If you want to be a writer, you have to be a reader. Here are the fiction and nonfiction books I’ve read this quarter with my one-sentence reviews.
When the Lights Go Out – Ink Slingers’ Halloween Anthology (2015). In an anthology there’s sure to be at least one author’s voice that doesn’t suit the reader, but I found no bad eggs in this book, enjoyed several good stories, and read one I truly admired by Joleene Naylor because she told a tense tale and developed 3D characters using (almost) nothing but dialogue.
RealmShift, by Alan Baxter. A complicated plot, dark fantasy creatures, metaphysics, noir-like passages, and scatterings of purple prose left me with the bizarre feeling that I’d just read an entire graphic novel series converted to text and condensed into one book.
The Stranger Inside, by Laura Benedict. This is an expertly-written crime novel of murder and blackmail and revenge, enjoyable!
Ficciones, by Jorge Luis Borges. OMGosh, the most dense, difficult, philosophical passages fill this classic collection of horror short stories.
But I’m not nutty.:-)
Beautiful Demons, by Sarra Cannon. Beautiful Demons is an engaging, young adult, horror novel is aimed at teen girl readers dealing with cliques and nutty adults.
Renegade Valkyrie, by Stacy Claflin. The main character, Soliel, and Soliel’s world are previously introduced in Clafin’s Curse of the Wolf series, which I didn’t read, so I was at a disadvantage when trying to navigate my way through this dark fantasy novel.
End of Day, by Mae Clair. Eerie monsters from the cemetery, dastardly thugs, and a sweet dog populate this well written, paranormal suspense in which the protagonist, Jillian, must use her empathic gift to save the town from an evil curse.
Atomic Habits is so helpful that I’m reading it twice!
Atomic Habits, by James Clear. Atomic Habits teaches readers how to develop good habits that rely on enjoyment and fulfillment rather than pure will power.
They Came with the Snow, by Christopher Coleman. This novella is a science fiction, apocalyptic, military thriller with really cool cryptids (“snow crabs”) that, unfortunately, didn’t get enough page time.
Stolen Ink, by Holly Evans. Even though the book didn’t hold my interest in the middle chapters, the premise is really cool because Stolen Ink is a murder mystery where the motive involves magical, powerful tattoos, especially dragon tattoos.
Violet Lagoon, by John Everson. This novella about carnivorous spiders and flies horrified me so much I may never go camping again!
Feast, by Thomas Flowers. Don’t read this (slightly preachy) horror novel unless you have a strong stomach because it addresses transgender and racial issues using a bloody, violent plot.
This book was written by a TEENAGER?!
Shadows on the Wall: An Old-Fashioned Gothic Tale of Horror, by Benjamin Fouche. This book, written by a teenager in the style of Poe, genuinely entertained me and gave me shivers.
Atonement, Tennessee, by Teagan Geneviene. Geneviene takes a mythological story and plops it into a modern protagonist’s life for a spooky and engaging chick lit story.
Dinosaur Lake, by Kathryn Meyer Griffith. Jurassic Park meets Godzilla in this creature novel with an awesome, though wordy, plot.
Author Branding: Win Your Readers’ Loyalty & Promote Your Books, by Rayne Hall. I highly recommend this book from Rayne’s Writer’s Craft series because it has exercises and actionable items that help writers present themselves. Which reminds me, I need to upload a new picture of myself and stick it on the home page of my blog.
Practitioners, by Matt Hayward and Patrick Lacey. In this horror novel, a gun-totin’ detective faces monsters in his sleep world, creating a surreal setting that was fun to explore as a reader.
One by One, by Yawatta Hosby. Even though there are some first-novel writing mistakes, I loved the plot of this psychological horror novel, and Hosby has since published a sequel which I’m eager to read.
The Vampire, the Hunter, and the Girl, by Martin Lastrapes. Too much backstory bloats the middle, but excellent fight scenes and an appearance by Dracula (think Christopher Lee’s version) make the book a fun diversion.
Christmas at the Corner, by Andrew Leon. Little did I know, I had picked up a children’s ebook about a family who uses magic (and violence) to fight greedy goblins trying to steal Christmas.
The Worst Is Yet to Come, by S.P. Miskowski. Don’t read this horror novel about youth and witchcraft if you have the blues because Miskowski’s artfully crafted story is full of loss, heartache, turbulent adolescence, and vengeful violence.
White Death, by Christine Morgan. Morgan starts with a fictionalized account of the Children’s Blizzard of 1888, adds a Sioux snow spirit, and builds a horror novel that leaves you terrified of snow and the pale creatures it may hide.
No One Wants to Read Your Sh*t, by Steven Pressfield. This book has tons of helpful writing advice delivered in pithy, uber-short chapters that frustrated me with their length and tone, but props for the eye-catching title.
Never Change, by Shari Sakurai. Never Change is a novelette in Sakurai’s Demon’s Blood universe and portrays a sweet, M/M love story between two vampires during the Christmas season.
Shadow Witch, by J. Thorn and Dan Padavona. Set in medieval times, this dark fantasy novel has forest scenes that are haunting blends of Blair Witch and Hansel and Gretel.
Before I Won, by Tomas Veres. Veres uses a raw, unpolished voice to tell a rags-to-riches, depression-to-happiness journey based on his own life.
I find it encouraging that the more I learn about writing, the more I can identify the techniques authors use (or, oops, fail to use).