What Big Teeth by Rose Szabo

Summary:
Eleanor Zarrin has been estranged from her wild family for years. When she flees boarding school after a horrifying incident, she goes to the only place she thinks is safe: the home she left behind. But when she gets there, she struggles to fit in with her monstrous relatives, who prowl the woods around the family estate and read fortunes in the guts of birds.
Eleanor finds herself desperately trying to hold the family together — in order to save them all, Eleanor must learn to embrace her family of monsters and tame the darkness inside her.
Rose Szabo’s thrilling debut is a dark and thrilling novel about a teen girl who returns home to her strange, wild family after years of estrangement, perfect for fans of Wilder Girls.

What Big Teeth by Rose Szabo

Review:
Generally, I start my reviews with a bit of a summary of the story in my own words. Well, I can’t do that with this review because I honestly have no idea what just happened. I listened to the audiobook and really enjoyed the narrator. I felt like the story itself wasn’t super fast-paced (until the end anyway) but it still felt like I flew through the story. I think part of this is because I was so confused and filled with questions that I just needed to keep going so I could get some answers.
I gave this book 4 stars, but honestly, I’m still so confused. The story follows Eleanor after she flees her boarding school and returns home to a family she hasn’t seen in almost ten years. Her family is filled with monsters and she is missing quite a few important pieces of her memory. The things that Eleanor couldn’t remember was one of the more frustrating aspects of this book because it clear that her family remembers more than she does, but because she’s been gone so long with no communication from anyone aside from her grandmother, there’s a lot of distrust between all of them. Eleanor’s grandfather, sister, father, and cousin are werewolves (they’re never called that because their origin is a whole other thing. But they’re basically werewolves). Her paternal grandmother (the one that sent her away in the first place) is a witch of some sort and her mother is hinted to be something, but it’s never really addressed. Now, with all of this, it was easy to assume that Eleanor was also something, but we didn’t know what exactly that was. This was one of the big plot lines of the book. What is Eleanor? Well, we learn that what she is played a big part of everything that’s happened to her.
So, the things that I liked about this story were many. Despite being confused as heck for most of this story, I was interested. The setting was atmospheric and vivid. The author did an excellent job with stunning imagery. I liked seeing Eleanor uncomfortable. I think this was because I didn’t really like Eleanor. She doesn’t make good choices (her grandmother gives her advice on her death bed and Eleanor basically never thinks about it again even though following that advice would have saved her from literally everything in this book). But what compelled me to continue on in this story was that I couldn’t help but understand why Eleanor did the things she did. It wasn’t hard to sympathize with her even though I didn’t really like her. There were some things that were so clear to the reader that Eleanor didn’t want to see them, so she didn’t. But with her backstory, it was easy to understand why she was this way. I loved all of the fantasy/horror elements. The monsters and the magic, the stories that we heard the family tell, it was all so creepy in the best way. I also really loved Margaret. She’s Eleanor’s aunt. I liked the slow development of the relationship from actively disliking one another to finding themselves on the same side and working together. Margaret doesn’t speak and doesn’t like to be spoken to, so we get some fun charades scenes.
I would have liked to have gotten a bit more from some of the other characters though. We got a lot of Arthur (a family friend) because he is a love interest. I think the ‘romance’ was absolutely not needed for this story to work. Romance is in quotes because there was a sort of happily ever after that I didn’t really care for. I would have totally been okay with all the other bits of the ‘romance’ if they hadn’t gotten that HEA moment, especially after learning all the details of Arthur’s backstory. We didn’t get much from Eleanor’s cousin and sister other than the fact that they were spoiled adults that acted like children because they’d been given or had taken anything they had ever wanted or needed.
Overall, this was a wild ride that was spooky, creepy, scary, and a whole bunch of other things. I think it was written well. But sometimes there was just a bit too much going on. I loved all the monsters and magic and mayhem. I will definitely be reading more work by Szabo.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant

Summary:
Seven years ago, the Atargatis set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to film a “mockumentary” bringing to life ancient sea creatures of legend. It was lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others have called it a maritime tragedy.
Now, a new crew has been assembled. But this time they’re not out to entertain. Some seek to validate their life’s work. Some seek the greatest hunt of all. Some seek the truth. But for the ambitious young scientist Victoria Stewart this is a voyage to uncover the fate of the sister she lost.
Whatever the truth may be, it will only be found below the waves. But the secrets of the deep come with a price.
Review:Into the Drowning Deep (Rolling in the Deep, #1)
Into the Drowning Deep
is a horror novel about mermaids. I’ve always said that I didn’t like the horror genre, but recently I’ve found myself picking up and really enjoying horror novels. Into the Drowning Deep is a book that solidified my interest in the genre.
This story follows Tori and several other characters as they embark on a second voyage to the Mariana Trench and attempt to uncover what happened seven years ago. For Tori, this is a personal mission. Her sister was on that first voyage and not knowing what happened to her is something Tori has never been able to cope with. She’s a graduate student studying marine biology, more specifically she studies the sound waves underneath the ocean. I think the scientific aspect of this story was one of my favorite parts. This second crew is filled with more than 400 marine scientists, most that don’t believe in the myth of mermaids but are eager for the chance to do research fully funded by someone else. There’s quite a bit of science talk that goes on between Tori’s sound waves and other various things that come up once the mermaids have been ‘discovered.’ I don’t want to give too much away about the story, so, I’ll just say that I liked the science. It was detailed but still understandable. It wasn’t so technical that I didn’t understand what the characters were talking about.
Now, this book follows quite a few characters, which isn’t always successful when telling a story, but Grant did it in a way where eventually all of the characters overlapped and I cared about what would happen to all of them, even the ones I didn’t like. Grant created characters that were all compelling and very different from one another. They each had a unique voice and personality. They all had their own motivations for being on that ship.
Grant’s writing is what really pushed this story over the top for me. The suspense and tense mood of the story was excellent. I listened to the audiobook (which had a narrator that I really liked) and I couldn’t help but react to the story. There were times that I froze in fear, gasped in surprise, or relaxed in relief right alongside the characters. But Grant also let the reader know the whole story, so there were things that some of the characters didn’t know that we did, which added even more anxiety and worry for the characters.
Overall, I absolutely devoured this book. I would highly recommend it for any readers that like horror. I think the characters were compelling and interesting. The story itself was unique and made me think (I’ve always been fascinated by the ocean). I actually ended up looking up information about the Marianas Trench. I also think that Grant did a good job of including diverse characters. There was representation with deaf characters, and while I can’t speak to the accuracy, I liked that they were included as scientists. This was an engaging story that balanced between science and a bit of fantasy. I will definitely be picking up more books by Mira Grant in the future.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Blogtober Book Review: The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher

GoodReads Summary:
A young woman discovers a strange portal in her uncle’s house, leading to madness and terror in this gripping new novel from the author of the “innovative, unexpected, and absolutely chilling” (Mira Grant, Nebula Award–winning author) The Twisted Ones.
Pray they are hungry.
Kara finds these words in the mysterious bunker that she’s discovered behind a hole in the wall of her uncle’s house. Freshly divorced and living back at home, Kara now becomes obsessed with these cryptic words and starts exploring the peculiar bunker—only to discover that it holds portals to countless alternate realities. But these places are haunted by creatures that seem to hear thoughts…and the more you fear them, the stronger they become.
With her distinctive “delightfully fresh and subversive” (SF Bluestocking) prose and the strange, sinister wonder found in Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth, The Hollow Places is another compelling and white-knuckled horror novel that you won’t be able to put down.
The Hollow PlacesReview:
Thank you NetGalley and publishers for providing me with this eARC in exchange for an honest review. I adored this book and every single minute I spend reading it was a ride.
The Hollow Places follows Kara (or Carrot) after she moves into the spare room of her Uncle Earl’s Wonder Museum. She’s gotten divorced from her husband and doesn’t want to move in with her mother. When her Uncle offers his spare room, she accepts. The Wonder Museum is a place full of bizarre things like taxidermized animals (read: otters, bears, mice), knick-knacks from around the world (some authentic and some with ‘made in china’ stickers), and of course, Wonder Museum memorabilia. But Kara grew up in this museum, so she’s not afraid or creeped out by any of these oddities. But one day, Kara finds a hole in the wall so she enlists the barista from the coffee shop next door, Simon, to help her fix it. This is when they discover that there’s something weird about what’s on the other side of this hole. They find themselves in a world that is not our own. Simon and Kara can’t help but explore, but they find more than they wanted to.
This story was delightfully creepy and suspenseful. Certain parts of the story had me gripping my Kindle so hard and my whole body tense. The writing was nothing short of incredible. I felt transported into this story. Kingfisher made this world come to life. It was so atmospheric. I was scared while Simon and Kara were in this other world, holding my breath when they did, but I just couldn’t get enough. I really loved that there was a ‘why’ to all of this. There was a reason this had happened and while it wasn’t wholly explained, there was enough to satisfy me.
Kara and Simon were characters I really enjoyed. At first, Kara is upset about her divorce. She’s disappointed that her life isn’t what she wants it to be, but once she finds another world, a horrifying one, it really puts things in perspective for her. I loved that the creatures of the museum love and protect Kara (you’ll know what I’m talking about when you get to this part of the story). Simon is gay. He’s the barista at the coffee shop his sister owns. He’s full of wild stories that you almost don’t believe. I loved that Kara and Simon went from acquaintances to friends. They bonded through their shared experiences of the horrors of the willow world and I really enjoyed their friendship.
Overall, I loved this book. It was perfect for the spooky season. The atmospheric setting with the horror of the things Kara and Simon encounter made for a spectacularly spooky reading experience. I loved everything about this story and I will definitely be picking up more books by Kingfisher.

Quotes:

“Do objects that are loved know that they are loved?”

“I did not look at the words on the wall. If I didn’t look at them, they didn’t matter. Words are meaningless until you read them.”

“The Wonder Museum, for all its strangeness, was never haunted. If there were ghosts, they were benevolent ones. But perhaps skin and bones have a little memory to them, even after the soul is gone to greater things. And the bones in this museum had spent decade after decade marinating in my uncle’s fierce, befuddled kindness.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.