Author Archives: lydias

A Review of A Bit of Pickled Pumpkin and Other Short Horror Stories 

A Bit of Pickled Pumpkin and Other Short Horror Stories by B.A. Loudon book cover. Image on cover is of a pile of pumpkins.Title: A Bit of Pickled Pumpkin and Other Short Horror Stories

Author: B.A. Loudon

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: September 12, 2019

Genres: Young Adult, Horror, Paranormal, Contemporary

Length: 45 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Blurb:

Review:

In this collection of stories, all is not what it seems…Broken promises have unexpected consequences.Going to space should be a day of celebration.A sunny disposition conceals a dark family secret.And why does a bit of pickled pumpkin have an entire neighbourhood on edge?

Content warning: mental illness, domestic abuse, cannibalism, postpartum depression, and murder. I will not be discussing these things in my review.

It’s never too early to start thinking about Halloween.

There were a surprisingly amount of short stories and flash fiction in this collection, so I’l only talk about a few of them in my review. Do check out the whole thing if any of this intrigues you.

The narrator in “Promises” was someone who grew up in a small town and desperately wanted to leave it. When they were finally given a chance to do just that, the person who took them far away from home wasn’t exactly what they were expecting. This was such a quick little tale that I can’t say much else about it, but I did find it interesting to learn what happened to the narrator after they left home.

In “A Bit of Pickled Pumpkin,” a grieving spouse must decide what to do with their wife’s massive collection of pickled foods after she died. The spouse had never learned to like the taste of pickled things and didn’t want all of her hard work to go to waste. This wasn’t a topic I was expecting to read about, but I liked reading the main character’s thoughts about how to tie up all of the loose ends of this part of their life.

“The Performance of a Lifetime” reminded me of how much stage fright I’ve had in the past much like the protagonist of this piece. As much as I enjoyed the beginning of this tale, the middle and ending of it seemed to come out of nowhere. It would have been nice to have more clues about what was about to happen and how the beginning was tied to what came after that. This was something that was repeated with many of the stories in this anthology. Their endings were well worth reading, but I wasn’t always entirely sure how they arrived there.

“Clean” was quite the read. At first it seemed like it was written for adults instead of teenagers because most teens aren’t permanently put in charge of cleaning their entire homes the way the mother is in many families. Yes, I wrote mother on purpose. The gendered aspects of who cleans and who keeps track of what should be cleaned next was written well. It actually turned out to be my favourite part of this tale as well as one of the best stories in this anthology.

If you’re counting down the days to Halloween and want to get into the spirit of it early this year, A Bit of Pickled Pumpkin and Other Short Horror Stories is a good place to start.

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Books with the Most Words I Had to Look Up

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

A person thumbing through a large dictionary. My answer for this week is going to be short and sweet.

When I read The Lord of the Rings trilogy many years ago, I kept a dictionary open right next to it. There were so many new vocabulary words included in it that I kept having to stop reading to find out on what Earth the characters were talking about.

To be fair, I was in middle school when I read this series. Some of those words might be more familiar to me if I were to come across them again as an adult. But the memory of looking up words regularly during these hours of reading is a strong one for me.

If you’ve read this series, did you have the same experience?

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Rubber Duckie Book Covers

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

Three rubber duckies sitting on the edge of a white bathtubI don’t know about all of you, but I’m sure in the mood for lighthearted and dare I say slightly silly conversations at the moment.

For example, did you know there are dozens of books out there that feature rubber duckies on their covers?

I have no idea how or why this ever became a trend, but it does make me smile.

Have you read any of these books? Do you have a rubber duckie sitting on the edge of your bathtub at this exact moment?

Is That a Fact?- Frauds, Quacks, and the Real Science of Everyday Life by Joe Schwarcz book cover. Image on cover is of a rubber duckie floating in a beaker filled with blue liquid.

1. Is That a Fact?: Frauds, Quacks, and the Real Science of Everyday Life by Joe Schwarcz

Plus 2, Minus 2 by Ann H. Matzke book cover. Image on the cover is of four rubber duckies sitting on an inner tube in a pool.

 

2. Plus 2, Minus 2 by Ann H. Matzke

Moby-Duck by Donovan Hohn book cover. Image on cover is of a rubber duckie sitting on a patch of sand at the beach.

3. Moby-Duck: the true story of 28,800 bath toys lost at sea and of the beachcombers, oceanographers, environmentalists, and fools, including the author, who went in search of them by Donovan Hohn

Stiltskin by Andrew Buckley book cover. Image on the cover is of rumplestiltskin clasping a knife and glaring at the reader while wearing a rubber duckie perched on his head.

4. Stiltskin by Andrew Buckley

Regarding Ducks and Universes by Neve Maslakovic book cover. Image on cover is of a male toddler walking down a deserted highway on a bridge. There is a rubber duckie sittting on the road beside him.

5.Regarding Ducks and Universes by Neve Maslakovic

Rules by Cynthia Lord book cover. Image on cover is of a goldfish swimming in some water and looking at a rubber duckie floating on top of the water.

6. Rules by Cynthia Lord

My Miserable, Lonely, Lesbian Pregnancy by Andrea Askowitz book cover. Image on cover is of a rubber duckie floating upside down with it's head pointed underwater.

7. My Miserable, Lonely, Lesbian Pregnancy by Andrea Askowitz

Neurotica by Eliza Gordon book cover. Image on the cover is of a rubber duckie sitting next to a typewriter that has the title and author typed out on a sheet of paper.

8. Neurotica by Eliza Gordon

De mooiste dagen zijn het ergst by Anke Scheeren book cover. Image on cover is of a sinking rubber duckie that has bubbles coming out of its body underwater.

9.De mooiste dagen zijn het ergst by Anke Scheeren

Alternadad by Neal Pollack book cover. Image on cover is of a rubber duckie whose beak has been pierced by a metal ring. It's sitting against a black background.

10. Alternadad by Neal Pollack

Why I’m Starting My Light Therapy Sessions Earlier This Year

A hand reaching up to touch a bright lightbulbI am not a doctor, and this post is not intended to be taken as medical advice. Please talk to your healthcare provider to see if light therapy lamps are right for you.

Last winter I talked about how much light therapy helps me with my winter blues.

When I stopped using it during our sunniest months here in Ontario, I wondered when I should start up again but decided to defer that decision until autumn.

This spring and summer were filled with the glorious light that lifts my mood every year. Like life for almost everyone else on Earth, they were also filled with the cancellation of many long-anticipated events thanks to Covid-19.

I smiled and made the best of the outdoor, physically-distanced activities that were still safe to do, but with autumn coming up I wondered how my mental health would fare once it was cold and dark here once again.

This isn’t meant to sound like a complaint, by the way. Cancelling all of those festivals, parades, and events was absolutely the right thing to do from a public health perspective. I’m also grateful for my good physical health, safe home, and all of the other advantages I have that so many others do not.

And yet there is also something sad about missing out on almost everything you love about spring and summer only to begin the plunge into another long, dark cold season. This became even more true as I read about the cancellation of Halloween on Church and our mayor discussing the possibility of cancelling trick-or-treating as well. My favourite holiday will either be cancelled altogether or is going to be nothing at all like it was in the past.

At this point, I suspect every upcoming holiday will be celebrated virtually, within the same household (or small social bubble), or not at all until enough people have been vaccinated against this disease to stop it in its tracks.

There’s nothing I can do to change things like these. What I could do was start using my light therapy lamp earlier this month as soon as the first faint whispers of autumn appeared in the form of dark, cloudy days.

A blue lamp that is turned on and releasing light against a plain white wall. I’d forgotten how bright it was. That one little lamp fills the whole room with light and still has some left over to spare.It doesn’t emit heat the way the sun does when you’re outside on a bright summer day, but it otherwise feels something similar to that experience.

(Yes, I purposefully picked photos of dimmer lights for this post. I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s eyes).

It’s still a little too early for me to feel the effects of it, but that also means it should start working long before November arrives and we start seeing sunsets before 5 pm.

What creative ways are you planning to celebrate upcoming holidays?  If you also have a light therapy lamp, when did or will you begin using it this year?

A Review of Friends Don’t Let Friends Be Undead 

Friends Don't Let Friends be Undead by Seth Tucker book cover. Image on cover is of a human skull, four glass bottles of beer, a cross, and a few wooden stakes. Title: Friends Don’t Let Friends Be Undead

Author: Seth Tucker

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: November 17, 2014

Genres: Science Fiction, Horror, Contemporary

Length: 62 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Blurb:

Three days after her husband dies, Lily is shocked to see him staring at her from outside her home. Calling on the four men he trusted most, Lily relies on them to place Steve back into his eternal rest. Guided by his journal, his friends will find that the man they loved has been replaced by a vicious fiend that will stop at nothing to sate its thirst for blood.

Review:

Content warning: Blood. I will not be discussing it in my review.

Yes, anyone who has read the blurb can probably already guess what sort of monster Steve has become, but I will not spoil it for any readers out there who are still unsure.

Starting a horror story out with something as sad as the funeral of a young adult who died suddenly isn’t something I see too often in this genre. It was nice to have a chance to sit with the characters feelings for a moment before they realized that this was going to be anything but an ordinary mourning period for them.

The cast of characters was of average size, but it felt bigger than I expected because nearly everyone was introduced at once at Steve’s funeral in the first couple of scenes. Do take note of who everyone is then, but don’t worry about it if you’re a little confused at first. I quickly sorted it all out once I realized why the reader needed to meet everyone that way. There was a reason, and it did make sense.

It would have been nice to have more character development. While this was a definitely plot-driven storyline and rightly so, I never felt like I got to know the characters well enough to worry about them when they were in danger. As much as I enjoyed the plot itself, this was a sticking point for me.

One of the things I liked the most about this tale was how quickly everyone accepted the existence of the type of monster that exists here and how much they already knew about what it takes to defeat this creature. This isn’t something I see as often as I’d like to in this genre. It was nice to jump straight to the point and see everyone adapt to their new reality.

If you’re in the mood for an adrenaline rush, this is a good place to start.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books For My Younger Self

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl I was the sort of kid who ignored age recommendations and read everything that grabbed my interest, so this week’s prompt was a little tricky for me. In the end, I decided to narrow this down to young adult books published in the last decade or so that I… Read More

Happy Labour Day

Happy Labour Day! Wikipedia tells me that this holiday is celebrated at many different points of the year depending on which country you live in. I wasn’t previously aware of this as the only two countries I’ve lived in, Canada and the United States, both celebrate it on the same day each year. Labour Day… Read More

Dangerous Amusement: A Review of Summer’s Over

Title: Summer’s Over Author: Em Leonard Publisher: Self-Published Publication Date: August 25, 2018 Genres: Horror, Paranormal Length: 106 pages Source: I received a free copy from the author. Rating: 4 Stars Blurb: The lure and curiosity of cheap amusements have always been a part of our psyche. We go to theme parks to explore worlds different… Read More

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Topics That Make Me Stop Reading a Book

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews. Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year. I’m an adventurous reader who bounces around among all of the genres. While there are certain genres I visit regularly and others I only visit occasionally,… Read More