December — Holiday Cheer

It’s December first, and this is what I woke up to…

…winter is here!

December is not only a big holiday month, but it’s also my birthday month!  While I have no big plans at the moment (and if this snow keeps coming, it will definitely be a stay-at-home kind of day), I am looking forward to ordering some book mail from some of my favorite indie publishers.  I’ll keep you posted on that one!

This month, I’m also feeling the crunch of trying to finish my personal 22 Books for 2022 after having an unprecedented reading slump for most of the year.  I have six titles left, but I have started three of them so there is still hope!  I also wanted to keep with the holiday spirit so I picked a couple of novellas on my kindle for my December theme.

Merry Little Mystic Murder by Patti Larsen  (Synopsis from Goodreads)  Phoebe Monday’s unusual birth into a triunity of wonderworkers always left her feeling a bit like an outsider. At least the unusual power she (sort of!) controls makes working as a sketch artist for the police department the perfect fit. Still, diving into memories of victims while altering the luck of those around her seems trivial in comparison to what her Maiden, Mother and Crone family are capable of. But when homeless victims come under attack and a normal human’s murder puts the Monday magic at risk, it’s up to Phoebe and her odd talents to save the day.

The Guardian’s Christmas Confession by P.L. Klein (Synopsis from Goodreads)  After dying on Omaha Beach on D-Day, Gabriel Canfield believes no one should be alone when they die, so he becomes a Guardian of Transitions in the afterlife. For seventy-five years as a Guardian Spirit, Gabriel remains frustrated and embittered until he is called upon to help an old priest crossover on Christmas Eve.In the hours spent reminiscing with Father Drew, Gabriel finds a new appreciation for his own life. A heartwarming story about a restless spirit who discovers the meaning of life … in the Afterlife.

What will you be reading this month?  Drop me a line and let’s talk books!

Until next time, stay safe and Happy Reading!

Weekly Mash-Up #177

Happy Thanksgiving!  This year has certainly been up and down for me, but even when the downs left me feeling trapped and alone, I tried to remind myself of the good things.  I’ll admit it was very difficult a lot of the time, but taking regular breaks from social media and refocusing my attention has done wonders.

So as we start the holiday season, I just wanted to say thank you.  I’m truly looking forward to continuing to share my love of books with you!  I’ve even been toying with some new ideas, so stay tuned!

The Week in Books

Gothic by Philip Fracassi — 4 out of 5 stars

In this creepy novel, horror author Tyson Parks receives an antique desk for his birthday. Little does he know the evil behind this seemingly innocent gift, and the lengths one person will go to reclaim it.  There was a lot I liked about this story, from the pacing and characters, to The Shining vibes.  The one thing that threw it off a bit for me was the backstory.  I thought it felt out of place and didn’t have the same “feel” as the rest.  Overall, highly recommend.

Children of Sugarcane by Joanne Joseph — 3.5 out of 5 stars

Historical fiction set in the late 1800’s, this is the story of Shanti, who leaves her family home in India to avoid an arranged marriage and, thinking that she has found a new beginning, instead becomes an indentured laborer at a South African sugar plantation.  I appreciate the research the author did to recreate these places and events.  I liked the overall story, but at times the dialogue felt stilted, and certain plot points felt watered down.  While these certain technical aspects were not to my personal liking, I would recommend this novel.

A Stain on the Silence by Andrew Taylor — 3 out of 5 stars

James finds out he has a daughter from an affair he had twenty-five years earlier.  Not only does he have this new-found daughter, but she’s pregnant and on the run for murder…     There was a lot to unpack with this mystery/thriller.  From the backstory of the affair, to the backstory within the backstory of a tragedy kept secret for years, to the present day “whodunit” involving half-siblings and a missing man, it just got to the point of absurdity.  Still, a pretty quick read, and even with all of the strange twists a pretty decent mystery.

The Complete Book of Ghosts by Paul Roland — 2.5/3 out of 5 stars

To say this book was a disappointment would be an understatement.  I was excited to read this collection of true ghostly encounters and haunted places, especially for Halloween, but I thought the writing was dry and uninspired, and many of the “true” tales were just rehashed urban legends.  There were a few interesting bits, but I found myself so bored with the writing that I wound up skimming through the last 200 or so pages.

Novellas, Short Stories, and Anthologies

Human Tenderloin by Craig Wallwork — 4 out of 5 stars

These short stories offer a wide range for horror fans, from bleak to disturbing, to darkly humorous.  As with all collections, some stories resonated with me more than others, but all were solid and well crafted.  I honestly don’t know how I’ve only just found out about Craig Wallwork (I just read my first intro to his work, Heart of Glass, a couple of weeks ago). After finishing this short story collection I can honestly say I am a fan and can’t wait to dig into more of his works in the near future!



Stay safe, and Happy Reading!

Weekly Mash-Up #176

I’m writing this on the eve of general elections here in the states, and trying not to be too morbid, but knowing that the fate of our democracy is at stake (not rhetorically but realistically) has had me on edge for a while now.  Books have been my escape my entire life, but the past few days even more so as I try to distance myself from toxic doomscrolling and focus on what’s important.  Our national Thanksgiving holiday just a couple weeks away, and that has also helped me remember what is important in life.  No matter what happens in the next few days/weeks, please remember that I write and offer this blog as a safe space for everyone.  Feel free to share book recs and have  conversations with me…unless you are a neo-nazi facist-loving maga supporter, in which case…get the fuck off my page.

The Week in Books

Heart of Glass by Craig Wallwork — 3.5/4 out of 5 stars

I can’t remember how I stumbled across this title (perhaps a promo of sorts on the bird app), but I am so glad I did.  My introduction to Wallwork’s writing was a great blend of dark and twisted, with a side of severe family dysfunction and unexpected twists.  If you like twisted love stories (I kept thinking of Natural Born Killers, even though this would have been the kindergarten version of that movie), then be sure to check this one out.  I will definitely be looking for more of Wallwork’s stories in the future.

Novellas, Short Stories, and Anthologies

They Were Here Before Us by Eric LaRocca — 4.5/5 out of 5 stars

Any author who can craft stories that horrify me on one page then brings tears to my eyes on the next deserves all the stars.  This “novella in pieces” combines brutality and beauty, showing the pain we are willing to endure for love, no matter the form.  Fair warning:  these stories are not for everyone.  If after reading the “Word of Warning” at the beginning of the book you are still willing to turn the page, prepare yourself for a reading experience that will haunt you for some time to come.   A truly unique piece of work from a truly gifted author.  Highly recommend.

An Event in Autumn by Henning Mankell — 3 out of 5 stars

The final story of the Kurt Wallander series, originally written to be given away at a local event, and the final writing before Henning Mankell’s death in 2015.  While not my favorite in the series, there is something a bit heartbreaking when you know you’re reading the good byes of both character and author.  The mystery itself is pretty straight-forward, it just felt almost forced at times and like something was missing (and after reading the afterward from the author, I understand why).  Overall decent mystery, I think meant for superfans of the series.

Man Made Monsters by Andrea Rogers — 3 out of 5 stars

A collection of short stories that connects a family from the 1800’s into the not-so-distant future (however, I have to admit, I would never had seen the connection if it hadn’t been pointed out to me).  As with most collections, some tales were stronger than others.  Overall, I would recommend, but for me it just wasn’t what I expected after reading the blurb.

Stay safe and Happy Reading!

Weekly Mash-Up #175 Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!  I am happy to say that I completed my personal challenge of reading 31 books for Halloween (my third year doing this).  I took this pic on Sunday afternoon as I started my choice for number 31…with a bit of help from a furry fiend (you read that right, I mean fiend, lol)…

I will be enjoying Halloween day by watching some favorite shows and movies of the season, drinking tea, and munching on homemade pumpkin cranberry muffins…have a great day!

The Week in Books

Bone White by Ronald Malfi — 4.5 out of 5 stars

(H 25/31)  The buried bodies of a mass murderer are uncovered in a remote small village in Alaska.  Paul Gallo’s brother went missing in the same area, so Paul travels north to try to find some answers in his brother’s disappearance.  What he finds instead is truly terrifying.   I loved this book!  The characters, the atmosphere, the tension were all great.  My only problem dealt with a couple of slow spots that disrupted the flow for me.  Highly recommend, especially for fans of mystery/thrillers with supernatural twists.

Murder Any Witch Way by N.M. Howell — 3.5 out of 5 stars

(H 26/31)  I don’t limit myself to scary stuff this time of year, and this cozy mystery was a funny and entertaining change of pace.  Set in a small town of Brimstone Bay, we are introduced to River, an aspiring journalist and witch.  When a paranormal festival comes to town and a murder is revealed, River enlists the help of her witch roommates and some resident ghosts to track down the killer.  I really enjoyed this one until the very end that brought it down to 3.5 stars for me (it just felt too rushed and too convenient, like the author was trying to check off all of the cozy mystery “rules” ).  While I wasn’t blown away by the ending, I am going to continue with this series as I truly liked the characters and premise.

Novellas, Short Stories, and Anthologies

Human Monsters — 4 out of 5 stars

(H 27/31)  Thirty-five terrifying tales brought together by the owners of NightWorms, Sadie Hartmann and Ashley Sawyers.  This is a great selection, with a mix of established authors like Stephen Graham Jones, Josh Malerman, and Laurel Hightower along with up-and-coming horror writers (Elton Skelter, Stephanie Nelson, and Jena Brown to name a few).  The human monsters in these stories are truly scarier than any vampire, werewolf, or ghost.  Highly recommend.

The Canterville Ghost

(H 28/31)  A classic that really needs no introduction.  I hadn’t read this in years and it was the perfect way to wrap up my Halloween reading list.

The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs — 3.5/4 out of 5 stars

(H 29/31)  The original tale of being careful of what you wish for.

The Mangler by Stephen King — 3.5/4 out of 5 stars

(H 30/31)  A classic by King that is a reread for me (although it’s been a couple of decades since I first read it).  The tale of a possessed industrial ironing machine at a local laundromat is weird, gory, and truly classic King.  Not one of my favorites shorts by him, but still entertaining.

Crawl by Edward Lorn — 3.5 out of 5 stars

(H 31/31)  A young married couple are terrorized by a mysterious “preacher in red” while on a road trip to visit relatives.  Pretty straight-forward short story but it felt a bit drawn out in parts (mainly with the couple’s backstory which ultimately had nothing to do with anything, making it feel like filler to reach a word count).  One I would recommend for a quick scary read.

Stay safe and Happy Reading!

Weekly Mash-Up #174

Halloween is almost here…are you ready??

The Week in Books

The Haunting of Ashburn House by Darcy Coates — 3.5/4 out of 5 stars

(H 19/31)  Having never read anything by Darcy Coates before, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  But this novel about a woman inheriting a haunted house was a pleasant surprise.  I would describe it as more of a mystery with some paranormal elements, enough to give you the creeps but nothing over the top.  I can totally see this being turned into a made-for-tv movie.  Recommend, especially if you like scary stories without the gore.

The Darkest Lullaby by Jonathan Janz — 3.5 out of 5 stars

(H 20/31)  Another haunted house story, but definitely more evil vibes and not for everyone.  An abandoned house surrounded by rumors of a twisted cult that engaged in violent orgies and infant sacrifices.  A young couple move in and must face the demons that remain.   Many of Janz’s stories remind me of the pulp horror novels of the late ’70’s/early ’80’s, and this is no exception.

White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi — 2.5 out of 5 stars

(H 21/31)  I don’t even know how to describe this book so I’ll just say this:  while I truly liked Oyeyemi’s beautiful writing, I did not care for the constant POV changes, sometimes occurring in the middle of a sentence!  I’m all for multiple POVs, but not to the point that it gives me reading whiplash.  I was also so confused the first third of the book that I almost pulled a DNF (something I rarely do), but I broke down and read some reviews on Goodreads that gave me a better idea of what was happening.

Novellas, Short Stories, and Anthologies

The Vessel by Adam Nevill — 4 out of 5 stars

(H 22/31)  Jess begins a new job as a care-taker for elderly shut-in Flo, hoping to create a better life for her and her daughter.  But what she discovers in Flo’s house will soon test her sanity.  Nevill is wonderful with creating very atmospheric stories, ones that suck you into the narrative, and The Vessel is a great example.   It’s dark and creepy, with a folk horror vibe.  A great choice for Halloween reading.

Safer at Home:  A Ghost Story by Zoe Cannon — 4 out of 5 stars

(H 23/31)  A man moves to a new town to be closer to his girlfriend and winds up getting more than he bargained for.  While described as a ghost story, this short also taps into the fears we were all facing at the beginning of the Covid lockdowns in 2020.  A Kindle freebie, perfect for a dark rainy day.

Cenote by Shaun Horton — 3 out of 5 stars

(H 24/31)  A vacationing student and her fling find themselves trapped in a cenote, or sinkhole.  Will they get out alive?  This quick read was one where I found myself rooting for whatever creature(s) lived in the watery depths instead of the characters (and that’s not always a bad thing).  Entertaining, for fans of creature features.

Stay safe and Happy Reading!

Weekly Mash-Up #173

It’s taken a while, but things are finally starting to feel like autumn around here!  Chilly nights, changing leaves, the smells of spiced cider overtaking the house.  Along with my Halloween reading list, I’ve been watching a ton of new-to-me movies perfect for the season (thanks to finally having the technology to stream some of the great free services out there).  They’ve ranged from truly terrifying to “so bad they’re funny” and it’s been a great way to spend the dark, cold evenings.

The Week in Books

Dead Space by Kali Wallace — 3.5 out of 5 stars

One of my September Sci-fi and Scary selections.  Hester is forced to take a dead-end job with a security firm out in the asteroid belt after a horrific accident/attack.  Then a strange message from a friend (who was also involved in the accident/attack) followed by his mysterious death leads Hester to an isolated mining operation on a distant asteroid, searching for answers.    This is a good mix of sci-fi/mystery/thriller, but I have to say, I found it pretty slow going at first.  Once it picked up, I thought it was great (however, I still have some unanswered questions).  While my reading experience wasn’t five star (probably due to my ongoing reading slump blahs), I would still recommend this to sci-fi fans.

Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage — 2.5/3 out of 5 stars

(H 13 /31)  Based on the glowing reviews I kept hearing about this novel, I am definitely in the minority with my rating, but I can’t begin to tell you how much I fucking hated this book.  I have issues with parents who let their kids rule the household, you know, the ones where the kids can do whatever they want with zero repercussions.  This is nearly 400 pages of that shit and I almost threw the book across the room a few times.  There were some good elements that kept me reading, so I guess I didn’t hate the entire book…just a majority of it.  Added positive bonus:  the author will be releasing the “children’s” book that was the bedtime story featured in this one and I am looking forward to that!

Novellas, Short Stories, and Anthologies

Human-Shaped Fiends by Chandler Morrison — 4 out of 5 stars

(H  14/31)  This was my first read by Morrison, and it was definitely…different!  The actual splatter western part of the novella was okay, but the meta-fiction author interludes put it over the top for me, and I found myself laughing when I knew I shouldn’t.  I really can’t in good conscience recommend this to anyone, so if you decide to pick this up don’t say I didn’t warn you!

What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher — 4 out of 5 stars

(H  15/31)  It’s been a loooong time since I’ve read Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher (something that I will be remedying before Halloween), but you really don’t have to be familiar with the classic tale to enjoy Kingfisher’s adaptation.  A creepy lake, possessed animals, strange fungal growths…I mean, what else could you ask for in a creepy Halloween read?!  I really liked this one, my only complaint is feeling a bit distant from the characters.  Perfect read for a dark, rainy night.

Shallow Graves by Robert Essig and Jack Bantry — 4 out of 5 stars

(H  16/31)  These eleven tales offer a variety of chills as well as some pretty twisted dark humor.  Some of my favorites in the collection include The Itch (a man visits a prostitute and learns a painful lesson), Rejected (the secret to preventing yourself from changing into a werewolf), Starving Artist ( the ultimate bad houseguest), and Keep Safe (who needs a guard dog when you can have this!).  While these were my favorites, I thought the entire collection was solid.  Great for horror fans who like to mix things up a bit.

The Paper Mache Man by Jesse Pullins — 4 out of 5 stars

(H  17/31)  Two friends love horror movies, but when one of them wants to find something even more extreme, they discover the horror of the Paper Mache Man.  Sometimes the kindle freebies are worth checking out, especially in this case.  Great writing and build-up, and I couldn’t help thinking that this could be the love child of two movies, Urban Legend and The Ring.

Plop:  A Horror Short Story by Samuel Small — 3 out of 5 stars

(H 18 /31)  A man’s growing dread as something from the past gets closer.   A kindle freebie that’s a good creepy tale to get you in the Halloween spirit.  At seventeen pages, there’s no backstory or huge character development, think of this as a tale to tell around the campfire.

Stay safe and Happy Reading!

October — The 31 Books of Halloween Continues!

Tis the season…

My favorite personal reading challenge is in full swing, and as of today, October 3, I’ve finished sixteen stories (from short stories and novellas to 400 page novels) and am currently reading three other titles with scary Halloweenish vibes.  There have been a couple of real knock-out tales in the first half of this challenge, including The Devil Takes You Home by Gabino Iglesias and What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher.  I have a ton of great titles lined up for this month, including A Place For Sinners by Aaron Dries, No One Gets Out Alive by Adam Nevill, The Darkest Lullaby by Jonathan Janz, and a classic collection from one of horror’s greatest, Clive Barker’s The Inhuman Condition.

Aaaaand…I have some preorders heading my way around mid-October, including my monthly NightWorms subscription and a much anticipated tale from Eric LaRocca, They Were Here Before Us.


What’s on your reading list this month?  Drop me a line and let’s talk books!

Until next time, stay safe and Happy Reading!




Weekly Mash-Up #172

First, this year brought me a six-month-long reading slump.  Now that seems to be in the past, but a writing slump has now taken hold.  I’ve sat down to write this blog at least ten times in the past week and have drawn complete blanks every time. Sigh.

On the plus side, my favorite time of year is here!  And with that comes some great reads!

The Week in Books

The Devil Takes You Home by Gabino Iglesias — 4.5/5 out of 5 stars

(H  8/31)  Mario takes a job as a hit man in order to pay the medical bills for his young daughter.  When tragedy tears his family apart, he finds himself on a journey into the violent world of drug cartels, helping an associate hijack a cash shipment in exchange for a cut and hope for a fresh start in life.  But will Mario wind up losing his soul?  I would describe this as barrio noir meets the supernatural.  It’s dark, bleak, and disturbing, and the supernatural elements made my skin crawl.  I read one of the the author’s earlier works, Coyote Songs, a while back and knew this was an author to watch.  The Devil Takes You Home may be a brutal read, but it’s one that I highly recommend.

Anybody Home? by Michael Seidlinger — 4/4.5 out of 5 stars

(H  9/31)  This is one creepy-ass story that will have you double-checking your locked doors on a regular basis.  The premise: our unnamed narrator is walking you through the planning and execution (no pun intended) of a home invasion and the bloody aftermath.  The kicker is this is all being filmed (presumably for some twisted televised series).  The thought of someone breaking into my home is bad enough, and this takes that fear to a whole new level.  Highly recommend, but fair warning:  not a great selection for bedtime reading!

Dead Leaves by Andrew David Barker — 3.5/4 out of 5 stars

(H  10/31)  This “love letter to the horror genre” takes place in October 1983, when British parliament was vilifying horror movies, and three teen friends were hell-bent on getting an elusive copy of the movie, The Evil Dead.   A very nostalgic look at the ’80’s and the growing pains of facing adulthood.

The Loop by Jeremy Robert Johnson — 3 out of 5 stars

(H  11/31) One of my September selections.  Strange things start happening in a small town, directly linked to a large biotech company.  A small group of teens fight for survival in this violent new reality.  This was one that I thought I would enjoy a lot more than I did.  Characters, pacing, and storyline were okay, but I felt there should have been a bit more explanation for the mysterious company and these experiments.  I also wasn’t sure if this was meant to be marketed as a YA or adult novel (the set-up felt like a YA novel but the violence was definitely for more “mature” horror readers).

Fish Swimming in Dappled Sunlight by Riku Onda — ??? out of 5 stars

Set during the course of one night, Aki and Hiro spend their last evening together in their shared apartment, wondering what the other did during an earlier ill-fated mountain trek.  Is one of them a murderer?   Okay, this hooked me from the beginning as I love a good psychological thriller and unreliable characters.  It was great until…it wasn’t??  There came a point that I seriously thought some pages went missing or that I totally overlooked something from an earlier chapter.  The ending left me feeling both unsatisfied and confused.  Overall not bad, just not the thriller I was expecting.

Novellas, Short Stories, and Anthologies

Unquiet Spirits:  Essays by Asian Women in Horror — 3.5 out of 5 stars

(H  12/31)  Twenty-one essays blending themes of family, loss, and identity with spirits/ghosts of Asian folklore.  While this wasn’t what I was expecting, I did enjoy these very personal writings, as well as the backstories of the Asian spirits  and their roles in various cultures.

Stay safe and Happy Reading!

Weekly Mash-Up #171

Autumn is almost here!

After another loooonnng summer of hot weather and forest fires, it’s nice to feel that change in the air and to see the leaves starting to change colors.  I’ve started to decorate my house with autumnal colors…and a few spooky things have found their way out of storage already!

And my reading has taken a bit of an uptick with my 31 Books of Halloween.  I still feel like I’m on the edge of another reading slump, but hopefully I can keep it at bay with some great Halloween-inspired reads.

The Week in Books

The Forest by Lisa Quigley — 3.5/4 out of 5 stars

(H 3/31)  The community of Edgewood holds an annual fall festival, giving offerings to the surrounding forest for continued safety.  As Faye and her husband are about to take over as the town stewards, Faye discovers the forest really needs a more sinister sacrifice.    I really enjoyed this one from the start, as it really brings the tension and surrounds you with the creepy atmosphere.  I’m still not sure how I feel about the ending, which leaves this in limbo at 3.5/4.  Part of me felt it was rushed, part of me felt it was too…convenient?  No matter my opinion on the ending, this is one I would definitely recommend adding to your Halloween reading list.

Killer Pizza:  The Slice by Greg Taylor — 3.5 out of 5 stars

(H 4/31)  This middle grade/YA tale is about three teens who work at a local pizza place called Killer Pizza, which just happens to be a front for a company that hunts down monsters.  This fast paced story is the second in the series, but can easily be read as a stand-alone (however, I think if I had read the first one I may have had more interest in the main characters).  Something about this story reminded me of the Scooby Doo shows, only with more cartoonish  gross moments.  A good starting point for budding young horror enthusiasts.

Pearl by Josh Malerman — 3 out of 5 stars

(H 5/31)  What better way to start out the Halloween reading season than with a creature feature novel featuring a sinister telepathic pig?!?  If you have fond memories of the beloved Wilbur in Charlotte’s Web, well, these pigs will certainly become your nightmare fuel.  It’s not my favorite of Malerman’s works, but this fast-paced tale offers all the horror that a good creature feature should have.

The Doctor’s Demons by Maria Abrams — 3 out of 5 stars

(H 6/31)  Hannah Cohen is a child psychologist who discovers a knack for dealing with possessed children.  Then a new challenge comes her way…   I am a big fan of possession/exorcism horror and I was really looking forward to this one.  Sadly, it just fell flat in a big way for me.  There was great potential with this storyline, and there were some memorable moments, but I just couldn’t muster up any give a shit for the main character.  And don’t get me started on all of the editing mistakes!  Using the wrong names, misspellings, grammar errors, it just became annoying after a bit (please note I did not deduct any stars for the mistakes, otherwise this would have been a 1.5/2 star rating).

Novellas, Short Stories, and Anthologies

No Good Deed by Angela Slatter — 3.5/4 out of 5 stars

(H 7/31)  Angela Slatter has created a fantastical world known as Sourdough, and this chap-book was not only a great introduction for me to this series but also to Slatter’s beautiful writing.  This story is deeply rooted in fantasy but with creepy twists like vengeful ghosts and animated skeletons.  I’d been curious about the Sourdough series, and after this quick read I am now looking forward to reading more tales of fantasy and horror.

Stay safe and Happy Reading!

Weekly Mash-Up #170

Don’t forget to look for my Halloween reading countdown in the coming weeks, marked with Hx/31!

The Week in Books

Five Little Indians by Michelle Good — 3 out of 5 stars

The story of five Indigenous children taken from their families and sent to a  church-run residential school, and their lives afterwards dealing with the demons brought on by the horrific abuse by those in charge of the school.  Sadly, this sort of thing happened way too often to Native children in both the U.S. and Canada, and today the number of children who never made it out of the schools are just beginning to surface.  I feel that this is an important book to read.  My three star rating is based solely on my personal dislikes for some of the stereotypical actions and characters (almost like there was a checklist to make sure certain things were present).  This is a difficult book to read at times due to the abuse and neglect (among other things) but one I would recommend.

Eleven on Top by Janet Evanovich — 3 out of 5 stars

One of my August TBR selections.  The eleventh installment in the long-running series featuring goofy bounty hunter Stephanie Plum offers up the same ol’ stuff as the previous ten books…and I think I’m starting to get a little bored with it.  We have the same ol’ love triangle, the same ol’ car bombings, same ol’ bail jumpers who try to outsmart everyone, you get the picture (of course, the comedic relief of sidekicks Lula and Grandma Mazur are always welcome).  When I first started the series, I loved the quirkiness.  Now, it just seems like cut and paste comedy.  I have a few more of the series in my tbr pile, I’m not sure at this point if or when I will ever get to them as I feel they will probably continue to be the same scenarios, just a different day in the burg.

Novellas, Short Stories, and Anthologies

The Hatred by C.A. Gleason — 3.5/4 out of 5 stars

(H1/31)  A musician looking to make a few bucks finds an ad in the paper for a housesitter.  After being accepted for the job, he arrives, expecting to make an easy $5000.  What he doesn’t know is the owner has other plans…   A fast read that was the perfect kickoff for my Halloween reading marathon.  There was good buildup and lots of creepiness.  I would have liked to know a bit more about Abby, I think that would have added another layer of horror.

Claire’s Apocalypse by K.T. Rose — 3.5 out of 5 stars

(H2/31)  Claire is the lead scientist behind a top secret government experiment, nine years in the making.  After the program is cut, she decides to quit…and take this deadly secret with her, to sell to the highest bidder.  What hell will be unleashed if put in the wrong hands?  Another solid short story that involves a heavy buildup to the final few terrifying paragraphs.  If you’re familiar with any story or movie that involves government experiments you’ll probably guess early on what’s coming.  Still, a great read to add to your Halloween short story list.

Stay safe and Happy Reading!