The Drummer Girl by Tim Boiteau (3/5)

Deliriously rich world-building, clever creatures, a winding plot, and a cigar-smoking dragon await. Enjoy the ride.

I got a free digital copy of this book from Reedsy Discovery in exchange for an honest review, and my review can be found in its original form here.

Deliriously rich world-building, clever creatures, a winding plot, and a cigar-smoking dragon await. Enjoy the ride.

Trigger warnings for this book: suicide, schizophrenia, mental institutionalization, very graphic descriptions of gore and death.

After rousing from a potentially illicit-drug-induced stupor Jing realizes she isn’t in Kansas anymore, nor her hometown of Detroit where she’s the drummer in a band, or even Earth for that matter: she discovers she has somehow awoken on an asteroid called Psyche. Jing decides also finds herself preyed upon by a cigar-smoking dragon that feeds on her memories, seemingly protected by an elephantine dog. Through Jing’s memories, the reader discovers that she remembers being committed to a mental institution called Glenbrook for a possible diagnosis of schizophrenia.

The Drummer Girl was clearly simmering in the author’s brain for a significant amount of time. The world-building and descriptions of the features of the world are well-developed and luscious, enabling the reader to picture Psyche in all its fictitious glittering glory. (Speaking of glitter, have you seen the fantastic book cover art?) The creatures inhabiting Psyche as well as the landscapes remind me of Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation trilogy with a bit of Alice in Wonderland kissed by the horror fiction fairy.

Is schizophrenia what caused Jing’s mother to take her own life and now wreaking havoc in Jing’s own life? Is this diagnosis propping up Psyche as an schizophrenic-grade illusion, or is Glenbrook trying to tamp down Psyche? Is the asteroid, Psyche, ironically named? Is this all a really bad trip? While I can’t recommend eating while doing so, I do recommend reading The Drummer Girl to find out.

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Road Seven by Keith Rosson (5/5)

“Road Seven” is a magical realism journey during which I laughed out loud dozens of times, but also cried in anger and heartbreak caused by fictional characters. There’s also magical poop and a TV show about lasagna. I happily reread this book four times and of the hundreds of books I’ve read thus far in my life, I can count the number of books I’ve reread even once on one hand. Silly and strange, “Road Seven” is, ahem, a unicorn of a book.
I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

This review is also published on Goodreads, and it appears here in its original form. Thanks to BookSirens, Meerkat Press, and author Keith Rosson for my advanced reading copy of Road Seven!

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A Walk Through Hell: the Complete Series (ARC) (*****)

If you enjoy a horror read during which dread drips slowly onto you with the viscosity of blood and by the end you’re drenched in it–this graphic novel is for you.

Shaw and McGregor are two FBI agents sent to a very strange scene. Not the scene of a crime, but a scene. Why? Because the tactical team went in to investigate the disappearance of two other FBI agents into a warehouse and whomever, or whatever, the team encountered gave them cause to pivot and immediately run for their lives. Shaw and McGregor take the fleeing of the tactical team as a sign that they should indeed proceed into the warehouse, but they could never have imagined in their wildest dreams just who–or what–or both–is inside that warehouse.

I personally think I need to read A Walk Through Hell a second time. There’s a philosophical side to this graphic novel that will have you thinking even after you’ve finished reading it, and trust me there’s quite a bit to think about. The story slowly unfolds like a blooming flower of doom, and I loved every moment of it. 

The characters are fantastic and multi-dimensional. I wish I could share more than that, but I don’t want to spoil anything and there’s so much to spoil as far as the characters go! I personally loved Shaw, and read her parts out loud to myself.

My only criticism is that occasionally the timeline-jumping was a bit jarring, but the effect was temporary. The timelines are all tied up in an unsettling bow at the end

Is it a walk through hell? You’ll have to read it and find out. I’m not sure there’s a correct answer.

If you like this graphic novel, I have a hunch you’ll also enjoy Midnight Vista, which is also published by Aftershock Comix; my review for Midnight Vista can be found here.

Aida Fox Reviews now on Reedsy Discovery

I’m so happy to announce that my readers may now read my reviews on Reedsy Discovery! This platform also allows for me to receive monetary tips in the amounts of $1, $3, and $5. Nothing is expected, and every single cent is appreciated!

Once I have more experience with the platform, I’ll blog more about it. I have no complaints so far! If anyone has questions about my experience applying to become a reviewer or anything, feel free to comment.

An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good by Helene Tursten and translated by Marlaine Delargy (****1/2)

I’m an elderly lady stuck inside the body of a late-twenty-something, and I want to be friends with the elderly lady who is up to no good.

And though she be but little, she is fierce.

Helena, regarding Hermia, in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night‘s Dream

I cackled all the way through An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good. Yes, a homicidal old lady is a hilarious concept, and none of the five stories disappoint. But my inner old lady and introversion felt a kinship to Maud, and that’s what kept me turning pages. I took off half a star because mysteries aren’t exactly my cup of tea, but I ended up loving these stories and there’s so little of this book!

I cannot tout Maud enough. Little Maud, as we discover, has lived quite a life. Her fiance spurned her because she was not rich. She made a career as a teacher. She cared for her mentally ill sister, Charlotte, until Charlotte’s death. Maud outlived her family and retained ownership of their large apartment. Her neighbors glared at her, a single, elderly lady, and she continued to live her life. Maud earned her comfortable life, which makes the intrusions all the more intolerable.

“Maud lived alone, and she went on vacation alone. That was the way she wanted it. Freedom, no idle chatter, and no problems.”

An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good

I recommend this book to anyone rendered mildly homicidal by an overly-extroverted neighbor. If you, dear reader, have ever contemplated the pros and cons of murder to avoid an imminent social situation, I beseech thee: live vicariously through Maud.

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Only happy reading.

Edge of the Known Bus Line by James R. Gapinski (*****)

This review is expanded from its original review on Goodreads, which can be found here.

My favorite books are the books that I read and simultaneously see as feature films in my mind. Edge of the Known Bus Line, directed by my imagination against a The Walking Dead-esque aesthetic, was queued up in my mind the entire time I read this novella in the few sittings it required.

This immersive story drips with dread and listlessness, however, I will say that I found the beginning to be slow but the rest of the novella was well worth it, especially discovering all the nicknames the jaded, passive-aggressive, and sometimes just aggressive main character gives to the folks she encounters. The nicknames clearly illustrate the resentment she holds for her new sh!thole-mates, and proves to be a dynamic character. Or is she?

Tidbits about the main character’s background and previous life are dropped like breadcrumbs, and are simultaneously an aspect of this novella that I enjoy and despise. I will not go into detail about the breadcrumbs here, because spoilers, but also because the breadcrumbs simply lead off to nowhere. This bothered me because it seems as though the author purposefully, and masterfully, crafted these backstory details to dangle in front of our metaphysical noses. I might be a little bitter.

Mr. Gapinski, if you ever read my blog for any reason, please give me more of this story!

Thanks to LibraryThing for my copy of this book!

Edge of the Known Bus Line may also be found on Kindle Unlimited.

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Only happy reading.

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix (***)

Summary: No sooner had housewife Patricia Campbell silently wished for something exciting to happen in her small town did the mysterious James Harris show up on her block. Patricia has a bad feeling about Mr. Harris, but is her intuition obscured by the massive amounts of true crime books her book club is reading?

I was disappointed, but not unhappy, with Grady Hendrix’s The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires (referred to from here on out as TSBCGTSV). I place the blame an earlier Hendrix book, We Soul Our Souls.

We Sold Our Souls is a satanic, brutal, raw, and METAL story. Kris is a former rockstar guitarist, scraping herself through “normal” life after fame. Kris must get the band back together after a dark revelation occurs, to say the least. There are no Stepford Wives for miles in We Sold Our Souls, and edgy humor is abundant. If adapted to film, and adapted well, there is no way We Sold Our Souls would merit a rating less than “R.”

I had recently finished We Sold Our Souls when news broke of a forthcoming Hendrix title. Publisher Penguin Random House markets TSBCGTSV as, “…Steel Magnolias meets Dracula.” I would describe it as one of those horror movies that squeaked by with a PG-13 rating just shy of an R-rating. If you enjoy Stranger Things, you will appreciate the well-developed 90’s aesthetic of TSBCGTSV.

While I did not enjoy TSBCGTSV as much as I thought I would, let it be known that I will and do read everything Grady Hendrix writes. I recommend The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires as a multi-faceted, intermediate-level horror read.

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The Engine Woman’s Light by Laurel Anne Hill

You can find my review here. I was paid for the review (my first one ever!) by

Not for nothing, OnlineBookClub is a decent starting point for people who want to learn about writing reviews and want to experience the process of writing a review by a deadline, submitting the review to an editor, possibly needing to revise the review because the editor said so with constructive criticism, and then submitting the review to be published.

You Are Not What We Expected (ARC) by Sidura Ludwig (***)

A cute little story collection ends up being what I expected.

This book is, indeed, what I expected.

How did I predict the landscape of this book?

The title blares self-fulfilling prophecy. Maybe that’s just me.

You Are Not What We Expected is a short story collection in which the stories indirectly share characters, not unlike an ensemble film.

An aspect of this book that I really enjoyed was the setting, a Jewish community. I enjoyed looking up some of the Hebrew words and discovering some to which I was not privy. If you read this book, just know that I had a hard time not picturing Isaac, my favorite character, as Junior Soprano with George Costanza’s voice.

It’s very likely that the story two stories after the one you just read will have the literary equivalent of a reverse shot of a scene you just read. Don’t get me wrong, this is a clever literary device! It would just be cooler if I didn’t predict it the employment of said clever literary device.

Yes, I did enjoy the book at first. However, I knew my journey with it would come to a premature end when I realized that the stories followed an annoyingly similar formula. Sometimes you can enjoy the formula if it’s mixed with the right flavor of writing, but this one didn’t have it for me.

There are some moments, at least one per story, that took my heart strings and served them a good yank. Alas, the yank was in the vein of a kid sibling tugging hair and not the pull of a book that could keep my attention.

Thank you to Edelweiss+ for the ARC!

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Only happy reading.