What We've Been Reading
Book Reviews,  Reading Recommendations

What We’re Reading #45

We have three new reading recommendations curated by our team. We hope you find your next five star read!

Loteria by Cynthia Pelayo

The Mexican board game of Lotería is a game of chance. It is similar to our American bingo. However, in Lotería instead of matching up numbers on a game board, players match up images. There are 54 cards in the Lotería game, and for this short story collection you will find one unique story per card based on a Latin American myth, folklore, superstition, or belief – with a slant towards the paranormal and horrific. In this deck of cards you will find murderers, ghosts, goblins and ghouls. This collection features creatures and monsters, vampires and werewolves and many of these legends existed in the Americas long before their European counterparts. Many of these stories have been passed over time throughout the Americas, and many have been passed via word of mouth, just like the tales the Brothers Grimm collected. These are indeed fairy tales, but with a much more terrible little slant.

Goodreads | Amazon

Audra’s Teaser Review

Overall, this is an excellent dark short story collection that gave me a firsthand glimpse into a culture that I don’t know very much about. That’s one of the reasons I so love reading—it is able to show me perspectives that aren’t my own and broaden my view of the world.

Read Audra’s entire review at Goodreads.


The Apocalyptic Mannequin

The Apocalyptic Mannequin by Stephanie M. Wytovich

Doomsday is here and the earth is suffering with each breath she takes. Whether it’s from the nuclear meltdown, the wrath of the Four Horsemen, a war with technology, or a consequence of our relationship with the planet, humanity is left buried and hiding, our bones exposed, our hearts beating somewhere in our freshly slit throats.

The Apocalyptic Mannequin by Stephanie M. Wytovich is a collection that strips away civilization and throws readers into the lives of its survivors. The poems inside are undelivered letters, tear-soaked whispers, and unanswered prayers. They are every worry you’ve had when your electricity went out, and every pit that grew in your stomach watching the news at night. They are tragedy and trauma, but they are also grief and fear, fear of who–or what–lives inside us once everything is taken away.

These pages hold the teeth of monsters against the faded photographs of family and friends, and here, Wytovich is both plague doctor and midwife, both judge and jury, forever searching through severed limbs and exposed wires as she straddles the line evaluating what’s moral versus what’s necessary to survive.

What’s clear though, is that the world is burning and we don’t remember who we are.

So tell me: who will you become when it’s over? 

Goodreads | Amazon

Laurie’s Teaser Review

Wytovich creates a bleak world devastated by plague, chemicals, ruination and all of the painful truths about humanity that are likely to occur when life as we know it is over forever. It contains beautifully written and frightening visions of an apocalyptic future. Each poem is a little glimpse into a bleak nightmare world.

Read Laurie’s entire review at Bark at the Ghouls.

Emily’s Teaser Review

My top 5 poems in this collection were Nearsighted in the Mushroom Cloud, Saints Don’t Spread Their Legs, The Survival of Fishes, Inside the House of Labor, and Madam, Never Mistress.

Read Emily’s entire review at Goodreads.


The Doll-Master by Joyce Carol Oates

From one of our most important contemporary writers, The Doll-Master and Other Tales of Terror is a bold, haunting collection of six stories.

In the title story, a young boy becomes obsessed with his cousin’s doll after she tragically passes away from leukemia. As he grows older, he begins to collect “found dolls” from the surrounding neighborhoods and stores his treasures in the abandoned carriage house on his family’s estate. But just what kind of dolls are they? In “Gun Accident,” a teenage girl is thrilled when her favorite teacher asks her to house-sit, even on short notice. But when an intruder forces his way into the house while the girl is there, the fate of more than one life is changed forever. In “Equatorial,” set in the exotic Galapagos, an affluent American wife experiences disorienting assaults upon her sense of who her charismatic husband really is, and what his plans may be for her.

In The Doll-Master and Other Tales of Terror, Joyce Carol Oates evokes the “fascination of the abomination” that is at the core of the most profound, the most unsettling, and the most memorable of dark mystery fiction.

Goodreads | Amazon

Tracy’s Teaser Review

I loved three of the stories. Doll Master is creepy as hell; it first appeared in Ellen Datlow’s Doll Collection anthology and now I need to read those stories. Creepy dolls are just 😱. The other two stories, Big Momma and Gun Accident are the other faves and they all get 5 stars from me. 


Thank you for joining us today! We hope you found something to add to your tbr list. Please share your recent reads with us in the comments below.

If you are a LOHF writer and have a book you’d like us to consider for a review please visit our review submission page here.

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