Diving Into Sub-Genres: Vampire Horror

This post may contain affiliate links for books we recommend.  Read the full disclosure here.

We each have our own preferred genres of choice. Kate loves horrors and thrillers, really anything that will keep her up at night! And Serena enjoys escaping through hidden doors into realms of magic and adventure. We also read mysteries, historical fiction, graphic novels, etc. etc. And that’s not even counting the multitude of sub-genres contained within each greater genre. In this series, one of us with present a list of our favorites from within a given sub-genre of one of our greater preferred genres.

I have been obsessed with vampires for a very long time. While in childhood I liked vampire stories just fine, it was “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” in middle and high school that really gelled with me, genre wise. And vampire horror is still a sub-genre that I really love, even if I have VERY picky standards for it. There is so much you can do with vampires, mostly because they are not only iconic in horror, they have so much history in folklore all around the world.

There are so many types of vampire stories to tell. The tried and true Gothic sensibilities with castles and or manors run by monsters. The deeply romantic vampire story with eroticism bubbling over. The feral creatures who are just out to destroy and eat. I’ve read many vampire tales and vetted through the highs and the lows (here’s a tip: if you aren’t into Amish romance, a vampire themed Amish romance isn’t going to do it for you). The books I’ve selected for this list kind of tap into the different themes, and are, to me, stand outs in the genre for various reasons. I could have listed many more but limited myself. Just know these are by no means the only good vampire stories out there! They’re just jumping off points.

Book: “The Vampyre” by John William Polidori

I mean, I’ve mentioned “Dracula” in other book lists, and while “Dracula” is absolutely a great vampire novel (like, the grandfather of the genre, really), I wanted to think outside the box. Instead, let’s talk about “The Vampyre” by John William Polidori, which was one of the influences on “Dracula”. Taken from the short tale that Lord Byron told on that fateful trip with Mary Shelley, Poliodori expanded upon it and created a complete short story that was published (and repeatedly misattributed to Byron, as much as both men tried to correct this misconception). It follows a young man named Aubrey, who travels to London and meets an aristocrat named Lord Ruthvern. They hit it off, and Ruthvern asks Aubrey to travel with him around Europe. As they travel together, people around them start dying in strange ways, namely their throats being torn out. By the time Aubrey has put two and two together regarding his friend, it’s too late. Poliodori was the guy who took the idea of feral creatures of folklore and made them into a predatory, enigmatic, and charming high class man of society who preys upon those around and below him.

Book Series: “The Vampire Chronicles” by Anne Rice

A lot of the sexy and erotic vampire themes we see in today’s vampire stories can be directly traced to the likes of Louis, Lestat, Armand, et al in “The Vampire Chronicles”, Anne Rice’s dreamy, vicious, and subtly steamy vampire series. Starting with a fairly simple “Interview With the Vampire”, in which a vampire named Louis tells his story of becoming a vampire and the way it changed him, and going to stranger realms with “Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis”, we follow a complex mythology and history of a group of vampires and their melancholy, or outlandish, backstories. From 18th Century New Orleans to 1980s America to BCE Egypt, Rice takes her characters to many settings and connects them through time and relationships and blood. Lestat is the clear center of the tale, his vain and over the top personality so much fun follow (seriously. I love Lestat), but with other interesting characters who pop in and out the stories have a lot of influence on today’s vampire mythos. And the simmering sexiness of Lestat and his implied and/or confirmed lovers is PALPABLE. While sexy vampires have always been a thing, Rice tapped into it in ways others had not, and it works. I haven’t read them all (I never went past “Queen of the Damned”), but I wholly intend to keep going. If only because Lestat is such an iconic vampire in literature.

Book: “Let the Right One In” by John Ajvide Lindqvist

If you’re looking for a claustrophobic vampire story involving children, loneliness, friendship(?), and coming of age, “Let the Right One In” by John Ajvide Lindqvist is going to be the one to check out. I read this around the time the film came to America’s arthouse movie theaters, and was immediately pulled in by how it was simultaneously sweet as well as deeply unnerving. Oskar is an isolated twelve year old boy who lives in a Swedish housing complex with his mother. Oskar has no friends at school and is repeatedly bullied, but then a new girl named Eli moves into the building with her father…. Although, he isn’t her father. And Eli isn’t a normal little girl. She’s a vampire who has been around for hundreds of years. Both Oskar and Eli are seeking connections, though their reasons are very different. On the surface this story seems like a lovely tale of friendship found between outsiders, and to some extent it is. But there is also the nagging sensation that Eli has darker motives for wanting a new companion, and taps into the ideas that vampires are, by nature, predatory, and even if they think they can love, they never really can. It hits ya right in the feels.

Book: “The Coldest Girl in Coldtown” by Holly Black

I felt a need to have an example of YA vampire fiction on this list, but wasn’t going to highlight “Twilight” (it’s just not my bag, baby). Instead, I turn to Holly Black’s “The Coldest Girl in Coldtown”, a YA vampire story that is less romantic and more thriller and horror driven in its storytelling. Tana is a teenage girl who wakes up at a friend’s house after a raucous party… and finds most of the guests are dead, killed by a vampire. Her ex boyfriend Aidan survived, but looks like he’s been infected by vampirism. And there is a strange vampire boy who claims his innocence, and needs protection. So Tana opts to rescue them all and take them to the nearest Coldtown, a fenced off community where vampires and other creatures can live in sanctuary. But usually when you enter a Coldtown, you can’t leave. So Tana has to figure out how to get around that. This book is fast paced and feels a bit like a YA vampire “Escape from New York”, and Tana is a very enjoyable main character who kicks a lot of ass.

Book: “‘Salem’s Lot” by Stephen King

I’d be remiss if I left my man Stephen King off this list, and “‘Salem’s Lot” is his entry into the vampire zeitgeist. And because it’s King, he brings in not only some good vampire horror, but also some other more ‘elevated’ themes, as elevated as Danny Glick was outside Mark Petrie’s window. Ben Mears returns to the small town of Jerusalem’s Lot, where he spent a good chunk of his childhood, after years of being away. When he arrives, he finds himself in the midst of strange occurrences. Little does he know, at least at first, a new community member named Kurt Barlow is a vampire, and he intends on turning the entire town into a vampire community. So Ben has to team up with other towns people to stop him. So while we have our ‘vampire infiltrating a human community’ story, King also dabbles in the metaphors of homecoming and the darkness and dissipation of small town America.

Book Series: “The Strain Trilogy” by Guillermo del Toro, and Chuck Hogan

And finally, I wanted to tackle a vampire story that has a SUPER unique idea of vampirism and how it comes to pass, and that is “The Strain” Trilogy by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan. While many modern vampire tales stick to the tried and true ‘vampires sire other vampires’ mechanism, del Toro and Hogan ask ‘what if it was like a parasitic disease?’ When a commercial airliner arrives at JFK and comes to a halt halfway down the runway, with all the communication down and no signs of life aboard, the fear is bioterrorism. So when Ephraim Goodweather of the CDC arrives to check out the threat, he thinks he knows what to expect. But then he boards the plane, and finds everyone dead, he’s horrified. What Ephraim doesn’t know, however, is that this isn’t a bioweapon that anyone can conceive of. What it is is a vampire virus that infects people via parasites, and makes them in the thrall of a master who intends to wipe out humanity. The first book, “The Strain”, is pretty darn good. Admittedly the other two didn’t live up to it, but it’s still super unique and fun to see del Toro play with expectations of the genre.

What are some of your favorite vampire books? Let us know in the comments!

Highlights: May 2022

This post may contain affiliate links for books we recommend.  Read the full disclosure here.

According to the poets, May is the month that we can hold in contempt if it doesn’t not provide the necessary number of flowers to make up for all of the April showers. But, in the meantime, we’ll take the fact that the trees are showing signs of life as good enough for now. There have even been a few tempting days of sun that promise of days to come when reading outside will once again be an option. Until then, here are some books we’re looking forward to his month!

Serena’s Picks

Book: “The Murder of Mr. Wickham” by Claudia Gray

Publication Date: May 3, 2022

Why I’m Interested: I think most Jane Austen fans are probably one of the snobbier groups of readers when it comes to adaptations of their beloved original novels. But as “Death Comes to Pemberley” proves, miracles can happen and good book (even good mini series!) can come from continuations of these stories. Here, we have a murder mystery that takes place in the home of Emma and Mr. Knightley. The suspects? All of our beloved main couples from the other novels! And who better to solve the mystery than the oldest son of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, Jonathan, and the young daughter of the Tilney’s, Juliet. I’m so nervous and hopeful for this book!

Book: “Wind Daughter” by Joanna Ruth Meyer

Publication Date: May 17, 2022

Why I’m Interested: After really enjoying “Echo North,” it was a no-brainer to jump immediately on to the sequel that was conveniently coming out this month! We even met the main character, the daughter of the North Wind himself, in the first book! Here, we follow the story of Satu as she travels the land trying to reign in her father’s magic that has gone wild after the death of the evil queen in the last book. But is she gone for good? Or is she controlling the actions of the mysterious Lord of Winter, a man who seems to pop up wherever Satu finds herself and clearly has plans of his own. I really enjoyed “Echo North,” and it’s always great to find a series of books that exist in the same world but are each stand-alones in their own right.

Book: “The Stardust Thief” by Chelsea Abdullah

Publication Date: May 17, 2022

Why I’m Interested: Will I ever get tired of reading books based on “The Arabian Nights” or reimagining the world of jinn? No, no I will not. So I was so excited when I received an ARC of this one in the mail. This is a three POV book featuring a thief, a merchant of magical goods, and a storyteller prince. Thrown together against all of their wills, they are sent on a perilous journey to recover a magical lamp said to house the most powerful jinn of them all. But in a land where jinn are hunted for their magic, there are more powerful figures scheming behind the scenes than any of them could imagine. The entire thing sounds super exciting and right up my alley. Can’t wait to dive in!

Kate’s Picks

Book: “The Hacienda” by Isabel Cañas

Publication Date: May 3, 2022

Why I’m Interested: Gothic ghost stories always catch my attention, and when the comparisons to “Mexican Gothic” and “Rebecca” were added to the description as well, my attention was less caught and more snared. When Beatríz marries Don Rodolfo Solórzano she moves to his home of Hacidena San Isidro, with the hopes that this marriage will provide her with the security that she lost when her father was murdered by opposition forces. But when strange and terrifying things start to happen in her new home, she wonders if the rumors of his first wife’s demise are perhaps true, and turns to a young priest for help. I’m always looking for new Gothic stories, and when they go beyond the typical conventions with themes and characters it’s all the more interesting.

Book: “Hide” by Kiersten White

Publication Date: May 24, 2022

Why I’m Interested: Serena and I have reviewed Kiersten White on this blog a number of times, though admittedly she’s been more in Serena’s camp, genre wise. But we’re back to a suspenseful and/or horror story from her, and I am very excited about that! An old abandoned amusement park is the setting for a high stakes hide and seek game that goes on for a week. If you aren’t found, you will win lots of money. Mack has entered because she has had to hide from serious danger in the past, so she feels she could easily win. But when her competitors start to disappear, Mack starts to think that things are even more dangerous than she could have ever imagined. This all sounds supremely strange and creepy, so I’m very excited for this one.

Book: “The Last Comic Book on the Left” by Ben Kissel, Marcus Parks, Henry Zebrowski et al

Publication Date: May 10, 2022

Why I’m Interested: If the “Last Podcast” guys are involved, I’m going to be 100% on board. Given how much I loved their first book “The Last Book on the Left” (and how much I love their podcast), when I heard that Marcus Parks, Ben Kissel, and Henry Zebrowski had pulled together a comic book with various odd tales from their show, I was amped. And you REALLY have me when you make promises of Mothman in any form, so this promised sexy Mothman has be vaguely nervous but also very interested. I’m also very curious to see who they all bring on board in terms of comics people, and what styles they are going to bring to these stories.

What books are you looking forward to this month? Let us know in the comments!

Not Just Books: April 2022

While we do love us some books, believe it not, we do have a life outside of reading. So to highlight our other pop culture interests, on the last Monday of each month, we each will highlight three other “happenings” from the last month. Big events on favorite TV shows, new movies we’ve watched, old movies we’ve “discovered,” etc. Pretty much whatever we found of particular interest outside of the book world during the last month. Share your own favorite things in the comments!

Serena’s Picks

TV Show: “Chernobyl”

Per the usual, I’m over a year behind the fads of the shows everyone’s watching. For this one, it’s purely because I had to work myself up to being able to watch it. When it came out, I was right in the middle of new babydom and knew my emotional state was not in the right place for the super depressing scenes that were sure to come. And now, a year later, it was still a tough watch! Likely because I now ended up watching right in the middle of the war going on in Ukraine. Really made some of those images of bus loads full of fleeing individuals hit harder than usual. Not to mention some of the crazy stories coming out recently of Russian soldiers dicking around near Chernobyl and being exposed to radiation. I think it really comes down to casting, though, for this one; the performances were all so strong! I highly recommend it if you haven’t watched it yet. Though you’ll definitely need some tissues on hand.

TV Show: “Sick Note”

While I’ve seen a few different things with Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe in them since the “Harry Potter” movies came out, I haven’t seen Rupert Grint in anything else. Which is actually pretty shocking since I think, of the three, he was by far the strongest actor if you look at the entire collection of movies. Watson and Radcliffe came into their own and are both good now, but Grint’s comedic instincts were strong from the start (I’ll avoid my rant about how they ruined Ron by making him only a comic relief character). This show tells the darkly funny story of kind of loser-ish young man who finds himself diagnosed with cancer. Only to later find out that that was actually wrong. But how to walk back a cancer declaration when your life has seemed to improve by being sick? It’s a really funny, fun show. Though, be warned, it does end on a bit of a cliff-hanger in the second season and the show was later dropped (stupid Netflix strikes again!)

Video Game: “Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey”

It’s been way too long since I’ve really dove into a video game. Much to my own dismay and probably my husband’s relief. I do become rather obsessive when I find one I like! I played the original “Assassin’s Creed” years ago and then promptly missed every release since then. But I saw this pop up on discount on my console (so, yeah, I’m one of those people for whom the ads work, I guess) and thought it was time to jump back in. I love the open world format and the beautiful landscapes that you explore in this story. I also really like the main story and some of the side objectives. I find it particularly satisfying slowly ticking off a list of evil cultists, for example. Fans of the series may know better than me how this installation stands up to others, but I, for one, am having a blast!

Kate’s Picks

TV Show: “Our Flag Means Death”

About a decade ago now (oh lord that’s insane to type) when I worked at a local museum we had an exhibit about pirates make a stop, and I was one of the employees who worked inside of it. My coworkers and I made up elaborate stories involving pirates such as Blackbeard and Sam Bellamy in which they were absolutely sleeping with each other, just to pass the time on the museum floor. Well, “Our Flag Means Death” is basically that. But far more witty and hilarious. It follows Stede Bonnet, aka The Gentleman Pirate, as he and his hapless crew sail the seas in search of adventure, and do so with hilarious results and lots of humorous scrapes to be had. But when Bonnet and his men run into Blackbeard and his crew, things get interesting, as Blackbeard and Stede form an instant connection. Meanwhile Stede’s crew is making connections of their own, from the foppish Lucius and snide Black Pete to the mysterious Jim and down to Earth Oluwande. Love stories about, diversity in abundance, and seriously hilarious performances by Rhys Darby and Taika Waititi (as well as SO SO ACHINGLY BEAUTIFUL).

YouTube Channel: “Fundie Fridays”

Back in December, I was completely hooked on the news coming out of the Josh Duggar Trial. As someone who has always found the Duggars, and really any fundamentalist group and or/cult, to be freak show levels of fascinating, I was tuned in to see if he was going to be convicted of possessing some of the most horrendous child sexual abuse materials ever known while being propped up in a group that is incredibly harmful to its women members and throws a lot of bile and venom towards the LGBTQIA+ community (and he was, thank goodness). While following it with one of my friends, she told me to check out Fundie Fridays, a YouTube channel in which a woman named Jen does her make up and talks about various fundamentalist Christian groups and personalities. I held off because I knew once I did, I would be consumed, and this month I dove into it. And, yes, was fully consumed. Jen covers all sorts of topics, from the Duggars/IBLP, to the FLDS, to influencers like Girl Defined and Brittany Dawn, and also branches out to non-Christian zealots like Heaven’s Gate and Aleister Crowley. Jen is VERY funny, and can be snarky, but she is also very respectful of people who are unassuming victims of these groups, and does a lot of research. She definitely gives more grace than I probably would.

Film: “The Batman”

It’s been a lot of outside looking in for me as movies have started exclusive first runs at theaters again, as I’m still limiting my public indoor time since my two year old can’t be vaccinated yet. One of the movies I was anxious to see was “The Batman”, the new interpretation of my beloved caped crusader/weirdo. So the day that it dropped on HBOMax I sat down and dove in. And oh man, it was one hundred percent my jam. “The Batman” is a noir-esque unhinged and yet completely in control version of the Batman universe in dark, gritty glory. There are serious “Se7en” shades here, and yet even though I don’t like “Se7en” it really works in this context. Robert Pattinson is a young Bruce Wayne, two years into his time as Batman, when Gotham’s rich and powerful start being targeted by a sadistic Riddler. He teams up with Selina Kyle to try and figure out who the Ridder is, and how deep the corruption the murderer hopes to expose runs. Pattinson plays Bruce as a good mix of weirdo and noble, Zoe Kravitz is a very enjoyable Selina/Catwoman, and Paul Dano is TERRIFYING as Riddler. It is a nice darker version of Batman without being super pretentious, and it makes me want to re-read “The Long Halloween”.

Another Take: Spring 2022

This post may contain affiliate links for books we recommend.  Read the full disclosure here.

Don’t just take it from us, other readers like these books, too! And we have decided that we would like to showcase other reviewers and bloggers that have their own thoughts and feelings about books that we have loved. Here are a few of the books we’ve enjoyed recently and what other bloggers have to say about them.

Book: “The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea” by Axie Oh

Book Description: Deadly storms have ravaged Mina’s homeland for generations. Floods sweep away entire villages, while bloody wars are waged over the few remaining resources. Her people believe the Sea God, once their protector, now curses them with death and despair. In an attempt to appease him, each year a beautiful maiden is thrown into the sea to serve as the Sea God’s bride, in the hopes that one day the “true bride” will be chosen and end the suffering.

Many believe that Shim Cheong, the most beautiful girl in the village—and the beloved of Mina’s older brother Joon—may be the legendary true bride. But on the night Cheong is to be sacrificed, Joon follows Cheong out to sea, even knowing that to interfere is a death sentence. To save her brother, Mina throws herself into the water in Cheong’s stead.

Swept away to the Spirit Realm, a magical city of lesser gods and mythical beasts, Mina seeks out the Sea God, only to find him caught in an enchanted sleep. With the help of a mysterious young man named Shin—as well as a motley crew of demons, gods and spirits—Mina sets out to wake the Sea God and bring an end to the killer storms once and for all.

Serena’s Review (9 Rating)

Reading ASIAM

Rich in Color

The Nerd Daily (9 Rating)

Book: “A Far Wilder Magic” by Allison Saft

Book Description: When Margaret Welty spots the legendary hala, the last living mythical creature, she knows the Halfmoon Hunt will soon follow. Whoever is able to kill the hala will earn fame and riches, and unlock an ancient magical secret. If Margaret wins the hunt, it may finally bring her mother home. While Margaret is the best sharpshooter in town, only teams of two can register, and she needs an alchemist.

Weston Winters isn’t an alchemist–yet. Fired from every apprenticeship he’s landed, his last chance hinges on Master Welty taking him in. But when Wes arrives at Welty Manor, he finds only Margaret and her bloodhound Trouble. Margaret begrudgingly allows him to stay, but on one condition: he must join the hunt with her.

Although they make an unlikely team, Wes is in awe of the girl who has endured alone on the outskirts of a town that doesn’t want her, in this creaking house of ghosts and sorrow. And even though Wes disrupts every aspect of her life, Margaret is drawn to him. He, too, knows what it’s like to be an outsider. As the hunt looms closer and tensions rise, Margaret and Wes uncover dark magic that could be the key to winning the hunt – if they survive that long.

Serena’s Review (9 Rating)

The Quill to Live (8 Rating)

The Story Sanctuary

F(r)iction Lit

Book: “Nettle & Bone” by T. Kingfisher

Book Description: After years of seeing her sisters suffer at the hands of an abusive prince, Marra—the shy, convent-raised, third-born daughter—has finally realized that no one is coming to their rescue. No one, except for Marra herself.

Seeking help from a powerful gravewitch, Marra is offered the tools to kill a prince—if she can complete three impossible tasks. But, as is the way in tales of princes, witches, and daughters, the impossible is only the beginning.

On her quest, Marra is joined by the gravewitch, a reluctant fairy godmother, a strapping former knight, and a chicken possessed by a demon. Together, the five of them intend to be the hand that closes around the throat of the prince and frees Marra’s family and their kingdom from its tyrannous ruler at last.

Serena’s Review (10 Rating)

Reading Reality (5 Stars)

Unwrapping Words (5 Stars)

Lore of the Books (4 Stars)

Book: “My Dearest Darkest” by Kayla Cottingham

Book Description: Finch Chamberlin is the newest transfer student to the ultra-competitive Ulalume Academy… but she’s also not what she seems. Months before school started, Finch and her parents got into an accident that should have left her dead at the bottom of a river. But something monstrous, and ancient, and terrifying, wouldn’t let her drown. Finch doesn’t know why she woke up after her heart stopped, but since dying she’s felt a constant pull from the school and the surrounding town of Rainwater, like something on the island is calling to her.

Selena St. Clair sees right through Finch, and she knows something is seriously wrong with her. But despite Selena’s suspicion, she feels drawn to Finch and has a sinking feeling that from now on the two will be inexplicably linked to one another.

One night Finch, Selena, and her friends accidentally summon a carnivorous creature of immense power in the depths of the school. It promises to grant every desire the girls have kept locked away in their insecure hearts―beauty, power, adoration―in exchange for a price: human body parts. But as the cost of their wanting becomes more deadly, Finch and Selena must learn to work together to stop the horror they unleashed, before it consumes the entire island.

Kate’s Review (7 Rating)

As Told By Bex Review

Pop Horror Review

Book: “All The White Spaces” by Ally Wilkes

Book Description: In the wake of the First World War, Jonathan Morgan stows away on an Antarctic expedition, determined to find his rightful place in the world of men. Aboard the expeditionary ship of his hero, the world-famous explorer James “Australis” Randall, Jonathan may live as his true self—and true gender—and have the adventures he has always been denied. But not all is smooth sailing: the war casts its long shadow over them all, and grief, guilt, and mistrust skulk among the explorers.

When disaster strikes in Antarctica’s frozen Weddell Sea, the men must take to the land and overwinter somewhere which immediately seems both eerie and wrong; a place not marked on any of their part-drawn mapsof the vast white continent. Now completely isolated, Randall’s expedition has no ability to contact the outside world. And no one is coming to rescue them.

In the freezing darkness of the Polar night, where the aurora creeps across the sky, something terrible has been waiting to lure them out into its deadly landscape

As the harsh Antarctic winter descends, this supernatural force will prey on their deepest desires and deepest fears to pick them off one by one. It is up to Jonathan to overcome his own ghosts before he and the expedition are utterly destroyed.

Kate’s Review (7 Rating)

Read By Dusk Review

Little Bird Book Blog Review

California Reading Review

Book: “Secret Identity” by Alex Segura

Book Description: It’s 1975 and the comic book industry is struggling, but Carmen Valdez doesn’t care. She’s an assistant at Triumph Comics, which doesn’t have the creative zeal of Marvel nor the buttoned-up efficiency of DC, but it doesn’t matter. Carmen is tantalizingly close to fulfilling her dream of writing a superhero book.

That dream is nearly a reality when one of the Triumph writers enlists her help to create a new character, which they call “The Lethal Lynx,” Triumph’s first female hero. But her colleague is acting strangely and asking to keep her involvement a secret. And then he’s found dead, with all of their scripts turned into the publisher without her name. Carmen is desperate to piece together what happened to him, to hang on to her piece of the Lynx, which turns out to be a runaway hit. But that’s complicated by a surprise visitor from her home in Miami, a tenacious cop who is piecing everything together too quickly for Carmen, and the tangled web of secrets and resentments among the passionate eccentrics who write comics for a living.

Alex Segura uses his expertise as a comics creator as well as his unabashed love of noir fiction to create a truly one-of-a-kind novel–hard-edged and bright-eyed, gritty and dangerous, and utterly absorbing.

Kate’s Review (9 Rating)

The Wandering Wordsmith Review

Coot’s Reviews Review

Jessica Map Reviews Review

Highlights: April 2022

This post may contain affiliate links for books we recommend.  Read the full disclosure here.

We’ve finally started to see some warmer days and some snow melting. But the biggest perk has been the return to longer days and lighter evenings. Us Minnesotans are an optimistic bunch with regards to these (comparably) milder temperatures, so it wouldn’t surprise us to see people breaking out the BBQs in the balmy 50 degree days we’re see. We’re happy enough to still stay indoors, though, with our books. Here are some we’re looking forward to this month!

Serena’s Picks

Book: “The City of Dusk” by Tara Sim

Why I’m Interested: For one thing, I really like the cover on this book. I’d definitely stop and check it out had I come across it in the bookstore. Luckily for me, the publisher sent me an early copy, so this one will be coming up soon in my reviews! The story follows four heirs to powerful families, each that follow a unique god that grants them specific magical abilities. But dark powers are moving and the gods are restless. Can these four navigate the way forward, each with their own motivations and fears? I’m always a bit nervous about multiple POV books, but I’m pretty excited to check this one out!

Book: “Nettle & Bone” by T. Kingfisher

Why I’m Interested: Again, great cover! Love everything about. I also love everything about what this stories seems to be about. That is, a fairytale of a young woman who sets out on a quest to save her sister from her cruel husband, the prince of a neighboring land. Along the way, she meets a powerful fairy godmother, a possessed chicken, and a knight from another land who fell into a fairy circle and has been trapped for who knows how long. Like I said, everything about that sounds right up my alley! I love fairytales and the combination of magical quests with seemingly quirky characters (possessed chicken??) seems like a recipe for success in my book. Can’t wait to check it out!

Book: “Hotel Magnifique” by Emily J. Taylor

Why I’m Interested: This book has garnered comparison to “The Night Circus.” That’s both an incredible plus (“The Night Circus” is so popular that I’m sure tons of fantasy readers will leap at any chance to reexperience that blend of magic!). But it’s also a heavy weight to carry. Can this story stand up to that behemoth? The story follows a young woman and her sister who are hired on as help at the mysterious and magical Hotel Magnifique, a hotel that holds wonders within its doors and magically jumps from location to location. So right away it’s easy to see the connection to “The Night Circus.” I also always love sisters stories, so I’m not going to lie, my expectations for this one are pretty high!

Kate’s Picks

Book: “Very Bad People” by Kit Frick

Publication Date: April 5, 2022

Why I’m Interested: The whole ’secret society at a boarding school’ angle absolutely catches my interest, as does the fact that it’s a new Kit Frick book. I enjoyed ”I Killed Zoe Spanos” when it came out a couple years ago, so I look forward to reading something new by her. When Calliope joins a new prestigious private school, it’s a nice change of pace after a few years of mourning her mother’s death in a car accident. She is soon approached by the Haunt and Rail, a secret society on campus that strives to put social justice at the forefront of the school community. But when Calliope finds out that her mother was also a member when she went to the school, and that it may have connection to her death, she feels she has to investigate. No matter how dangerous it could be. Dark academia is always a solid concept for me, so this sounds promising.

Book: “The Fervor” by Alma Katsu

Publication Date: April 26, 2022

Why I’m Interested: I have really loved Alma Katsu’s previous historical horror novels, and this one sounds like it’s going to be her most relevant and disturbing yet. Taking place at one of the Japanese internment camps during WWII, it follows a mother and daughter duo named Meiko and Aiko, who have been imprisoned while the family patriarch fights in the war. Soon a mysterious illness is spreading through the camp, which starts off normal enough, but then turns into uncontrollable fits of aggression. As Meiko investigates, she becomes convinced that it is actually a demon from her past that is hellbent on entering their world, and hopes to stop it. Japanese internment still feels super relevant these days, and I cannot wait to see what Katsu does with that theme as well as the themes of yokai in Japanese folklore.

Book: “Locke & Key: The Golden Age” by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodríguez (Ill.)

Publication Date: April 26, 2022

Why I’m Interested: The timing on this really worked out, given that the past two comics re-reads I did were ”Locke & Key” and ”The Sandman”! Joe Hill returns to Keyhouse as well as his Locke family mythology to tell more stories about the keys and the realms they open, bringing Gabriel Rodriguez along for the ride. This collection has some new stories, as well as the crossover that ”Locke & Key” did with ”The Sandman” universe. I’ve been very interested to look into more of the Key mythos, and to see the way that two well plotted fantasy horror comics come together as one.

What books are you looking forward to this month? Let us know in the comments!

Not Just Books: March 2022

While we do love us some books, believe it not, we do have a life outside of reading. So to highlight our other pop culture interests, on the last Monday of each month, we each will highlight three other “happenings” from the last month. Big events on favorite TV shows, new movies we’ve watched, old movies we’ve “discovered,” etc. Pretty much whatever we found of particular interest outside of the book world during the last month. Share your own favorite things in the comments!

Serena’s Picks

HBO Show: “Station Eleven”

I know Kate has read this book, but somehow I never got around to it. For one thing, I know I have a limited ability to read post-apocalypic fiction; if I read too much of it within too short of a time span, I just get depressed about humanity. I blame “The Road,” the most grim of all grim stories. So I went into this mini series a bit wary. But low and behold, I really enjoyed it! I do thing there were some fairly large plot holes regarding the villain of the story, but I loved the main character’s arch. The story jumps back and forth in time, and I think this style worked really well in tying together a lot of disparate storylines that came together in very cool ways throughout the series. I definitely recommend this one to fans of post-apocalyptic stories, especially those looking for stories with a bit more hope at the center of the story.

Netflix Show: “After Life”

Apparently, I was in a grim mood this month (though, like I said, “Station Eleven” was more hopeful than I had predicted it would be when I started it). This one, however, the story of a man grieving the loss of his wife, was definitely pretty dark at times. There ultimately, again, a message of hope at the end. But the story went into some pretty shockingly dark places before it got to that point. It was an odd mix of laughing out loud one second and being extremely uncomfortable the next. There’s a second season out for this show, but even with the hopeful ending, I still think I need a breather before getting to it. This was a great show, but people should definitely go in knowing that the story tackles dark subjects like suicide, drug use, and some fairly nihilistic thought paths.

Movie: “Chaos Walking”

I was a huge fan of the “Chaos Walking” book series. That being the case, I was skeptical about the success of a movie based on the story. There are several elements that would be particularly hard to bring to the screen. Then the movie released and garnered a pretty large number of negative critical reviews. And that’s when my inner contrarian struck, and I felt the need to actually watch the thing. And, all in all, I really enjoyed it! I think the movie came up with a really clever way of depicting the “Noise” (men’s thoughts that are projected outward for everyone to hear). And the casting all around was excellent. They had to change quite a bit of the story, knowing that it might have to stand alone as a film without the second two parts that the books have. So that being the case, the Mayor, the most complicated and interesting character in the books, had to be reduced down quite a bit and dealt with in a different way. That said, I still liked what they managed to do with him. Plus, Tom Holland’s sheer charm and charisma is enough to carry almost any movie for me at this point!

Kate’s Picks

Film: “Scream (2022)”

1996’s “Scream” was my foray into slasher movies, as I know that I saw that in middle school before I dipped my toes into the “Halloween”s, “Friday the 13th”s, and “Nightmare on Elm Street”s of the world. “Scream” remains one of my favorite horror movies. I even mostly like or at least appreciate all the sequels! When they announced that a fifth movie was coming out, I was hopeful but nervous. After all, it had been awhile, and we’d left the Golden Trio of Sidney Prescott, Dewey Riley, and Gale Weathers alive and well. But my horror movie club finally sat down to virtually watch “Scream 2022” (or “Scream 5” or “5cream”) after a few of us had passed on the theater experience due to Omicron…. And it was so damn fun! Set about twenty five years after the first movie, a new Ghostface has started targeting the teens of Woodsboro, the victims having some connection to the original killers and their friend group. When Samantha’s sister Tara is attacked, Samantha reaches out to Dewey for help in hopes of stopping the killer. And Dewey, in turn, reaches out to Gale and Sidney, who come back to town for one more showdown. With sly nods to the original, more subversions of the genre, and a really likable cast, I thought that “Scream 2022” was a good new installment!

Film: “The Runaways”

My love for punk music started in high school, my Discman having a healthy rotation of Sex Pistols, The Ramones, The Clash, Patti Smith, and others at the ready. One of those bands was The Runaways, the teenage girl punk group that launched the careers of the likes of Joan Jett, Lita Ford, and Cherie Currie. But oddly enough I had never seen the biopic “The Runaways”, which centers on Jett and Currie, and how the band rose and crashed. That is, until this month! And while I knew pretty much all the facts that it covered, it was still a really enjoyable, if at times difficult, watch. When teenage Joan Jett forms an all girls band called The Runaways, their manager Kim Fowley recruits Cherie Currie to be the lead singer. As the girls become popular and start touring, drugs, mayhem, and Fowley’s manipulations and exploitation starts to take tolls on all the girls, Currie in particular. Dakota Fanning is good as the unstable Currie, Kristen Stewart was BORN to play Joan Jett, and Michael Shannon brings the right levels of disgusting sleaziness and eccentricity to their piece of shit manager Fowley (I mean, after all, this is the guy who thought it was a GREAT idea to sexualize fifteen year old girls for profit). And the music, of course, rocks.

TV Show: “The Righteous Gemstones”

I’m always up for some good satire that takes on and takes down the hypocritical machinations of zealous religious organizations and the people who run them, so I don’t know why it took me so long to watch “The Righteous Gemstones”. Especially since I have a deep deep affection for John Goodman (it’s a damned crime that man has never even been NOMINATED for an Oscar!). But I finally started it this month, and hoo boy, it’s hilarious. It follows the Gemstones, a family of televangelists who have created an empire based on fire and brimstone theatrics. Goodman is Eli, the aging patriarch, whose adult kids are all aching for the fame and fortune that he has created as he mourns the death of his wife. But when oldest son Jesse (played perfectly obnoxiously by Danny McBride, who also wrote the show) finds himself the subject of blackmail, he enlists sister Judy and brother Kelvin to help keep the Gemstones family getting the money and attention they have become accustomed to. Every character is awful (outside of Keefe, a former Satanist who was ‘saved’ by Kelvin and is now his bestie), but all the actors play their roles VERY well. And the dark humor and take down of religious grifters is great! Oh and I have a not so tiny thing for Walton Goggins and he’s in it too, so bonus!

Diving Into Sub-Genres: Urban Fantasy

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We each have our own preferred genres of choice. Kate loves horrors and thrillers, really anything that will keep her up at night! And Serena enjoys escaping through hidden doors into realms of magic and adventure. We also read mysteries, historical fiction, graphic novels, etc. etc. And that’s not even counting the multitude of sub-genres contained within each greater genre. In this series, one of us with present a list of our favorites from within a given sub-genre of one of our greater preferred genres.

Urban fantasy is a very distinct sub-genre of the larger fantasy genre. I believe it’s a fairly polarizing one as well: fantasy readers either really love it or really dislike it. Like some other sub-genres in much greater sprawling genres, it also gets a lot of snobbery directed to it as “low brow” fantasy literature. I think most of this comes down to the fact that urban fantasy is typically fast-moving, action packed, and focused more on an individual lead character than on creating a massive, complex world, magical system and cast of characters.

A few features that are common in urban fantasy typically come down to setting and the type of fantasy elements involved. As the title of the sub-genre implies, most urban fantasy is set in an urban environment. Almost always, urban fantasy takes place in some alternate version of our own world, with real cities featured as the backdrop. However, “urban” by no means is limited to major cities, as there are plenty of urban fantasy series set in fairly small to medium sized metro area (or even some that take place mostly in rural locations). The thing that mostly stands out is that they are decidedly NOT second world fantasy and don’t include entirely made up lands.

They also typically feature a cast of magical creatures. The leading character usually has some connection between these worlds, the world of the humans and the, often underground, world of magical beings. You see a lot of vampires, werewolves, demons, and fairies in these types of books. Urban fantasy also typically features one or two leading characters and is highly focused on following their particular tales across a series of books. And, as I mentioned above, the writing is often fast paced and has an emphasis on quippy dialogue and action set pieces.

Book: “Moon Called” by Patricia Briggs

Patricia Briggs writes almost quintessential urban fantasies. She has two major series, but her “Mercy Thompson” series is her longest running with the other series coming in as a spin-off. Mercy is a coyote shapeshifter, but she starts the series trying to live primarily in the human world as a mechanic. This doesn’t last long, however, when she gets caught up in an on-going mystery involving her handsome werewolf neighbor, Adam. As the series continues, the world expands massively to include vampires, ghosts, demons, and a bunch of other less well-known magical creatures. This is a fast-paced story with a heavy emphasis on Mercy’s own quippy narration.

Book: “Storm Front” by Jim Butcher

I haven’t read a lot of Butcher’s “Dresden” series myself, but there is no way to talk about urban fantasy and not mention this incredibly popular author. There’s a pretty large stereotype that urban fantasy is written by women, for women, and features women, but Butcher’s “Dresden” series puts paid to that idea as it’s probably one of the biggest series out there. The story follows Harry Dresden, a wizard who also works as a private investigator for the Chicago P.D. when ordinary crimes present with decidedly unordinary elements. Because the main character is a P.I., these books mix elements from urban fantasy, mysteries, and crime fiction into action-packed bundles of fun.

Book: “Forest of the Heart” by Charles de Lint

Charles de Lint is the author I go to when I’m looking for cross-over between urban fantasy and literary fiction. Unlike the first two books on this list, de Lint’s stories operate at a slower pace and place a stronger emphasis on description and scene-setting. Technically, “Forests of the Heart” is in the middle of one of his series, but many of his books stand alone, and this was one of my personal favorites of his. The story features Bettina, a part Native American, part Mexican woman who is a witness to the ongoing conflict between the spirits that came over with settlers and the native beings who roam the land. She calls these dark beings, the ones from the other lands, los lobos and stays well clear. Until one shows up on her doorstep.

Book: “Feed” by Mira Grant

This is another book that has a lot of cross-over appeal, this time between urban fantasy and horror. Zombies exist in a kind of nebulous realm where both horror and fantasy claim them as beings to be found in their own genres. So, we’ll give zombies to urban fantasy with this one. The story is of two siblings and bloggers, Georgia and Shaun, who are documenting the ongoing zombie apocalypse. This is also a YA book (all the rest of these are technically listed as adult fiction, though I’d say they can also count as new adult). The story does lean into the gore and horror side of things, so strict fantasy fans should be aware of that. But the story does meet a lot of the other criteria for urban fantasy: fast-paced storytelling, a contemporary setting, and two main characters featured heavily at the heart of the story.

Book: “Written in Red” by Anne Bishop

Anne Bishop’s “Others” series is another wildly popular urban fantasy series. And, while it meets many of the standards of the genre (urban setting, werewolves, nature spirits, etc.) it is decidedly not a fast paced book. Instead, this is the urban fantasy series for those fantasy fans who really like to revel in the world itself. A lot of emphasis is placed on the characters and the world structure, and a lot on the politics between the humans and the fantasy creatures. Less emphasis on action, with there often only being one or two action scenes, some even happening off page. It does present an incredibly unique setting and world where the colonizers of North America found that they were by no means the most powerful to walk the land and have to find ways to not tick off the powerful magical forces that rule this continent.

Book: “Rosemary and Rue” by Seanan McGuire

And to round out my list, we return to another very popular, very traditional series of urban fantasy. Seanan McGuire’s ongoing “October Daye” series is probably one of the best out there. I, for one, am a huge fan! The story follows the titular October Daye, a changeling who is part human and part fae. Like many of the main characters in urban fantasy series, she starts out trying to maintain a life that distances herself from Faerie, a place where she feels she has been betrayed. But, so too, she doesn’t quite fit into this human world either. After a murder falls into her lap, Toby is pulled back into the fae world and must take up her old role as a knight errant. From there, the series unfolds with her becoming more and more enmeshed in the goings on between Faerie and the human world. This series stands out because of Toby herself. Given her unique situation (no spoilers!), she’s a bit of a darker character than some of the other leading urban fantasy ladies we’ve seen.

What are some of your favorite urban fantasy books?

Highlights: March 2022

This post may contain affiliate links for books we recommend.  Read the full disclosure here.

Here in Minnesota, March is the month where everyone is forbidden from using the word “spring” in fear that we will be immediately pummeled with several feet of snow in karmic pay back. But at least the days are definitely getting longer and no comments on that will change the angle of the sun! However, as….shhh…spring…is not a whole lot better than winter at this point, we’ll still be mostly holed up with books this month. Here are some we’re looking forward to this month!

Serena’s Picks

Book: “A Far Wilder Magic” by Allison Saft

Publication Date: March 8, 2022

Why I’m Interested: While I think foxhunting is a pretty terrible sport in general, the idea of writing a story about a hunt for a powerful magical creature does sound intriguing. I’m not sure how my bleeding heart self will do with the topic, overall, but I’m definitely curious. I’m also all in for a book that’s being promoted as having a sweet romance at the heart of the story, something I always enjoy. I really don’t have much of a mental image of what this book’s going to be about, but sometimes going in blind is the best way to discover something great!

Book: “Gallant” by V.E. Schwab

Publication Date: March 1, 2022

Why I’m Interested: Schwab is definitely an author on my “instant read” list. While I’ve definitely had a range in my enjoyment of her books, she’s always excellent with characters and a solid fantasy writer in general. I’m also really curious about this book, as it sounds like more of a middle grade fantasy, something I haven’t read by this author before. When a young orphan girl is suddenly called to a home she never knew, she soon discovers that there are more secretes than answers at Gallant. And that she has a family with much more history than she had ever suspected. I also really love this cover. Can’t wait to get to this one!

Book: “A Thousand Steps Into Night” by Traci Chee

Publication Date: March 1, 2022

Why I’m Interested: I had so much good luck with the Korean fantasy, “The Girl Who Fell Into the Sea,” that it was a natural step to immediately request this Japanese fantasy story when it popped up on Edelweiss+. This is the story of a young woman who has resigned herself to a simple life as an innkeeper’s daughter. But when she is cursed to slowly turn into a deadly demon, she sets out on a quest to cure herself. But along the way, she begins to realize that perhaps she never fit into the quiet life she had been born into. I also really, really love the cover on this one! My hopes are pretty high, so I really hope this one is a hit.

Kate’s Picks

Book: “The Night Shift” by Alex Finlay

Publication Date: March 1, 2022

Why I’m Interested: The description captured my attention for a couple of reasons. The first is that it mentions the Y2K panic of December 31st, 1999, something I definitely remember. But the second is that it sounds a lot like the Austin Yogurt Shop Murders, an unsolved crime involving teenage girls who were murdered at their place of work with no answers to be found. On New Year’s Eve in 1999, three teenage girls are murdered at the Blockbuster they work at, with one lone survivor. Then, more than a decade later, a new group of teenage girls are killed at an ice cream store, with one survivor. The two girls have similar recollections of the murderer’s final words. Now the Blockbuster survivor, the brother of the initial suspect, and an FBI agent are all looking for the truth. I imagine this is going to be twisted and intricate, and probably a little sad as well.

Book: “The Last Laugh” by Mindy McGinnis

Publication Date: March 15, 2022

Why I’m Interested: This probably isn’t a shocking selection, given how much I enjoyed the first in the series, “The Initial Insult”. That reimagining of “The Cask of Amontillado” (amongst other Poe works) ended in the way one may expect it to, though instead of two men it was two teenage girls at the heart. Now we pick up again with “The Last Laugh”. Tress murdered her old BFF Felicity by bricking her up in a coal shaft. But even though she may have gotten away with it, she’s severely injured from her encounter with the sideshow panther she ran afoul. Not to mention the heart necklace around her neck is beating, a reminder of what she did do her former friend. Meanwhile, her cousin Ribbit is starting to feel like he needs some revenge of his own… and some of that is towards Tress. I can’t wait to see how McGinnis wraps this all up!

Book: “Dark Stars: New Tales of Darkest Horror” by John F.D. Taff (Ed.)

Publication Date: March 22, 2022

Why I’m Interested: This is another book that was affected by a delay, but now this short horror story collection is FINALLY coming to light. While I know I’ve been hot and cold with short story collections, this one sounds hard to beat. I mean, look at some of the names who contributed: Stephen Graham Jones. Caroline Kepnes. Alma Katsu. All authors whose works I have LOVED in the past few years. And the people whose works I haven’t discovered yet? I cannot wait to see what other authors have put forth, and maybe I will find some new favorite writers!

What books are you looking forward to this month? Let us know in the comments!

Not Just Books: February 2022

While we do love us some books, believe it not, we do have a life outside of reading. So to highlight our other pop culture interests, on the last Monday of each month, we each will highlight three other “happenings” from the last month. Big events on favorite TV shows, new movies we’ve watched, old movies we’ve “discovered,” etc. Pretty much whatever we found of particular interest outside of the book world during the last month. Share your own favorite things in the comments!

Serena’s Picks

Sports: The Winter Olympics 2022

This year was a tough one for the Olympics, mostly because it’s hard to watch it and enjoy it without thinking of some of the humanitarian crisis that China is embroiled within. The ongoing doping issues with Russia was also a big splash of cold water one one of my favorite Olympics sports, ice skating. But there were also incredible moments for sports lovers in general. Touching stories of redemption. Fantastic feats of skill and sportsmanship. These are the stories I watch for, and while this year was definitely more challenging than other years, I still enjoyed tuning in nightly to see athletes from around the world perform such amazing things on the world stage.

Amazon Show: “The Wheel of Time”

I’m so intimidated by this fantasy series. So long, so many books, such a commitment. I had a half-hearted thought to just read along with the series of the show, like reading only the first book before watching the first season. But honestly, even that seemed like a lot and, well, I caved and just watched the show anyways. Hopefully some day I will tackle this series, but for now, I did enjoy seeing it brought to life on the screen. And while the story didn’t grab me as much as I had hoped (the acting was all aggressively just fine, other than Rosamund Pike who is always awesome), the gorgeous cinematography and costume design definitely had me intrigued. I’m hopeful that as the series continues I’ll become more invested in the actual characters, but for now, I did enjoy it well enough.

Movie: “A Quiet Place 2”

I really loved “A Quiet Place” when my husband and I saw it in theaters right when it came out. I also really, really hated the idea of a sequel when it was announced. The ending of the first movie was so poignant and hopeful that I couldn’t imagine where the story could go from there that wouldn’t damage the excellence of that first movie. Well, I’ve been proved wrong! While I still think the first movie is the superior, this second entry still stood up well on its own and took the story in new and interesting directions. It also was so tense that I could barely make it through the last half. My poor husband can attest to the fact that I was practically jumping out of my seat because I couldn’t handle the building drama. Fans of the first movie who may still be on the fence should definitely give this one try!

Kate’s Picks

TV Show: “Pam and Tommy”

I was in grade school when the infamous Pamela Anderson/Tommy Lee sex tape made waves across pop culture. I remember the scandal vaguely thanks to entertainment TV shows, but I also have a vague recollection about all the jokes that were made about it. Looking back at it now I like to think that society has realized what a disgusting invasion of privacy it was and really no joking matter. So I’ve been enjoying “Pam and Tommy”, the Hulu series that dramatizes it and shows just how goddamn horrible it was. The show follows not only the leaking of the tape itself, but also the whirlwind romance of Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson, and how this tape did significant damage to their relationship, and also to Pam’s reputation. Sebastian Stan is pretty fun as Lee, but it’s Lily James who shines brightest, as she completely becomes Pamela Anderson, and brings out all of the vulnerability and helplessness that this poor woman must have felt during this horrifically traumatizing moment.

Film: “Nightmare Alley”

As someone who has absolutely adored Guillermo del Toro since I saw “Pan’s Labyrinth” in the theater, imagine how crestfallen I was when his newest film “Nightmare Alley” came out exclusively in theaters during the holiday season when I wasn’t feeling comfortable going to the movies. But hey, I can be patient, and eventually “Nightmare Alley” dropped on HBO. So on Valentine’s Day, my husband and I decided that it was the perfect night to sit down and watch! A bleak choice for a romantic date, but whatever. It follows Stan, a potential psychopath who joins up with a sideshow carnival out of convenience as he runs from a mysterious crime. While there he starts to take up the grift of fortune telling and mentalism, and when he and sweet sideshow act Molly take his show on the road, his hubris gets them both into some dangerous situations with shady characters. This remake of a 1940s noir is dark as hell, but Bradley Cooper as Stan is fantastic, as is Cate Blanchett as a femme fatale psychiatrist. This is, for me, del Toro’s darkest film yet. but it’s also beautiful to look at.

Music: The “Peacemaker” Soundtrack

Okay, obviously “Peacemaker” is still very much at the front of my pop culture consciousness this month. Seriously, I LOVED THIS SHOW. But as we were watching it together my husband and I were like ‘damn… this soundtrack is awesome’. And I’ve pretty much been listening to it on a loop all month. It’s mostly the kind of music that Peacemaker himself would listen to, which is, specifically, glam metal. I think that before this soundtrack became my obsession I would have probably ranked glam metal fairly high up there on my preferred music genres, but now I’ve come to realize that it’s absolutely top three behind New Wave and 70s/80s punk. From the likes of Pretty Boy Floyd to Faster Pussycat to Hanoi Rocks to Mötley Crüe (see above: this month also finally prompted me to buy a vintage Crüe tee shirt), the soundtrack also has some Lita Ford, and, of course, the earworm that is “Do Ya Wanna Taste It”, the opening song to the show which is also possibly the best opening credits of all time. As Peacemaker says, “There’s never a wrong time to rock!”

Highlights: February 2022

This post may contain affiliate links for books we recommend.  Read the full disclosure here.

Still cold. Still dark. Still winter in Minnesota! But at least it’s February, the month where we can all eat chocolate to our heart’s content and blame it on romance! Seriously, does anyone’s New Year’s resolution diet ever make it past February? We, of course, will be enjoying said chocolate while curled up with some good books. Here are a few we’re looking forward to this month!

Serena’s Picks:

Book: “A River Enchanted” by Rebecca Ross

Publication Date: February 15, 2022

Why I’m Interested: I have a few other books by this author that have been on my TBR list for way longer than I want to admit. But prior to this, I believe she’s mostly written YA fantasy, so I was intrigued when I saw that she was releasing an adult fantasy novel. And the tale itself is right up my alley, following a bard, Jack, as he returns to his magic-ridden home. There, he teams up with his childhood rival and the heir to the land, Adaira, to discover why young girls are going missing. Really, the entire book description sounds very Celtic fantasy/Juliet Marillier-like. And that’s more than enough for me!

Book: “This Woven Kingdom” by Tahereh Mafi

Publication Date: February 1, 2022

Why I’m Interested: I love a good forbidden romance, and this one sound excellent. Alizeh is the heir to the Jinn; but given that her people are spread far and wide, discriminated against and hated, this title means nothing more than another aspect of herself that she must hide as she scrapes together a living as a lowly servant. When she has a chance run-in with the crown prince, Kamran, events are set off that will spiral out of the control of them both. The book is also based on Persian mythology, so that adds another check mark in its favor. I’ve had a lot of good luck with “Jinn” stories, from the “City of Brass” trilogy to the more recent “Daughter of the Salt King.” Crossing my finger that my luck will hold!

Book: “The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea” by Axie Oh

Publication Date: February 22, 2022

Why I’m Interested: I mean, the cover?? Honestly, that’d be enough for me! But the story sounds excellent as well. For decades, the people have sacrificed a young woman to the sea, hoping that these brides will appease the tempestuous and violent Sea God who has been be hammering their land with violent storms every year. Mina did not have this destiny, but to spare her brother the pain of losing his love, Mina dives beneath the sea, sacrificing herself. In the land she finds below, strange forces are at work and the Sea God himself might be the biggest mystery of all.

Kate’s Picks:

Book: “Echo” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

Publication Date: February 8, 2022

Why I’m Interested: Given how much I loved, loved, LOVED Olde Heuvelt’s previous novel “Hex”, it was a no-brainer that his new horror story was going to go to the top of my must read pile. But instead of an angry witch tormenting a small community, we go into the world of mountaineering and folk horror, with some survival and body squick thrown into the mix. Nick and Augustin decide to do a mountaineering trek into the Swiss Alps, seeking out the secluded and notorious mountain Maudit. But Augustin ends up dead, and Nick barely survives, returning to his life with a horribly disfigured face. His lover Sam is happy he’s alive… until it seems that Nick didn’t leave the Alps without bringing something terrible back. Heuvelt knows how to scare the hell out of me, and “Echo” will be no different.

Book: “This Might Hurt” by Stephanie Wrobel

Publication Date: February 22, 2022

Why I’m Interested: “Darling Rose Gold” was an addictive and unnerving thriller, and when I saw that Stephanie Wrobel had a new thriller coming out I was very interested in seeing what her next story would be. This time we’re dealing with a shady self help organization that may or may not be a cult! Sold! Natalie and her sister Kit are estranged, with Natalie trying to forget their shared traumas and Kit drowning in them. So Kit joins a group called Wisewood, which promises to help people become their ‘maximized selves’ if they go to their retreat in remote Maine and cut themselves off from the world. Natalie doesn’t hear from Kit for months…. until she gets a mysterious email from Wisewood saying that they know a secret she’s been keeping from Kit. Now Natalie is desperate to find her sister. And Wisewood is determined to keep them both. I expect twists and suds.

Book: “Dead Silence” by S.A. Barnes

Publication Date: February 8, 2022

Why I’m Interested: I feel like I’ve been waiting on this one forever, though in actuality it’s only been postponed once. Regardless, while Science Fiction isn’t usually my genre, if you make it into space horror I am almost always in, and that is why “Dead Silence” by S.A. Barnes caught my eye. Claire and her team have finished up their mission, and though she is their leader, this is her last mission with their corporation. So when their spaceship stumbles upon what remains of the Aurora, a luxury spaceliner that disappeared decades before, she thinks that this could be her ticket to wealth and starting over. But once they board the ship to salvage what they can, the find a ship full of corpses. Expected, sure. But then strange things start happening, and they start seeing the dead, and other things. It sounds like “Alien” meets “Event Horizon” meets “Titanic”. Which is quite the combination. https://amzn.to/3HEhkDz

What books are you looking forward to this month?

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