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!