Monthly roundup – February 2023

When I look at these collages I make every month, count 11 boxes, and think I had a slow month, I feel a little silly. I read 11 books! Sure, some of them were short. Two were audiobooks. One was a collection of short stories. My page count probably isn’t very high. And ultimately the numbers don’t matter. I read 11 books and enjoyed them all. But there were several days when I didn’t read anything because my brain just didn’t want to brain. Depression. And that makes me feel like it was a slow month. Depression brain is weird.

The books I did manage to read were pretty great. My favorite was Bowery. It’s not a joyous story, there is no happy ending. But it made me feel things and that is the mark of a good story to me. When people ask me why I read so much extreme horror, the answer is simple. I want to feel things. I read bizarro for wonderment. I am always so amazed at the sheer absurdity that some of these authors I love come up with. And Matt Shaw just makes me laugh. One day I’ll do a full why I read the things I read post. Today is not that day.

On the agenda for March, I have a few ARCs from Planet Bizarro that I’m excited about. Hoping to finish Wanderers, by Chuck Wendig and read the next book in the Gone series. I also have a couple of collections of short stories that I’m itching to read. And of course whatever Book Lovers Cafe chooses for the group read. It’s looking like it’ll be a Grady Hendrix book, but I’ve got my fingers crossed for Jennifer Weiner. I know, that makes no sense when you look at the collage above. I do stray from horror and monster porn on occasion.

In other news, I am in the process of redesigning this blog. When I resurrected it about a year ago, I chose a free template and picked some colors I liked and didn’t really think much of it because I wasn’t sure of where I was going with this. Totally Normal Human is now Cool Ghouls Book Club. I feel like that’s more fitting of the content and of me as a person. I’ll still post random totally normal human things, like my old band appreciation posts or the compartments. It’s gonna take a minute to figure out how I want this place to look, but I’ll get there.

Monthly roundup – January 2023

My January reads. Nearly all were great and I’ve added a few more authors to my unending tbr. Just bury me with my kindle.

It would be easier to tell you which ones weren’t my favorites. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck was a reread for book club. It’s not bad, but it’s super repetitive and could probably have been a blog post. I still consider it the best self help book I’ve ever read. I’m Still a 10-year-old Boy and Spare are good for what they are, memoirs. I don’t like to be too harsh on memoirs because it feels like I’m judging their lives and I really don’t want to do that. Nancy Cartwright’s book is carried by her colorful narration. This is great for Simpsons fans or anyone who is interested in voice acting. Prince Harry’s book is about what I expected. In a lot of ways, he’s still that sad little boy trying to make his way through life as a Royal after losing his biggest ally, his mother. White Noise was a chore to get through, but still not terrible.

Here are some links to my full reviews for the month. All ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.
Incel, by Matt Duchossoy
Like a Tramp Yelling at Trains, by Peter Caffrey
They Are All Monsters, by J. Boote
Strangled Epitaphs, by Axl Barnes
Peculiar Monstrosities, A Planet Bizarro Publication
Songs About My Father’s Crotch, by Dustin Reade
Goddamn Electric Nights, by William Pauley III

I’ve got quite a few ARCs lined up for February. Lots of horror, bizarro, and monster porn. My favorites.

Monthly roundup – December 2022

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.

Monthly roundup – November 2022

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.

Monthly roundup – October 2022

Spooktober was filled with mostly great reads. I read horror year round, so this month wasn’t really different except that I hosted two Book Lovers Cafe group reads because my first choice didn’t win. My insistence on exposing the masses to extreme horror (and doing 31 days of horror movies) did get in the way of my usual schedule, so I didn’t get to everything I had planned. However, I did get to a bunch that have been on my tbr for a while (and they were amazing!) so I consider it a win.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️:
A Soul to Keep, by Opal Reyne
Full Brutal, by Kristopher Triana
The Troop, by Nick Cutter
Gyo, by Junji Ito
The Girl on the Glider, by Brian Keene

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️:
The Tooth Fairy, by Davide Tarsitano
The Haunting of Ashburn House, by Darcy Coates
Lil’ Bastard, by Matt Shaw
The People Look Like Flowers at Last, by Charles Bukowski
Morning Glory Milking Farm, by C.M. Nascosta

⭐️⭐️⭐️:
Against the Lockers, by Aiden E. Messner
Jokes to Offend Men, by Allison Kelley, etc
When the Dark Spoke to Me, by Christabelle Marbun
Heartstopper Vol 4, by Alice Oseman

The rest kinda sucked. Two were Halloween themed monster romances that are actually pretty well liked on Goodreads. They just didn’t do it for me. One was straight up bad. Honestly don’t even remember how I came across the Hucow stuff. I don’t think I’ll do that again. And the last one was Little Women, but with vampire references woven in. I was not impressed.

Pictured but not rated: Island of the Dead, by Brian Keene. This is not actually a book, it is a Kindle Vella series. The story was interesting, but I kinda hate the serial format.

All of my four and five star reads have been on my tbr for a while and all were amazing. Several of those authors were already on my insta-buy list and now the rest are as well. Beyond that, the only one I’m interested in reading again is Messner. I feel like they’re gonna be one of those writers who just gets better. Time will tell.

On the agenda for November? One book club read (thriller), two Cool Ghouls books, the backlog of loaners from my enabler, the next Duskwalker Bride book, and hopefully several from my NetGalley shelf. I have a few Thanksgiving themed horror books and movies to share. Holiday baking. Dragonflight! Lots of fun stuff coming up.

Monthly roundup – September 2022

September reads. So many good ones, it’s hard to pick favorites…but I will anyway! Uzumaki, Future Skinny, The Obituaries, and Motherthing were soooooo good. Highly recommend them to lovers of all things weird and creepy. Also super excited that the author of one of my September favorites, Peter Rosch, shared my post to his insta story. I write my reviews mostly because it helps me remember the books better, and I like to share the ones I loved. I know most of the time I’m the only one reading my full posts. But I get a little thrill when an author I like takes notice, even if it’s something as minor as a like on my post. Shout out to Peter Rosch, both for his fan interaction and his mad storytelling skills. Anyway, here’s a breakdown of my September reads.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️:
Uzumaki, by Junji Ito
The Obituaries Issue #1, by Aron Beauregard, Kristopher Triana, and Daniel J. Volpe

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️:
Future Skinny, by Peter Rosch
Motherthing, by Ainslie Hogarth
Flor’s Fiasco, by Ruby Dixon
The Alien’s Mail-Order Bride, by Ruby Dixon
Heartstopper Vol. 2, by Alice Oseman
Like Me, by Hayley Phelan
Thinking About it Only Makes it Worse, by David Mitchell
The Way Back Home, by Courtney Peppernell
The Magpie Coffin, by Wile E. Young
The Creeper, by A.M. Shine
The Librarian and the Orc, by Finley Fenn
Heartstopper Vol. 3, by Alice Oseman
Unknowing, I Sink, by Timothy G. Huguenin

⭐️⭐️⭐️:
Everything else. Well, most of them.

A couple of those ratings are spoilers for reviews I haven’t finished yet. I got distracted for a couple days, then sick for a couple more, and I fell way behind my self imposed review schedule. I may not meet the deadlines I laid out, but I’ll make an effort to catch up before the end of the month. This is the busiest month for my NetGalley queue.

So you may notice that some of my favorites were not top rated. I have to say that most of my 4 star ratings are actually pretty close to 5 stars, but I am sometimes a bit judicious with my stars. Sometimes less so. I mean, splatterpunk and orc porn aren’t exactly highbrow literature, but they make me happy. I guess what I’m saying is take my star ratings with a grain of salt. A 4 today might be a 3 or 5 tomorrow, but I’m not going to go changing my posted ratings every time I think about it. What you get is my initial reaction. Pretty much all of the books on my collage were pretty great. You should read them.

On the agenda for October? Six horror ARCs, one poetry ARC, two book club reads, two more Cool Ghouls books. A deeper dive into the monster romance genre. It’s about to get weirder ’round these parts.

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.

Monthly roundup – April 2022

Another month, another collage. Lots of great poetry, horror, and bizarro. Didn’t expect to love the dragons as much as I did, but here I am starting the sixth book. I don’t know what it is about Ruby Dixon, but her books make me feel good. Even the ones about the end of humanity as we know it. Skipped over Wheel of Time again. Maybe May is the month for volume 3.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️:
Fire in His Spirit, by Ruby Dixon
Not a Lot of Reasons to Sing, but Enough, by Kyle “Guante” Tran Myhre
Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament, by S. G. Browne
The Tower, by William Pauley III
There Are Trans People Here, by H. Melt
On My Way to Liberation, by H. Melt
Talia, by Daniel J. Volpe
White Fuzz, by William Pauley III

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️:
Plenitude, by Daniel Sarah Karasik
Annabel Lee, by Edgar Allan Poe
Fire in His Kiss, by Ruby Dixon
Fire in His Embrace, by Ruby Dixon
Fire in His Fury, by Ruby Dixon

⭐️⭐️⭐️:
The Wives, by Tarryn Fisher
Pest, by Matt Shaw

⭐️⭐️:
Mixed Feelings, by Abraham Rodriguez
Run Rose Run, by Dolly Parton and James Patterson

On the agenda for May is the third Wheel of Time book (once again), more dragons, more horror. My TBR is overflowing and grows larger with every book deal newsletter that graces my inbox. I have a couple of book club reads and a handful of NetGalley ARCs to get to this month. Maybe I’ll even get to those library books that I keep extending.