New year, new reading goals. Because I like checking off boxes, I’ve collected various reading challenge graphics that tackle my various goals. You can check them all out on my corresponding Instagram post.
⭐️ 100 books ⭐️ More indie authors ⭐️ Catch up on my ARCs ⭐️ More reviews
Reading challenges I’d like to complete include:
⭐️ Goodreads – 100 books ⭐️ Gagents of Chaos and Gagents of Chaos Extra Credit – The Gage Greenwood author group on FB’s reading challenge that is basically a list of horror authors ⭐️ B.A.N.G. Book Club 52 Week Challenge – smut prompts ⭐️ PopSugar – I like this one because it encourages me to branch out and read things I wouldn’t normally read ⭐️ Books of Horror – This is the yearly horror themed challenge hosted by the Books of Horror FB group ⭐️ Diversify Your Reading Challenge – Monthly themes meant to make you read different genres ⭐️ Book Blanket Challenge – This is a play on the temperature blankets that are popular in crochet/knitting groups
I know it seems like a lot, but there’s a lot of crossover and I’m going to be reading a lot of this stuff anyway so why not check off some boxes. Last year I nearly completed the PopSugar challenge without any effort. Every quarter or so, I checked my log and filled in boxes with books I’d read. This year I expect to do the same, though I will curate my reading list a little more than usual to make sure I read the authors on the Gagents of Chaos challenge. This will help with my goal of reading more indie authors as well. And I’ll be using the Book Lovers Cafe’s monthly book club to complete the Diversify Your Reading challenge. That’ll save me the trouble of coming up with a theme every month and give me the satisfaction of checking off boxes. Win/win.
I don’t know if I’ll make the blanket, but…maybe? I’d have to come up with my own color scheme for sure because I don’t need or want a red and orange blanket. Maybe I should finish the blanket I have in progress first 🙃
Last monthly roundup of the year. I read fewer books this month than usual due to the untimely demise of my kindle and some trouble focusing in general, but I still got to lots of great books. Mantis was my favorite, followed closely by both issues of The Obituaries and The Astronaut Dream Book. Not a bad one in the bunch though.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️: Mantis The Obituaries #2 The Obituaries #3 The Astronaut Dream Book
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️: The rest
No rating: One that I won’t name.
So let’s talk about some of these books. I read a lot of weird stuff. Some of it is weird by definition. Anything labeled bizarro is going to be super weird. I knew I was going to love the favorites listed above because I have loved everything I’ve read by those authors so far. But then there are books like the Pet Project series. The first book was recommended to me by Amazon or Goodreads (I don’t remember) because I read a lot of alien porn. This series was not alien porn, but it is solid sci-fi and I really enjoyed it. The series got better as it progressed. There’s a pretty significant time jump between books, but it feels like the natural progression of events.
I also read a lot of zombie books. I know a lot of them are the same story told by different people, but that’s part of why I like them so much. Still, when I read a book that takes a different approach to zombies, I’m all in. Diana Rowland’s White Trash Zombie series is one of those. The series follows a young woman who was turned by a cop who found her dying of an overdose. The zombies in this world are not mindless and go on to live normal lives. Well, as normal as can be expected for someone who needs to consume brains to keep from turning into flesh eating monsters. Not a bad book in this six volume series. I loved it, and even though it took me a year to get around to reading the last volume, I’ll miss Angel Crawford.
Monster romance is a relatively new genre for me. I’ve never really cared for traditional romance or smut and mostly just didn’t read it because the few that I’d tried were disappointing at best and boring at worst. About a year and a half ago, I saw Ice Planet Barbarians on my Goodreads feed. The person who was reading the series usually reads less fluffy stuff, but I’ve loved pretty much everything I’ve read based on her ratings so I gave IPB a go. And promptly fell down that rabbit hole. It turns out I do enjoy romance and smut, I’m just not interested in humans. Go figure. This month’s monster porn, Grunge and I’m in Love with Mothman, were excellent. More mythical creatures, please.
All in all, a great month of reads to wrap up a great year.
I have read the first two books in this series and I loved them both. They are delightfully weird and completely engaging. So when I saw the audiobook available for review on NetGalley, I knew it was time to revisit Eighth Block Tower. And while I do own the kindle version, my kindle suffered an accident yesterday and no longer works. Seeing this book on NetGalley almost felt like a sign from the cosmos reminding me that even though I did most of my reading on that kindle, it’s going to be okay. So I’m sitting here in my office listening to the audiobook and following along on the kindle app on my phone.
I’ll start with a note about the narrator. I found Connor Brannigan’s narration to be quite enjoyable. His voice is deep and smooth and just really pleasant. I could listen to him speak far longer than the two-ish hour run time of this book. Fortunately for me, he narrates several of Pauley’s books that are already on my tbr.
If you’ve read the first two Bedlam Bible books, you are familiar with the strange things that go on in the Eighth Block Tower. Each book is a bunch of stories that are not one cohesive story, but they are intertwined. Everything that goes on in that tower is interconnected. This book is much the same. In the beginning, we learn of the prison deep within Eighth Block Tower that has only one prisoner. The stories that follow are his dreams about astronauts. The chapter called Apokalypsis. Wow. It’s a letter of warning to anyone who may find themself at the Church of Death and Nothingness detailing the astronaut’s journey leading up to the point where he is writing that letter and waiting for death. I found the letter to be quite moving.
But are these stories really dreams? Part 2 will have you wondering as the over arcing story comes full circle. The boy who encountered the prisoner in the beginning is back and his mother is ready to confront the “dog man” who bit her son. But in the words of the astronaut in his letter or warning, their journey didn’t stop there. Instead, things got weird. What the hell is going on in that tower? All I know is that I want more.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ for me. If you’re into the weird and absurd, you’ll love William Pauley III‘s doom fiction. He’s a fantastic writer with the ability to write stories that are sometimes absurd, horrifying, and touching.
You can read The Astronaut Dream Book as part of your Kindle Unlimited subscription. Or just buy the book. The eBook is only a couple bucks and the print version would look great on your shelf. Do yourself a favor and grab the audio companion while you’re at it.
What’s a girl to do when she’s got 4 books started and an out of control TBR? Go looking for another ARC, of course. And why not one with a short deadline. I mean, that probably wasn’t a great idea, but here we are. Story of my life.
Fortunately for me, this book was a joy to read right from the start. I’m in Love with Mothman is the story of an influencer who’s had her fill of that public life and buys a cabin in the middle of nowhere on a whim. I guess she’s loaded because there’s no indication of a job to pay the bills, but that isn’t important to the story. It’s just one of those little holes in a story that my brain tries to fill in. I loved watching Heather frame all her new experiences as she would have on social media as she adjusts to her new surroundings. She describes her newly acquired cabin in the woods as her Pinterest board come alive. She’s determined to have her little moments that she would normally post on social media. One such moment is brought on by some ribbing of local what are boundaries guy Chris. Chris rubbed me the wrong way immediately and my feelings about him are validated by his increasingly creepy interactions with Heather as the story progresses.
Anyway. Heather meets Mothman during her attempt at proving to herself that Chris is wrong about her not being able to climb a tree. She gets up there and realizes she didn’t factor in how she would get back down. This is how she meets Mothman. This is the beginning of a super cute love story. It’s not an easy start and they have more than their share of challenges.
There were some things I didn’t love. The totally predictable Chris factor. The spice level (mild). I prefer more descriptive scenes. No real build up to the pair falling in love. Not much build up to Heather becoming attracted to Moth. She’s afraid of him and suddenly she’s not.
There was a lot that I did love though. Heather is delightful, not at all what I expect a social media queen to be like. Moth is initially wary and standoffish, but he is never malicious and once he feels safe letting down his guard, he is all in. And he’s adorable! I loved most of the characters.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ for me. All in all, a good book. I will be reading the sequel when that comes out. This one ended on a cliffhanger and while I’m not sure I like the direction this is going once Moth started to remember parts of his past, I really do want to know more. It’s fairly cutesy for the most part. Some conflict to keep you from getting bored from all the cute. Not a super satisfying resolution to that conflict, but I still feel good about this book. Looking forward to seeing where Paige Lavoie takes this story in the next book.
Big thanks to Paige Lavoie and Booksprout for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review. You can buy I’m in Love with Mothman, by Paige Lavoie on Amazon for a couple bucks.
I have the bad habit of not always checking if I already own a book before buying a new one. I actually own Mantis, by Matthew A. Clarke under it’s previous title, Things Were Easier Before You Became a Giant Fucking Mantis. This is not the first time I’ve acquired second copies of re-released books, but this post isn’t about those.
The cover art on the two editions couldn’t be more different, but both are amazing and eye catching enough that I bought it twice. The first cover shows a somewhat ghastly looking manti-woman’s face. Having read the descriptions of manti-people, I believe that cover is a more accurate representation of what they look like. The cover on the re-release, Mantis, is actually quite beautiful. In my head, the different covers represent how Jacoboby sees the love of his life, Millie, right after she turns (first cover) and how he sees her years afterward when he’s fully accepted their new life together. After all, I think we all see the people with whom we are in love in a rosier hue.
Teenagers Jacoboby and Millie live in a world where some people carry a gene that turns them into giant mantis people. Jacoboby’s mom leads a hate group called Super Mantis Killas who spends their time beating up and murdering manti-people and just being jackasses. As the son of the leader of this group, Jacoboby is dubbed Master of the mantis hating dudebros. One day, his best friend and girlfriend Millie starts to turn. He knew she carried the gene because he knew her sister was a mantis, but her transformation is still a shock to him. He is forced to reexamine everything he’s ever known and decide whether he will continue his life as an SMK Master or start a new life with his mantis girlfriend.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ for me. This bizarre story tackles some surprisingly heavy themes. You’ll find yourself making mantis parallels to real world subjects like racism, loyalty, love, and family. It is well written and thought provoking. It’s imaginative and totally bizarre. It’s got everything I expect from a good bizarro novel. If you’re a fan of bizarro, you’ll love it.
You can buy Mantis, by Matthew A. Clarke on Amazon for a couple bucks or read it as part of your Kindle Unlimited subscription.
November was a month of great reads. I got in a good amount of horror and poetry, and even some with seasonal themes. And I read 6 ARCs, which is super productive for me. Nevermind that two of their reviews are incomplete. I’ll get them published eventually. Since I rated so many of them ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️, I’m not going to do a full breakdown. However, I will talk a little about my favorites.
My favorite in the monster romance category was Desire in His Blood, by Zoey Draven. Draven is already an author I know I like, so when I saw this first volume of a new series, it was a no brainer. Downloaded it immediately. There’s so much I like about this book. The heroine is so great. Able to adapt to any situation. Gemma takes care of her father’s financial problems and shields her sisters from all the things that are stressing her out. This whole marriage to a wealthy (scary) alien was her way of protecting them in the long term. She learns to navigate her new, sometimes frightening, husband and her new home. Of course she didn’t understand what she was getting into and what secrets she’d learn and what wrongdoings she’d eventually find a way to fix. Because that’s who she is. She’ll do whatever it takes to make things right. Azur is hard and cold on the beginning, having arranged this marriage with nefarious intentions. It doesn’t take long for him to catch feelings and he spends a lot of time wrestling with his emotions. There’s a lot of conflict. And spice. I don’t want to spoil it for you, so I won’t continue. But I will say they get their HEA and we get more of Gemma’s cleverness and Azur’s heart. Her Orc Warrior, by Zoe Ashwood was also really enjoyable! You can read my full review here.
In the horror category, Night Stockers was the standout. I haven’t read a book with Kristopher Triana’s name on it that I didn’t love, and now I want to read more Ryan Harding. It is an extreme horror offering, but it’s more than just torture porn. Don’t get me wrong, it is brutal af, but the characters and the story are interesting and honestly pretty fucking funny. If that makes me a weirdo, so be it. This was a tough category though because all of them were so great. Several were my first tastes of new (to me) authors and they all left me wanting more.
The poetry was also mostly great. I would say The World Keeps Ending, and the World Goes On was probably my favorite because I found it most relatable. I found myself rereading poems in nearly every collection though. 4 out of 6 poetry collections I read in November were ARCs and all but one were fantastic.
As I mentioned earlier, I read 6 ARCs in November. That’s some kind of record for me. Even more impressive to me is that 5 out of 6 of them were amazing! Poetry ARCs are hit or miss for me but these were so good. Only one was underwhelming. Anyway, no one is reading this. I’m done rambling. Read some books.
The ninth World of Warcraft expansion, Dragonflight, launched yesterday. This expansion brings a playable dragon race called the Dracthyr who can only be a class called Evoker. The Dracthyr are available to both factions, so expect to see them everywhere like we saw Pandaren everywhere the first month or so of Mists of Pandaria. The Dracthyr became available for play during the pre-patch event. Of course I made one, leveled it, and promptly took some dragon person riding a dragon screenshots. Normally I take a while coming up with a punny name based on class abilities, but I went the uwu route with this one and named her Dwagyn. A throwaway name for a throwaway toon.
I logged on a couple hours into launch last night. While I am aware that some folks on full realms had to wait in a login queue, that was not the case on the medium pop realm Hyjal US. I didn’t experience any of the queues and server crashes that my guildmates who were able to log on right at launch time did. I used to be right there with them, laughing and cursing the launch delays. I guess I’m getting old (despite being on the younger end of the group). I no longer try so hard to keep up with the time zone differences. Some nights by the time my friends are ready to do something, it’s way too late for me to be getting started. If it’s midnight, I’m getting ready to wind down…we all know I’ll be reading for another hour or three, but that’s part of my process. If I’m up gaming until 2am, I’m tired the next day. If I’m reading, I’m more rested. The timezone differences used to stress me out, but I’ve learned to just operate on my time and enjoy the time I get to play with my friends.
Look at me going off on a tangent again. It’s a good thing I don’t try to write novels. The reviews would all be about how I meander all over the place before getting to the point.
Dragonflight launched yesterday and I’m not playing the dragon toon. As usual, I plan to main disc priest. Discipline has gone through several changes since I started playing 7 expansions and a million years ago. Some of the early changes were great and I felt like a god wielding the power of life and death. I was an unkillable beacon of light in PvP (unranked, because in reality I’ve never been that good). I had open invitations to heal for friends’ guilds’ raids, because I was a legit good PvE healer. Other changes completely revamped the way the spec works and it took me a while to learn. There was a time when I was embarrassed to do raids because I was no longer topping the heal charts. My performance wasn’t terrible, but when you’re not running your own raid team and you play with randos who don’t care about reading those charts with proper context and would rather just call you a baddie, it is properly discouraging. This last expansion, I was finally finding my groove doing 5 man content and then we all sort of fell off the game, most of us having found the expansion lackluster. So now we’re helping the dragonflights of Azeroth defend their ancestral home. I got to level 62 yesterday and I’m enjoying it so far. There have been some neat quality of life changes to the UI that I’m finding very convenient. But this is not a review, so I won’t get into all that just yet. Maybe I’ll write a review once I’ve seen more of the Dragon Isles. In the meantime, enjoy my rambling brain dump. There will probably be a few more as I continue leveling.
If you got through this, thanks. I appreciate you. Sometimes blogging feels like shouting into the void.
I love turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, pies, and those little brown and serve dinner rolls. Gravy. Oh, the gravy. I love the food and the subsequent turkey coma. I love the long weekend.
But there is a dark history surrounding Thanksgiving. It is a day of mourning for some Indigenous Americans. I have a lot of thoughts regarding that history and the way it is perpetuated still, but this post isn’t about that. So when I say that I love Thanksgiving, know that I am referring to the food (both eating and cooking) and long weekend, not the actual holiday.
Long weekends mean time to catch up on chores, get the kid out of the house, and more time for reading. A splatterpunk Thanksgiving reading list feels appropriate for a holiday with bloody beginnings. I’ll get to the chores and outings tomorrow. Tonight is for turkey coma and books!
In preparation for the holiday weekend, I scoured the horror book groups for seasonal reads and picked up the three most recommended titles. Thanksgiving Day Massacre, by Brian G. Berry, Gobbler: F*ck Your Thanksgiving, by Judith Sonnet, and Am Extreme Turkey Dinner, by Sea Caummisar. Three short and brutal bites to satisfy my hunger for holiday horror.
I started with Thanksgiving Day Massacre. This is my first Brian G. Berry book, but it won’t be my last. Holy cow. This one hit the ground running. This tiny town is busy prepping for the Thanksgiving Day parade when a guy wearing a turkey mask goes on a murder spree. From the moment he strolls into town, it’s just blood and guts everywhere. You know it’s gonna be brutal when the very first kill scene involves a guy’s scalp used as a cum rag and a woman cut in half right down the middle of her body. The cover looks like a cheesy 80s slasher flick (which I love!), but this book is not that at all.
🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃 for me. Berry is a master of graphic imagery. Some of the dialog felt a little clunky, but that added to the slasher appeal. There are scenes that will push your limits. Splatterpunk is supposed to do that.
Next up, I bit into Gobbler: F*ck Your Thanksgiving. This is a brand new novella by Judith Sonnet. She’s been on my radar for a while but I hadn’t read any of the handful of her books in my kindle library yet. What can I say, my TBR is out of control. I admit that part of my decision to read this one was the title. It reminded me of a local pie shop that sells lunches along with their many sweet treats. My favorite savory pie is called The Gobbler, a turkey pot pie sitting on a bed of stuffing and topped with mashed potatoes, gravy, and a cranberry compote. The Gobbler in this story was nothing like that tasty pie, but the story was a treat. We meet the Gobbler immediately. He’s preparing his costume and thinking back to his own tragic backstory. His family forgot to say Grace before cutting into the turkey one year and he believes that they were slaughtered by god to teach him a lesson. Each year after, he dons his weird costume and sets out to teach another family a lesson about celebrating the holiday the way god intended. This novella is the story of one such lesson. The Gobbler is…an artist. His lessons are tailored to his students masterfully.
🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃 for me. If splatterpunk and extreme horror is your thing, if you like vivid gory imagery, don’t sleep on Judith Sonnet.
My last Thanksgiving treat was An Extreme Turkey Dinner, by Sea Caummisar. This one has been sitting in my kindle library for a while now. Caummisar is a very prolific author, and I own many of her books, having picked them up on various sales over the course of the last year. This is the first one I’ve read. This is the story of a woman with a lot of trauma who decides to go the revenge route rather than forgiveness. She’s been through so much and her revenge is unexpected, exacting, and brutal. It’s a bloodbath, much to Angie’s dismay. It’s great.
🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃 for me. I really need to read more of the Caummisar books in my kindle library. Truly enjoyed this one.
My long weekend is over. I’ve finished my Turkey Day horror reading list. This was my first experience with each author and I feel like I’ve been sleeping on all three. Splatterpunk and extreme horror are not for everyone, but if that’s your things, add these books to your holiday reading list.
The Flock, by J. Todd Scott was Book Lovers Cafe’s November book club selection. It was not the one I voted for, but it was already in my kindle library from a previous Amazon First Reads. Book club seems to be the only way I care enough to read those even though they are usually pretty good. Usually.
This one has an interesting premise. It’s the story of a former cult member making a new life for herself and her daughter long after her cult days. She has a whole new identity, but her old life catches up to her and the rest of the book takes us back to the remaining bits of the cult. Sounds interesting, right?
I’m not sure why, but I expected this to be more firmly rooted in reality (despite being fiction). Like one of those biographies of real former cult members. A tell all type thing. It is not. Stuff that the cult believes in starts happening. Birds are falling out of the sky dead, the world is on fire, and a kid is performing miracles. The story jumps between time periods and narrators and it’s not really difficult to follow, but I found myself having a hard time caring about some of them. Meh. Maybe my reception of this book is a result of my expectations. I expected it to be something it never claimed to be and I didn’t particularly enjoy what it is.
⭐️⭐️⭐️ for me. Not bad really, despite my gripes. Some of my book club really enjoyed it. It just wasn’t for me. If you like thrillers with a religious/cult flare, it might be right up your alley.
This book is weird and wonderful. I love it. We meet the main character, Andre, gnawing on a man’s face with his pants down in a sewer. He doesn’t know what he’s doing or how he got there, or even who the man is, but he knows something is terribly wrong and he needs to figure out how he ended up in this predicament. He finds something implanted in the guy’s neck and realizes that he has the same implant. In an effort to piece together the events that lead to this moment, he starts going through his internet history and social media posts.
The implant. Have you ever read The Murderbot Diaries? You know how everyone is connected to a network via tech and Murderbot hacks his way through the universe and so on? The implant in Andre’s neck is sort of like an alpha tester of that kind of device. We learn that he is participating in the testing phase for a big fat paycheck. At this stage, no one is hacking security systems. They’re mostly vegging out doing internet things like googling shit and participating in social media.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ for me. Popsicle is exciting and well written. Wojciechowski’s writing makes the reader feel like they’re a part of Andre’s journey. The pacing fits the novella length and the author leaves out no details. Sometimes novellas of this length move too quickly and leave a lot of gaps, but that is not a problem present in this one. The story is imaginative and absurd and full of dark humor that matches my own sense of humor.
Big thanks to Christa Wojciechowski and BookSirens for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review. You can buy Popsicle, by Christa Wojciechowski on Amazon for a couple bucks.