One-Sentence Reviews: My 3rd Quarter 2020 Reads

During the past quarter I read a bunch of awesome horror (and other) books, but I had a DNF, too.:-(

“A Good Provider” by Willian F. Aicher. Frank, the main income-earning for his family, is scared of the dark . . . and he should be. I dare ya to read this story in the dark using only the light of your e-reader.:-)

Guns of Perdition by Jessica Bakkers. Western splatterpunk at its best with a no-nonsense, gun-slinging protagonist, Grace, and her adorable sidekick, Jessie, who had me all teary-eyed at the end.

Fort by Rob Boley. It’s not a perfect story, but I admire Boley’s creative concept of placing a kid in a blanket fort (you know, like those indoor clubhouses we all made when we were kids and then got in trouble for disassembling the living room couch) for four years while the apocalypse rages on outside.

I can’t believe I felt sorry for a serial killer!

In the Garden of Spite by Camilla Bruce. In this superb, historical, literary novel about the serial killer Belle Gunness, Bruce made me feel sorry for Belle and terrified of her at the same time.

The Garden of Bewitchment by Catherine Cavendish is an historical, Gothic, haunted house story featuring two spinsters and a dollhouse-type toy, and I LOVED this story with its rich details, nod to Victorian sensibilities, moor setting, powerful ghosts, and numerous secrets. I was flabbergasted that some reviewers gave this story only meh-reviews because it’s a five star book!

Climbing Over Grit by Marzeeh Laleh Chini is Chini’s real-life horror story about growing up in Iran.

Is he human or alien?

“The Scout” by D.L. Cross. In this science fiction, planetary-exploration short story, Cross cleverly hides the protagonist’s identity until the very end, increasing the suspense as to whether or not the protagonist is a human or alien.

Targeted by L.A. Daane. I wish I could say I enjoyed this debut, science fiction, horror novel, but the political proselytizing was too strong for a good reading experience.

The Priest of Orpagus by P.C. Darkcliff. I’m not the right audience for this occult story featuring an American teacher in Turkey, but I can see why other readers dig this demon-fighting adventure.

“Workhorse” by Syon Das is an extreme horror short story with lots of bloody acts that seem gratuitous, but Das takes you inside the head of the villain so you understand the disturbing “why” of the violence.

Ramblings of an artistic genius.

The Writing Life by Annie Dillard. This book about Dillard’s writing philosophy is best described as ramblings of an artistic genius. (I actually loved the book, but I almost sprained my brain reading it.)

Gabby Makes a Friend by Chris Elle Dove. Yes, I read a toddler’s book, but it’s a delightful story about how things change with time, and it’d make a great gift for a young one.

Bottled by Stephanie Ellis is a modern Gothic horror novel with a phantasmagoric twist and a unique concept (secret worlds inside the bottles), but I was bothered that the protagonist Tyler had little agency in the storyline.

Hunger on the Chisholm Trail by M. Ennenbach. Everybody loves this splatterpunk Western, but I didn’t because of the way the omniscient point-of-view danced across the plot without giving me a chance to understand the characters. This was my DNF.:-(

The best graphic novel I’ve ever read.

History of Her Future by Ron Falzone and Julian Grant. This dark, sophisticated, historical fiction story about Lizzie Borden is hands down the best graphic novel I’ve ever read.

The Isle by John C. Foster. Delightfully Gothic, yes, atmospheric, yes, a three-dimensional protagonist, yes . . . but I couldn’t get past the luscious, overdone prose that got in the way of the plot.:-(

Show, Don’t Tell by Sandra Gerth. In this writing book for newer writers, Gerth clearly explains how to spot “telling” and how to “show” instead.

The cancer part is real.

“The Thing in the Ward” by Nicholas Gray. Gray is a cancer survivor, and you can tell he called upon his experience when writing this engaging novelette because it’s so real. (Well, the hair-raising Thing isn’t real, at least I hope not.)

“Dead of Winter” by Lionel Ray Green. Green uses a frigid winter setting to increase the scare factor in this short story about abduction with a twist that I did NOT see coming!

“Tap” by Lionel Ray Green is a tension-filled short story about road rage, and it’s so frightening because road rage is real.

Suburban Secrets by Tiffany Renee Harmon. In this fun, fast-paced whodunit with a feminine vibe, Harmon creates a relatable protagonist, Angela, whom I couldn’t help but cheer for.

Silly me, I thought it was cricket the game, not cricket the bug.

Cricket Hunters by Jeremy Hepler. Kids hunt crickets with sticks in this coming-of-age (light) horror story infused with a murder mystery and suburban witches, and Hepler nails the plot twists to maximize the suspense.

Urban Legends by Yawatta Hosby is a New Adult slasher novella that strings the reader along because you can’t tell who the real villain is until near the end, great fun!

“Wait for Night” by Stephen Graham Jones. Using vivid prose, Graham tells a gripping horror story about zebra characters but without ever using the word “zebra.” (Except they’re not zebras; they’re something else, and I didn’t want to give it away and ruin readers’ fun.) Five fantastic stars!

Not, you know (trashy stuff).

Interludes 2 by Harmony Kent. This collection of 10 erotica short stories puts a fresh spin on sex scenes, and I never felt like I was reading, you know (trashy stuff), because Kent is a good storyteller regardless the genre.

The Midnight Lullaby by Cheryl Low. In this modern Gothic haunted house story that doubles as a murder mystery, the plot is a tad predictable, but it’s a fun read nonetheless, especially if you enjoy mystery stories.

Not Again, Grandma by Joy Nwosu Lo-Bamijoko. In this story for early-reader children, Lo-Bamijoko addresses a serious subject, age-related dementia, through the eyes of a forgetful grandmother who leans on her Catholic faith, sensitive and well-done.

Never Trust a Demon, Never Wake a Nightmare, and Never Love an Angel (Books 2-4 in the Never series) by Kelly Martin. YA isn’t my normal go-to, but Martin’s breezy prose is a nice change of pace, and I liked the scary angel-demon-human fight scenes and especially enjoyed the final book which had me in tears.

The Emissary 3: Love Hurts by Marcia Meara is the third book in Meara’s angelic trilogy, and this feel-good, sweet story seeks to define what real love is.

The perfect ending . . . for a horror story.:-)

“Out at Sea” by Aiden Merchant. Hooray, a creature-feature short story that’s gory and fun with a killer of an ending!

“The Squirming Disease” by Aiden Merchant is wonderfully gross and buggy and will make you “squirm.” Do not read with a stomach full of food.

A Stick of Doublemint by Gene O’Neill is a contemporary, crime-noir novella with an old-school vibe, and the story features a detective duo with hints of the supernatural, perfect for readers who like pulp fiction.

A buddy read with my handsome husband.<3

Little Fuzzy by H. Beam Piper. The hubster and I buddy-read this classic science fiction story which reflects sexist viewpoints and cheesy writing style of the time (1962) , but it raises the interesting discussion question of how do you prove sentience?

The Possession of Natalie Glasgow by Hailey Piper. The entity that possesses the 11-year-old girl is beastly, ravenous, heavy, and deadly, and it has a specific reason for being in the Glasgows’ house . . . a superb possession novella.

“Conscience” by Jonathan Pongratz is a science fiction short story with a high-stakes premise involving societal thought control, and I flinched at the deftly written scenes of blood and gore.

No One’s Home by D.M. Pulley. This modern Gothic horror story is atmospheric and thematic (addressing wealthy privilege), and it’s an engaging read even if the omniscient point-of-view isn’t perfectly handled.

The Midwives by Duncan Ralston. This is my second Ralston book, and like the first, it’s almost my cup of tea, but I had a hard time connecting with the characters.

Art and the serial killer.

Stone Angels by Paula R.C. Readman. OMGosh, what a sophisticated, character-driven, serial-killer novel with lots of art world details, I loved this one!

Unsafe Words by Loren Rhoads. In this collection of dark short stories, Rhoad’s polished, skillful prose drew me into the characters’ fears and sufferings and left me pleasantly disturbed. Not for the weak-kneed.

To Be Devoured by Sara Tantlinger is an emotional tale about Andi, a woman whose grief and anger steer her toward unusual ways of eating. Poor Andi, this one “gutted” me.

The Haunting of Cabin Green by April A. Taylor. Seems like a lot of folks enjoyed this modern Gothic tale with a progressive message, but the prose rubbed me the wrong way with its passivity and its ability to distance me from the Ben, the protagonist.

Gutterbreed by Marty Young is a crime thriller with a supernatural bent, a creative, purgatory-like setting, and menacing, other-realm creatures, but crud, I got lost in the meandering plot.

For the feature image in this post, I learned how to create a grid of smaller images. All the cool kids do it, and it was fun, but I don’t think it suits the aesthetic of my blog, so I probably won’t do it again. Besides, I see now that it doesn’t come through as a grid on the email notification or on the home page, blech.

63 thoughts on “One-Sentence Reviews: My 3rd Quarter 2020 Reads

  1. It looks like you were able to read quite a few books and short stories during the third quarter of the year. I love how varied your choices here are. It sounds like you had a lot of luck with most of them. I do love it when an author can make me feel for the killer!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did have a pretty good reading quarter even if all the stories weren’t fabulous. This quarter is starting off well, too. I’m reading The Malan Witch by Cavendish. Thanks for stopping by, Jonny!

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  2. Wow, you have truly read so much lately! And lots of books with dark themes, which is something I do like reading about. While I have not read any of these myself I do want to read something by Stephen Graham Jones!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t read as much as you do, Olivia-Savannah (yes, I know, it’s not a competition). I have novellas and short stories on the list, so it just looks like I’ve read a lot. You could try Stephen Graham Jones’ “Wait for Night” short story to see if you like his style of writing. I’m glad you stopped by.:-)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow. I loved this list and how you handled your DNF. That was fun to see which one you couldn’t get through! But you also led me to some great new reading. I added “A Good Provider,” In the Garden of Spite The Garden of Bewitchment, “Dead of Winter”, and Urban Legends to my Amazon Books to Read list. They all sound interesting, but these were the ones that appealed to me most. I also LOVED that you have a sort of book club with your hub! Always so impressed at these lists and how much your read!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Courtney. Our next hubby-wifey buddy read is The Splendid and the Vile, a non-fiction book about Winston Churchill. I’m not a history buff, so this might be a challenge for me, we’ll see.:-) I’m glad you stopped by!

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