One-Sentence Reviews: My 1st Quarter 2022 Reads

I had a delicious list of books to read this past quarter, everything from classic literature to extreme horror. Well, the extreme horror stories weren’t so “delicious.” I definitely needed a sweet romance palate cleanser after those!

Here are my one-sentence reviews for 1st quarter 2022:

The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood. Seriously, Atwood was ahead of her time as this book proves with its questioning of traditional family makeup, its point-of-view manipulation, and its hugely symbolic storyline. Library.

Flesh Rehearsal by Brian Bowyer. Bowyer’s extreme horror novel is written in his signature style that borders on stream-of-consciousness, and I admit that the book went over my head. KU.

Road Narrows by Brian Bowyer. I’m glad I gave Bowyer’s style of writing another shot because this brutal story with high-brow existentialist and theological themes had me in its grip and would not let go! KU.

Good Liniment by C.S. Boyack. OMGosh, this is the weirdest, crime-horror-fantasy mashup I’ve ever read, so creative! KU.

All Over but the Shoutin’ by Rick Bragg is a memoir in Southern Gothic style that reminded me to have compassion for people I don’t like. Christmas gift.

Isn’t “Jasper Peacock” a cool name for a character?

“Jasper Peacock” by Paula Cappa. Cappa’s suspenseful, Gothic short story has the coolest title which is also the murder suspect’s name. Kindle.

Future Tense by Michaelbrent Collings is a science fiction short story collection worth it just for “I Am an Ocean” which explores bliss vs terror when AI gives humanity its deepest desires. ARC from author.

“Salted Earth” by Willow Croft in Neon Druid, an anthology edited by I. E. Kneverday, is a Noah’s Ark retelling with environmental horror overtones and a delightful surprise regarding the two main characters. KU.

Barren Devotion by Carrie Dalby, book 8 in Dalby’s Possession Chronicles series, is a slow burn drama full of family ties, religion, sex, and true love. KU.

Seeking by Cage Dunn. Dunn’s amazing descriptions set the reader’s five senses on fire in this collection of emotional-to-weird-to-dark short stories. Smashwords.

Eclectic Nightmares: Spoken Word Poetry by Jeremy Fee. Like the title implies, there are loads of alliteration, assonance, and internal rhymes to make Fee’s teacher-life poems fun to read out loud. KU.

Who knew fantasy author Deby Fredericks could write such spooky passages?!

“Abandoned in Time” by Deby Fredericks  from the Time Capsules anthology edited by Carol Hightshoe. This is an abandoned house story (haunted or not I won’t say because of spoilers) with loads of creepiness and not-your-typical ending. Kindle.

Dead of Winter: Journey 13 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene. Battle scenes, chaotic goddesses, and a dragon make this penultimate installment of Geneviene’s serial fantasy novel a fast and fabulous read. Kindle.

Storm Dancer by Rayne Hall. Dark, grim passages and complex characters populate this epic fantasy novel that was so real that I actually prayed for one of the characters, forgetting that he was just a character in a book! Kindle.

Just Like Mother by Anne Heltzel. Book clubs will love this book because the engaging, quiet-horror plot raises so many questions about feminism and motherhood. NetGalley.

The New Girls’ Patient by Ruthann Jagge. Brutal violence, cruel men, and a stubborn will to survive combine to make this extreme horror novella a page-turner despite my irritation at a particular character’s passivity. Kindle.

Tyrant’s Rise by Bella Dean Joyner. Joyner, an emerging writer, pens a story of adult siblings who have to deal with a creepy town, an even creepier, old cabin, and very scary “witch’s pets.” Kindle.

Geordie and the Beam of Light by J.D. Holiday is a children’s picture book that had me totally engaged trying to guess what the mysterious light was! KU.

“Trigger” by Tyler Jones from his Burn the Plans short story collection. A Southern Gothic, literary short story with lyrical passages and a gritty plot. KU.

Alma Katsu’s story needed to be told.

The Fervor by Alma Katsu is a spider-filled horror story set mainly in a Japanese internment camp in Idaho, and I could tell the story is very personal to Katsu. NetGalley.

Unlucky Charm by Aidan Lucid. Lucid’s novel is a YA occult story with themes of revenge and guilt, and its fast pace kept me eagerly turning pages. KU.

You’ve Lost a Lot of Blood by Eric LaRocca is a sophisticated mosaic novella with transcripts, footnotes, poetry, and Easter eggs all mixed up to form a compelling horror story. Kindle.

Cannibal Creator by Chad Lutzke. Lutzke creates three-dimensional characters and a surprising new angle to cannibal stories in this fast paced horror novella set on a tropical island. Kindle.

It felt kinda blasphemous getting Hell House for Christmas!

Hell House by Richard Matheson was published in 1971, but it stands the test of time and is still the best possession novel outside of The Exorcist. Christmas gift.

Immortelle by Catherine McCarthy. With an Edwardian Wales setting and lyrical, quotable prose, McCarthy writes a haunting story of a mother’s love and the art of pottery. Kindle.

Aussie Sickos by Simon McHardy. Apparently, McHardy’s goal was to write a story with as much grossness and violence as possible to the point of absurd hilarity. KU.

All of Me by Iseult Murphy. In this body horror novella, Murphy does an excellent job exploring the whys, the effects, and the emotions surrounding obesity (not for those with weak stomachs!). Kindle.

In the Crosshairs by Terry Odell is a contemporary Western set in Colorado complete with cattle rustlers, lightning storms, and a murder mystery (which stumped me on the “howdunnit”). Kindle.

Chouette: There may be blood. There is also compassion for any mother struggling with a child who doesn’t conform to society’s norms. Highly recommended.

Chouette by Claire Oshetsky. Nature goes awry (there may be blood . . . and feathers) in this brilliant, deep point-of-view, allegorical story of motherhood. Kindle.

Insides by Freya Pickard. This expertly penned poetry collection dealing with Pickard’s body’s insides as it fights a cancerous intruder is a gut-punch to the reader. Kindle.

The Insurgent, the sequel to Polen’s Subject A36, will be released May 19th!

Subject A36 by Teri Polen. This YA science fiction story about gene manipulation and designer babies has one exciting twist after another! Kindle.

The Exorcist’s House by Nick Roberts. Roberts takes the possession horror trope, polishes it up, and delivers it new with a gleaming, soul-cutting edge. ARC from Crystal Lake Publishing.

R. Saint Claire aims to publish something every month in 2022. So far she’s meeting her goal! Find her on YouTube.

Women in Trouble by R. Saint Claire. Saint Claire’s prose is dark and dramatic, perfect for this collection of soft-to-intense horror and fantasy stories. (Seriously, she has some gems in this collection.) Kindle.

“Mallard’s Maze” by Joseph Sale in Burnt Fur, an anthology edited by Ken MacGregor, is a literary horror tale using the brutality of nature to portray the difficult, corkscrewed relationships between humans, brutal and brilliant. KU.

“Feeding Babies” by Kristi Petersen Schoonover from The Colour Out of Deathlehem charity anthology (for The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation) edited by Michael J. Evans and Harrison Graves. In this sophisticated winter horror story, grief and a mom’s love play key roles while sounds play up the atmosphere. Kindle.

Mastodon by Steve Stred. The cover art, the Canadian wilderness setting, and the story’s familial love are surprisingly beautiful in this creature-feature horror story. KU.

Sophisticated Beasts by K.M. Strange is a five-star crime novel with despicable villains, heartfelt love, wonderful plot twists, and Strange’s signature erotica scenes (the window scene, OMGosh!). KU.

Between the Vines by Staci Troilo. This delightful romance novella with the theme of words, how they can hurt and how they can heal, made me laugh and made me cry. KU.

Pour It On by Staci Troilo. A clean romance novella centered around a restauranteur and a wine maker, Pour It On had me laughing out loud and left me feeling good. KU.

“Azazel Dances” by Rami Ungar and Richard Gerlach in Dead of Winter: An Anthology presented by the Dublin Creative Writers Cooperative. This is a clever retelling of Romeo and Juliet except this time we get to see the role Azazel the demon plays in all the tragedy. KU.

Blood and Paper Skin, Part 3 by Rami Ungar in The Dark Sire literary journal, issue 10. In this last installment of Ungar’s serial novella, the violence escalates, and a stunning, awesome surprise greets both the main character and the reader! E-zine from the magazine’s website.

I felt like I needed a shower and a brain floss after reading Volpe’s Only Psychos.

Only Psychos by Daniel J. Volpe is an extreme horror novel with shallow characters and an irritating omniscient point of view that felt more like head-hopping, but the book is frightening and impossible to put down. Kindle.

And in other news, it’s almost April, time for a new 34 Orchard literary journal, and this time the journal has one of my stories! Oh, happy days!

Feature image by Debby Hudson on unsplash.

95 thoughts on “One-Sentence Reviews: My 1st Quarter 2022 Reads

    1. I think you would like Chouette in particular. The owl in the story is just being what she’s supposed to be, an owl. (Of course it’s more than just an owl story.) Thanks for commenting, Cage! And Seeking is a fun collection!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Crystal! Thank you for the kind words. I do think you’d like Bragg’s writing. It’s rather journalistic in style instead of novel, but that’s okay for a memoir. I’m glad you popped by.:-)

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Priscilla, you are such a great reader, and writer! These reviews are A+. I recall Matheson’s Hell House from years ago. A classic in my book. Thanks for highlighting Jasper Peacock.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I wanted to request The Fervor from NetGalley, but just couldn’t fit it in. So many books! I’m thrilled you enjoyed Subject A36, and thanks for mentioning the sequel, Priscilla!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oooo! I’m so glad you posted these. I plan on referencing you during one of my workshop presentations about blogging at the Las Vegas Writers Convention. This recap always blows my mind AND helps me find new reads. I had heard about Alma Katsu’s book in particular. Even more curious to read it. However, I also have a dumb question…what is KU? I guess you must’ve always been posting where you read/got the stories but I never paid attention until now. But I can’t figure out what KU is. Help?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My sweet husband gave me a Kindle Unlimited subscription for Christmas (and renewed it again this past Christmas). I can read Kindle Unlimited books free (they are borrowed, not bought) for any authors and publishers who enroll their ebooks in Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program. So that’s what KU is.

      The Fervor was interesting. It was fiction, but I learned a lot about the interment camps and Americans’ distrust of Japanese Americans at the time.

      As always, I’m glad you stopped by, Courtney!


  4. You always read so much and teach me about books and authors I’ve never heard of! Atwood was definitely always ahead of her time, I agree. In the crosshairs sounds really good and I might have to check that one out. Love a good murder mystery that you can’t puzzle out. I am glad to know you liked Larocca’s weird and wonderful book as well. And yay for some poetry being on your list as well!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. After reading her first book (The Edible Woman), I want to read more of Atwood. I had always avoided her books because she is my mother’s fave author, and my mother and I don’t like the same kind of books. I guess now we’ve finally found a common author! Thanks for commenting, Olivia-Savannah.:-)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow! You’ve had quite a reading quarter! I have read one of the novels and loved it (Chouette, but we’ve talked about that already) and have Journey 13 of Dead of Winter on my list (I’m not sure if I’ll get to read it before the final journey is published, but I’m looking forward to it), and must check quite a few (I’m a fan of Atwood but haven’t read The Edible Woman. So many great books, so little time! Oh, and congratulations on your story!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the kind words, Olga! Yes, Chouette is an incredible accomplishment for Oshetsky. I think you would like The Edible Woman. I’m thrilled about the 34 Orchard story. The issue will be published April 25th! I’m glad you stopped by.:-)


  6. Great reviews, as always, Priscilla. I’ll be adding some of these to my reading list. Huge congratulations on the publication of another story! You’re on a roll! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What a list, Priscilla. I think the only one I’ve read is Teri’s Subject A36, but I have a few of these on my kindle. I’m looking forward to the conclusion of Dead of Winter too. Your list of books read is amazing. Thanks for all the recommendations.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow what a list, Priscilla. I love this format, as I’ve said before. A few of these have caught my interest: Just Like Mother, You’ve Lost a Lot of Blood (just for the title-how can you not want to know what it’s about?) and Edible Woman because I like Margaret Atwood! I also agree that “Jasper Peacock” is a cool name! Thanks for taking the time to post all these reviews 🙂

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