Through the Woods — a graphic novel that will terrify you

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Through the Woods

author : emily carroll

pages : [hardcover] 208

summary :

‘It came from the woods. Most strange things do.’

Five mysterious, spine-tingling stories follow journeys into (and out of?) the eerie abyss.

These chilling tales spring from the macabre imagination of acclaimed and award-winning comic creator Emily Carroll.

Come take a walk in the woods and see what awaits you there…

review :

I’ve been looking forward to reading this book ever since I spotted it on a Barnes & Noble shelf, coveted it, and never thought that I’d ever be able to afford it. Which ended up being true, because I happily found that my school library had procured a copy of this book recently and I was the first person to check it out. With how long I’ve been waiting to get my hands on Through the Woods, it did not disappoint. In fact, these five horror stories left me shivering long past when I was supposed to get to sleep.

These are no normal retold fairy tales. They’re the kind of things you’d rather not hear, because more often than not there are no happy endings, and no guarantees that the characters you fear are not walking among you–or maybe waiting underneath your bed. That’s the kind of story Carroll is not only great at crafting, but illustrating. Yes, this graphic novel isn’t exactly ‘graphic’ in its horror, really, but sometimes the creatures it leaves up to your imagination is far worse than what is pictured on the page. I love how she turns that around on the reader, so in the end you aren’t sure of what, exactly, you’re afraid of, just that something is very wrong. Much like most of the protagonists in the stories feel. Before terribly creative and terrifying things happen in their lives.

Some of the tales reference easily recognizable fairy tales and others seem to have emerged on their own with no immediate influences, though through the tone and artistry they feel as ancient and warning as some of the oldest known fairy tales. I love that Carroll was so easily able to adapt an approach that brought back some of the gruesome aspects of original fairy tales but spun it all so that this storytelling is wholly her own.

I could gush about it forever, really, because the illustrations are amazing, too. I love the way the text itself because an image in the story, playing with the figures depicted. Sometimes changing color and size to indicate what is speaking and how the reader should feel about what is said. It’s such a layered book that I feel has been severely overlooked, and now I’m going to go and push it on all of my friends.

So, yes, of course, I recommend Through the Woods–just don’t read it on a dark and stormy night, when you’re home alone.

5/5 stars

 

Lips Touch Three Times reminds me of why I love Laini Taylor

 

Lips Touch Three Timeslips touch cover

author : laini taylor

pages : [hardcover] 266

memorable quote :

There are other ways of showing someone you love them, such as fetching them out of Hell.

favorite story : spicy little curses

summary :

Three tales of supernatural love, each pivoting on a kiss that is no mere kiss, but an action with profound consequences for the kissers’ souls:

Goblin Fruit
In Victorian times, goblin men had only to offer young girls sumptuous fruits to tempt them to sell their souls. But what does it take to tempt today’s savvy girls?

Spicy Little Curses
A demon and the ambassador to Hell tussle over the soul of a beautiful English girl in India. Matters become complicated when she falls in love and decides to test her curse.

Hatchling
Six days before Esme’s fourteenth birthday, her left eye turns from brown to blue. She little suspects what the change heralds, but her small safe life begins to unravel at once. What does the beautiful, fanged man want with her, and how is her fate connected to a mysterious race of demons?

review :

If you aren’t yet a fan of Laini Taylor then I don’t understand what you’re doing with your life. The Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy is literally the best thing that I’ve ever read and if I could only recommend one thing to everyone for the rest of my life, it would be that. Because it’s that great. Surprisingly, not enough people have read it. And while I anxiously await Laini’s next book (which I just found out is supposed to be published later this year!!!), I looked into what else she’s written in the past. That’s how I first encountered Lips Touch Three Times.

I knew that it was a collection of three short stories. I knew that all would have some kind of a kiss in them, for one reason or another. What I didn’t realize, perhaps naively, was that they would be as beautiful, heart-wrenching, and twisted as Laini’s books.

These short stories pack so much into less than a hundred pages each. I don’t understand how it’s possible, to be honest. Each story has its each incredibly unique fantasy setting. There’s world-building alongside plenty of plot twists and flashbacks and beautifully fleshed out characters. These women who I either loved (and wanted to protect from the world) or loved to hate. Because not everything is perfect, in these books. And no one is ever guaranteed a happy ending.

I absolutely loved all three stories but I have to say that my favorite was “Spicy Little Curses”. Maybe because it terrified me. Maybe because it had some adorable romance. Maybe because it nearly drove me crazy with wondering what was going to happen next when there were so few pages left, so much to solve, and Laini of course manages to pull it all off effortlessly.

These stories aren’t for the faint of heart, so if you’re looking for something overly cheerful, look elsewhere. But if you’re looking for new worlds to explore, characters to fall in love with or passionately hate, and plot twists that will have you re-read the same page three times because yes, that did really happen pick up this collection.

5/5 stars

Kisses and Curses (Short Story Collection)

Kisses and Curses

edited by : lauren burniac

pages : [paperback] 400

featuring : marissa meyer, leigh bardugo, marie rutkoski, and many more!

summary :

A fabulous collection of short stories from your favorite Fierce Reads authors, perfect for fans and new readers!

Beloved of readers and booksellers, our Fierce Reads program has garnered tons of enthusiastic fans since its inauguration in 2012. Now, the authors you know and love are coming together in one book! With standalone short stories from a handpicked set of FR authors, this fabulous collection will include a mix of original content and popular favorites, and will often feature characters or worlds from existing Fierce Reads books. Extended, personal introductions from each author will make this a must-buy for fans as well as a fantastic portal for engaging new readers with the program. With a wide range of genres and subject matter, there will be something here for everyone!

review :

I LOVE short story collections! I grabbed up this one as soon as I spotted it in the store because it had Marissa Meyer, Leigh Bardugo, and Marie Rutkoski included. Three of my favorite authors! I immediately sat down to read this and hit an unfortunate snag. Although all of these short stories can, technically, be read on their own, all except one are inspired by these authors’ well-known series. This is less annoying when, as in the authors I mentioned above, I knew the context these stories were going into and could enjoy the extra insight into the characters or world these little bits provided. For other stories that I haven’t yet had the chance to get to the series . . . It was frustrating. These snippets would rarely have a conclusion and in one instance I couldn’t even read the story because I was warned it would spoil the book. Who knows if I’ve managed to spoil something else for myself already?

I wouldn’t say there was any one story in this I didn’t like. Overall, the writing was pretty solid (after I got over the whole blow about none of the stories being original). The one unique story was told in a twitter exchange between two authors, which was a surprisingly entertaining way to read the unconventional Sasquatch love story. If that isn’t enough to convince you to try this collection, I don’t know what else could.

I had to rate this collection lower than I wanted to (because I LOVE these authors and know that there are other favorites in here just waiting to be discovered when I actually read the series’ I just spoiled). The stories weren’t satisfying on my own. I feel like they would have been better suited in their own domain rather than this bind-up. Hopefully, I won’t get tricked into a collection like this again.

3/5 stars

Review: My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me

My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me

edited by: kate bernheimer

pages : [paperback] 576

summary :

The fairy tale lives again in this book of forty new stories by some of the biggest names in contemporary fiction.

Neil Gaiman, “Orange”

Aimee Bender, “The Color Master”

Joyce Carol Oates, “Blue-bearded Lover”

Michael Cunningham, “The Wild Swans”

These and more than thirty other stories by Francine Prose, Kelly Link, Jim Shepard, Lydia Millet, and many other extraordinary writers make up this thrilling celebration of fairy tales—the ultimate literary costume party.

Spinning houses and talking birds. Whispered secrets and borrowed hope. Here are new stories sewn from old skins, gathered by visionary editor Kate Bernheimer and inspired by everything from Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen” and “The Little Match Girl” to Charles Perrault’s “Bluebeard” and “Cinderella” to the Brothers Grimm’s “Hansel and Gretel” and “Rumpelstiltskin” to fairy tales by Goethe and Calvino and from China, Japan, Vietnam, Russia, Norway, and Mexico.

Fairy tales are our oldest literary tradition, and yet they chart the imaginative frontiers of the twenty-first century as powerfully as they evoke our earliest encounters with literature. This exhilarating collection restores their place in the literary canon.

review :

This collection of fairy tales fully consumed me as I read through the book.

With a plethora of contemporary authors adding their retold fairy tales to this anthology, there’s definitely a story in here for anyone. While I’m not sure that all will enjoy every story (that’s a rare thing, to really love every installment in a collection like this) there are so many different styles present and takes on the well-known tales that there’s a good thing for anyone here.

I particularly enjoyed (and expected to love) Neil Gaiman’s ‘Orange’. He’s one of the few authors I immediately recognized by name from the list of those who contributed to this work–for others, I know their stories better than their names.

Because I had to read this for school, I didn’t have as much time to sit and think on each story as I would have preferred to do, should I have read this collection in my free time. I could spend hours on each one, to be frank, going on about what did or didn’t work for me, what I loved about the individual writing styles and what I detested about the fairy tales chosen to be retold. Unfortunately, not having the time for that kind of involvement, I was left instead with vague impressions of the stories I’d read one after the other. So if you happen to read this anthology, I would recommend taking the time to enjoy it, rather than speeding through it. Not only is it a fairly hefty volume, the text inside is so dense with wonder and symbolism that you simply need to focus on it rather than the end goal of finishing the book.

I loved how some of these stories are influenced by more remote and less well-known tales, some more gruesome or heartbreaking than others. While I do love my Americanized classics, there are still so many folk tales and mythologies out there left to be explored and understood by the masses so I was ecstatic (though not particularly surprised, judging by the fabulous array of authors) to see the variety there!

I would highly recommend this collection to anyone interested in fairy tales, modern writing, and short stories. I think that this is something I’ll return to again, to reread favorite stories and linger over those I still need to puzzle out.

4/5 stars

The Bloody Chamber & Other Stories by Angela Carter

The Bloody Chamber & Other Stories

author : angela carter

pages : 126

memorable quote:

She herself is a haunted house. She does not possess herself; her ancestors sometimes come and peer out of the windows of her eyes and that is very frightening

summary :

From familiar fairy tales and legends – Red Riding Hood, Bluebeard, Puss-in-Boots, Beauty and the Beast, vampires, werewolves – Angela Carter has created an absorbing collection of dark, sensual, fantastic stories.

review :

I had to read this collection of fairy tales for an independent study I’m doing. While they weren’t my favorite retellings, I think that these stories are not only well-written but also thought provoking. They’re tales that will leave you to think. You won’t just ponder the connection to and differences from the original story and Carter’s version. You’ll also think through your own interpretation of the endings, as well as the symbolism that crops up in each story.

Though this collection was short, it’s sure to stand out. The stories are bloody. Many of them aren’t happy. But that seems to be a trend, not only in modern retellings but in the original stories themselves! All of us like to hear a good story with a happily ever after but things don’t always work out that way. Carter doesn’t seem foreign to that concept, though she does put her own spin on the idea of a ‘realistic’, unhappy ending. There’s no tragedy simply for the sake of it. It’s impressive, the way she weaves her words together and makes even the smallest of instances in her stories seem to have the biggest share of the impact.

I’d recommend this collection to anyone with an avid interest in fairy tales. While there are other retellings that I’ll pick up to read over and over again, I’m not sure that this collection will be among them even though it is very well-done. I think that it’s worth at least one read and many will like it even more than I did.

3/5 stars

My True Love Gave to Me edited by Stephanie Perkins

My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories

edited by : stephanie perkins

writers : holly black, ally carter, matt de la pena, gayle forman, jenny han, david levithan, kelly link, myra mcentire, stephanie perkins, rainbow rowell, laini taylor, & kiersten white

pages : [hardcover] 320

favorite stories : “The Lady and the Fox”, “It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown”, “The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer”

summary :

If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: TWELVE HOLIDAY STORIES by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins.

review :

I absolutely LOVED this collection of holiday short stories. I don’t often buy anthologies but when I saw that this had stories featuring some of my favorite authors (including Laini Taylor, my all-time favorite author!) I just had to get it. I’m so glad that I did and decided to read it during the holiday season!

Honestly, it was difficult to choose my favorite stories in this collection because there was something that I liked about every story in here. Of course I really loved that romance played such a big part in most of the stories. Who doesn’t love the idea of, well, love during the holidays? It’s kind of a romantic time of year. And all of these stories were so well-written that even the faster romances don’t seem that terrible insta-love (which can sometimes kill a book, in my opinion). Instant attraction is another thing, and one that is entirely realistic and typically well-written in these tales.

I also loved the variety. There are a few Jewish main characters, one gay narrator, one celebrating the Solstice, one who calls on the ancient spirit of an island during the holidays. Some stories incorporated fantastical elements; others were entirely realistic. I did tend to like the fantasy more, but thankfully the contemporary stories were written by some of my favorite names in contemporary young adult stories so I ended up enjoying a little bit of everything.

If you have to read one thing during the holiday season, pick this collection. There’s something in it for everyone and it saves the best story for last. You’ll love these characters, the holiday setting, and the romance. You’ll be left wanting even more!

5/5 stars

 

Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King

Full Dark, No Stars

author : stephen king

pages [hardcover] 368

summary :

A new collection of four never-before-published stories from Stephen King.

1922
The story opens with the confession of Wilfred James to the murder of his wife, Arlette, following their move to Hemingford, Nebraska onto land willed to Arlette by her father.

Big Driver
Mystery writer, Tess, has been supplementing her writing income for years by doing speaking engagements with no problems. But following a last-minute invitation to a book club 60 miles away, she takes a shortcut home with dire consequences.

Fair Extension
Harry Streeter, who is suffering from cancer, decides to make a deal with the devil but, as always, there is a price to pay.

A Good Marriage
Darcy Anderson learns more about her husband of over twenty years than she would have liked to know when she stumbles literally upon a box under a worktable in their garage

review :

I love reading Stephen King books because they’re really starting to get me into horror as well as bringing me into the mindset that both YA and adult books can be enjoyable and the reader doesn’t have to prefer one or the other. King does a fantastic job of creating his stories, drawing the reader in and allowing them to feel along with the character what is happening. There’s a certain skill in his slow build-up of tinier details that can be appreciated just as much if not more so than in your face gore and scare tactics.

I love how in each story a different character is presented. A murderer, a victim, someone who stands aside while another’s life is destroyed, the relative of a victim. Literally as soon as I would finish one of the stories and think to myself that I’d like to here something from some generic character perspective, it would be there right in the next tale. The differences between all of them as well as the qualities that link them together make each story captivating and different.

My favorite had to be Fair Extension, though it was also one of the harder ones for me to read. The cruelty of it got to me more than flat-out murder did, which was completely unexpected for me and a show of great writing on King’s part.

I recommend this both to fans of short stories and Stephen King fans. This isn’t my favorite work of his but as I’m expanding my horizons and looking into more of his books, it has me looking to read more.

4/5 stars