Saturday, November 11, 2017

Dark Goddess Craft: A Journey through the Heart of Transformation by Stephanie Woodfield book thoughts

Title: Dark Goddess Craft: A Journey through the Heart of Transformation
Series: N/A
Author: Stephanie Woodfield
Published Date: November 8th, 2017
Publisher: Llewellyn Publications
Source: Netgalley
# of Pages: 240
Format: Kindle
Genre: Nonfiction/Spirituality
Days to Read: 3
Rating: ★★★★ (4/5)
My Social Media: Goodreads/My Booktube Channel/Twitter/Instagram

Goodreads Synopsis

Discover how to use the many faces of the dark goddess to navigate the process of deep and rewarding change. This practical guide looks at the misconceptions surrounding dark deities and encourages you to draw on the power of the dark goddesses to work through aspects of yourself or your life that you wish to change.

Organized into three sections—the descent, challenge, and rebirth—Dark Goddess Craft guides you into your own darkness and helps you emerge renewed. Stephanie Woodfield presents the goddesses you will meet along your path of transformation and explains each one's role in helping you. This book will light your way through the shadows and show you how to become the best version of yourself.

My Thoughts

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me this e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

People hear of dark goddesses or dark things in general and think evil, bad, negative and are scared of them. That isn't the case here, and no this doesn't deal with dark magick. Yes, things in this book deal with things that frighten us, but they aren't evil. It helps teach how to deal with our demons, we all have them. How to deal with the darkness within us. That balance is a necessary part of the world and sometimes, what we think of as dark, is just something we have trouble with and are scared of. Honestly this book is hard to describe and review as it's non-fiction and spiritual based.

I think almost anyone could learn things from this book though. I learned a lot reading it. About mythology, about humanity, about myself. I hope to go through this book again at some point but take it much slower really taking the time to go through each part as I am pagan too. Even if someone is not pagan, if you are open to it I do think anyone could gain things from this book, even if everything in it is not for you. Also please keep in mind if something in particular does not work for you, your path is your own and you can rework things so they work for you and your life and ignore what doesn't work for you.

For not knowing how to put it in better words, i'll let the book speak for itself. Please keep in my mind I got an uncorrected proof from Netgalley, which may differ in the final version.

"The dark goddess and the lessons she teaches are vital to our lives. Her destructive aspects teach us that there is death within life, that we are constantly changing and evolving. No matter what we have been through in our lives, we can rise from the ashes and like Kali dance ecstatically on the ruins of our old selves toward rebirth. As the fierce warrior drinking the blood of the slain, she is a no-nonsense goddess, teaching us to make our voices heard, to stand up and be counted, and inspiring us to bring about change, both in ourselves and the world around us. And she is also the shadowy keeper of the dead, teaching us how to pierce the veil, to see into the future, and to commune with the beloved dead. But she is also the side of the Divine we avoid the most, and as a consequence we often have difficulty working with her."

"Dark Gods rule over the things we fear the most. Some fear that working with this aspect of the dark goddess will bring out the darkest or worst parts of themselves. Other times we are simply afraid to welcome change into our lives and finally release the things we keep buried deep within our souls. While working with the darker aspects of the Goddess may make you face things about yourself you would rather ignore, her path is one of transformation and ultimately one of healing."

"Today we like to think of the world in terms of everything having its opposite, instead of seeing that most things, including the gods, fall into a gray area. There is male and female, night and day, and good and evil. Dark deities are in no way evil, but what we have learned to do when we approach the gods in this manner is to label any deity that holds sway over a realm or concept that frightens us as "dark." Gods who rule over death, change, war, violence, anger, and all the things that make life difficult or painful must also be dangerous and untrustable in some way, not unlike the things they hold sway over. What we often fail to see is that dark gods are not the cause of these things, but rather the very beings who teach us to understand them, who challenge us to move past our fears and give us the strength to face some of the more painful unavoidable things in life."

"Defining "dark" as a term that always indicates something negative also has racial connotations. There is an element of cultural baggage around the idea that lightness is good or preferable and being darker is shameful when it comes to skin color. There is even a myth about how Parvati is shamed by another god who calls her dark-skinned, and she takes measures to lighten her appearance, the darkness she sheds transforming into the goddess Kali, whose name means "black." We have to let go of the idea that "dark," within any context, is a bad thing. These attitudes influence not just the way we look at each other but how we perceive deity."

"You may be a parent, a spouse, a child, and a coworker and play many roles to different people, but you are still one person. When we put a label on something, we tend to forget that it is anything else but the label we have given it. It took me many years to see that the Morrigan has other aspects and faces. She can be dark and scary, but that is not the limit of her power or scope as a deity. The problem with labeling something "dark" or "light" is that we put blinders on and forget that the gods are more than the title or box people put them in."

"Throughout this book, I will refer to the goddesses we are working with as dark, but only because this has evolved into the terminology that we are most familiar with."

I know that's a lot but there is so much more I have highlighted. So much more i'd love to share and talk about but I want others to experience the book for themselves. This is a very educational and thought-provoking book, and one I really should work more in-depth with.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Winterglass by Benjanun Sriduangkaew book thoughts

Title: Winterglass
Series: N/A
Author: Benjanun Sriduangkaew
Published Date: December 5th, 2017
Publisher: Apex
Source: From Publisher
# of Pages: 127
Format: Ebook
Genre: Fantasy
Days to Read: 3
Rating: ★★★.25 (3.25/5)
My Social Media: Goodreads/My Booktube Channel/Twitter/Instagram

Goodreads Synopsis

The city-state Sirapirat once knew only warmth and monsoon. When the Winter Queen conquered it, she remade the land in her image, turning Sirapirat into a country of snow and unending frost. But an empire is not her only goal. In secret, she seeks the fragments of a mirror whose power will grant her deepest desire.

At her right hand is General Lussadh, who bears a mirror shard in her heart, as loyal to winter as she is plagued by her past as a traitor to her country. Tasked with locating other glass-bearers, she finds one in Nuawa, an insurgent who’s forged herself into a weapon that will strike down the queen.

To earn her place in the queen’s army, Nuawa must enter a deadly tournament where the losers’ souls are given in service to winter. To free Sirapirat, she is prepared to make sacrifices: those she loves, herself, and the complicated bond slowly forming between her and Lussadh.

If the splinter of glass in Nuawa’s heart doesn’t destroy her first.

My Thoughts

This story is beautifully written. A queer retelling of the snow queen. It has fantasy, sci-fi and steampunk elements. Interesting and tough characters that I did like reading about. The world-building was beautiful too.

Fantasy sometimes goes over my head as it did here. I would have liked a bit more explanation and in-depth but I don't think it's a story fault. I think it's more so me being easily confused and not well versed in fantasy or the snow queen fairy tale. If you are more into fantasy, steampunk or the snow queen retelling I'd bet you'd understand it more than I did.

That said I still did enjoy reading it. I got it at least some of the story, enough to like what I was reading. There are also some erotic elements to it (which I enjoy but I know everyone has different tastes).

I loved how it's unapologetically queer! Being trans, different pronouns, being queer, it's no big deal and I loved that! I do highly recommend this. I'm sorry I didn't fully understand everything but what I did was beautiful and I'm thinking I'll need to do a re-read of it in the future. Thank you to Apex publishing for providing me with a copy to read in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Siren by Jaimie Roberts book thoughts

Title: Siren
Series: No
Author: Jaimie Roberts
Published Date: September 6th, 2016
Publisher: Amazon
Source: I bought it
# of Pages: 291
Format: Ebook
Genre: Adult/Dark Erotica/Contemporary
Days to Read: 4
Rating: ★★★★★(5/5)
My Social Media: Goodreads/My Booktube Channel/Twitter/Instagram

Goodreads Synopsis

I’m not a good person. In fact, I’m a real bitch. If the opportunity arises, I will take your husband, give him the best sex he’s ever had, and laugh behind your back once I’m done with him. I do not put on airs and graces. I just take what I want whenever I want it.

I am the abused who has become the abuser. I live for power because all power had been stripped from me for years. Now that I have it back, I feed off of it like it’s my primary sustenance, and I don’t care who I hurt in the process.

Every woman hates me, but do you know what? I don’t give a shit.

You won’t like me. I’m not here to be liked. You want to know my story? I won’t stop you from observing. Just know that once I’m done with you, no shower—no matter how scalding—will ever get me out from under your skin.

Warning: If you’re looking for pink, fluffy clouds, rainbows, and HEA’s, then this book is not for you. These pages contain flashback scenes of child abuse in all forms (physical, sexual, and emotional) as well as BDSM and other taboo themes.

Love does not live in this book. Only dark, twisted, and sick obsessions thrive here.

You. Have. Been. Warned!

My Thoughts

TW: Rape, Death, Abuse

This book is a tough read. It's sick, it's raw, and deliciously twisted. Scarlet isn't always easy to like, heck she doesn't like herself, and sometimes she's downright despicable, but man if this book didn't have me rooting for her! Let's back up. Scarlet was abused as a child. To say Scarlet has daddy issues is the understatement of the century. Her dad rapes her starting at 14 years old. She was the unwanted child in a way, and she pays for it. Her sister and mother don't believe her. They all have their reasons, but that doesn't change it's fucked up. Only she gets to see the evil inside of him. He ruins her.

In her early 20s she ends up, well like the blurb says. She'll take what she wants when she wants it. She gets power and she uses it. After all when she was a teen all power was stripped from her, and it twists her. Ultimately though she just wants revenge on those that hurt her, and she WILL GET IT. If you ask me, and probably anyone with a heart, she deserves her revenge. I wanted them to pay for what they did to her. They get no sympathy from me. But it takes her down a dark path, and there is more twisted shit going on than she knows. Some happiness does come through the book, but mostly it's just twisted sick obsessions and pain. And those obsessions can prove deadly.

I don't want to give too much away so sorry if i'm being vague. The book is fast-paced. It had me wanting to read so much faster than I actually can, I didn't want to stop reading, though at times I had to take a breather. It had me thinking hard at times. My emotions went all over the place, from aroused, to rooting for her with a grin on my face (questioning my sanity here), to crying, to shock and feeling like my insides were being squeezed. This book will make you feel dirty but you won't be able to get clean no matter how hard you try.

The writing flowed nicely and the characters were well written. I either loved them or loved to hate them. Scarlet is so much more layered than at first glance (and she has good in her). She may be twisted, but she was made, not born, that way. She's only twisted because she's human, so very human, and has went through so much hell that no one, especially a child, should ever have to go through. I just want to hug and protect her, let her cry and tell her it will all be okay. It won't be okay though, this book has chewed me up and spit me out.

I related to her feelings in ways through tore at my heart. I haven't went through what she has but I resonated with some of her feelings. The shutting off of emotions, or thinking that one has anyway, and she became my baby. You know those characters, they become your children.

This book has complex and well written characters and plot. It has strong messages and will make you think. It'll also shatter your heart.
This book can be hard to read, require tissues, and may shatter your soul, but if you think you can handle it or decide to give it a shot I do highly recommend it, as long as you are in a good head-space and have the tissues close. This book isn't for everyone. I recently finished this (a few hours ago as of writing this) and pieces of the puzzle are still falling into place...and I really wish they weren't.

Love does not live in this book. Only dark, twisted, and sick obsessions thrive here.

You. Have. Been. Warned!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Halloween Carnival Volume 2 edited by Brian James Freeman book thoughts

Title: Halloween Carnival Volume 2
Series: Yes, #2 out of 5 Halloween Carnival Anthologies
Author: Glen Hirshberg, Lee Thomas, Holly Newstein, Del James, Al Sarrantonio, edited by Brian James Freeman
Published Date: October 10th, 2017
Publisher: Hydra
Source: Netgalley
# of Pages: 130
Format: Ebook
Genre: Horror/Anthology
Days to Read: 2
Rating: 3.7 out of 5 stars
My Social Media: Goodreads/My Booktube Channel/Twitter/Instagram

Goodreads Synopsis

Glen Hirshberg, Lee Thomas, Holly Newstein, Del James, and Al Sarrantonio bring the ghouls of the most haunted night of the year to life in a chilling collection of stories curated by master of horror Brian James Freeman.

MR. DARK’S CARNIVAL by Glen Hirshberg
Halloween is more than just a holiday in Clarkson, Montana; it’s a tradition passed down through generations. Only this year, the ghosts of the past may just be a little closer than usual.

When David was young, he believed in magic. In fact, he wanted to become a magician himself. But meddling in the forces of the mind has consequences beyond what an eleven-year-old can see.

MISCHIEF NIGHT by Holly Newstein
Cabbage Night, Goose Night, Devil’s Night—they’re all the same. Before the treats come the tricks. It’s all in good fun . . . until someone gets hurt.

When people need to disappear, I make them vanish. The catch? I’ve always got to be on guard—because that knock at the door may not just be a little monster looking for candy.

THE PUMPKIN BOY by Al Sarrantonio
When boys start going missing, Detective Len Schneider is determined to make it right. But his partner knows that there are worse things out there than a dead kid.

My Thoughts

TW: Death, Suicide, Murder, Gun, Alcoholism, Abuse

Mr. Dark’s Carnival by Glen Hirshberg- 4.5 stars

A ghost story in Montana. David, a college professor, teaches a class about folklore and his favorite part of the course is about the folk tale of Mr. Dark’s Carnival. It’s been rumored for years that a mysterous carnival pops up and only a certain few people get chosen to attend. He has never met anyone that has been to the carnival and doesn’t believe it exists, until he gets his ticket.

I loved the story, the creepiness, the folk lore, the atmosphere, and the carnival. The ending had me wanting to cry!

The Facts in the Case of My Sister by Lee Thomas- 5 stars

At 11 years old David gets into magic and hypnosis, using his new found talent on his 8 year old sister Joyce. Later in life Joyce ends up in the hospital from an “accident” that he doesn’t believe was an accident at all. This story was so heart-wrenching and had me in tears. David pulls a trick from his past to bring to light what really happened and learns that magic has consequences, even when ment for good, beyond what an 11 year old can see, and that sometimes, believing in monsters is a good thing. It’s all in the wording.

Mischief Night by Holly Newstein- 5 stars

Mischief Night in Pennsylvania some kids play annoying though harmless pranks. TPing trees, egging cars. But sometimes lines get crossed and things can get deadly. Willard, an old man had a good life with a wife and kids. Never drinking due to growing up with a nasty drunk for a father. In his retirement he figures it’s a harmless way to celebrate, but the bottle doesn’t let go of him. A troubled teen stumbles into his basement on mischief night. Can Willard’s bad decisions help the troubled teen on the path he’s on?

This story also had me in tears.

The Ghost Maker by Del James- 2.5 stars

You have to be on guard when your a mob hit man, especially on Halloween. Truthfully I liked it until the end only because I didn’t get it.

The Pumpkin Boy by Al Sarrantonio- 1.5 stars

Jody is home alone, 5 years old, for ½ an hour everyday after his babysitter leaves and before mom gets home. He knows he isn’t supposed to leave the house but he can’t resist following a pumpkin boy. A boy with metal for a body and a pumpkin for a head. There’s more to it but I didn’t understand it. Other people do though so i’m thinking this is a “it’s me” problem and not the story.

I loved 3 out of 5 stories and the other 2 I just didn't get personally but others have. I definitely recommend this anthology and enjoyed it even more than the first! I do plan on picking up the other 3 too! Thank you to Netgalley and Hydra for providing me with an e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Pilo Family Circus by Will Elliott book thoughts

Title: The Pilo Family Circus
Series: Yes (The Pilo Family Circus #1)
Author: Will Elliott
Published Date: October 1st, 2006
Publisher: ABC Books
Source: I bought it
# of Pages: 321 pages
Format: Ebook
Genre: Horror
Days to Read: 3
Rating: ★★★★.5(4.5/5) stars
My Social Media: Goodreads/My Booktube Channel/Twitter/Instagram

Goodreads Synopsis

"You have two days to pass your audition. You better pass it, feller. You’re joining the circus. Ain’t that the best news you ever got?"

Delivered by a trio of psychotic clowns, this ultimatum plunges Jamie into the horrific alternate universe that is the centuries-old Pilo Family Circus, a borderline world between Hell and Earth from which humankind’s greatest tragedies have been perpetrated. Yet in this place—peopled by the gruesome, grotesque, and monstrous—where violence and savagery are the norm, Jamie finds that his worst enemy is himself.

When he applies the white face paint, he is transformed into JJ, the most vicious clown of all. And JJ wants Jamie dead!

My Thoughts

TW: Homophobia, Fire, Death, Animal Abuse (and death), Murder, Language, Self-Harm, R-word, Drugs

I'm not really sure what to say about this book, other than I loved it! It's horrorific at times, funny at others and tugged at my heart at other times still. It's fast-paced, or maybe that's me as I read it in 3 days because Spookathon. Still I was entertained and wanting to know what was going to happen through-out the entire book. It occasionally made me think. The writing was easy to read.

I fell in love with Jamie. The characters felt well done to me for their purposes. The plot and world-building really shined to me. I fell in love with the carnival! In a weird way sure, but still. Writing a review is difficult for this book but not for lack of love for it! If this sounds at all up your alley give it a shot! I can't wait to get the sequel!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Subhuman by Michael McBride book thoughts

Title: Subhuman
Series: Yes (Unit 51 #1)
Author: Michael McBride
Published Date: October 31st, 2017
Publisher: Pinnacle
Source: Netgalley
# of Pages: 400
Format: Ebook
Genre: Thriller
Days to Read: 6
Rating: ★★★.5 (3.5/5)
My Social Media: Goodreads/My Booktube Channel/Twitter/Instagram

Goodreads Synopsis

At a research station in Antarctica, five of the world’s top scientists have been brought together to solve one of the greatest mysteries in human history. Their subject, however, is anything but human . . .

Deep beneath the ice, the submerged ruins of a lost civilization hold the key to the strange mutations that each scientist has encountered across the globe: A misshapen skull in Russia. The grotesque carvings of a lost race in Peru. The mummified remains of a humanoid monstrosity in Egypt . . .

When a series of sound waves trigger the ancient organisms, a new kind of evolution begins. Latching onto a human host—crossbreeding with human DNA—a long-extinct life form is reborn. Its kind has not walked the earth for thousands of years. Its instincts are fiercer, more savage, than any predator alive. And its prey are the scientists who unleashed it, the humans who spawned it, and the tender living flesh on which it feeds . . .

My Thoughts

TW: Death, Blood, Self-harm, Fire, Mention of Nazi's in the past

It seemed to have a bit of a slow and confusing start but in time I figured out why it started out the way it did. I ended up reading this faster than I normally would, or at least it felt that way, because I was flying through the pages. Similar to how The Martian was for me. It's very heavy on the science and honestly I didn't understand a lot of it, but was able to get the basics of the story and I never felt like it was being pretentious or that I was dumb. I actually learned stuff from reading this and highlighted things I want to look up.

The only real downside is don't ask me who was who. I mean I should know but just didn't care enough to write down who was who and it didn't matter to me too much, I got the story, that's all I cared about.

It was thought-provoking at times. I loved the premise and the setting. One of the things I learned was that Antarctica has mountains...I probably should have already known that but Geography was not my strong suit in school. It had some emotional moments in the story too.

I enjoyed learning about stuff I should have learnt in school, but didn't or forgot, learning about the sciencey things as well as the characters and what they did, even if I can't tell you who did what. And I especially loved the conclusion! The second half was much more of a thriller and very bloody and I soaked it all up!

If it sounds interesting to you, give it a shot! I do plan on continuing on with this series.

"Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. both are equally terrifying. -Arthur C. Clarke"

Thank you to Netgalley and Pinnacle for letting me read this.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Halloween Carnival Volume 1 edited by Brian James Freeman book thoughts

Title: Halloween Carnival Volume 1
Series: Yes (#1/5)
Author: Robert McCammon, Kevin Lucia, John R. Little, Lisa Morton and Mark Allen Gunnells, edited by Brian James Freeman
Published Date: October 3rd, 2017
Publisher: Hydra
Source: Netgalley
# of Pages: 149
Format: Ebook
Genre: Horror/Anthology
Days to Read: 1
Rating: ★★★(3/5)
My Social Media: Goodreads/My Booktube Channel/Twitter/Instagram

Goodreads Synopsis

Robert McCammon, Kevin Lucia, John R. Little, Lisa Morton, and Mark Allan Gunnells put the horror back in Halloween with a quintet of devilishly delightful tales, curated by acclaimed author and editor Brian James Freeman.

STRANGE CANDY by Robert McCammon
Chocolate bars and sour suckers are trick-or-treat staples, but beware the odd sweet at the bottom of your bag. You never know who it’s from—or what it might do to you.

Father Ward should have heeded the warnings about hearing confession on All Hallow’s Eve. Because a man is about to tell him a secret more haunting than any he has heard before.

DEMON AIR by John R. Little
Fear of flying is not uncommon. But on this transpacific airline, the real danger isn’t the flight itself. It’s whoever—or whatever—is up in the air with you.

Trick McGrew, former cowboy star of the silver screen, has never believed in tall tales. But down in Mexico, the land of La Llorona, he’s about to find out just how real urban legends can be.

Some people will go to any lengths to rack up retweets, likes, and follows on social media, no matter who they end up hurting . . . or even killing.

My Thoughts

STRANGE CANDY by Robert McCammon★★★★★(5/5)

My favorite out of the collection! Not scary so much as heart-breaking, both hopeful and sad. A short but powerful ghost story.

THE RAGE OF ACHILLES by Kevin Lucia★★★.5 (3.5/5)

TW: Death, Murder, Suicide

Slightly confusing, but mostly heart-wrenching and haunting, about the pain of loss so all consuming it never really ends. A very moving story. A man has a son with autism who he loves very much and will go to great lengths for. I can't speak on the autism. Might be a bit hard to read for some in regards to ableism for lack of knowing how to better put it (though I wish I could figure out how to better put it). I am disabled myself (not autistic though so again, can't speak there) and can see how it might be hard to read for some disabled people, but personally I found it very well done. Not an easy read but still a powerful one about loss and grief.

DEMON AIR by John R. Little★.5(1.5/5)

This made no sense to me. I have no idea how Halle being Aborigine had anything to do with finding courage. I liked the part about her wanting to find out more about her identity after finding out she was adopted, but it just didn't go anywhere. One minute it had just became Halloween, the pilots became demon things to introduce the Halloween theme, Halle being Aborigine, which she just found out, ment she had to be courageous and stand up to them (which just felt like a weak plot point that had so much potential), and then quickly the scene and the day is over and they are still flying above the ocean. Not sure how that works. It just felt like the story had so much potential but it was too short to be fleshed out at all and didn't make any sense.

LA HACIENDA DE LOS MUERTOS by Lisa Morton★★(2/5)

TW: Racism

A racist actor gets called to be in a movie in Mexico. He doesn't believe in tall tales but is about to find out how true Urban Legends can be. It's at a ranch that is legitimately haunted. It's not really scary though. The actor's racism is talked about again and again, never followed up on and suddenly it's resolved magically at the end. I liked the urban legend and there is a bit of twist to it that I really appreciated.

#MAKEHALLOWEENSCARYAGAIN by Mark Allan Gunnells★★★.75(3.75/5)

TW: Death, Murder, Homophobia

A horror author is annoyed that people have turned Halloween into something no longer scary. So he starts a hashtag #MakeHalloweenScaryAgain that flops and does not catch on...except with one twisted person that ends up being a serial killer seeking out this past Halloween greatness and using the hashtag as a calling card at the murder scenes. Action and suspense were through-out the entire story (also the longest one being about 1/2 the book) at least until the end. I did guess the ending but did enjoy the journey getting there.

Final Thoughts

Average = 3.15

It's an anthology and in my limited anthology experience they do always seem to have some stories I enjoy and some I don't. It's just what happens. I am glad I read this for the 3 out of 5 stories I enjoyed and would recommend checking it out if you're interested. Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for this arc in exchange for an honest review.