Blogmas #7: Favourite 2019 Books Part 2

Blogmas #7Welcome to the second part of my favourite books of 2019! As explained in Part One, these aren’t books published this year, but books I’ve read this year, with one book picked from each month, and a note of other books I read that month so you can see what it was stacked up against. There will also be links to my reviews, so if any catch your eye, go check them out. As this is July – December, there will also be links to my reviews over at Dead Head Reviews, which if you’re a horror fan, is definitely a website you need to check out.

And onto part two! Enjoy.

July

spin the dawnSpin the Dawn – Elizabeth Lim

My Review

I only read three books this month, but the choice was really difficult, as I read both Spin the Dawn and Circe in July. In the end, I decided to go for Elizabeth Lim’s debut novel, a retelling of Mulan that weaves in some fantastic elements and beautiful imagery, and just absolutely swept me off my feet. This book is fantastic, and I really can’t wait for the sequel. Definitely check it out if you haven’t already.

Also Read This Month: Circe, Hysteria: The Biography

August

nos4r2.jpgNOS4R2 – Joe Hill

My Review

This is the month where I started reviewing for Dead Head Reviews, and therefore read a lot of horror. But NOS4R2 deserves a mention, because it’s a downright creepy, eerie read, with a creepy antagonist obsessed with Christmas, and a young woman desperately trying to understand her own abilities. It’s almost like X-Men meets Stephen King. That car, the Christmas songs, the way the protagonist questions her own mind and no one around actually believes her, it all adds up to a brilliant, if hefty, read.

Also Read This Month: Rose, The Blade Itself, The Deal Maker, Kakorrhaphiophobia

September

black rainbow.jpgBlack Rainbow – Edited By Scott Savino

My Review

This was a very difficult month, and my choice really came down to this, Midnight in the Graveyard, and Grind Your Bones to Dust, but Black Rainbow was pure gold. An LGBT horror anthology, the stories contained within it are unique and fresh, bringing new voices to the horror genre and giving us some excellent stories. Check it out – you really won’t be disappointed.

Also Read This Month: Carmilla, Mr Deadman Made Me Do It, Dangerous Women Part 1, Grind Your Bones to Dust, The Town That Feared Dusk, Fevre Dream, Midnight in the Graveyard

October

whispersWhispers in the Dark – Laurel Hightower

My Review

Another tough month. Basically, since I started reviewing for Dead Head Reviews, I’ve read some amazing horror novels, but Whispers in the Dark is one of my favourites I’ve read this year, let alone in just October. It’s a fantastic, gripping, haunting read, and I’m keen to see what Laurel Hightower gives readers next.

Also Read This Month: A Parallel Abyss, The Tunnellers, Under My Hat, In the Scrape

November

a curse so darkA Curse So Dark and Lonely – Brigid Kemmerer

My Review

This was the hardest month yet, as somehow I managed to read nine books. Considering I didn’t read for a few days as I was away, I’m kind of amazed at myself. But not only was it nine books read, the majority of them were really, really good. Still, I’m going to put this at the top of my favourites for this month. Just something about this Beauty and the Beast retelling really captivated me, and it helped me heal after finishing Queen of Nothing. A fantastic book, and I can’t wait for the sequel.

Also Read This Month: The Devil’s Apprentice, The Sea Was a Fair Master, A World of Horror, Esme’s Wish, Let It Go, Dear Laura, The Queen of Nothing, Various States of Decay

December

TBD

I’ve only finished two books this month so far, so I won’t make any decisions on December yet. Expect an update post from me later in the month!

 

So there we have it! Twelve favourites across two posts. And you really can tell when I started reviewing for Dead Head Reviews, can’t you? For reading, it’s been a really good year for me so far, with some fantastic books, new-to-me authors, a few old favourites and some debuts that absolutely blew me away. Let’s hope this trend of reading great books continues into 2020!

Blogtober Day Ten: Spooky TBR Update

Blogtober Day Ten

Day One: Spooky TBR    /   Day Two: October Releases    /   Day Three: Bookish Autumn Bucket List    /   Day Four: Perfect Cosy Reading Nook    /   Day Five: Top 5 Disney Villains    /   Day Six: Strong Woman Horror Trope    /   Day Seven: Reading Snacks    /   Day Eight: 5 Autumn Reads    /   Day Nine: Vampires and Werewolves

Challenge List – Anniek’s Library 

Another one I’ve amended slightly – day ten on the list is Reading Challenge update, but I don’t tend to do reading challenges, so I thought I could take a look and see how things are going with the books I mentioned in my first Blogtober post.

The first book mentioned in the post was Under My Hat, an anthology featuring some of under my hatthe leading names in fantasy, all based around witches. I am currently just a few short pages away from finishing it. And it’s really, really good. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading this one, and there are definitely some authors I’ll be checking out more from in the future.

The other book I was reading at the start of October was Laurel Hightower’s fantastic, eerie Whispers in the Dark. I finished that, and you can find my review (as well as an interview with the author) on Dead Head Reviews. You can also see more of my thoughts on thewhispers book, especially in relation to the trope of the strong female, in the Day Six post.

The other books I mentioned wanting to read were –

The Sea Was A Fair Master – Calvin Demmer

Danse Macabre – Stephen King

World Of Horror Anthology

Dear Laura – Gemma Amor

And, oops, I’ve not actually got to any of them yet! After Whispers, I ended up reading The Tunnelers by Geoff Gander and A Parallel Abyss by Kat Wicks (links included to reviews on Dead Head). I’m currently in the midst of In the Scrape, by James Newman and Mark Steensland. It really is a fantastic book, and it’s completely and utterly sucked me in!

With Dear Laura specifically, it’s just a nice, slim book, I’m tempted to save it for my upcoming Disney trip, as it’ll fit in nicely to my bag, so I might not actually get to that one until November. But we’ll see.

I kind of veered away from my Spooky TBR, but I’ve still read a lot this month! If you’re participating in a reading challenge for October, how are you getting along? Or have you made a dent in your own spooky TBRs?

blogtober

Blogtober Day Six: The Strong Woman Horror Trope

Blogtober Day Six (1).pngDay One: Spooky TBR    /   Day Two: October Releases    /   Day Three: Bookish Autumn Bucket List    /   Day Four: Perfect Cosy Reading Nook    /   Day Five: Top 5 Disney Villains

Challenge List – Anniek’s Library 

The challenge list has today as ‘Spooky Middlegrade’, but I don’t read much Middlegrade, so I thought I’d go for something a bit different instead, and talk briefly about a particular trope in horror.

This trope is tricky. It’s great to see women out there kicking ass, but at some point they sort of all blended into the same person – paranormal/urban fantasy, to me, feels particularly guilty of this. Women who have all the vampires and werewolves fawning over them, or in less fantasy-based horror, all the men, anyway, but who push them away, and push them away, and push them away until at some point they succumb to the seduction. Which is fine, but all too often these women have no families, either parents, partners or dependants, and the sense is the men around them make them who they are.

This sometimes comes with a ‘Gifted’ element. Sookie Stackhouse doesn’t fall into the ‘strong woman’ trope (honestly, it made her kind of refreshing) but she is ‘Gifted’ in that she can read minds. But take Anita Blake – works for the police, constantly competing against men to prove herself, can raise the dead and, in later novels, uses the power of sex to save the day. I loved the first Anita Blake novels, but somewhere close to the 20th I started to lose interest.

There are a few elements that can be combined for the ‘strong woman’ trope. Usually has a ‘masculine’ job, retains their femininity mostly in their looks, has to prove themselves to the men around them – it’s like the Final Girl, all grown up. Adding in the Gifted element can sometimes work, though it really depends.

The trope definitely feels like it came about to try and give women more agency in genres where they didn’t always have it before. It is a good thing, and it’s always great to see women really kicking ass, but sometimes the whole tough-chick-no-emotions thing can make these women feel unrealistic, and it can fall flat, making it feel like cookie cutter Lara Croft, Ellen Ripley, or Buffy.

However, there are two recent books that present strong women in a different way, taking the trope and really adding to it, ensuring the characters don’t feel like ones we’ve read before. They are also two books I will not shut up about so yes this is a chance for me to rave about them some more.

Faith York – The Festering Ones, S.H. Cooper

the festering onesFaith York is a really interesting character, one who witnessed something awful in her childhood and revisits it, years later. The novella focuses on Faith, but as she unravels the mystery surrounding the strange monsters who killed her father, she sort of collects other women, who journey with her to rescue their own loved ones. Faith might not be a police officer, or military, or be involved in a masculine job like other women of this trope, but there’s no doubt she’s strong. And she really connects with the other women, rather than pushing them away, sympathising with them. All too often, with ‘strong women’ characters, we see them set against other women, showing how they’re totally different and other women – who perhaps enjoy dresses and makeup, shock horror – are all catty and out to get one another. The Festering Ones doesn’t have any of this, just a group of women uniting to tackle an evil they barely comprehend.

Rose McFarland – Whispers in the Dark, Laurel Hightower

whispersOn the surface, Rose fits nicely into this trope. She’s a S.W.A.T sniper, used to taking people’s lives, and can come across as cold and unemotional. She has a tragic backstory, and is Gifted. But where Rose differs from most others is in her attitude and the way she treats people around her. Rose is scarred, deeply, from the fire in her home as a teenager. But when the men in her life call her beautiful, she doesn’t spend a page mentally pondering this – she accepts it. And she doesn’t push these men away, either. She’s happy to operate on her own, but she accepts help when offered too, and the men don’t constantly insist on trying to help her, but realise Rose is better equipped to protect herself and her family than anyone else. She’s strong and confident, and, something I personally hasn’t seen before, has two kids as well. She has a good relationship with her ex-husband, mourns her second husband, and is sleeping with her partner, and all of these things are handled well and realistically. Rose feels more real than a lot of other women found within horror and paranormal/urban fantasy, and it makes the book so much better for it.

In short, both Faith and Rose are fantastic characters, both strong in their own, different ways, and though both might seem to fit into the ‘strong women’ trope, they’re so much more than many other similar characters I’ve seen before.

More characters like them, please!

Are there any particular books you think handle similar tropes in different ways? Any really strong female characters you absolutely love? Let me know!

Blogtober Day 1: My Spooky TBR

spooky tbr

I saw this Blogtober list over on Anniek’s Library, and thought it sounded like a lot of fun. I was a little caught up the last few days trying to make sure I got some other stuff written, so I am a little behind, but hopefully I can get a few of these up and try to keep up with it for the rest of the month!

The full list is at the bottom of this post, and definitely pop over to Anniek’s Library to check out the blog there!

Spooky TBR

My horror TBR has increased a fair bit recently, mainly because I’ve started reviewing for Dead Head Reviews, which is awesome as it means I’ve recently read some absolutely fantastic horror.

At the moment, I’m reading two books. One for the website, and one anthology. The anthology isn’t ‘horror’ as such, but it is all themed around witches. Perfect for October. under my hatThe anthology is Under My Hat, which includes authors such as Neil Gaiman, Holly Black, Tanith Lee and Garth Nix. I’ve only read a few stories from it so far, but they have been really good.

I’m also reading Laurel Hightower’s Whisper’s In The Dark which, if you are any kind of horror fan, you really should pick up. Strong female MC, creepy but adorable kids, and scenes where I’ve literally had to put my Kindle down and take a moment. Which doesn’t happen to me a lot. I’m just under whispershalfway through the book, and I already absolutely, without a doubt love it.

For the TBR, there’s a few spooky books I’d like to get to this month, if I can.

The Sea Was A Fair Master – Calvin Demmer

Danse Macabre – Stephen King

dear lauraWorld Of Horror Anthology

Dear Laura – Gemma Amor

It’s doubtful I’ll get to read much more than that, but I will try! And of course, you can look out for my reviews of the books I’ve read on this blog, Dead Head, and on Goodreads.blogtober.png