Book Review: Cirque Berserk by Jessica Guess

I was honored when Divination Hollow Reviews asked me to be a guest blogger for their Women In Horror and Black History In Horror event. Battling covid at the time, their request had given me something to look forward to. Since I haven’t written anything creepy in awhile (because I’ve been working on my graphic novel and spiritual blog), I didn’t want to share any short stories. I thought the safest bet would be to write a book review on a fun horror book.

I ended up finding Jessica Guess’s Cirque Berserk.

If you want to check my book review, please click on the link: Book Review: “Cirque Berserk” by Jessica Guess.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

#BookReview: Starving Ghosts In Every Thread by Eric LaRocca #amreadinghorror

***Thanks for the free copy in exchange for an honest review***

Teddy has a secret….

She’s so consumed with guilt that it compels her body to literally unravel unless she feeds off the emotions of others. Teddy’s parasitic condition is usually tempered easily and is invisible to most, unless she feeds from them. However, her insatiable hunger has already begun to threaten her safety. Trapped in her tiny Connecticut hometown thanks to a careless mistake which cost her a prestigious scholarship, Teddy grieves her father’s death and cares for her neurotic mother, Mercy, who is convinced scorpion venom is the only remedy for her own peculiar skin ailment linked to her daughter’s sadness.

Once an aspiring songwriter, Teddy now merely alternates between shifts at the local market and visits to the house of her eccentric neighbor, Mr. Ridley, for fresh scorpions to bring to her mother. It’s during one of her routine visits to Mr. Ridley’s subterranean grotto of exotic animals that Teddy meets an unusual young girl named Kiiara. Immediately enamored with one another, Teddy soon discovers that Kiiara is hiding a gruesome secret, too – a secret that will threaten to undo everything Teddy has ever known and loved, and violently touch all those who cross their path with disaster.

I enjoyed this fast-paced novella. The author was great with setting details. The book was character-driven focusing on Teddy and Kiiara. The drama was interesting. Since there was no horror (for me as a reader) until the very end of the story, I couldn’t tell if this story was literary, horror, or fantasy. Whenever Teddy could read a person, part of her skin would coil. Was this just in her head? Was she the only one this happened to? Was this a fantasy world? A normal world? I couldn’t tell, but those questions not being answered didn’t stop me from liking the story.

My favorite lines: 1) “I often feel lost, even to myself.” 2) “Everything I’ve lived, I’ve lived through other people. I’ve convinced myself that their stories, their troubles, their passions were mine.” 3) “The thing I’ve so desperately tried to convince myself otherwise is true–people know.”

The ending was pretty intense. The very last scene I felt for Teddy. It was a lasting impression of what she did after making her mom go to the neighbor’s house. I thought about it long after finishing the novella, which I gave props to the author for writing a compelling drama.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Urban Legends Getting International Love! Plus, My Personal Guest Post On #BlackLivesMatters!

Sorry, I haven’t been blogging lately. I feel like I’m off and on, which can be a good thing. It means I’m working hard on my writing/art projects. Since it’s October–Spooky Season (woo hoo!!!)–I plan on blogging more to celebrate the countdown to my favorite holiday, Halloween.

I want to thank Deborah J Miles for giving my newest release, Urban Legends, a chance. It’s always cool to see my sales dashboard go international 🙂 Right now, I have readers in the US, UK, Denmark, Australia, and Canada. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

Not only did Deborah J Miles give my book a review, she also let me share a personal experience of racism I dealt with at work years ago. It took a lot for me to be vulnerable sharing this…If you want to check out my guest post and check out her book review on Against the Flow Press blog, then please click on the link– Book Review: Urban Legends by Yawatta Hosby

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Twisted Obsession Getting International Love!!! #bookreview #amreadingsuspense

I’m on cloud nine. Being an author with a back list, it’s always great when your old books get love and attention. I published Twisted Obsession back in 2016, and it’s still one of my favorites. I used my middle name for Finia. Plus, the setting was my old childhood home. This story will always have a special place in my heart.

“The atmosphere throughout the entire novella was stifling, creepy and just hung with a sense of foreboding. It is pretty much a dark, twisted tale throughout the whole thing.”–Kimberly Wolkens

I was excited to see the 5-star review on Ginger Nuts of Horror from Kimberly Wolkens! If you want to check out what she said, please click the link: Book Review: Twisted Obsession by Yawatta Hosby.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Book Review: Beautiful, Frightening, and Silent by Jennifer Gordon #GNOH

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***I received a free copy from Ginger Nuts of Horror***

Adam, a young alcoholic, slowly descends into madness while dealing with the psychological scars of childhood trauma which are reawakened when his son and wife die in a car accident that he feels he is responsible for. After a failed suicide attempt, and more group meetings that he can mention. Adam hears a rumor of a Haunted Island off the Coast of Maine, where “if someone wants it bad enough” they could be reunited with a lost loved one. In his desperate attempt to connect with the ghost of his four-and-a half year old son, he decides to go there, to Dagger Island, desperate to apologize to, or be condemned by, his young son. Adam is not sure what he deserves or even which of these he wants more. While staying in a crumbling old boarding house, he becomes involved with a beautiful and manipulative ghost who has spent 60 years tormenting the now elderly man who was her lover, and ultimately her murderer. The three of them create a “Menage-a-Guilt” as they all come to terms with what it is that ties them so emotionally to their memories and their very “existence”.Beautiful, Frightening, and Silent is a poetic fever dream of grief, love, and the terrifying ways that obsession can change who we are.JENNIFER ANNE GORDON is a professional ballroom dancer by day, and a curly haired neurotic writer by night. She is an actor, a traveler, a photographer, a lover of horror, and a dog mom. Beautiful, Frightening and Silent is her debut novel.

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I loved the title of this book. It was poetic, and I appreciated the author’s efforts in her debut novel, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea. Just because ghosts are mentioned doesn’t mean a book should be in the horror genre. I wouldn’t even really call it a paranormal romance, maybe contemporary drama…

My favorite parts of the book were the flashback scene of the car crash and Adam’s downward spiral before going to the haunted mansion. Once he arrived on Dagger Island, I was confused on what was going on plot-wise. The ending definitely left me confused. I ended up with questions that left me frustrated as a reader. Why was the son hiding? What was so special about “mother’s” room? Did these people already know their fates? Etc, etc, etc

My favorite lines: 1) Anthony grew up with the reality of a haunting, the same way other children grow up with the facts of grass being green and snow being cold. 2) She hears the rattling of death, climbing out from the deepest parts of his lungs each time he exhales 3) Somethings, even uninvited, come back to stay.

To read the rest of my review, please check out Ginger Nuts of Horror 🙂

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Getting More International Love for Perfect Little Murder!!!

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I woke up to a nice surprise this morning and haven’t been able to stop smiling. Deborah J. Miles gave Perfect Little Murder a 5-star review, and she posted my author interview on her blog. She’s a talented writer. Please check out her book review blog and support her book called Orchard View.

Please click on the link to check it out!: #BookReview Perfect Little Murder @Yawatta_Hosby #GuestPost #AuthorInterview

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Book Review: When All Is Dark and Quiet by Cory Mason

***I received a free copy and am voluntarily giving an honest review***

Nova Sellers needs to get away for a while. Her escape of choice? Mackinac Island, a historic tourist town that in the winter months serves as the home for less than five hundred people. It’s remote, it’s quiet, it’s lonely, and nobody knows your business. It’s just what Nova thinks she needs to get back on her feet.

But Nova’s escape is shattered when a rockslide during a hike nearly kills her and unearths a small cave that had been sealed off for millennia. Ancient paintings on the walls depict an unsettling scene: people stalked and isolated by a strange gray figure.

As the days go by, unusual things begin to occur around Nova’s old house, when everything is dark and quiet. The locals don’t exactly set her at ease, either. Paranoia sets in, and things Nova would have left in the past begin to catch up with her. Nova slowly realizes that something more may have been uncovered in that cave than just paintings.

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I loved this coming-of-age drama. The opening “The island loomed on the horizon like the back of a great green turtle, floating in the dark teal waters of Lake Huron” had me hooked. The author was great with imagery in the setting details. I could picture everywhere Nova went.

I was surprised to see covid-19 mentioned because Nova was leaving her house to explore Mackinac Island all the time, even hanging out in coffee shops. Were there any restrictions on the small island? Was this all before states have been on lockdown?

I loved that the chapter headings were the dates of April. It helped me, as a reader, keep track of Nova’s journey. The suspense was interesting after she experienced bad dreams and the –(wait I won’t spoil that for you guys!). Her world turned darker after visiting the cave. I was definitely interested in the scenes where the creepy guy was harassing Nova. I wish more time had been spent on him, especially after he said he’d been watching her sleep one night. Was he for real? Or just being a lying punk?

I appreciated the ending. Nova was depressed throughout the story and had to face her past. I hadn’t been expecting that reveal of her past, so I was pleasantly surprised.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Book Review: The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

***I got a free copy from NetGalley and am voluntarily giving an honest review***

The creeping horror of Paul Tremblay meets Tommy Orange’s There There in a dark novel of revenge, cultural identity, and the cost of breaking from tradition in this latest novel from the Jordan Peele of horror literature, Stephen Graham Jones.

Seamlessly blending classic horror and a dramatic narrative with sharp social commentary, The Only Good Indians follows four American Indian men after a disturbing event from their youth puts them in a desperate struggle for their lives. Tracked by an entity bent on revenge, these childhood friends are helpless as the culture and traditions they left behind catch up to them in a violent, vengeful way.

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I liked this horror book. The opening line was interesting: “The headline for Richard Boss Ribs would be indian man killed in dispute outside bar.” I felt bad for what happened to that character. The story mostly focused on Lewis. When he was younger, him and his friends (Gabe, Rickey, Cass) had tortured and killed an elk. Now, the ghost of the elk was getting her revenge.

I wanted to love this book because I’m part American Indian but it was just alright for me. The unedited ARC from NetGalley had weird wording in some sections so I found myself having to keep re-reading paragraphs to get what was going on. I think if I had read the final product, I may have enjoyed the book more. I’ve read a short story of the author’s, so I know he’s a great storyteller. I’d be interested in trying his other books.

Lewis was an interesting character. As a reader, I didn’t know if he was crazy or if he was really being haunted by a ghost elk. I thought the author did a good job of building suspense. Lewis was probably my favorite character.

When the story started to focus more on his friends, the book started to go at a slower pace for me, as a reader. I was missing Lewis. The story wasn’t scary for me like I had hoped it would be. At the 80% mark would have been the perfect ending, with everything coming full circle. Instead the story kept going, focusing on a side character now being harassed by the ghost elk. To be honest, I didn’t care what would be her end game because I didn’t get a chance to know her.

If you like slow burn, quiet horror, then you’ll like this story.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

 

Book Review: Terror at 5280’ by Denver Horror Collective

***I received a free copy from Ginger Nuts of Horror in exchange for an honest review***

A neighborhood won’t let its residents forget the past. One taste draws two lovers into a nightmarish addiction. A harsh winter forces strange creatures down from the mountains.

At sea level, where it’s safe, things like this can’t happen. But when you’re sky high in Denver, Colorado, anything goes…including your sanity.

Beware of Terror at 5280’, a horror fiction anthology featuring dark tales set in and around Denver and the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, penned exclusively by local authors.

Edited by: Josh Schlossberg, Gary Robbe, Melinda Bezdek, Bobby Crew, Desi D, Lisa Mavroudis, Thomas C. Mavroudis, and Jeamus Wilkes

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I really enjoyed this anthology. I loved how the intro teased that these stories were all based on true events but disguised as fiction. I’m all for a conspiracy theory, so my interest was definitely piqued.

Saying that—I’m a huge horror fan. I live and breathe horror books and horror movies. My Netflix feed is nothing but indie horror films and blockbusters. My favorite types of horror are slashers, hauntings, and survival. The majority of these short stories didn’t really jump as horror to me. They were more like psychological suspense. Most of the stories had a quiet approach of being creepy and setting a dreadful tone.

I’ll go over each story one by one:

The Depths by Matthew Lyons

I liked this story. A kid named Travis had stolen something from a very dark place where “there are too many ghosts buried there.” That line really popped out to me. When the old man banged on the door to get the item back, the tension between the old man and Travis’s dad was interesting. That scene was full of suspense. My favorite lines: 1) “…pretends he can’t feel the curious, dead eyes that follow him all the way home.” 2) “The house is filled with blood, and the silence is back, worse than before.”

Laffing Sal by Lindsay King-Miller

I loved the opening line: “A spider crawled across Sal’s tongue as the three girls came down the stairs.” I loved the twist of how Sal was part of an amusement park prop. The author did a great job of going between Sal and the three girls’ different point-of-views to show the terrifying situation happening. My favorite line: “Sal knew about fear. Fear had brought her to life.”

This Was Always Going to Happen by Stephen Graham Jones

This story used second person point-of-view by using “you” in the narration. The main character had a flat tire, and this weird cyclist kept bothering him with things that wouldn’t help with a flat tire. The author did a great job of making the cyclist creepy. The horror stories that I appreciate the most are the ones that could happen in real life. The ones that show humans can be monsters. I was digging the story then it just ended abruptly.

Electric Stalker by Rebecca S.W. Bates

Lindsay got hit by lightning while waiting on a bus. At the hospital, a woman named Amanda came to visit, claiming they were sisters. Lindsay had no recollection. I didn’t find this story creepy or scary at all. In fact, it seemed more like a contemporary drama with the family dynamics.

Gaze With Undimmed Eyes and the World Drops Dead by Carina Bissett

The author was good with setting and description. As a reader, I could feel the nastiness of the hotel bar. It was gross when a taxidermy squirrel on the rack lost its eye in the lady’s drink haha. I liked the twist of who Bruce turned out to be, but this was another story where I didn’t get a scary or creepy vibe at all.

Grave Mistake by Joshua Viola and Carter Wilson

This was one of my favorite stories in the anthology. Stephanie was pregnant, causing her to think suicidal thoughts because she didn’t want the baby. She was with Oliver and Elijah in a cemetery. They were looking for a vampire who they think killed their friend. The author did a great job of weaving body language into the back and forth dialogue. There was great tension. My favorite lines: 1) “What Stephanie struggles with most was the secret—a secret that began as shame and blossomed into horror.” 2) “Why would ghosts be in a cemetery, anyway?” 3) “The lives they led then, and the futures they hoped for, were gone.”

There Is Something Up There by Joy Yehle

This story was one of my favorites. It managed to make me feel bad for the characters with their tragic backstories. I loved how the emotional aspects didn’t stop the scenes from being full of suspense. Chills definitely went down my spine. Lily was on a search team, looking for a crew member that disappeared in the mines. Her neighbor warned Lily not to go, but she didn’t listen. I would love to say what they found in the mine because the reveal excited me so much! But I won’t spoil the ending.

***To read the full review, please go to: https://gingernutsofhorror.com/fiction-reviews/terror-at-5280by-denver-horror-collective-book-review

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Book Review: River of Lies by R.M. Greenaway

***I received a free ARC from NetGalley and am giving an honest review voluntarily***

In rain-drenched Vancouver, detectives Dion and Leith work to separate truth from lies in two seemingly unrelated cases.

February is the month of romance, but in North Vancouver it’s also become the month of murder. While the North Shore RCMP slog through the rain in the search for whoever left a young woman to die in the Riverside Secondary School parking lot — their first clue a Valentine’s Day card — a toddler mysteriously vanishes from a Riverside Drive home in the midst of a dinner party.

With Constable JD Temple’s full attention on the parking lot murder, Constables Dave Leith and Cal Dion work the kidnap … until a tenuous connection is made between the two cases, along with the thinnest ray of hope that the child could be alive and well in the hands of a childless couple. But when more tragedy rains down on the North Shore, lies must be unveiled before the ugly truth can emerge.

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I loved this murder mystery. The opening line: “Tasha looked at the toes of her new work boots and worried.” had me all in. Tasha was afraid that she was being followed, and it didn’t help that her car had a flat tire. Tasha had every right to be worried…her murder set up the mystery throughout the book.

Leith and Dion worked on one case while JD and another detective worked on Tasha’s murder. Later on, a baby was abducted from a wealthy family’s home. It did get confusing at times because one section would have the detectives first name being used, then down the line only their last names would be used. I had to make a cheat sheet of who was who throughout the book.

I loved the the author’s writing style. The sentences had a nice rhythm and flowed nicely. The story was easy to read. My favorite lines:  1) “She was cold. Stiffening. Well beyond help.” 2) “Over their time working together, Dion shifted gears often, in Leith’s eyes. Like an antsy motorist in the freeway. Moody, sharp, sometimes cheerful, but always cautious.” 3) “Leith preferred to assume nothing. Always be ready for a twist.”

The author did a great twist with the detectives. I loved how in the second chapter one of the male detectives became a red herring. This tease definitely motivated me to finish the book quickly.

Since I was reading an ARC, the paragraphs didn’t have indentations, but I didn’t hold that against the author, assuming those glitches will be fixed in the final product.

I guessed the wrong killer, but I guessed the right kidnapper. There was twist, after twist, down to the last second, which I appreciated. I’d definitely consider reading another book from this author.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby