Reading Mash-Up #191

September is now well under way, and while it’s not quite autumn yet, there is definitely a change in the air with chillier mornings and leaves starting to turn colors.  We’ve still had some warm days, and I for one am looking forward to some much needed rain soon (the forest fires this year were getting a little too close to home).

My annual 31 Books of Halloween is well under way as well, be sure to check for the H x/31 to see how I’m doing!

What I’ve Been Reading

Body Art by Kristopher Triana — 4 out of 5 stars

(H 1/31)  Splatterpunk horror featuring a depraved undertaker, an aging porn star and a renowned porn filmmaker, a couple of eighteen year olds looking for a good time, and a mysterious red dust.  Add to this mix a liberal dose of extremely graphic body horror and the making of the ultimate snuff film and you have Body Art.  Now, I’m not a newbie to extreme horror, but I have to admit this one had me grossed out on more than one occasion.  Why the four stars if so disgusting?  Because Kristopher Triana has a way of telling a story that keeps me reading to find out what happens next, even when I feel like I need to bleach my brain after intense scenes.  Not for everyone, and probably not the first choice if you’re new to splatterpunk/extreme horror, but I have to say it was wildly entertaining.

Haunted Washington by Adam Woog — 2 out of 5 stars

(H 2/31)  Having been born and raised in Bellingham, Washington, and having lived in and traveled to many parts of this state, I was excited to find this “field guide” exploring various haunted sites around the state.  What a disappointment.  It served as more of a history lesson (and a poorly researched one at that), and the ghost “stories” were simply rehashing local urban legends and zero first hand accounts (any interviews were with people who scoffed at hauntings).  Which leads me to ask: why the hell would you write about “haunted” areas when you don’t even talk about the hauntings?  I would have given this one star but there were a couple of interesting things that caught my attention.

—Novellas, Short Stories, and Anthologies—

Cleveland Noir — 4 out of 5 stars

I’ve said it before, I love the Akashic Noir series and have read a few dozen of their titles.  This latest installment, with stories based in Cleveland, Ohio, may just make it’s way into my top five favorites in the series.  These are atmospheric, often dark, and I found them to be pretty addictive reading (I read this collection over the course of one day, I kept wanting to see what the next author would bring to the table).  If you haven’t tried any of the other books in this series, Cleveland Noir would be a great starting point.

Cold, Black, and Infinite by Todd Keisling — 4 out of 5 stars

(H 3/31)  If you haven’t read anything by Todd Keisling, this collection is a great place to start.  And if you’re already a fan, be sure to add this to your reading list!  This is one of those collections where every story shines in its own way.  I was invested in the characters, instantly drawn into the stories and settings.  There were some pretty dark topics so be sure to check out the content warnings at the back of the book.  A very strong and varied collection, highly recommend.

Dread by Jeff Wade — 3.5 out of 5 stars

(H 4/31)  There is a definite build-up of dread in this short story, but there was something about the dream sequences that threw the story off for me.  I get that there was a correlation between them and the “reality,” it just seemed a bit off (and really no other way to describe it without spoilers).  Not a bad read though, a decent way to start off spooky season reading.

Nineteen Claws and a Blackbird by Agustina Bazterrica — 3 out of 5 stars

(H 5/31)  Bazterrica’s novel, Tender is the Flesh, was one of my five-star reads a couple years ago, so I was excited to get this latest short story collection in a recent NightWorms package.  I didn’t know what to expect from it, but I didn’t expect the total roller coaster ride that it turned out to be…and not a fun roller coaster ride at that.  Some of the stories were very good, but I thought the rest were underwhelming at best.

Stay safe, and Happy Reading!

September — Sci-fi and Scary/The 31 Books of Halloween

It’s here!  It’s finally here!  My favorite personal challenge of the year, The 31 Books of Halloween, officially starts today, and do I have some great-sounding stories lined up for the next couple of months.

I’m also celebrating the sci-fi genre with this month’s selection…

500 years in the future, humans no longer exist having been replaced by the  genetically engineered Ertas.  The Erta race must decide whether to bring back humans so they create one child to see if humankind can be reintroduced to the world.  I’ve been waiting for the right time to read this, and now seems as good a time as any.

As for my scary/Halloween reads, I have a multitude of authors to choose from, including Jack Ketchum, Grady Hendrix, Kristopher Triana, Clive Barker…well, you get the idea.  The hardest part will be deciding what to read first!

What are your reading goals for this month?  Drop me a line and let’s talk books!

Stay safe and Happy Reading!