One-Sentence Reviews: My 2nd Quarter 2021 Reads

These are the books I read in April, May, and June along with a one-sentence review of each. (And what’s with today’s feature image?) Alpha by author or editor:

The Encampment by the Gorge & Blood Memory by Zachary Ashford is a Short Sharp Shocks book with two stories set in Australia that include folk horror, politics, crocodiles, and high stakes. KU.

Even if you don’t like apocalypse stories, Nightfall’s artsy cover by Daniele Serra is worth drooling over.

Nightfall by Daniel Barnett. Barnett manages to make lyrical prose sound masculine to suit the tough SOB protagonist in this apocalyptic novel, the first in a series. KU.

“The Corn Witch” by Christopher Beck. This novelette in the Short Sharp Shocks series (love this series) features a witch as scary as Bradbury’s dust witch even if the prose isn’t as polished as the master’s. KU.

The Sound of Brilliance ed by Susi Bocks. Short, accessible, quality poems populate this anthology and speak of everything from philosophy to science fiction. KU.

Whispers of the Sea & Other Stories by L.R. Bonehill. In Short Sharp Shocks book number 22 (did I mention how I love this series?), Bonehill combines beautiful prose with atmospheric settings to tell three stories of parental love and grief. KU.

Poetry Treasures ed by Kaye Lynne Booth and Roberta Eaton Cheadle. This anthology of pleasant, funny, and thoughtful poems is a perfect palate cleanser if you’ve just read something particularly dark. I won this book through a blog hop giveaway.:-)

Seriously, what are these images?

“Wild Darkness” by Paula Cappa. In this slow burn, eerie, image-filled short story, an American Indian spirit guides a woman at the end of her life. Kindle.

A Ghost and His Gold by Roberta Eaton Cheadle is a dual timeline ghost story that explores the brutality of the Great South African War at the turn of the last century and has one of the best character arcs I’ve ever read in a contemporary character named Tom. Lulu ebook.

Synchronicity by Michaelbrent Collings is a techno thriller with an evil genius, a kickass woman, a troubled protagonist, and a wise, older man all thrown together in a fast paced plot with lots of explosions and gun fights, making this story seriously suitable for the big screen. ARC.

“Dinner for Five” by Joan De La Haye. A food critic ends up at a scary restaurant in this fun short story with lots of “ew!” factor. Freebie story from the author’s blog.

Of Men and Monsters by Tom Deady is an easy-to-read, action-filled, YA horror story in which the “sea monkeys” (probably not actually sea monkeys!) are the A-story while respectfully addressed family troubles are the B-story. KU.

The Creative Curve by Allen Gannett is a nonfiction, research-rich book that all creative peeps (meaning you, yes, you) really should read. Kindle.

“The Woman Shrouded in Flies” by Nicholas Gray. Gray spends too much time getting the story going in this coming-of-age novelette with a likeable kid and his horrid dad, but props for the cool title and the equally cool cover. Paperback purchase.

Paths Best Left Untrodden by Kev Harrison. Harrison’s short story collection ranges from Gothic ghost fiction to futuristic occultist horror and has made Harrison an auto-buy author for me. KU.

If you’ve never read a serial novel, Geneviene’s Dead of Winter is a great place to start.

Dead of Winter, Journeys 4, 5, and 6 by Teagan Riordain Geneviene are installments in Geneviene’s fantasy serial novel and deliver a spirit-filled story, a coming-of-age journey, and a cerebral exploration. Kindle.

Armageddon House by Michael Griffin. This dystopian science fiction novella with a literary bent is existential horror at its best! Kindle.

The Plus by Greg Gutfeld. Although I thought I’d be brave and read a nonfiction political book, it turns out this book is not very political at all, but is snarky-funny and encourages people from both sides of the aisle to listen, be an uplifting person, and not be a jerk. Kindle.

Cold Dark Night by Joan Hall. This multi-murder mystery and police procedural has a wonderfully strong sense of place in its small town, New Mexico setting, and delightful characters. KU.

“House of Sorrow” by Joan Hall. This prequel to Hall’s Cold Dark Night is a perfect intro to Hall’s Madeira, New Mexico, mystery series with Hall’s signature sweet characters and strong sense of place. KU.

The Curse of Marsden Hall by Debbie Johansson is a Gothic novella set in the late 1800s in Australia and features wonderfully sensory prose and spooky ghosts, Johansson’s best story yet. ARC.

Unknowing I Sink by Timothy Huguenin. If you liked Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (or the movie version, Blade Runner) you will love this weird-horror, literary novella. Kindle.

“The Devil’s Portion” by Benedict J. Jones. This novelette set just after the Bolshevik revolution in Russia is another in the Short Sharp Shocks series and shows how military officers are in charge of everything but village lore. My fave SSS book yet! KU.

My Heart Is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones. I like SGJ’s writing style, I really do, but those familiar with popular horror flicks will enjoy this wordy book more than I did. NetGalley.

Maybe some kind of batik?

Absolute Unit by Nick Kolakowski. The POV character is a plural first-person, sentient parasite (how cool is that?!) that gets the human hosts in absurd, hilarious situations, but the political waxing of the parasites sounded like authorial intrusion and knocked me out of the story; otherwise it’s fab. ARC from the publisher.

“Punished” by L.V. Lane is a science fiction, erotica novelette that made me very uncomfortable with its portrayal of dubious consent even if it is well written and even if the encounters might be all in the protagonist’s head. KU.

Helminth by S. Alessandro Martinez has an intriguing plot about occult horrors, but the scenes with family and friends lack tension and fall flat. KU.

Extermination Days by David Massengill is a creepy, short collection of stories having to do with infectious proteins, spiders, and toxic flying bugs, and is one of the Short Sharp Shocks series. (Love SSS!) KU.

Dead Inside by Chandler Morrison is the best extreme horror story I’ve ever read because it has a literary flare, three-dimensional characters, and humor, but it is NOT for those with weak stomachs as it uses taboo topics (that I won’t even mention here) as plot devices. KU.

“No Place Like Home” by Iseult Murphy. This short horror story is Murphy at her best because she does such a good job showing the effects of a dismal childhood on adult children. A freebie from the author for joining her street team.:-)

Survival of the Fittest by Jacqui Murray. This novel takes place in the coolest setting ever, almost a million years ago, with peoples and animals from the Paleolithic Age. KU.

Twisted: Tainted Tales by Janine Pipe. Pipe’s debut collection is packed with fun and gory genre stories. KU.

Seeking the Dark by Paula R.C. Readman. I didn’t think anyone could come up with yet another twist on vampires, but Readman does in this novel with truly likable dual protagonists. KU.

Remembering the Dead by R. Saint Claire. This collection of poetry and fiction contains my favorite Saint Claire story ever, “Father Angelo,” about a priest at a parochial school, the devil who walks the Earth with his Cerebus-like dogs, honest Catholicism, and real life struggles. Kindle.

The Beast of Backar by K.M. Strange. Strange skillfully weaves mystery and erotica together in this page-turner novella, the first in a new series. KU.

Unravelled by K.M. Strange. OMGosh, a weird horror erotica novella by a talented storyteller, pretty awesome. KU.

“Hoppers” by Isaac Thorne is supposed to be a funny short story about the (bloody!) attack of the killer rabbits, but the humor didn’t come through for me. Kindle.

There must be a story behind these.

Pine by Francine Toon. Literary horror that was too slow for me (and I usually like a slow burn), but props for the gorgeous cover art! A hardcover Christmas gift.:-)

The Dark Magazine, June 2021 ed by Sean Wallace has four literary, weird-horror stories from around the world. I bought this issue because it’s well worth it, but you can read the stories free online.

The Girl From Rawblood by Catriona Ward. Bummer, how can Ward’s latest book be so good and this earlier, historical Gothic be so sluggish? DNF. Library loan.

The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward. Ward gets inside the mind of a teenager looking for her long-ago kidnapped little sister in this disturbing, slow burn, brilliant book that portrays trauma’s lasting effects. NetGalley.

Dissect My Fragile Brain by Kim Yudelowitz. This poetry collection about the poet’s love for her late father made me uncomfortable. (As I type this, the collection has all five-star reviews at Amazon, so I am definitely in the minority.) KU.

Our family did a craft project this weekend, reverse tie-dye with bleach. It’s fun and a good project for (almost) all ages, cheap, too, if you don’t go buying designer tee shirts or anything. Today’s blog post images are the result.:-)

Happy reading, happy July!

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