Monthly roundup – June 2022

So. I love books and I love reading them. I post these collages every month knowing I’m probably the only one who cares about what I’m reading and whether I enjoyed them or not. Maybe someone will see something new and interesting to them and ask questions. Maybe someone will see a favorite and want to talk about it. Maybe I’ll scare off a distant relative. My taste in entertainment is eclectic at best, worrying at worst. I’m sure some of the stuff I read has some folks wondering what is going on in my head, and that amuses me.

As usual, the month went by and I felt like I didn’t get much reading done. Then I started compiling the collage, and…15 books. And most were so good!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️:
For Brown Girls with Sharp Edges and Tender Hearts: A Love Letter to Women of Color, by Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodriguez
Dark Fire, by Ruby Dixon
Sworn to the Shadow God, by Ruby Dixon

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️:
Zombie Haiku: Good Poetry for Your…Brains, by Ryan Mecum
Daisy’s Decision, by Ruby Dixon
POLYEMBOLOKOILAMANIA: An Extreme Horror, by Matt Shaw
The Girl Next Door, by Jack Ketchum
Bound to the Battle God, by Ruby Dixon
Wed to the Wild God, by Ruby Dixon

⭐️⭐️⭐️:
The rest.

That’s a lot of three star reads, but three stars is not a bad rating in my book. That just means I liked them but I’m not still thinking about them.

On the agenda for July are two giant tomes, Swan Song and The Dragon Reborn (Wheel of Time #3), the latest addition to Ruby Dixon’s Corsair Brothers series, and maybe some of the Star Trek novels I’ve been collecting. A handful of the kindle editions go on sale every month and my collection has grown quite a bit.

Have you read and loved any of these books? Hated? Leave a comment!

Monthly roundup – May 2022

No real stinkers this month. Once again I didn’t get through the third Wheel of Time book, but I made a decent dent in it. The big standout this month was The Keeper of Happy Endings, which surprised me because historical fiction isn’t my genre of choice. It was really good. I don’t know, maybe I’m getting a little sappy in my old age. Probably the same reason I liked The Space Between Us so much.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️:
The Space Between Us: Poetry and Prose, by Courtney Peppernell and Zack Grey
Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
The Keeper of Happy Endings, by Barbara Davis
Choice, by Jodi Picoult
Fire in Her Dreams, by Ruby Dixon

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️:
Stolen Tongues, by Felix Blackwell
Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory, by Raphael Bob-Waksberg
Fire in His Chaos, by Ruby Dixon
Fire in Her Eyes, by Ruby Dixon
The Slob, by Aron Beauregard
Goldenrod: Poems, by Maggie Smith
I Live You, Call Me Back: Poems, by Sabrina Benaim
Fire in His Veins, by Ruby Dixon
Yard Work, by David Koepp

⭐️⭐️⭐️:
Winterset Hollow, by Jonathan Edward Durham
When She’s Lonely, by Ruby Dixon
The Fifth Survivor: Bacon Nightmares, by Angel Ramon
Anonymous, by Uzodinma Iweala
Ungirls, by Lauren Beukes
The Night Shift, by Alex Finlay

Winterset Hollow is pretty popular in the horror group on Facebook, so popular that there have been several posts by people with fresh tattoos if the rabbit on the cover. I wanted to love it. I usually love the books that are popular there. This one didn’t quite hit the spot for me. I know they can’t all be great, but I guess I had higher expectations for a tattoo worthy book. That said, I did like it.

On the agenda for June is that same Wheel of Time book, the last of Ruby Dixon’s dragon books, and a couple of book club selections. I may even catch up on my ARCs and finish up some drafts.

I read a book: Bloodletting, by J. R. Curtis

I received an Audible code for a review copy of J. R. Curtis’s book Bloodletting from the author last week. He offered review codes in one of my favorite book groups on Facebook and I happily requested one. I looked up the kindle version, as I like to read along with audiobooks, and found that I already owned it. Good sign! I found the premise of this book interesting enough to have acquired it twice! And so I read my first western themed horror novel.

The story begins with the description of a handcart company starting their journey and getting caught in a blizzard. Winter is harsh, and the group is in desperate need of food and supplies. Three men take on the task of traveling ahead to an old army fort to find help. The journey is long and difficult, and they find themselves overcoming the obstacles of weather and hostiles to get to their destination. I won’t give away any spoilers, but I was on the edge of my seat as one thing after another attacked them. Poor Caleb…that kid just couldn’t get a break! The three travelers make it to their destination, only to find the fort completely empty. This is where the story goes from survival story to an otherworldly tale of horror. As the title implies, it is graphic and bloody.

Come to think of it, none of them can seem to catch a break. We learn all about each of their tragic backgrounds as they try to survive in the abandoned fort.

There is a lot I loved about this book. The whole concept of western horror scratched an itch I didn’t know I had. The writing is descriptive in a way that makes the reader really feel the cold, isolation, terror, and despair. There is nowhere for our travelers to run, and that feeling is conveyed effectively. The audiobook narration was really good. Slow enough that even though I increased the playback speed quite a bit, it didn’t sound like chipmunks. And the narrator had just the right voice for this type of story. It had that same atmospheric feel that I got from Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.

That said, I feel like this book could have benefited from a little more time in editing. It gets repetitive at times. The dialog feels unnatural. But overall, it’s a good book.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️, 3.5 rounded up for star rating. I’ll definitely be reading more of Curtis’s work.

You can find Curtis’s books available on Amazon, Kindle Unlimited, and Audible. Borrow Bloodletting on KU or just buy it like I did!

I read a book: Talia, by Daniel Volpe

Never was there a more appropriate intro to a book.

I chose Talia, by Daniel Volpe for Book Lovers Cafe‘s second Cool Ghouls read. My little book club has garnered some attention in the group, but if any of the people who sign up are reading the books, I have no idea because they’re not participating in discussion. I will keep at it though. I am determined to share my love of horror and bizarro to anyone who will listen.

I take it back. At least one person read it. They were not prepared.

I read Talia in one sitting. At 120 pages, I suppose that isn’t saying much, but for me it is. If a story isn’t immediately gripping, my attention wanders. Talia grips you by the throat and assaults your senses non-stop. This is the story of a young woman who moves to the big city trying to make a name for herself. She quickly learns that it is not easy to break through in the acting world and finds herself targeted by a sleazy adult filmmaker named Mike who can smell desperation. Talia has heard the rumors about this guy, rumors that he works for the mob and does more than porn, but she is in a tough spot and is willing to do what it takes to make some money.

At first, it isn’t so bad. She does some fetish films that get increasingly strange, but she makes friends with one of her costars and mostly hasn’t had to do anything too degrading. What’s a little piss in the grand scheme of things anyway? Rumors about Mike’s clientele prove to be true as the requests get stranger and more brutal. One day, Talia and her friend come in to do a film find themselves facing a tied and gagged man and a table containing whips of increasing levels of brutality. Is this just another pain fetish video? Is Talia built for the kind of films Mike has lined up? Is Mike prepared to face the monster he created?

I discovered (after reading Talia), that our heroine was introduced in Volpe’s earlier work, Billy Silver. Of course I have to read that now.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️. Daniel Volpe, I see you.

You can find Volpe’s books available on Amazon, Kindle Unlimited, and Godless. Borrow Talia on KU or just buy it! A cover like that will look great on your bookshelf.

I read a book: White Fuzz, by William Pauley III

It started with a friend request on Goodreads. I don’t accept every author friend request. I look at their profiles, I google them, I read their websites and their book reviews. According to his bio, William Pauley III writes sci-fi/horror/bizarre fiction and that was enough for me to accept the friend request and add a couple books to my TBR. Doom fiction? Count me in.

I’ve watched his name come up on my Goodreads feed for about a month now. William Pauley III is now friends with Hugh Mann. William Pauley III likes Hugh Mann’s status. William Pauley III wants to read Another Weird Book. This is not criticism of how active he is on Goodreads. It is merely an description of how that portrait of a shaggy haired man with his head tilted upward, pouty lips, eyes closed, one side of his face dripping with blood got into my head and led me back to his website. There I found Audible codes and YouTube links, making my decision of where to start easier.

Because I’m on a novella kick and because I’m a sucker for good cover art, I chose White Fuzz. It’s the story of a man who gets a text from a stranger, goes to her home, and proceeds to have the weirdest night of his life. My gears were turning early in the story, as I had just read Pest, by Matt Shaw and the premise of a guy meeting a strange woman in her home after one text interaction was feeling a bit familiar. That’s where the similarities between the two stories ends though. Pauley’s story starts out almost a cute rom-com with our two main characters teasing each other on the phone before Franklin decides, against his better judgement, to pay this mystery woman a visit. While things seem to be going well, Franklin notices a lot of strange things about the apartment and about his new lady friend. The apartment is filthy, permeated with the smell of mold, death, and cat. Lynda’s mood changes from flirty and a little awkward to a range of anger and sadness at the drop of a hat. Franklin’s shifting in emotional state is similar, but internal. Franklin didn’t know what he was getting himself into and neither did I. As I’ve come to expect from the genre, White Fuzz leaves you with that wtf did I just read feeling. The story is well written and the audiobook is actually really good. Perfectly cast narrator.

Relatable

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️. William Pauley III is on my radar now.

You can read White Fuzz 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.

I read a book: Gone to See the River Man, by Kristopher Triana

For the last couple months I’ve been running a book club in one of my favorite book groups on Facebook, Book Lovers Cafe. Titles have mostly been chosen from Amazon First Reads. They’ve been good, but not stuff I’d typically read. Bored with the same old thing, I decided to start up a secondary book club for horror aficionados like myself. I dubbed it the Cool Ghouls Book Club. The first book I selected was one I’d seen recommended a lot in a different book group, Books of Horror. Gone to See the River Man, by Kristopher Triana.

At first it seemed like it was heading in a typical thriller path and I thought the main character was somehow going to end up being murdered by the man she obsessed over. Which…did happen. But the path from meeting him in prison to meeting him in her apartment was not typical thriller material. One might wonder why someone would find themselves obsessed with a serial killer, but as the story unfolds and you learn more about Lori, it isn’t so mysterious. Lori is seriously flawed, cut from the same cloth even. She has shared all of herself with Edmund and he knows she is the right person for his mission. Like Lori, you’ll find yourself wondering how much of the journey to see the River Man is real and how much is in her head. Is the River Man real? Or is he a manifestation of her mental and moral decline? This book is dark and graphic and utterly disturbing.

It’s a short read, but doesn’t feel like it’s lacking story building like some novellas do. If you like horror, splatterpunk, otherwise dark stories and don’t mind gore, give this a read. And if it’s your first horror book ever, you might find yourself pleasantly surprised, as this one group member did.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️. Closer to 5 honestly, but I made my rating and I don’t like to go back and change ratings unless I reread.

Great book. I’ll definitely be reading more of his work. Grab your copy on Amazon.