Saturday Smalls — April 6th, 2019

April 6, 2019

This week’s mini review round-up includes the following:

  1. m/m historical romance novella
  2. nonfiction novel about paranormal activity
  3. adult horror graphic novel
  4. poetry collection about motherhood

The Doctor's Discretion by E.E. Ottoman

TITLE: The Doctor’s Discretion
AUTHOR: E.E. Ottoman
GENRE: Historical Romance

When Doctor William Blackwood, a proper gentleman who prefers books to actual patients, meets retired Navy surgeon Doctor Augustus Hill, they find in each other not just companionship but the chance of pleasure–and perhaps even more. The desire between them is undeniable but their budding relationship is disrupted by the arrival of a mysterious patient at New York Hospital. Mr. Moss has been accused of being born a woman but living his life as a man, an act that will see him committed to an asylum for the rest of his life. William and Augustus are determined to mount a rescue even if it means kidnapping him instead.


I really wanted to love this, if for nothing other than how incredibly diverse it was — with the primary characters being a black gay man, a white gay intersex and disabled man, and another white intersex man (presumably gay but I don’t think it was ever confirmed?). Unfortunately, the plot that should have been thrilling just played out as a bit boring, and the writing wasn’t very enjoyable for me.

It needs a lot of editing, which is not a big issue for me (I read a lot of indie work that doesn’t always have impeccable spelling and grammar, and I really don’t care as long as it’s legible), but I know it’s something that would bother a lot of readers. The biggest issue as far as the writing went was just how overly detailed and monotonous it got at times. I don’t need multiple sentences describing a character paying for their dinner at a pub, or making a cup of tea, etc.

I also had a pretty tough time with the romance, as it’s very insta-lovey (there’s even a part where a character thinks something along the lines of, “how could I call him an acquaintance after the week we’ve had?”, but I’m pretty sure it had only been 3 days, not a week, and even if it had been a week, no, you should not essentially commit all of your foreseeable future to someone after a few days in both romantic and business ventures). Maybe I sound nitpicky here, and I’m sorry if I do, but the good in this book was just vastly overshadowed by how poorly written I felt it to be.


On the Hunt for the Haunted by Robin Strom

TITLE: On the Hunt for the Haunted
AUTHOR: Robin Strom
GENRE: Nonfic

Author Robin Strom’s passion for collecting evidence of the paranormal has made her a trusted expert in the field. On the Hunt for the Haunted is a book of Robin’s most fascinating investigations and her most compelling proof. Using an arsenal of professional equipment for detecting, measuring, and recording activity, Robin and her team repeatedly make contact with the other side, tirelessly seeking answers to one of the world’s most enigmatic riddles: what happens when we die?


Right off the bat, the author built up some solid respect in my eyes by discussing her own paranormal experiences and going into some detail regarding the equipment she’d be using and her own fail-safes in place to avoid false readings, etc. I like that you could see she took it very seriously, and that feeling continued throughout the book—there were some cases in which she even readily admitted they didn’t find any conclusive evidence, and in one case, she explained that she could only detail the homeowner’s explanation as the homeowner had asked her not to investigate the property (for risk of stirring up trouble).

All in all, I thought it was solid on the technical aspect. As someone who strongly believes in paranormal phenomenons, some books of this type have left me feeling annoyed or belittled, as though the author didn’t really believe in what they were saying, and was just looking to make a quick buck. Robin Strom never makes the reader feel as though she’s anything less than sincere, though.

Overall, if you enjoy nonfiction about paranormal events and investigations, I strongly recommend picking up a copy of On the Hunt for the Haunted, and I know I’ll be recommending this one to friends for a long time to come.

Thank you so much to the publisher for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

A Walk Through Hell, Volume 1 by Garth Ennis

TITLE: A Walk Through Hell, Vol. 1
AUTHOR: Garth Ennis
GENRE: Horror

When two fellow agents go missing inside a Long Beach warehouse, Special Agents Shaw and McGregor are sent to investigate. But what they find waiting is far from routine, as the local police have already discovered to their cost. Before the night is out, our heroes will encounter terror beyond their most appalling nightmares―in a place where the night may never end at all.


This was my first time trying anything by Garth Ennis after being disappointed by Preacher a while back, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, and even now, having read this, I’m not entirely certain how I feel about it! There’s a lot of good, and a lot of bad, too, to be unpacked in this graphic novel.

The good:
– interesting characters
– diversity (2 queer MCs, multiple POC characters)
– interesting social commentary on the current sociopolitical climate in the US and how it affects minorities
– a few really creepy and/or disturbing scenes

The bad:
– you’re immediately thrown into a bizarre scenario with no back story or information about what’s happening
– there’s very little “logic” to what’s happening (i.e., how are people chosen? who “deserves” it and who doesn’t?)
– volume 1’s ending feels very abrupt and premature

So, all in all, this is a pretty mixed bag, but I’m intrigued enough to say I think I’d like to read volume 2 sometime, and the things that I did like about this graphic novel have me weighing the possibility of giving Preacher another try while I wait.

Thank you so much to the publisher for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Dear Mother by Bunmi Laditan

TITLE: Dear Mother
AUTHOR: Bunmi Laditan
GENRE: Nonfic/Poetry

The first collection of poetry from Bunmi Laditan, bestselling author of Confessions of a Domestic Failure and creator of The Honest Toddler, capturing the honesty, rawness, sheer joy and total madness of motherhood. With the compassion and wit that have made her a social media sensation among mothers around the world, Bunmi Laditan puts into evocative and relatable words what so many of us feel but can’t quite express. For mothers who love their children with a fiery fierceness but know what it is to feel crushed at the end of those long days, Dear Mother is like a warm hug that says, “I get it.”


The audacity of a child’s
demands for love
are only matched
by the ridiculous depths
of the love their parents
have for them.

Dear Mother wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, in good ways and bad. Having followed the author on Facebook for the last couple of years, I’m used to her hilarious, crude, weird status updates, so I honestly expected this to be a funny collection of anecdotes about her kids and her reactions to their zaniness. Instead, I got a collection that was 10% humor, 90% utter seriousness.

to make a two-year-old,
combine one puppy
one incontinent octopus
and a single juice box-loving gangster
mix until it starts slapping

The humorous parts, short as they were, were pretty good, though not on par with her everyday updates — to be fair, I guess it’s not easy to write side-splitting poetry! That said, there were a few gems that made me smile (or laugh out loud, like the quote above).

dear mother,
they would not
be better off

While I was mostly disappointed to see how serious it was, there were a few poems (like this one) that really hit me in the gut and made me sit still and soak it in for a minute, and I appreciated those moments tremendously. I always heard people say parenthood was the hardest job you could have, and I thought it was an exaggeration until I started living it. The guilt and feelings of self-inadequacy I live with every single day? Those are hard to breathe through. Bunmi gets it, though, and she offers some incredible reassurances that ended up being exactly what I needed to hear today.

All in all, it’s not my favorite book I’ve read on life as a parent, and it’s nothing ground-breaking, but it’s got a lot of enjoyable poems and I think most mothers, or parents in general, will find it easy to relate to.

All quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release. Thank you so much to the publisher for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!


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More about Destiny @ Howling Libraries

Just a horror aficionado/geek girl trying to juggle motherhood, reading, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.

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