Posted on Leave a comment

What to Read: Women in Horror

With spooky season right around the corner I wanted to take the opportunity to highlight some horror books for you all! The one genre that is the nearest and dearest to my heart has always been horror, and in a genre that is often highlighted as being misogynistic, some of the greatest horror stories of our time were written by women. While I could talk for hours about some of the famous greats like Shirley Jackson and Mary Shelley, I wanted to take the opportunity to highlight some of my favorite recent reads by the women that are writing for today’s readers.

Near the Bone by Christina Henry

Near the Bone has been one of my most recent reads and it cements Christina Henry’s place as an author to watch out for. Most known for her horror and YA dark fantasy retellings of classic fairy tales, Henry has recently been moving steadily more into the horror genre with the releases of Near the Bone and The Ghost Tree. Both books shine a light on the true horrors of being female under the absolute power of men, she doesn’t shy away from shocking violence and grotesque scenes. While I can comfortably recommend both, Near the Bone truly stands out by focusing on two kinds of monsters that lurk in the woods: a supernatural beast and a violent and controlling man. I wasn’t able to put the book down and I feel that it has been one of the scariest books I’ve read in a long while.

The Dangers of Smoking in Bed by Mariana Enríquez

Mariana Enríquez has quickly become one of my absolute favorite horror short fiction writers after I fell in love with Things We Lost in the Fire when it was released in English a few years ago. Since then I have been chomping at the bit for more of her work to finally be translated to the English language, I can’t even begin to describe the sheer joy I felt when I got my hands on The Dangers of Smoking in Bed before release. Enríquez is an Argentinian author and her stories address the socio-political issues of the country with a strong supernatural twist. This book is filled to the brim with dangerous women, from frenzied fan girls to teen witches. I was absolutely shaken by the new collection, I wish I could scream its praises at the top of my lungs.

Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Perhaps one of the buzziest names on this list, Silvia Morena-Garcia has become literature’s new sweetheart after the breakout success of Mexican Gothic last year. The great thing about the increased visibility of an established writer is the large catalog of previous works, as is the case of Certain Dark Things. Originally published in 2016, the book quickly went out of print after the collapse of her previous publisher. This book has recently been republished by Tor Nightfire and I am honestly so happy that this book has been given a second chance because it is simply outstanding. Shaking up traditional vampire folklore with Aztec vampires and others that came from different backgrounds, a dash of noir, and some truly fun characters, this book has shot up to one of my favorite vampire books of all time. I hope that the wave of attention will lift this book up to its rightful place as a classic in the genre.

Lady Bits by Kate Jonez

I am always so happy when I can find a lesser-known author that manages to blow me away. Kate Jonez has been nominated a handful of times for prestigious horror awards yet her work goes under the radar from the greater reading public. Lady Bits is a fantastic short story collection, the very first story starts the book off with a bang and the pace never lets up. I greatly enjoyed almost every story in the collection and found myself delighting in the grisly kills of the dangerous women that lead each story. My favorite stories dive into the southern gothic, from runaway street tramps to the quiet horror of motherhood, Lady Bits is an utter pleasure to read.

Tender Is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica

Returning again to outstanding Argentinian writers, my hands down favorite book of 2020 was Tender is the Flesh, a nightmare dystopia about state-sanctioned cannibalism. This book is a stark reminder of the difference between fear and all-out gut-wrenching horror. While the main character of the novel is a grieving father, the female horror in this book is undeniable as the main character is saddled with a prized heffer, a young woman fit for slaughter. This book’s pacing is unrelenting as the reader is given a guided tour of the menagerie of atrocities inflicted on our fellow man in the name of keeping the meat industry alive after a natural disaster makes animal meat inedible. Political, provocative, punchy, Tender is the Flesh will challenge the reader’s morality as well as their stomachs.

Additional Reading

To close out, I wanted to include a few links to some wonderful articles that I enjoyed about women in horror.

Posted on Leave a comment

2020 Books & Reading Stats

I know that I am late to the party on posting my 2020 stats, it hadn’t occurred to me that creating one of these might be fun until this past weekend and I wanted to share my reading year. 2020 was a tumultuous year both in my personal and professional life; I finished my master’s degree, I was promoted up near the beginning of the year and then again laterally in December, I faced the deepest suicidal depression that I had experienced in years, and I was able to kick my reading slump that has lasted from 2018 all the way until May 2020. So to keep myself motivated to keep reading and reviewing, I wanted to share some of the interesting book related stats as well as share my overall top 5 favorites for this year.

Reading Stats

Pages: 16,905
Average Length: 167 pages
Shortest Read: 21 pages (Graceful Burdens by Roxane Gay)
Longest Read: 426 pages (The Ghost Tree by Christina Henry)
Top Genre: Horror

I ended the year with more overall “books” than I have read ever, though that number is fluffed greatly by stand alone manga and manhwa volumes. I fell in love with manga all over again and read more manga in the last few months than I had read in several years. How or why I couldn’t tell you really, I wanted to explore some new manga artists and was interested in jumping into some new genres, like yuri. How fluffed up exactly? In all I read 63 volumes worth of manga across 23 series, and 4 volumes of manhwa comprising of only 1 series.

As for books, my top genre this year was unsurprisingly horror, it IS my favorite genre, but this is the first year that it took the crown. The last few years have been a hodge podge of different genres, and being a lover of all things horror I really wanted to dive head first into all the horror I could.


I think it’s safe to say that I prefer female authors over male authors, especially when it comes to books. For graphic novels, manga, and manhwa the number was a little more even with a slight leaning toward female authors. For both charts I only counted authors once, and for graphic novels I included both authors and illustrators if it was an original work, and only the illustrator if the work was adapted from a book.

Now as far as whether or not an author or artist was new to me, there is a clear bias toward new works this year. Again for this chart, I only included authors on here once, though honestly besides manga I only read one book series anyway, and it was by an author that was totally new to me.

I’ve begun to notice on my reviews list that I tend to only have 1-2 books by any given author. I tend to prefer standalones versus series when it comes to books, and though there are plenty of authors that I end up loving and I end up searching out their books and adding them to my TBR, it seems my chances of repeats is low.

I think part of this stems from the fact that I tend to read review copies of books, which are easier to acquire for new and upcoming authors. I also read a lot of Amazon’s collections as a way of sampling works by different authors to decide whether or not I want to read more of their work and also because I like short fiction in general, so that likely contributes to this as well.

Seeing this chart almost makes me want to challenge myself to spent a good portion of this year in 2021 picking up books by authors I have already enjoyed previously. It will be a bit hard, because I also have a large number of ARCs I want to catch up on and I got a handful of really exciting ones, so we’ll have to see next year?

Favorite Books

Tender is the Flesh by Augustina Bazterrica: This was without a doubt one of my top two favorite books of the year, I was blown away by the sheer existential horror of this little book. The story is about a state sanctioned cannibalism, and the most shocking part of all is how normalized it is. This book pulls no punches and will either enthrall or disgust readers.

Goth by Otsuichi: Goth was the second contender for my top spot this year and when I finished I wanted immediately to re-read it. It’s a light novel so the plot and characters almost feel like they belong in an anime, but it is very much grounded in brutal, cruel reality. Goth is a collection of short stories about two teenagers that are dangerously obsessed with serial killers, it is unabashedly dark and just plain fun.

The Dangers of Smoking in Bed by Mariana Enríquez: I had the joy of reading an ARC copy of Enríquez’s Things We Lost in the Fire and I was impressed by her writing, I had been keen to read more of her work. I was so excited that I was granted an ARC of The Dangers of Smoking in Bed and this collection far surpassed the first in terms of the quality of the stories and sheer style. It is an incredible collection of horror short fiction that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about since I finished it.

Looking for Alaska by John Green: I almost didn’t add this book to my list and even now, I am still struggling to put all of my thoughts and feelings together on this book to write a review. I bought it as a gift for my husband because Green was inspired by my husband’s favorite book, As Simple As Snow by Gregory Galloway. We read it together and both loved the book, and we promptly watched the Hulu adaptation after. It’s a great book and it is clear to see why it catapaulted Green’s career in YA. It reminded me of my teen years in the early 2000s, where I attended a private Christian school, so I feel that also added to my appreciation for the book.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han: I had been admiring this book series’ covers for years and missed all of the hype when it was still being published. I don’t normally read contemporary romance and especially not YA romance, but I got the boxed set on wholesale so I thought, why not? This was the book series that broke my reading slump and I fell head over heels in love with it, I binged all three volumes in a week. It was my guilty pleasure last year and when I finished, I immediately picked up all of Jenny Han’s other book series. I watched Cindy’s videos where she watched the movies and I was less than impressed, so I’m glad that I read the books first.

Favorite Graphic Novels

Killing Stalking by Koogi: This one was a bit unexpected and I can’t pinpoint what drove me to pick it up in the first place but Killing Stalking quickly made it onto my list of all-time favorite comics. I had seen the series floating around for years and had stayed clear due to the warnings about rape and the abusive relationship between the protagonists. However, Killing Stalking exceeded my expectations as a cat and mouse crime thriller that veers straight into horror.

Venus in the Blind Spot by Junji Ito: Finding Junji Ito on my best-of list is never any surprise, but I have to say that Venus in the Blind Spot is among one of his best short story collections that I can easily recommend to a new reader as a first pick. This is a new collection for western audiences that collects some of Ito’s most famous or previously uncollected one-shots into one volume.

Bloom Into You by Nio Nakatani: So I had wanted to try giving the Yuri genre a read and actually started with Citrus. Bloom Into You was one of the series that was recommended to me on Goodreads because I was reading Citrus and I am so thankful for that recommendation. Besides being one of the best yuri manga series I had ever read, I feel that it is one of the best romance mangas I have ever read period. There is some good aromantic and demiromantic representation here, and I found myself relating heavily to the main character, Yuu.

Remina by Junji Ito: This one barely made it onto the list, Remina came in as a 4 star read for me. While there are other manga that I rated higher, I found this one to be more memorable and a better quality piece overall. It is one of Ito’s underappreciated gems and is one of his works that is gloriously Lovecraftian. While it is not my favorite of his works, I 100% understand why some folks list this one as their favorite.

Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoët: I found this book on a list of horror graphic novels and was incredibly curious. The little fae creatures don’t immediately appear to be characters in a horror piece until the reader sees the decaying corpse that they sprang to life from. This little graphic novel was a complete surprise and was one of the most unique pieces of horror literature that I’ve ever read.

Posted on Leave a comment

5 Romance Genres I Avoid

I know that readers can be really divided about romance – it’s a genre that falls prey to repetitive tropes and you’re almost guaranteed some semblance of a happy ending. For those that enjoy romance novels, that last part is one of the things that I enjoy most about romance. I like picking up a romance novel once in a while for a feel good read, and I’m an especially big fan of historical romance. However there are many genres of romance that I have absolutely no interest in and actively avoid.

Keep in mind that this is my own personal preference, so if a genre on this list is one of your favorites please don’t take it personally, I’m a firm believer that we should always read what makes us happy no matter what other people say!

Billionaire Bad Boy

The romance genre that I loathe the most is the billionaire bad boy. I’ve said it before, but I feel that many of these relationships just aren’t that believable. Many of the main characters are your every day plain Jane and a prince charming billionaire. Even worse are the “bad boys” which usually have plot lines or relationship dynamics that I find personally troubling. As for my personal experience dating a few reasonably rich guys, I can say also that the relationship always felt uneven, with money becoming a topic that they brought up often and just not something that I prefer to weigh a relationship on.


When I was young I was pretty into vampire romance novels and a few werewolf ones. I don’t know when or why my preferences changed, perhaps it was the overabundance of these types of novels that many became much the same. I have never been all that big on urban fantasy novels and so paranormal romance tends to end up on my no thanks list. On very rare occasions I may consider a vampire romance given my deep love of the horror genre and vampires in particular, but in general I don’t have much interest if romance is the central focus.


I’ll be up front that I’m not a country girl by any stretch of the imagination. While I’ve spent a great deal of my life living in the American south, there is just nothing about country and cowboys that has ever appealed to me. Now I’m not trying to be a hater, many of my closest friends have been big into country music and cowboy hats and that is perfectly okay with me. Hell, my husband is a Texan born and raised, and thank goodness he’s not a cowboy. This just isn’t my jam.


Now I will preface this by saying that I LOVE the holidays! Once October begins I get hit with the holiday fever and enjoy making big plans for my family. Christmas in particular always fills me with warm and fuzzy feelings remembering my childhood and seeing the smiles on my children’s faces knowing they’ll still have the same happy memories that I do. However when it comes to Christmas romance novels I just find no appeal to them. Maybe it’s because I tend to be focused on family with the holidays and bundling up in all the most comfortable winter clothes, romance just isn’t at the top of my list.


For those that know me personally this may seem like a funny one given my track record of dating men in the Navy, my husband is an active duty service member. Not that I’m attracted to military guys specifically, I’ve just spent most of my life living in areas that had a heavy military presence due to growing up in a Navy family. Not even kidding, around 4 out of 5 times the people I meet have served in some capacity. The reality of a military marriage comes with a lot of difficulties that I’m sure are explored in the novels, the most obvious being long periods of separation where communication isn’t guaranteed and it is definitely a major test for the strength of a relationship. I always admire the people that can make it work and it can definitely be wonderful in a lot of ways, but the way that these romances are portrayed especially on the covers often feels really tacky to me.

Let’s Discuss!

  • Are you a fan of romance novels? Why or why not?
  • What genres or tropes turn you off?
  • Do you find the romances portrayed in novels to be realistic?