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  • Writer's pictureChristina Pfeiffer

04/07/2024 Christina Critiques


While I only have six reviews this week, it’s to give you a bit of a break from that never-ending TBR, they are ALL amazing in their own ways.


Even Volpe’s. *glares at him*


Let’s get into them.

 

NONE SO BLIND

By Christine Morgan


Is there anything this woman can’t write!? Smut? Check. Splatterwestern? Check. A collection featuring a “doctor” who’s a witch but NOT a witch-doctor? Check a-rino!


I love the beginning of the first story, “Once upon a time, there was a little girl whose dumbass big brother got mixed up in an occult gang war.” You KNOW you are in for a treat with that kind of an opening. Larrah has a disability that would make most uncomfortable if she was to operate on you but for some reason, she’s a pro. Now, of course she has to add in a bit of witchy assistance but that’s neither here or there.


Morgan makes Larrah feel like the reader knows her, personally. The ability to build the exposition without it being forced on the reader is always a favorite of mine from Morgan.


I also need more from Larrah and her ER type shenanigans. So maybe, just maybe if we all come together and annoy her, we will get our wish.


Amazing as usual. A HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMEND 5/5.


 

LEFT TO YOU

By Daniel Volpe


So he finallllllly got me. I had held out reading LEFT TO YOU while everyone talked it up. I’m not a sheep! But he got me… just send me the prequel of something and my FOMO ass will bite… he is a clever one.


LTY is not for the faint of heart. It’s graphic in its description of atrocities of the Holocaust, in its scenes of brutality, and the emotional gangbang Volpe causes.


Josef, at one point in the story, does something unthinkable (IYKYK) and the reader is presented with a problem. Is Josef acting in a mode of survival or has he become as evil as his captures? That reallllllly fucks with you as a reader. It’s not Stockholm Syndrome as he makes the decision freely.


While I didn’t cry (which is a shock to many because I’m a blubbering wuss bag when it comes to books), I did cuss him a few times. I also told him I was going to call him a dickbag in my review. Let it be known, I am a lady of my word.


This is where Volpe excels as a storyteller. The writing is smooth, sadly familiar, and refuses to let the reader go until he decides. I REALLY hope we see more like this from him in the future.


A HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMEND 5/5.


 

SOULLESS LONESOME

By Dan Shrader


Benjamin is having a rotten time. His business partner ,Jim, took all the money and GTFO real fast. Jim also left behind his wife, Maggie, also Benjamin’s sister.  Private detectives are hired and then the bad stuff starts. Benjamin calls Shepard, Shepard calls Zara Beth, and Zara Beth calls … well, you need to read it. Virgins, guys in robes, rituals, oh my!


Holy Toledo, friends was this book insanity! I mean, from Jim going missing to the back stabbing (which I won’t forgive you for, Shrader. You’re on my shit list and you know why). I couldn’t put this book down or stop listening. It was so engaging and the pacing is one of the best I have read in a while.


It’s stellar and I will be rereading SOULLESS LONESOME again very soon. It’s creepy, evil, and anxiety-inducing. A HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMEND 5/5.


 
 

STOKER NOMINATION FOR SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN A NOVEL

(Due to this reviewers lack of self-control with her usage of TikTok doom scrolling, half of the nominees are this week and the other half will be next week. I would apologize but… I like conspiracy theory rabbit holes.)


HOW TO SELL A HAUNTED HOUSE

By Grady Hendrix


Fun fact about me: I used to have hundreds of dolls tacked up on my walls when I was a kid so as an adult… I’m a bit creeped out by them because that was such an odd interior design choice and I blame my Mother for not telling me no. This novel did not help when I remembered the side eyeing I did to my walls many nights.


Mark and Louise are dealing with something that they never expected when tragedy befalls this brother and sister duo. Add in the inability for them to be in a room together for more than 5 minutes without wanting to stab each other, things get uncomfortable fast. AND they have to clear out the creepy ass dolls that plagued their childhood and beyond in order to sell the house. Things get a little… stuffy.


HTSAHH scared the hell out of me a few times. So much so I almost quit reading it. The atmosphere and tension that Hendrix built was insane. The relationship between all of the characters were unsettling at times too because it felt too personal.


I do wish it was a bit shorter because it felt it dragged a few places. But all in all, it was a great novel and one that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. A DEFINITE RECOMMEND 4/5.



 

CAMP DAMASCUS

By Chuck Tingle


This one surprised me. I mean, most of us that hear the name Chuck Tingle immediately ask, “What was pounded this time, old chap?”. But not CAMP DAMASCUS. This is a critique of so many different things and I don’t think I could have loved a book more.


At the most basic level, this novel is about embracing who you are in spite of the environment you are forced into. How friends can return to your life after time and space seems to prevent every avenue back. Or even how religious trauma manifests in different forms that can both help and harm those afflicted.


Tingle isn’t playing with this novel. He refuses to back down from subjects that are taboo and sometimes “overly done”. His spin on religion in trauma, brainwashing, and the need to feel like a group is stellar. Then he adds in LGBT+ representation, the love of family (not those given but those chosen), the way love always finds a way, and let’s also make sure to highlight not the awareness but acceptance of an autistic character (which as a Mom of a autistic child, thank you). It’s not played for laughs but an inclusivity that many authors miss in regards to autism.


It’s brilliant. In every way, every word. Tingle also seems to play with a ton of movie references - THE THING, ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, THIRTEEN GHOSTS, THE GREEN MILE, and many more. (Obviously not the entirety of the movies but very specific parts that made me comforted when the novel got a little too heavy).


I hope we see more from Mr. Tingle like this. It’s literal perfection. A HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMEND 5/5.


 

LONE WOMEN

By Victor LaValle


LaValle is a new favorite writer and LONE WOMEN is why. The way Adelaide Henry is written as a flawed woman with so much ahead of her but her past (literal) baggage makes her so relatable.


Adelaide is running: from her past, parents expectations, societies expectations, but to a beginning with nothing but promise. Right? RIGHT?! When she moves to Big Sandy, Montana. As a black woman in the west, without a man, family, or friends those are the least of her concerns. The winter is coming and there is much to do. Ohhhhh, and there is something in her trunk that is thirsty for revenge.


LONE WOMEN is excellence in storytelling. From the depth of the characters to the research that had to be completed, to how the writing makes the reader feel like THEY have to survive the winter and other oddities that are happening. There is racial commentary, gender roles, LGBT+ representation, generational trauma, and so much more. I want to leave you with a few quotes that really hit home for me:


“A woman is a mule.”

“There are two kinds of people in this world: those who live with shame, and those who die from it.”

“Difficulties are to be overcome, not indulged.”

“Easy to chase the past and lose the present.”


Beautiful, haunting, and relevant. A HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMEND 5/5.


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