Tender Is the Flesh by Augustina Bazterrica, Sarah Moses (translator)

tenderHis wife has left him, his father is sinking into dementia, and Marcos tries not to think too hard about how he makes a living. After all, it happened so quickly. First, it was reported that an infectious virus has made all animal meat poisonous to humans. Then governments initiated the “Transition.” Now, eating human meat—“special meat”—is legal. Marcos tries to stick to numbers, consignments, processing.

 


Tender Is the Flesh, original title Cadáver exquisito, by Augustina Bazterrica is an Argentinian dystopian novel. The book takes place in a not-so-distant future when animal protein is no longer available for human consumption because it has been infected by a virus fatal to humans. After what has been termed the transition, humans quickly come up with an alternative substitute for the lack of animal meat.

“After all, since the world began, we’ve been eating each other. If not symbolically, then we’ve been literally gorging on each other. The Transition has enabled us to be less hypocritical.”

Tender Is the Flesh is a bleak and disturbing story with a very strong agenda. Although the novel was the recipient of several awards, including the Premio Clarin de Novela in 2017 and Goodreads Choice Award for Horror in 2020, at times I felt this novel was part of PETA’s shock-value animal rights campaign to promote a vegan lifestyle. What would happen if the tables had turned and now humanity had to treat their fellow humans with the same disregard as it treats other animals? Argentina is the world’s fifth-largest beef exporter, behind countries like Brazil and the United States, and the world’s second-highest meat consumer. It is no surprise that a novel with such a strong stance on the future of humanity as it relates to meat consumption came from a place glorified by its high-quality beef.

Unfortunately, although the premise was an interesting one, from a literary perspective, this novel falls short. In parts, probably due to being a translation from Spanish. This is one of the worst books I have ever read and one of the few 2-stars ratings I bothered to write a review. 

The only positive note on this book is that this is a short novel of about 200 pages which provided me with only 2 hours of misery.


Format: Paperback, 211 pages
Original Title: Cadáver exquisito
Published:August 4th 2020 by Scribner (first published November 29th 2017)
ISBN:1982150920
Source: Library loan
Rating: 2 stars
Genre: Dystopian

One Night on the Island by Josie Silver

One nightSpending her thirtieth birthday alone is the last thing that dating columnist Cleo wanted, but she is going on a self-coupling quasi-sabbatical–at the insistence of her boss–in the name of re-energizing herself and adding a new perspective to her column. The remote Irish island she’s booked is a far cry from London, but at least it’s a chance to hunker down in a luxury cabin and indulge in some quiet, solitary self-care while she figures out her next steps in her love life and her career.

Mac is also looking forward to some time to himself. With his life in Boston deteriorating in ways he can’t bring himself to acknowledge, his soul searching has brought him to the same Irish island in search of his roots and some clarity. Unfortunately, a mix-up with the bookings means both solitude seekers have reserved the same one-bedroom hideaway on exactly the same dates.


One Night on the Island is my first novel by Josie Silver and one I’m struggling to review. At first glance, we have two strangers, Cleo and Mac, who luck will have it, happen to book the same cabin on an isolated Island. Neither of them wants to give up their reservation and seeing that this is an isolated island with only a weekly ferry boat, the couple is forced to spend the night together.

I’d like to start with the elements that worked for me in this novel. Silver did an excellent job at painting this picturesque, remote island off the coast of Ireland. I liked the depiction of a tight-knit community giving me Ballykissangel vibes. Cleo and Mac were overall good characters. Silver provided the reader with a good back story on the characters. Although, at times, Cleo got on my nerves I still really liked her. Mac’s story, on the other hand, was a much more complicated one. He was the most complex of the characters and that leads to the reason I find it so hard to properly review this book.

It is difficult for me to go into all of the reasons why ultimately this book didn’t work for me without giving out spoilers. Suffice to say that I struggled with some of the moral/ethical themes in this book. I am the first to admit that I was quite uncomfortable with the idea of this romance but that is by no means a reflection on the quality of Silver’s writing.

As far as romance goes, this book is a good romantic story that will have most readers experience feelings of sadness, happiness, excitement, and even surprise. I highly recommend it to fans of this genre.

One Night on the Island is scheduled to be published on February 15, 2022. I want to thank Ballantine Books and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Format: Kindle edition
Published: February 15, 2022
ASIN:B0991XG4TY
Source: Free copy provided by the publisher, Ballantine Books, and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review
Rating: 3 stars
Genre: Romance

The Couple On Maple Drive by Sam Carrington

57652944Have you heard about the couple on Maple Drive?
Isla barely leaves the house after her brutal mugging. Her boyfriend Zach moved in with her after the attack. To look after her, but something else has happened now. Right on their doorstep.
I don’t want to say that someone’s out to get her…
I just hope they find out the truth before it’s too late.


The Couple On Maple Drive follows the story of Isla who has been suffering from PTSD and retroactive amnesia since being brutally mugged. Her dedicated boyfriend, Zach, moves in to help take care of her and soon Isla starts having flashes of memories from the night she was mugged. Determined to figure out what happened, Isla starts her investigation.

This is the first book I read by Sam Carrington and I was not very impressed. The narrative style alternates between Isla’s POV, her boyfriend Zach’s POV, and the transcript of a true-crime podcast, Christie’s Crime Addicts. This book managed to be a solid 2 ½ stars and I am sorry to say that even with all of the red herrings, I had the killer figured out by 20% of the book. I still managed to finish the book in hopes of a little redemption but as with any thriller, the moment you figure out the culprit there is not much you can do to carry on the story.

The Couple On Maple Drive is scheduled to be published on December 9, 2021. I want to thank Avon Books UK and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Format: Kindle edition
Published: December 9, 2021 by Avon Books UK
ASIN:000843638X
Source: Free copy provided by the publisher, Avon Books UK, and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review
Rating: 2 ½ stars
Genre: Mystery, thriller

Dragons of Autumn Twilight (Dragonlance: Chronicles #1) by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman

259836Life-long friends, they went their separate ways. Now they are together again, though each holds secrets from the others in his heart. They speak of a world shadowed with rumors of war. They speak of tales with strange monsters, creatures of myth, creatures of legend. They do not speak of their secrets. Not then. Not until a chanced encounter with a beautiful, sorrowful woman who bears a magical crystal staff draws the companions deeper into the shadow forever changing their lives and shaping the fate of the world.


I absolutely loved it! I was told about this series by a good friend and honestly, I had no idea I was going to enjoy it as much as I did. I love D&D but even that didn’t convince me straight away. I went in knowing this book was written in 1984 and half expecting it to give off a Masters of The Universe nostalgic vibe. I found myself completely absorbed by this fast paced, jam-packed adventure. And yes, it is a bit cliche? Is it a tad cheesy and outdated? Is it full of overdone tropes? Absolutely! But it was also written 37 years ago, way before several fantasy books I love that have certainly also been inspired by this book. I’m so looking forward to continuing with this trilogy and oh, so happy for the recommendation.

 

Format: Mass Market Paperback, 444 pages
Published:Published February 1st 2000 by Wizards of the Coast (First published November 12th 1984)
ISBN:0786915749 
Source: Purchased
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy

A Head Full Of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

Paul TremblayThe lives of the Barretts, a normal suburban New England family are torn apart when fourteen-year-old Marjorie begins to display signs of acute schizophrenia.
To her parents’ despair, the doctors are unable to stop Marjorie’s descent into madness. As their stable home devolves into a house of horrors, they reluctantly turn to a local Catholic priest for help. Father Wanderly suggests an exorcism; he believes the vulnerable teenager is the victim of demonic possession. He also contacts a production company that is eager to document the Barretts’ plight.


A Head Full Of Ghosts had been on my TBR for about five years since I read and reviewed Paul Tremblay’s book Disappearance at Devil’s Rockso I was glad to see it displayed at my local library as suggested reading for Halloween.

I have to say that it took me a moment to recollect my thoughts before writing this review. I went into this book completely cold. I never read any reviews on it or even a complete synopsis of the book. I highly advise you to read this book with as little information as possible, which makes writing a review about it even more difficult. 

Head Full Of Ghosts is a book divided into three parts and told from the POV of Merry, the Barretts’ eight-year-old daughter, and her interpretation of the events.

The first part of the book starts fifteen years early by giving us a glance at the Barretts, a fairly normal Massachusetts family composed of dad John, mom Sarah, and the two daughters, Marjorie, fourteen, and Merry, eight. Since the book is told from Merry’s perspective, we get to see the close relationship the two sisters shared with each other. Tremblay overlaps the story by introducing present-day scenes of Merry, now twenty-three, being interviewed by an author who’s writing a book about the events that happened with the family, in particular with Marjorie who started to display signs of acute schizophrenia. As the family’s life starts to crumble apart and Marjorie’s mental illness progresses, John decides to seek the help of a local priest who is convinced that Marjorie’s problems are not mental health issues at all but rather the product of demonic possession and that they should perform an exorcism. 

Without going too much into the plot, it suffices to say that the Barretts not only agree with the exorcism but also allow for the process to be televised in a reality tv show called The Possession. 

So, let me stop right here to tell you that what made this story worthwhile for me was not the concept of exorcism–and that alone might turn off some readers. 

Don’t get me wrong, this book is sheer horror. Not that in-your-face sort of horror, but more like building up tension and suspense. I actually found this book a mixture of terrifying and sad at the same time. 

What I absolutely loved about this book was how Tremblay handled a delicate subject such as mental illness and the pitfalls of today’s society, the internet, misogyny, and the role of religion in the treatment of mental health.

Although this book was written six years ago, Tremblay’s social criticism on this topic is still relevant, especially on a day like today in honor of World Mental Health Day.

 

Format: Hardcover, 286 pages
Published: Published June 2nd 2015 by William Morrow
ISBN: 0062363239 
Source: Library loan
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: Fiction, horror

The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling

death-jane-lawrencePractical, unassuming Jane Shoringfield has done the calculations, and decided that the most secure path forward is this: a husband, in a marriage of convenience, who will allow her to remain independent and occupied with meaningful work. Her first choice, the dashing but reclusive doctor Augustine Lawrence, agrees to her proposal with only one condition: that she must never visit Lindridge Hall, his crumbling family manor outside of town.Yet on their wedding night, an accident strands her at his door in a pitch-black rainstorm, and she finds him changed. Gone is the bold, courageous surgeon, and in his place is a terrified, paranoid man—one who cannot tell reality from nightmare, and fears Jane is an apparition, come to haunt him. By morning, Augustine is himself again, but Jane knows something is deeply wrong at Lindridge Hall, and with the man she has so hastily bound her safety to.


The Death of Jane Lawrence is a gothic/horror novel very much in the style of The Haunting of Hill House, Crimson Peak, and Rebecca. I have to admit that although I loved those stories, I was not very impressed with the beginning of this novel. Jane Shoringfield is this logical accountant who reaches a point in her life where  she sees the need for marriage. Not necessarily for the romantic aspect of it, but for convenience. She sets her sight on recluse, albeit good-looking, Dr. Augustine Lawrence. After convincing him that the marriage would be beneficial to both of them, they get married with the condition that she is never to set foot in Lindrige Hall, Lawrence’s family manor.

Needless to say, after a series of “unfortunate events” Jane finds herself at the entrance of Lindrige Hall, and instead of finding her dashing, and sharp new husband, she finds a weak and paranoid man who believes Jane is nothing more than an apparition and hallucination. 

From that point, we embark on the more gothic portion of the novel and the mysteries that surround Augustine and his manor. At about 50% of the book, the story takes a turn, and elements of the supernatural and the metaphysical come into play. 

I have to admit that I came into this story knowing this was primarily a horror/gothic/ghost story. What I initially thought set this story apart was the use of logic and the paranormal together. So when you take this novel for what it is, it’s certainly an interesting read, especially during the Halloween season.

The reason I couldn’t give it more than 3-stars was the fact that at times I felt Starling was trying too hard. This novel felt as if it wanted to be so many things at once and in the end, failed miserably. In terms of character development, there was none. All the characters were pretty 2-dimensional, but the novel is pretty gory with strong elements of the macabre which suits the genre.

Possible triggers include descriptions of miscarriage/infant death which may be a sensitive topic for some readers.

The Death Of Jane Lawrence is scheduled to be published on October 5, 2021. I want to thank St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 
 

Format: Kindle edition, 352 pages
Published: October 5th 2021 by St. Martin’s Press
ASIN: B08R2JKC2V
Source: Free copy provided by the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review
Rating: 3 stars
Genre: Horror/Gothic

Stay With Me by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀

stayYejide and Akin have been married since they met and fell in love at university. Though many expected Akin to take several wives, he and Yejide have always agreed: polygamy is not for them. But four years into their marriage–after consulting fertility doctors and healers, trying strange teas and unlikely cures–Yejide is still not pregnant. She assumes she still has time–until her family arrives on her doorstep with a young woman they introduce as Akin’s second wife. Furious, shocked, and livid with jealousy, Yejide knows the only way to save her marriage is to get pregnant, which, finally, she does–but at a cost far greater than she could have dared to imagine. An electrifying novel of enormous emotional power, Stay With Me asks how much we can sacrifice for the sake of family.


In Stay With Me, Adébáyọ̀ introduces us to Yejide and Akin, a Nigerian couple who have been trying to have a baby for many years.

In their culture, it is expected that married couples have children, and when that is not possible, the men are expected to take another wife to produce an heir and carry on the bloodline. When Akin takes on a second wife, it initiates a series of tragic events.

Adébáyọ̀’s prose is both lyrical and fluid. The story is told in alternating POVs, which allows you to get to know the well-developed characters.

Stay With Me is a poignant novel that may leave you with very mixed feelings.

 
 
 
 
 

Format: Kindle edition, 288 pages
Published: August 1st 2017 by Knopf  (first published March 2nd, 2017)
ASIN:B01MTJQK9M
Source: Library loan
Rating: 5 stars
Genre: Fiction

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

KindredDana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned to save him. Dana is drawn back repeatedly through time to the slave quarters, and each time the stay grows longer, more arduous, and more dangerous until it is uncertain whether or not Dana’s life will end, long before it has a chance to begin.


This is a story of a woman, Dana, from 1976 who is transported back and forth in time to the 1800s during the slavery era. This is an interesting and important look at slavery in America. In particular, the look without rose-colored glasses.
One of the things that I appreciated about this book is that Butler does not shy away from the brutality of those times. In reality, she marvelously weaves those themes to make it into a compelling story. It is a great story, albeit not without its flaws.
Several things did not work for me in this book. The concept of time travel, although interesting in theory, is always tricky to put into actual practice. The plot from that stance is flawed–no doubt about it.
Much of the book is spent describing the pain of slavery in America, but very little time is put into developing characters and dialogues.
Kindred is a novel that begins and ends with a mystery, and that might be a good or a bad thing depending on who’s reading it.

Format: Kindle edition
Published: February 1st 2004 by Beacon Press (first published June 1979)
ASIN: B009U9S540
Source: Library loan
Rating: 3 stars
Genre: Historical fiction

Murder By Page One by Olivia Matthews

Murder by page 1Marvey, a librarian, has moved from Brooklyn to a quirky small town in Georgia. When she’s not at the library organizing events for readers, she’s handcrafting book-themed jewelry and looking after her cranky cat. At times, her new life in the South still feels strange…and that’s before the discovery of the dead body in the bookstore.

After one of her friends becomes a suspect, Marvey sets out to solve the murder mystery. She even convinces Spence, the wealthy and charming newspaper owner, to help. With his ties to the community, her talents for research, and her fellow librarians’ knowledge, Marvey pursues the truth. But as she gets closer to it, could she be facing a deadly plot twist?


Murder By Page One is the first book in the Peach Coast Mystery series. This is a nice, light-hearted cozy mystery. As with most first books in a series, there are a lot of characters introduced and not enough time to explore each character in depth.
We have Marcella Harris, aka “Marvey” who has recently moved from Brooklyn to a small town in Georgia to work as a book promoter at a local library. She soon stumbles into a dead body and when her bestie gets incriminated, Marvey sets out to solve the murder.
This book has all the great elements of a cozy mystery featuring the love of books/library, cats, jewelry making, and small-town drama. Fans of the genre will certainly enjoy it.
Murder by Page One is scheduled to be published on March 23, 2021. I want to thank Hallmark Publishing and NetGalley for providing me an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Format: Kindle edition
Published: March 23, 2021 by Hallmark Publishing
ASIN:1952210135
Source: Free copy provided by the publisher, Hallmark Publishing, and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review
Rating: 3 stars
Genre: Mystery, Cozy-mystery

The Nesting by C. J. Cooke

The nesting Architect Tom Faraday is determined to finish the high-concept, environmentally friendly home he’s building in Norway – in the same place where he lost his wife, Aurelia, to suicide. It was their dream house, and he wants to honor her with it. Lexi Ellis takes a job as his nanny and immediately falls in love with his two young daughters, especially Gaia. But something feels off in the isolated house nestled in the forest along the fjord. Lexi sees mysterious muddy footprints inside the home. Aurelia’s diary appears in Lexi’s room one day. And Gaia keeps telling her about seeing the terrifying Sad Lady…
Soon Lexi suspects that Aurelia didn’t kill herself and that they are all in danger from something far more sinister lurking around them.


The Nesting is a novel that at first resembles Ruth Ware’s The Turn of The Key, but if you stick to it you’ll soon be in for a big surprise.  Some of the highlights of this book include Cooke’s ability to build a suspenseful, gothic novel. The Nordic folklore sprinkled in the story was certainly a plus. The themes of ecology and preservation were also extremely appealing to me, as well as the descriptions of Norway’s nature and landscape.

Unfortunately, this novel was the case of too many story lines that just were not well put together at the end. The story is told by an unreliable narrator, Sophie (aka Lexi), alternating with Aurelia’s pov and diary entries. Halfway through the book, the story takes a turn and slows down significantly.

Although this book started somewhat interesting, the excessive number of plot holes and the slow pace of the book had me struggling to finish it. I found the ending rushed and too convenient.

I want to thank HarperCollins and NetGalley for providing me an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Format: Kindle edition
Published: September 29, 2020 by HarperCollins
ASIN: B0818ZX2NY
Source: Free copy provided by the publisher, HarperCollins, and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review
Rating: 2 ½ stars
Genre: Mystery, thriller
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