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Obsidian Black Plague

Government drone by day and book lover and geek girl by night!

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The Kiss Quotient
Helen Hoang
I Am Legend
Richard Matheson
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Reading progress update: I've read 100%.

I Am Legend - Richard Matheson

There was a dog and I’m not happy about it!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 6%.

I Am Legend - Richard Matheson

So I am still wondering what Robert is fighting. Vampires? Why did I think this was a zombie book? And no, never did watch the Will Smith movie cause someone told me a dog dies and I don't do movies where the pet dies. Still mad at John Wick and A Dog's Purpose. 

 

Only Really Liked Four Stories (ETA: Meant Four!)

Toil & Trouble: 16 Tales of Women & Witchcraft - Tehlor Kay Mejia, Tristina Wright, Emery Lord, Andrea Cremer, Tess Sharpe, Jessica Spotswood, Brandy Colbert, Robin Talley, Anna-Marie McLemore, Zoraida Córdova, Brenna Yovanoff, Nova Ren Suma, Shveta Thakrar, Kate Hart, Lindsay Smith

Please note that I received this book via NetGalley. This did not affect my review or rating. 

 

Instead of doing a review of all of the stories (15 of them) I am only going to review the four that I really enjoyed and gave 5 stars to. Everything else was a case of me going what did I just read, or feeling as if the story in question had too many holes or was incomplete in some way. All together I gave a collection a solid three stars. That is usually the way with anthologies unless the majority of the stories area  home run. 

 

Here is a list of the stories in this collection:

 

Starsong by Tehlor Kay Mejia 

 

Afterbirth by Andrea Cremer

 

The Heart in Her Hands by Tess Sharpe

 

Death in the Sawtooths by Lindsay Smith

 

The Truth About Queenie by Brandy Colbert

 

The Moonapple Menagerie by Shveta Thakrar

 

The Legend of Stone Mary by Robin Talley

 

The One Who Stayed by Nova Ren Suma

 

Divine Are the Stars by Zoraida Córdova 

 

Daughters of Baba Yaga by Brenna Yovanoff

 

 The Well Witch by Kate Hart

 

Beware of Girls with Crooked Mouths by Jessica Spotswood

 

Love Spell by Anna-Marie McLemore

 

The Gherin Girls by Emery Lord

 

 The Only Way Back by Tristina Wright

 

Why They Watch Us Burn by Elizabeth May


My four favorites are:


Afterbirth by Andrea Cremer. This takes place in the 1600s in New England. An apprentice to a midwife is witnessed to a strange birth with a lot of details leaking out that this birth was not a result of the woman in question having sex with the devil, but more like with the master of the house. This is a great callback to the Salem Witch trials and since I just read a book about Salem, this story was uppermost in my mind while reading it. 

 

The Truth About Queenie by Brandy Colbert. Ugh. I wanted more. I was so ready to slap the dude in this story. So we have a story about a family of witches who are African American. The main character, is dealing with a lot of guilt we find because she believes (and is probably right) she threw a hex on a former friend who was bullying the love interest in this story. We also have her dealing with the fact that the boy in question is in love with someone else. When someone needs healing, he comes to her and asks for her help. 

 

The Gherin Girls by Emery Lord. Touches not only upon magic, but about mental and physical abuse. Reading about this family who love each other and won't let one of the daughters/sister disappear with a man that they know can and will hurt her. It was lovely. 

 

Why They Watch Us Burn by Elizabeth May. You will cry. You will rage. This is a great short story that feels like it was written in response to the Women's March as well as kind of companion to "A Handmaid's Tale". Considering what is in the news cycle right now you will think that Elizabeth May has a damn crystal ball. Going into why men would want to lock these teen girls up and not allow them to live is soul shaking. That all of the girls are punished for using their real names and then whisper them to each other at night. 

 

“Here’s how to fulfill a prophecy: you are a woman, you speak the truth, and the world makes you into a liar.”

Secrets of a Dysfunctional Family

Secrets of a Happy Marriage - Cathy Kelly

I honestly like most of Cathy Kelly books, but this is my least favorite book that she has published. The main problem is that no one feels very developed. Usually Kelly does a great job juggling multiple characters in a book, but too much was going on with anyone for you to even get settled with anyone. Also, two of the three "leads" sucked. I didn't like the characters of Bess or Jojo. Also Kelly's ultimate message that a widowed man needs to remarry (quite quickly) when he loses his wife since apparently they need a woman to take care of them just made me want to tear my hair out. Apparently women are fine after their husbands die (HUGE FREAKING EYEROLL). Also one wonders if this applies to gay men or just a man and woman? This whole book was problematic as hell.

 

"Secrets of a Happy Marriage" divulged very little secrets. Instead if just acted like it had these huge eye opening moments about marriages such as men need to be married after losing a wife cause they can't get by without some woman taking care of them. I don't know. I was pretty rageful while reading this book.

 

This book revolves around three characters. Bess, newly married to widowed Edward. Bess is so happy with Edward and doesn't get why her new stepdaughter (JoJo) hates her. It's not her fault her mother died and her father remarried less than two years after she passed. Bess proceeds to act entitled and whiny through this whole freaking book, so enjoy that. I think my last little bit of patience with her was when she literally cursed out Jojo and acted as if she was a monster that should not darken their doors again. Edward rightfully found his spine. However, these two never discuss anything and it was just frustrating to read. 

 

Jojo is reeling from her mother's death, her father's fast second marriage, and also her suffering multiple miscarriages. She is pulling away from family and friends and can't seem to get a handle on her grief. I at times thought that Jojo was acting impossible with regards to Bess, but I get why she was so angry. I can't imagine my mom or dad getting married a year plus after the other one died and being okay with it. I was also sick of people acting like Jojo just didn't get that men need to move on after losing a spouse. It just made it seem as if her father was heartless and clueless.


Cari had the best storyline. She was jilted at the altar and since has thrown herself into work and avoiding men. After getting shafted at her job (she's an editor) she meets a new guy who seems to be everything she has wanted and avoided. Cari and her mom and dad were the best. Plus I loved her whole work storyline and how that was resolved. Kelly paints Cari as competent at her job and happy with her house though at times wanting more. If we had just stayed with her, things would have been better.


The book also includes perspectives from Edward, Edward's son (and Jojo's brother) and Bess's daughter. They honestly were not needed and took me out of the book a bit. There was no need to cram so many characters in.

 

The writing was not very tight in this one. I found some typos in my Kindle copy of this book and also a few times wondered if I had misread something. Seems to be an issue based on comments in other reviews I have seen.

The flow was awful too. The book drags until the end and then we spring forward to an ending. 

Halloween Bingo 2018 Reads Rows 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5

Bold and underlined means it is an upcoming read and strike through means I have read it or are in the process of reading it. 

 

 

Row 1

Darkest London: Dracula by Bram Stoker

Terror in a Small Town:  Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater 

Shifters: Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews

Relics and Curiosities: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Spellbound: The Witchcraft of Salem Village by Shirley Jackson

 

Row 2 (COMPLETED)

Murder Most Foul: The Hollow Man by John Dickson Carr (a borrow from Moonlight!)

Slasher Stories: Thinner by Stephen King (Wild Card)

Genre: Horror: Salem's Lot by Stephen King

A Grimm Tale: Hunted by Megan Spooner

Romantic Suspense: The Search by Nora Roberts 

 

Row 3 (COMPLETED)

Amateur Sleuth:  A Pocket Full of Rye by Agatha Christie

Creepy Carnivals: The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson 

Free Space: Fear Nothing by Dean Koontz 

13: Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie

Fear the Drowning Deep: Cujo by Stephen King (Wild Card) 

 

Row 4

Diverse Voices: The Opposite House by Helen Oyeyemi

Dead Lands: Feed by Mira Grant

Cryptozoologist: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Modern Masters of Horror: One Was Lost by Natalie D. Richards

Doomsday: I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

 

Row 5
Terrifying Women: Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith

Baker Street Irregulars: The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene

Ghost Stories: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

New Release: Flight or Fright by by Stephen King

Southern Gothic: Tales from the Haunted South by Tiya Miles

Obsidian Black Plague's Bingo Card for 2018

Squares Called:

09/01/18-"Classic Horror"

09/03/18-"Cryptozoologist" 

09/05/18-"Cozy Mystery"

09/07/18-"New Release"

09/09/18- "Southern Gothic"

09/11/18- "Terrifying Women" 

09/13/18- "A Grimm Tale"

09/15/18- "Modern Masters of Horror" 

09/17/18- "Creepy Carnivals"

09/19/18- “Relics and Curiousities”

09/21/18- “Diverse Voices”

09/23/18- "Murder Most Foul"

 

 

 

 

Books Read

 

Terrifying Women: Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith, Read 8/30/18

 

Cryptozoologist: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, Read 9/01/18

 

Creepy Carnivals: The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson, Read 9/02/18

 

13- Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie, Read 09/03/18

 

Raven- Fear Nothing by Dean Koontz, Read 09/05/18

 

Genre: Horror-'Salem's Lot by Stephen King, Read 09/07/18

 

New Release is Flight or Fight edited by Stephen King and Bev Vincent, Read 09/10/18

 

Southern Gothic is Tales From the Haunted South by Tiya Miles, Read 09/11/18 

 

Shiters is Magic Bites (Kate Daniels #1) by Ilona Andrews, Read 09/11/18

 

Romantic Suspense is The Search by Nora Roberts, Read 9/13/18

 

Ghost Stories is Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake, Read 09/15/18

 

Slasher Stories is Thinner by Stephen King (Wild Card), Read 09/15/18

 

Fear the Drowning Deep is Cujo by Stephen King (Wild Card), Read 09/16/18

 

Modern Masters of Horror is One Was Lost by Natalie D. Richards, Read 09/17/18

 

Spellbound is The Witchcraft of Salem Village by Shirley Jackson, Read 09/18/18

 

A Grimm Tale is Hunted by Meagan Spooner, Read 09/21/18

 

Amateur Sleuth is A Pocket Full of Rye by Agatha Christie, Read 09/22/18

 

Darkest London is Dracula by Bram Stoker, Read 09/22/18

 

Diverse Voices is The Opposite House by Helen Oyeyemi, Read 09/23/18

 

Murder Most Foul is The Hollow Man by John Dickson Carr, Read 09/24/18

The Hollow Man

The Hollow Man - John Dickson Carr

Even though I was having eye problems last night, I stupidly stayed up to finish this book. It was so good. So many twists and turns and a perfect locked room murder mystery. It reminded me a bit of "The Tokyo Zodiac Murders" as well as "The Murder at the Vicarage" that you have something that is supposedly impossible, becoming possible. The ending was top notch with all revealed after two (I think there were two) red herrings. Loved this book.

 

Professor Charles Grimaud is confronted by a mysterious man come across him and soem of his friends who claims that men can arise from the grave and walk through walls. Not going to lie here, was a bit confused where Carr was taking us. But all is explained later on to my and potential readers satisfaction.

The man, illusionist Pierre Fley claims that he himself has arisen from a grave and threatens Grimaud by saying that his brother wants him dead. We then follow a few days later and found that Grimaud has been shot and left to die in a room that a man entered and did not leave. When Dr. Gideon Fell and Superintendent Hadley come onto the scene, the question is how did the professor get shot and the would be murderer get away with no one seeing them? Also there are no footprints in the snow so how did the person get away? Did they fly? Believe me I spent most of this book trying out different solutions and was wrong with all of them. Good luck to you if you manage to figure this out.

 

I don't want to spoil anymore of the plot cause so much happens that at times you are going to go wait a minute? What? And have to go back and re-read. 


I loved the writing though at times the story gets a bit bogged down with Fell trying to tell Hadley what he has wrong or telling Hadley that he himself was wrong. I maybe went what a few times. The flow gets better after we get to Grimaud being shot. Not going to lie, the first part confused the life out of me so had to start the story twice in order to get a better sense of people that were being named. 


Carr includes diagrams of the room prior to the solution being provided and another diagram after the solution is provided which I totally got a kick out of. 

 

The ending surprised the heck out of me though. I was expecting another paragraph or something, but nothing doing. 

 

Confusing Characters & Timelines

The opposite house. - Helen Oyeyemi

I was left with mostly confusion about this one. I think that Oyeyemi is a good writer, but since the timelines kept jumping around with Maja's remembrances I could never be sure of things. Towards the end of the book things got more simplified with Maja focusing on her pregnancy, her relationship with Aaron, and her poisoned one with her friend Amy Eleni. The book just abruptly ends leaving you with a severe case of what just happened. At least it left me with that.

 

I loved hearing about the African Cuban experience in Cuba as well as in London after Maja's family immigrates to Britain. However, Oyeyemi breaks up Maja's narrative by also including her mother's involvement with Santeria and also an Orisha named Yemaya Saramagua (an Orisha is a minor God in Santeria and Nigeria).  house” between Cuba and Lagos. Orishas are the human form of the spirits (called Irunmoles) sent by Olorun. The Irunmọlẹ are meant to guide creation and particularly humanity on how to live and succeed on Earth Ayé. I spent most of the book confused anytime we left Maja for glimpses/looks at Yemaya Saramangua. I also spent a lot of time with Google and Wikipedia looking things up. 

 

I realized after doing some research that Yemaya I think is also known as Yemoja who is an Orisha and the mother of all Orishas, having given birth to the 14 Yoruba gods and goddesses. She is often syncretized with either Our Lady of Regla in the Afro-Cuban or seen as various other Virgin Mary figures of the Catholic Church. Yemoja is motherly and strongly protective, and cares deeply for all her children, comforting them and cleansing them of sorrow. She is said to be able to cure infertility in women, and cowrie shells represent her wealth. So I can see why this is the Orisha that ping pongs between chapters of us readers following Maja through her first pregnancy. 

 

I didn't really care for Maja though. She was a confusing character and I don't really know what she wanted. Throughout the book she talks of her son and having ownership of him more than the father of the baby. However, at times she doesn't seem to be interested in things related to her pregnancy (eating well or visiting the doctor). She seems fixated on returning to Cuba and I just don't know what she was looking to find there. I am not an immigrant, so I am sure that I am missing something from this book that others would be able to get a fix on. To me it just seemed her character was confused from beginning to end. And I honestly couldn't get a fix on other characters. 


Maja's brother Tomas who is known throughout as the London baby (since he was not born in Cuba like Maja was) reads as half a person in this book. Tomas is not seen as Cuban since he is African and he is not seen as African since he is also Cuban. Tomas is not home sick for Cuba like Maja proclaims to be, but just wants to be somewhere that he belongs.  


Maja's relationship with Aaron was also confusing. We know that Aaron is white, but was born and raised in Ghana. So he feels as if he can explain what it is to be black to Maja's father at times or take exception for not really getting what it is to be black/Ghanian. Just by the color of his skin, Aaron is privileged and doesn't really get it. We see this again and again throughout the book. Especially when he mentors three of Amy Eleni's students. I don't get her attraction to him since she doesn't seem to like him much.

 

Maja's messed up friendship with Amy Eleni was confusing to me too. Amy Eleni was not a good friend. She talks about Maja's pregnancy like it's not happening or seems to hope she miscarries at times. Amy Eleni has been friends with Maja since they were young, but her mother (Maja's) hasn't trusted her since she is white. And Amy Eleni also seems to have feelings for Maja that she is ignoring. 

 

The writing was lyrical and beautiful. I just wish I could get a good sense of rhythm will reading. I think the chapters alternating from Maja and back again after a look at Yemaya Saramagua didn't really work for me at all. I started to skim most of Yemaya's chapters after a while since I kept having to look up words or people named. 

 

The ending of the book was abrupt with us not knowing what Maja is going to do next. 

 

Posting Reviews & Other Matters

Sorry, everything seems to be going crazy in the U.S. right now and I had reviews ready, but got distracted. A review wave is coming since I read a lot this weekend. Just didn't have a chance to keep updating my to reading here and on Goodreads. BL was acting weird when I tried searches on Saturday/Sunday so I just gave up.


Thanks to all who are playing Halloween Bingo. We will be heading into month two next week. As Moonlight already posted, if your card is filled or about to called, you can request another card.

 

 

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 84 out of 224 pages.

The Hollow Man - John Dickson Carr

My left eye is starting to bother me so I’m going to try to read for a bit and sleep.

 

So this is a cool locked room mystery with a drawing. I’ve gone over the facts I know at present and still can’t figure this out. Dr. Fell is hilarious and Hadley is going to throttle him soon. This book weirdly links Transylvania and the tale of Dracula.

 

 

 

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 1 out of 224 pages.

The Hollow Man - John Dickson Carr

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 100%.

The opposite house. - Helen Oyeyemi

I am so confused. I feel like I’m missing a book or pages. Maja’s insistence to go back to Cuba while pregnant is baffling to me. Also her friendship with Amy Eleni was disturbing. I just spent most of this book feeling confused.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 39%.

The opposite house. - Helen Oyeyemi

I am so confused. The book keeps jumping around and you get introduced to new characters than circle back to older ones.

 

At least I finally figured out the main character’s name is Maja.

 

Shes grown up now and singing in a band. I do like her talking about being a black Cuban and the other black people she meets who don’t fit what most people think of when describing Cubans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 18%.

The opposite house. - Helen Oyeyemi

A little confused about who is who in this one but am loving the words. There’s such imagery behind everything.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bingo Call: 9/23/18

Reblogged from Moonlight Madness:

SPOILER ALERT!

The End of Narcissus

The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde, Camille Cauti

I have never read this one before now. I knew the bare bones of the story due to my high school English class having excerpts of the story. I guess I never wanted to read about a murdering guy who was too beautiful to live. Though I found parts of the story compelling, I found myself getting bored here and there. Probably because we would go some chapters and just read about what Dorian was up to. The book was much better when there was dialogue between characters. I also don't even get why Dorian killed Basil besides him just becoming unhinged. And him demanding another former friend help him just seemed stupid. So for most of the book I was waiting for him to get caught. Wilde ends things on an ironic note with how Dorian eventually ends up dying. 

 

"Dorian Gray" has the title character not coming into the story right away. Instead he is a discussion between Basil Hallward (who is a painter) and Lord Henry. Basil has become obsessed with painting someone and goes on about how perfectly beautiful he is. Basil doesn't want Lord Henry to meet Dorian since he foreshadows that somehow Lord Henry will ruin him. So before we even meet Dorian, we have two men battling over his soul. Lord Henry of course wants to meet Dorian since he likes beautiful people as long as they are not boring. 

When Dorian comes across Lord Henry he is flattered as his attention and almost instantly wishes to be more like him. While sitting for the painting Dorian wishes that he can stay young and beautiful before and that somehow the painting off him will age instead. Dorian is brought down by listening to Lord Henry and his long butt dialogues about what really matters in this world is enjoying everything though it may be wrong.

 

We fast forward a bit to Dorian being happy and telling Basil and Lord Henry that he met the woman he is going to marry. The woman is named Sibyl and she's an actress. It seemed at first that maybe Dorian could be good and lose Lord Henry's influence, but unfortunately things get really bad when Dorian takes his friends to see Sibyl and her acting as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet is awful. I mean you want to throw pies at her awful. Due to Dorian hating imperfect things he is quite ready to throw Sibyl away. Dorian doesn't feel bad about the way he has treated her until he comes upon the painting and sees that his mouth has now turned cruel. Wanting to make sure that his soul stays pure, Dorian decides he will stand by and still marry Sibyl, too bad he finds out that she killed herself over his rejection of her. From there the book just follows Dorian as he sets about ruining himself and others over 18 years. 

 

I did find myself getting quite bored at times. And weirdly enough I did agree with Dorian when he rejected Basil when he came to tell him that his reputation was being ruined in London. Dorian called his accusers hypocrites for doing the same things as he was, he was just not hiding it. Also I wonder at these men and women who let themselves be seduced by him. It sees as if only Basil and Lord Henry didn't sit around and do what Dorian wanted.


The book goes into a free fall after Basil is murdered with Dorian getting more scared that he will be found out and then scared that Sibyl's brother who has been hunting him for years will find him and kill him. 

 

In the end, Dorian dies after plunging a knife into the painting that he blames for all of his troubles. He is found by his servants and they are shocked at finding an old man in their master's chambers. Wilde heavily implies that no one will miss Dorian besides his servants.