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.

An extreme horror Turkey Day

I love Thanksgiving.

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.

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.

I read a book: Full Brutal, by Kristopher Triana

If Kristopher Triana wasn’t already on my insta-buy list, he would be after reading this book.

There is so much to say about this book. To say that it is brutal is an understatement. It begins with a couple of quotes, one about the cruelty of man by Fyodor Dostoyevsky and a second seemingly glib remark by Jeffrey Dahmer. “I carried it too far, that’s for sure.” — Jeffery Dahmer. Don’t you just love it when you finish a book and then reflect on the quotes on the first page and understand their significance in relation to the book?

This Mean Girls meets American Psycho type tale features a teenage girl who has it all. Kim White is a popular cheerleader, she’s beautiful, all the girls envy her and want to be her. There’s just one problem. She’s bored af and ready to check out if something doesn’t happen soon. After a conversation about the life changing effects of losing your virginity (har har) with her friend, Kim decides that that’s exactly what her life is missing. She could fuck any boy her age she wants, but she sets her focus on her teacher. He is a weak man and it doesn’t take much for him to give in. She finds that it isn’t the sex itself that gets her out of her funk, it’s the instant regret of her teacher and the knowledge that she can destroy this man on a whim. She feeds on despair. She goes from threatening to expose him, to destroying his family, to going on a full on rampage. Because of who she is (and her careful manipulation of people), no one suspects her of any wrongdoing, which just makes it easier to escalate. When it’s all said and done, the reader is left thinking about Kim and how her father and her peers will react, just as we watched her peers react to all of the shit that went down in the book.

I listened to the audiobook as I read, as I often do. The narration was spot on. Solid performance by Dani George.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ for me. I loved it. It’s got everything. Drama. Murder. Cannibalism? Yeah. There is so much to say about this book, but if you are into extreme horror and splatterpunk, you should read it for yourself. In the words of Jeffrey Dahmer, she “carried it too far, that’s for sure.”

You can get a signed copy of Full Brutal at Kristopher Triana’s website, or grab a digital version on Amazon.

I read a book: The Girl on the Glider, by Brian Keene

I am one of a handful of moderators for one of the larger book groups on Facebook, Book Lovers Cafe. While I do love the group (modmin team especially), it suffers the same problems many book groups do. The feed follows Booktok or random celebrity book club trends, which lately is a lot of Colleen Hoover, Fredrik Backman, and Where the Crawdads Sing. I have nothing against any of this, but I like to try to get people to read some of the stuff I like and have been running a book club for horror lovers like myself within the group. I call it the Cool Ghouls Book Club, and I tend to choose titles that I never see in the mainstream book groups.

The Girl in the Glider is the beginning of my way of introducing the group to Brian Keene and the beginning of my Splatterpunk Awards series. Granted, it is very different from much of Keene’s catalog (no zombies or monsters). It is a great example of his writing and storytelling skill though. As one of the co-founders of the Splatterpunk Awards, it felt appropriate to start with him.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️. I loved this novella. I didn’t know what to expect, but it is so good. I know and love Brian Keene for his zombie stories. I’m generally not into ghosts for the same reasons Keene states when he’s trying to come to terms with what he’s experiencing in The Girl in the Glider. This was a very personal story. I feel like I got a demonstration of Keene’s thought process. It’s a weaving of truth and fiction. When the story ends, keep reading because the afterword is where he gets real with the reader and offers a powerful life lesson. Keene’s other books are great because he is a master at his craft. The Girl in the Glider is great because he’s sharing parts of himself without hiding behind fictional characters.

To be honest, I didn’t even know this novella existed until Keene offered it at a discount on what he’s calling his Reader Recession Relief program. He sells a different ebook at a discount every week and shares it on his Facebook page. The Girl on the Glider was Week 1. If you like his work and want to collect the ebooks, follow him on social media for the announcements.

Next up for the Cool Ghouls Book Club is J.F. Gonzalez’s Survivor, followed by a couple award winners and then the second co-founder, Wrath James White.

I read a book: The Magpie Coffin, by Wile E. Young

The Magpie Coffin is an unrelenting tale of revenge, with precise brutality and extreme violence – the first in the Splatter Western series from Death’s Head Press.

My first experience with the splatter western genre was a book called Bloodletting, by J.R. Curtis. I thought it was great and decided that I needed more of the author and more splatter western in my life. It’s been a minute since I read that book though, and was finally able to pencil in another splatter western by making it one of the Cool Ghouls Book Club selections. My ever growing unending TBR sometimes demands that I do this to push some books to the top of that list. Cool Ghouls is currently doing a series of 2022 Splatterpunk Award winners. Enter The Magpie Coffin, by Wile. E. Young, winner of Best Novel in 2021.

As I often do, I judged this book by its cover. That amazing cover art helps set the stage for me. It gives off old Clint Eastwood spaghetti western vibes that only got stronger as I read. I imagined Salem Covington carrying himself like every old west Clint Eastwood character, with his outlaw hat tilted low, hiding his trademark snarl and stony gaze. When I was a kid, we had one television in the house and Dad’s beloved copy of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly on 2 VHS tapes. I remember him putting it on fairly often, much to my siblings and my chagrin. Even now, old westerns are common background noise in my home. Of course now I love those old movies. And while it might be a weird thing to say about a splatter book, it was giving me all the feels. I was a kid again, watching Clint Eastwood take bloody vengeance on the people who’d tortured and killed his mentor. Covington uses a combination of black magic and his special Gun, which is capitalized to emphasize the fact that it’s not a regular gun. It speaks to him, reminds him of how many souls he owes, and encourages him to kill.

There are some things that I felt were lacking in explanation. Maybe I missed it. That happens. But I never really understood how Covington got into his deal in the first place. Who was the coffin maker? There were mentions of souls owed. But to who? Why? How? We know that he is unkillable by all guns except the one he carries and the one that used to belong to his brother. He learned the way of the People from his shaman teacher, Dead Bear, and there are mentions of how he perverted the teachings to suit him. He picked up other black magic from other teachers. There are questions, but the story flows and wraps up in a way that doesn’t require answers. I’m left wanting more. It has all of the fast sharp brutality I love in a good spatter novel with an old western flair.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ read for me. I want more Wile E. Young. I want more splatter western. This was a great start for Death’s Head Press‘s Splatter Western series and I will be reading more of them.

You can get The Magpie Coffin, by Wile E. Young on Amazon, Godless, or directly from Death’s Head Press.

I read a book: Left to You, by Daniel J. Volpe

I decided to expose my book group to more Daniel J. Volpe this month. Cool Ghouls hasn’t picked up much steam, but there are a few people who join every time and that’s enough motivation to keep doing it. If I can get one person to read something I like, I’m a happy camper. Speaking of books I liked…

There is so much to say about Left to You, by Daniel J. Volpe. It is haunting and intense, and that’s before you even get to any of the splatter parts.

A good chunk of the story is a Holocaust survivor recounting his days at Auschwitz in great horrifying detail. I knew this going into it. I also knew there was a splatter twist that would set it apart from the usual real world horror tales. I’ve read a lot of WWII stories from multiple perspectives. I’ve read first hand accounts of real survivors. I’ve read descriptions of the smells in the camps. But this was the first time I’ve seen the smell of the gas described, and I admit I thought about it when I opened my bottle of almond extract while baking this weekend. Little details like that can turn a generic fictional Holocaust story into something special, something that sticks with the reader. And it’s the big details, like figurative demons (Nazis) capturing literal demons and using them to grant their wishes, that turn a sad story into one that kicks the reader in the teeth. And that ending…wow.

In a way, the ending felt open. Will there be a sequel or spinoff? Who knows, but I know one thing. I’ll read that too.

This is my second Daniel J. Volpe read (Talia was the first). I loved both. I will eventually read my way through his entire catalog. Splatterpunk and indie horror can be a gamble. It’s a genre I enjoy and while most books I’ve read at least have good stories, some could benefit from a little editing finesse. Volpe’s books are just plain good though.

You can find Volpe’s books available on Amazon, Kindle Unlimited, and Godless. Borrow Left to You on KU or just buy it!

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: 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.