the horizon, he and Henry must carefully navigate their budding romance. With everything at stake, the two must decide how much they are willing to risk for their whirlwind romance.

I’m not going to lie: I was a little nervous that this book was going to read too much like fan fiction. I am pleased to say that I was wrong and this was a very cute little romance. It’s just cheesy enough with a nice dash of idealism. Henry and Alex have a relationship that you can cheer for from beginning to end. I can always appreciate a well-rounded romance with a nice touch of passion. It was also much spicier than I anticipated, so if you’re under 18, go find another book. (It wasn’t graphic btw). This is a perfectly sweet book if you just need something light and charming to read. I would say go ahead and give this one a chance if you need a good enemies-to-lovers story.

The Dead Don’t Walk: Reviewing What Moves The Dead by T. Kingfisher

Hi everyone! Hope you’re all good today and in the subsequent days. I am officially just vibe-ing with life right now. Everything has officially settled in and I’m in a better place than I have been in a moment. Now that I have used my good vibes, I shall send them your way if you need them. Enough with this sappy talk because it’s time to get spooky once again. I’m trying to get through the novellas in my TBR pile so I have something to give you all while I work through the longer books. One day, I am going to commit to a really long book but that is for another day. Now, let’s talk about What Moves The Dead.

Alex Easton, a retired lieutenant, decides to visit his childhood friend and fellow soldier, Roderick Usher, after receiving a concerning letter from Roderick’s sister and Alex’s other dear friend, Madeline. Upon arriving at the crumbling manor, Alex realizes that something is deeply wrong with the towering structure and its occupants. In the surrounding woods, the lakes glow, the wildlife act possessed, and a strange fungus keeps appearing nearly everywhere. With Roderick seemingly going mad and Madeline sleepwalking, Alex teams up with an American doctor and British mycologist to get to the root of the problem, only to find something deadly in the House of Usher.

Being a big fan of Edgar Allan Poe, I was drawn to Kingfisher’s adaptation of “The Fall of the House of Usher.” That story is already creepy in and of itself so I was genuinely surprised when Kingfisher finds a way to make it creepier. What Moves The Dead is a well-paced and chilling novella with plenty of mystery and a touch of body horror. There’s plenty of mystery with a touch of body horror. You have been warned if you have any fears or phobias relating to nature. It was a delightfully chilling read that reminded me of why I love Poe’s original writings so much. I would definitely recommend this if you are looking for a quick and spine-tingling read that is sure to get you in the mood for all things spooky.

Winner Takes All: Reviewing Wicked Beauty by Katee Robert

Hi everyone! I hope you are all still doing well. My TBR list has not gotten any shorter and I don’t intend to stop reading any time soon. I’m still having a tough time finding certain books on my never-ending list of books I eventually want to read. I don’t know about the rest of you but I have a list in my Notes app that’s just books I want to get around to reading. Alright, enough rambling from me. You saw the author and knew it was going to be spicy, so let’s get spicy with the third installment in Katee Robert’s Dark Olympus series. (This book is for mature audiences who are 18 or older. If you are not 18 or older, feel free to check out any other number of reviews I have on my blog).

The ultra – modern city of Olympus is as cutthroat as ever and change is in the air. The title of Ares is up for grabs and a competition will be held to decide who is worthy to take up this crucial position. Having come up from nothing, Achilles Kallis is determined to claw his way into the inner circle of the Thirteen. With his brilliant partner, Patroclus Fotos at his side, Achilles feels certain that he will become Ares. Everything is thrown into chaos when Helen Kasios, the most beautiful woman in Olympus, decides to enter the competition. Sick and tired of being treated as an object, Helen is also fiercely determined to prove everyone wrong. As the competition heats up, Achilles and Patroclus decide to form an alliance with Helen. The three soon finds themselves in a complicated position as emotions run high and danger lurks around every corner.

What sets this novel apart from the other books in Katee Robert’s Dark Olympus series is that the stakes are high all the way through. While the other two were more about the relationships, this one focuses a bit more on the circumstances surrounding the relationship at the heart of this book. I had never read a “throuple” romance so I was a little nervous going into this but there was plenty of balance to be found between Achilles, Patroclus, and Helen. It was certainly spicy in all of the best ways and that is really what you read these books for. I will say that this one is the least accurate to the mythology it is based on, so if you want accuracy then I would recommend the other two books. I personally enjoyed the many action scenes in the book and the way that they alluded to The Illiad. I’m still enjoying this series and would recommend this one if you are still looking for an extra steamy novel with plenty of high stakes.