What We've Been Reading
Book Reviews,  Reading Recommendations

What We’ve Been Reading #120

We missed last week’s review round-up but we’re back today with three great reading recommendations!

Don’t forget to click either tag above to find more books worth reading.


Such a Pretty Smile by Kristi DeMeester

Such A Pretty Smile by Kristi Demeester

A biting novel from an electrifying new voice, Such a Pretty Smile is a heart-stopping tour-de-force about powerful women, angry men, and all the ways in which girls fight against the forces that try to silence them.

There’s something out there that’s killing. Known only as The Cur, he leaves no traces, save for the torn bodies of girls, on the verge of becoming women, who are known as trouble-makers; those who refuse to conform, to know their place. Girls who don’t know when to shut up.

2019: Thirteen-year-old Lila Sawyer has secrets she can’t share with anyone. Not the school psychologist she’s seeing. Not her father, who has a new wife, and a new baby. And not her mother—the infamous Caroline Sawyer, a unique artist whose eerie sculptures, made from bent twigs and crimped leaves, have made her a local celebrity. But soon Lila feels haunted from within, terrorized by a delicious evil that shows her how to find her voice—until she is punished for using it.

2004: Caroline Sawyer hears dogs everywhere. Snarling, barking, teeth snapping that no one else seems to notice. At first, she blames the phantom sounds on her insomnia and her acute stress in caring for her ailing father. But then the delusions begin to take shape—both in her waking hours, and in the violent, visceral sculptures she creates while in a trance-like state. Her fiancé is convinced she needs help. Her new psychiatrist waves her “problem” away with pills. But Caroline’s past is a dark cellar, filled with repressed memories and a lurking horror that the men around her can’t understand.

As past demons become a present threat, both Caroline and Lila must chase the source of this unrelenting, oppressive power to its malignant core. Brilliantly paced, unsettling to the bone, and unapologetically fierce, Such a Pretty Smile is a powerful allegory for what it can mean to be a woman, and an untamed rallying cry for anyone ever told to sit down, shut up, and smile pretty.

Goodreads | Amazon | Bookshop

Tracy’s Teaser Review

This is a book of dualities. Mother/daughter. Straight/gay. Evil/strong. Obedience/defiance. All crafted in a novel that deftly traverses two different, yet connected, timelines. Such a Pretty Smile is a scary horror (or rather Horror, it needs that capital H, trust me) novel that leads readers to a deeper discussion of feminism, self-power, and familial bonds. 

Read Tracy’s entire review at Leviathan Libraries.


Goddess of Filth

Goddess of Filth by V. Castro

“Five of us sat in a circle doing our best to emulate the girls in The Craft, hoping to unleash some power to take us all away from our home to the place of our dreams. But we weren’t witches. We were five Chicanas living in San Antonio, Texas, one year out of high school.”

One hot summer night, best friends Lourdes, Fernanda, Ana, Perla, and Pauline hold a séance. It’s all fun and games at first, but their tipsy laughter turns to terror when the flames burn straight through their prayer candles and Fernanda starts crawling toward her friends and chanting in Nahuatl, the language of their Aztec ancestors.

Over the next few weeks, shy, modest Fernanda starts acting strangely—smearing herself in black makeup, shredding her hands on rose thorns, sucking sin out of the mouths of the guilty. The local priest is convinced it’s a demon, but Lourdes begins to suspect it’s something else—something far more ancient and powerful.

As Father Moreno’s obsession with Fernanda grows, Lourdes enlists the help of her “bruja Craft crew” and a professor, Dr. Camacho, to understand what is happening to her friend in this unholy tale of possession-gone-right.

Goodreads | Amazon | Bookshop

Alex’s Teaser Review

V. Castro crafts a mesmerizing horror story with GODDESS OF FILTH. There’s coming-of-age, female empowerment, culture/history, unnerving & creepy scenes, a few hot sexy scenes, and just so much in this novella.

Read Alex’s entire review at Goodreads.

Laurie’s Teaser Review

Goddess of Filth is a story about a group of friends who drink a little booze and perform a séance. What follows is a bloody, ugly, rage-filled and also hopeful story about expectations, perseverance and a refusal to let others determine your future all amidst an unthinkable horror inhabiting their lives.

Read Laurie’s entire review at Goodreads.


Feral Creatures by Kira Jane Buxton

In this stunning follow-up to Hollow Kingdom and Seattle Times/Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association bestseller​, the animal kingdom’s “favorite apocalyptic hero”is back with a renewed sense of hope for humanity, ready to take on a world ravaged by a viral pandemic (Helen Macdonald).

Once upon an apocalypse, there lived an obscenely handsome American crow named S.T. . . .

When the world last checked-in with its favorite Cheeto addict, the planet had been overrun by flesh-hungry beasts, and nature had started re-claiming her territory from humankind. S.T., the intrepid crow, alongside his bloodhound-bestie Dennis, had set about saving pets that had become trapped in their homes after humanity went the way of the dodo.

That is, dear reader, until S.T. stumbled upon something so rare—and so precious—that he vowed to do everything in his power to safeguard what could, quite literally, be humanity’s last hope for survival. But in a wild world plagued by prejudiced animals, feather-raising environments, new threats so terrifying they make zombies look like baby bunnies, and a horrendous dearth of cheesy snacks, what’s a crow to do?

Why, wing it on another big-hearted, death-defying adventure, that’s what! Joined by a fabulous new cast of animal characters, S.T. faces many new challenges plus his biggest one yet: parenthood.

Goodreads | Amazon | Bookshop

Audra’s Teaser Review

What thrilled me the most about this sequel was the unique way that the zombie humans (called Hollows) are handled. I assure you, you haven’t experienced zombies like this before. What with everything going on with coronavirus and climate change, even though it’s a bit outlandish, this plot hits pretty close to home. If animals do get to take over the world, I hope it goes something like this.

Read Audra’s entire review at Goodreads.


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.


Laurie is one of our LOHF Admins. Laurie creates our review posts, coordinates review requests, oversees the Ladies of Horror Fiction directory, and manages our LOHF Goodreads group.

You can find Laurie on her blog Bark’s Book Nonsense, on Twitter as @barksbooks, on Instagram as @barksbooks, and on Goodreads.

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