Top Ten Tuesday: My Fall TBR

fall-tbr

Fall, my favorite season!! So far it’s been unusually warm and sunny over here, I’d love a few degrees less but hey at least it’s dry, that never happens! Fall is when I start buying IKEA candles in bulk and get out all the quilts and spicy teas. My typical fall reading is either cozy or suspenseful lit and with the Diverse Detective Fiction Month starting this weekend, I know I’ll be reading a lot of mysteries. I’ve posted a bit already about what horror lit I want to read and what’s on this week’s list, but anyway here are 10 reads that would make an ideal fall tbr for me:

affinity

1. Affinity by Sarah Waters gr-pic

One of my favorites to reread, it’s got Victorian England, lesbians, séance and is wonderfully atmospheric and twisty.

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2.Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova gr-pic

Latinx fantasy including brujas, monsters, LGBTQ, and kick ass women of color! Reading it for Diverse SFF Book Club.

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3.Blanche On the Lam by Barbara Neely gr-pic

One of my choices for #DiverseDetectives and I cannot wait! A smart middle-aged Black woman housekeeper turned sleuth? Hell yes!

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4.How to Recognize A Demon Has Become Your Friend by Linda Addison gr-pic

Always creepy, sometimes funny, horror prose and poetry! There is not enough silly and funny horror, I need more!

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5.The Agüero Sisters by Cristina Garcia gr-pic

I loved Garcia’s Dreaming in Cuban and this one is supposed to boast some Latina gothic elements. How to resist!?

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6.My Soul To Keep by Tananarive Due gr-pic

No fall list is complete without some of Due’s fiction. It’s time to start her African Immortals series, it’s got Ethiopia, vampires and (im)mortality!

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7.Horror Noire: Blacks in American Horror Films From the 1890s to the Present by Robin R. Means Coleman gr-pic

And some good old non-fiction, how could I possibly resist the intersection of horror and race!? It’s an exploration of the visual representation of Black social history and possible spaces for challenging and subverting stereotypes.

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8.Monstress by Marjorie M. Liu gr-pic

A complex heroine, fantastic art and steampunk horror, I’m in! Everyone’s been gushing about this one, so now I only need to get my hands on a copy.

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9.Haiti Noir edited by Edwidge Danticat gr-pic

Noir lit and Haitian culture all in one! I’ve read a few in this anthology and have been meaning to get back to it for a while.

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10.Tropical Gothic in Literature and Culture: The Americas by Justin D. Edwards and Sandra Guardini eds. gr-pic

More non-fiction cause I feel the need to expand on my gothic lit knowledge and Southern gothic is a gateway to “tropical” gothic! 🙂

Now let me know which books have made it onto your fall tbr!

Weekend Reads

weekend reads

It’s Friday! And thus usually the time I get most of my reading done. I’m a bit more flexible about my hours during the week at the moment but it’s still the weekends where I often save a book I’m really excited about for some serious reading time. Sometimes I make plans to read a specific book or reread an old favorite and close the door on the hectic world. So I expect weekend reads to be epic adventures, new worlds to explore or a mystery to figure out. If you want to loose yourself in a book this weekend, let me recommend some weekend reads to you:

tooth and claw

1. Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton

Family drama and money intrigue, Victorian era, Pride and Prejudice with dragons!, social commentary, dragons!

fingersmith

2. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

Victorian London, Dickens with lesbians, super twisty, class, thievery

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3. Niko by Kayti Nika Raet

Please don’t judge the book by its cover, post-apocalyptic wasteland, this is how you do diversity, body horror, kick-ass heroine

the between

4.The Between by Tananarive Due

Floridian horror or is it a mystery or a thriller, Black family history, what is going on, warning for Due always delivers on the creepiness

sorcerer to the crown

5. Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

Ye stuffy olde England now upgraded with magic, familiars, diverse characters, and the best heroine ever. You can read this in a day and then lament the wait for the sequel.

Do you make reading plans on some weekends? What are your favorite weekend reads?

 

 

5 On a Theme: Queer Horror

queer horror

Representation of queer characters in horror fiction and film was often fraught with problems in the best case scenarios, or outrightly hostile at worst. But in the last decades especially LGBTIQ+ writers have taken on the genre and created complex engagements with horror and queer identity away from the doom and gloom of earlier phobic depictions in the mainstream. Adressing intersecting notions of the queer and horror, the normative and the Other, these works ask us to rethink where we draw lines and how we make rigid transformative and fluid identities.

let the right one in

1. Let The Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist

This Swedish vampire story has been adapted to the big screen and been a popular read. 12 year old Oskar’s new friend Eli is a strange one and she only comes out at night. Let The Right One In notably deals with issues of Othering, pederasty and adolescent sexuality as well as the performance of binary gender identity.

affinity

2. Affinity by Sarah Waters

One of my favorite authors, Sarah Waters continuously writes engaging, addictive page-turners with lesbian characters. Affinity, once again set in Victorian London, depicts a complex relationship between Selina a jailed occultist and charity worker Margaret who visits the prisoners of the women’s ward.

gilda

3. The Gilda Stories by Jewelle Gomez

In the 1850s a young Black girl escapes from slavery and finds community in Gilda’s sisterhood of vampires. The Gilda Stories challenges notions of binary gender identity, sexuality and what it means to be a “monster.”

sea, swallow me

4. Sea, Swallow Me by Craig Laurance Gidney

This collection of short stories centers mostly around Black gay characters and combines horror with mythology from Africa to Japan. Reaching from the Antebellum South to the contemporary US, Gidney demonstrates how we are shaped by the intersections of faith,  race and sexuality. Just noticed that with the elements of mythology, fairy tales and the speculative, this could definitely be a good one for the Once Upon a Time challenge.

the drowning girl

5. The Drowning Girl by Caitlín R. Kiernan

This one is about India Morgan Phelps, called Imps by her friends, and her attempts to make sense of her encounters with mythical creates and her family’s history of mental illness. Framed as a Imps’ recordings of these encounters, the book is a meta-heavy work of intertextuality hinted at by the book’s subtitle: a memoir. The Drowning Girl also examines issues of gender performance and transformation in Imps’ friend Abalyn who is a transwoman.

Looking for more themed reading? Take a look at my previous 5 On a Theme post: Afro-German Literature.

Do you enjoy horror stories? What are your favorite scary books beyond the norm?

 

Scary Stuff: 10 Books to Read on Halloween

Tomorrow is Halloween and I love that it’s on a weekend, so I get lots of guilt-free themed reading time. I have lots of books in mind for Halloween, but also the creepy season in general. Not sure what I will actually read this weekend, but until then, half the fun is in making lists. If you’re still looking for a good Halloween read, let me make a few suggestions:

gilda

1.) For awesome Black lesbian vampire lit try The Gilda Stories by Jewelle Gomez.

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2.) For a great heroine try The Girl with All the Gifts. Nope, no spoilers.

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3.) For atmospheric psychological thriller, try We Have Always Lived in the Castle.

goodhouse

4.) Haunted House meets Southern Gothic: The Good House. Do not read this before bed!

grimm

5.) For classic German horror, try Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Obligatory snack: Lebkuchen.

affinity

6.) For Victorian occultism, try Affinity by Sarah Waters.

zombillenium

7.) For funny horror, try Zombillenium by Arthur de Pins.

halloween party

8.) For the faint-er of heart: Halloween Party, British cozy crime by the Queen of Crime herself.

cavendish home

9.) Already read Coraline? Try Claire Legrand’s The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls next.

herdmans

10.) For Halloween reading with the kids: The Best Worst Halloween Ever. Almost as funny as the Christmas book.

Do you enjoy themed reading? What’s on your Halloween reading list?

Happy Halloween!

Review: The Vanishing of Katharina Linden

In Bad Münstereifel, a small town in  Germany, everyone knows everyone and their business. But then Katharina Linden disappears and suddenly the townspeople have to face the fact that these things happen even in their midst and Bad Münstereifel turns into one more place where parents are afraid to let their children roam outside.

Our young narrator is Pia, known as the girl whose grandmother exploded. Due to her grandmother’s unfortunate accident with an Adventskranz (advent wreath), Pia becomes a social outcast and has to make do with the friendship of StinkStefan (possibly the only one in school more unpopular than she is) and Herr Schiller. Herr Schiller is a genial older man who welcomes both children into his home and tells them local folk tales (most of which are apparently real stories of the area). Pia’s life is also unsettled by her parent’s marital problems, as her English expat mother wants to move the family to England.

At the center of the story is thus the tragic but sadly not uncommon phenomenon of young girls disappearing. But Grant embellishes her story by adding fairy tale and horror elements in the tradition of the Grimms as well as local folklore. The atmosphere she invokes is really fantastic, especially as we look at things from the perspective of a ten-year old girl. Bad Münstereifel is a small town with cobbled streets and timbered houses, close to the Eifel forest and is exactly what I always pictured when reading Grimm’s fairy tales (I grew up near the Eifel and we often went there to explore, though I think it was stressful for our parents, it is  very easy to get lost). Here is a picture of Bad Münstereifel and the surrounding forest:

 photo credit

I found The Vanishing of Katharina Linden to be an engrossing read. I didn’t mean to read through it in one sitting but Pia and her story captivated me. She is a very likeable character and narrator and I read that many people were confused about the target audience. I didn’t really think about that at all when I picked it up, but it seems to be suited for adults as well as young adults. Even though Pia is about ten years old in the story, she looks back from the age of about 17. I find her ‘memories’, that is the young Pia’s perspective well-represented though. I read the fairly tale elements as Pia’s way to negotiate her ten-year old’s world view with the sudden intrusion of adult violence in her life.

Looking back, I’m happy that this book wasn’t marketed aggressively as a YA book with fantasy and horror elements. It is very unlikely I would have read it. But I stumbled over this in the store and the cover isn’t very YA book-like (not my edition at least) and was shelved simply under English novels. Categories are often helpful guidelines but sometimes they scare me off books I might have enjoyed under any other label (there is something to say for rummage boxes in used books stores).

Grant lived in the town herself for some years and I can’t tell you how great it is to read a writer who uses German words and actually does so correctly! (Because butchering a foreign language when you have countless proofreaders and editors does not make you an intellectual!) Grant’s style is fantastic, the novel captivates you in the way that great stories do, but not in the breathless ways of thrillers. There are enough quiet moments that allow you to ponder the effects of the disappearances on the  town of Bad Münstereifel and how children transform their reality to accommodate these disturbing events.

Have you reviewed this book? Let me know and I’ll add a link!