One-Sentence Reviews: My 2nd Quarter 2022 Reads

This quarter includes stories about Bigfoot, Vikings, amateur sleuths, and Gothic ghosts!

The Devil Took Her by Michael Botur is a gritty and compelling collection of horror short stories with subjects like gangs and rats rather than werewolves and specters. Kindle.

Autumn Gothic by Brian Bowyer. Despite the title, my favorite Bowyer book yet is more extreme horror than Gothic horror, and NONE of his characters are safe. KU.

Whodunit? I was clueless until the end!

Double Date Disaster by Hope Callaghan. A cute, Golden Girls type of cast made this a fun cozy mystery. Whodunit? I was clueless until the end! Kudos to Callaghan for stumping me. KU.

Murder in a Dream by Thea Cambert. Happy people in happy places with nice conversations don’t make a cozy mystery very exciting, but readers’ mileage may vary. KU.

The nice-guy prince of horror wrote a YA space adventure?!

Light-Years from Home by Michaelbrent Collings. OMGosh, the super nice man who writes bloody, violent thrillers wrote a cute, chatty YA space adventure. Advanced copy from author.

Egyptian adventures!

She Who Returns by Audrey Driscoll. The sequel to She Who Comes Forth wraps up France Leighton’s Egyptian adventures with a storyline I couldn’t predict and a protagonist I’ve come to love. KU.

Blackened Rose by Cage Dunn. I am a fan of Dunn’s short fiction, but this novel-length, supernatural crime story didn’t suit me because of the long contemplative passages, but I dug the noir prose. KU.

“Bigfoot: A Short Story” by D.L. Finn. Using mostly blog posts for narration gives this light-horror story an au currant feel and presents a different theory of our relationship with the cryptid creature. Kindle.

A Voice in the Silence by D.L. Finn. Finn combines talking animals, domestic suspense, paranormal mystery, and romance for a story that left me with happy tears. KU.

Grief as a character.

Almost Ruth by Tyler Jones. With Jones’ skilled writing, grief becomes a character, and though this is a horror story, it’s more of the dread kind, not the slasher kind. KU.

Life & Soul by Harmony Kent. OMGosh, what an awesome poetry collection of emotional, life-exposing, soul-touching pieces! KU.

Red by Jack Ketchum. Ketchum’s classic story about a man and his dog is two parts psychological horror and one part gorgeous descriptions (ala Flannery O’Connor, honest descriptions in that they don’t avert the reader’s gaze). KU.

“Tapped” by Axl Malton is the author’s debut short story and a fun exploration of the revenge-horror trope. KU.

Can a character be too pleasant?

Coffee & Corpses by Maisy Marple. A cozy mystery with a pleasant main character, maybe too pleasant. KU.

The Bad Ones by Kelly Martin. Book two in Martin’s The Red Mirror series of middle grade books employs Martin’s chatty style, warm characters, and goose-bumpy mirror scenes. Kindle.

“Bunnies” by Simon McHardy and Sean Hawker. I am an experienced horror reader, but even my stomach was turned by this extreme horror short story of rabbits gone mad. (Trigger warnings as long as your arm.) Ebook from Potter’s Grove Press.

Folk horror set in Croatia.

It Eats Us from the Inside by Antonija Meznaric. The slow, dread-filled pace of this folk horror novella set in near future Croatia won’t suit everyone, but I loved the atmospheric dread, the diverse cast, the dog, and the ambiguous passages that made me think. Advanced copy from publisher.

Bishop by Candace Nola. There are geography and weather errors in this genre creature-feature set in Alaska, and the setup takes awhile, but once the creatures are on stage, it’s a fast and fun story that had me rooting for the good guys. KU.

Dancing in the Shadows ed by Elaine Pascale and Rebeca Rowland is a charity anthology tribute to Anne Rice with strong writing and a good cause (Animal Rescue of New Orleans). KU.

The Insurgent by Teri Polen. Book two of Polen’s YA science fiction duology is packed full of action scenes and surprise twists broken up by calm moments of internal monologue. NetGalley.

Beware of black-eyed children.

The BEK Curse by Johnathan Pongratz. This harrowing novelette takes a sweet, almost-retired couple and puts them through the ringer when they encounter the black-eyed children of urban legend. KU.

Fugue Devil: Resurgence by Stephen Mark Rainey is a collection of cosmic horror short stories penned by an experienced storyteller and possessing a strong sense of place, mostly in North Carolina or West Virginia. Bonus points for cool cover art by Daniele Serra. Advanced copy from publisher.

34 Orchard, Issue 5, Spring 2022, ed by Kristi Petersen Schoonover. I love this dark literary journal, and the spring issue is no exception with its sophisticated storytelling, emotive poetry, and contemplative illustrations. Free download from the 34 Orchard website.

Viking zombies!

The Again-Walkers by Deborah Sheldon. How awesome that Sheldon puts a new spin on zombies by setting her zombie novelette in the Viking era, before zombies were called zombies (thus the “again-walkers”). KU.

Jagged Feathers by Jan Sikes. Sikes mixes psychic fiction, romance, and crime to produce what’s ultimately a satisfying love story (and I got a kick out of the way Nakina’s grandmother kept popping into scenes). Kindle.

Steampunk Scooby Doo!

The Ghostly Tower by A.F. Stewart is the first novella in Stewart’s lighthearted, steampunk, supernatural mystery series, like a steampunk Scooby Doo for grownups! Kindle.

Sweet and Milky by K.M. Strange. This incredibly bizarre fetish erotica story had me captivated from the first page with a mashup of crime, romance, and Strange’s signature sense of humor. KU.

An extra thumbs-up for a bold twist on the cozy trope.

Cooking the Books by Chelsea Thomas is an almost-formulaic cozy mystery except the main character is not the main (amateur) sleuth, and that gets an extra thumbs-up from me for a bold twist on the trope. KU.

The Pure World Comes by Rami Ungar. This is a reread for me, and the Gothic horror story with its mad scientist and ghosts and portals was just as fun the second time around. Kindle.

Mephisto Disco by Simon Paul Wilson. Wilson’s debut collection of short horror stories has the disappearing kind of prose that puts the plot and characters front and center for an engaging, scary experience. KU.

What’s up with today’s feature image? What does a spider have to do with books? Nothing. It’s just a photo of a female red-backed jumping spider, the first visitor to our new home. Isn’t she pretty?!

97 thoughts on “One-Sentence Reviews: My 2nd Quarter 2022 Reads

  1. Your photo makes that spider look bigger than it is, which I’m sure was quite terrifying for someone. After all, you could fit two of them on a single penny (thought I wouldn’t recommend it, lol).
    Thanks again for the mention. I appreciate you spreading the word. And I actually have Mephisto Disco on my Kindle. I’m just trying to get to it!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Actually, it’s the size of a quarter. We’ve seen several that big. I don’t know what they’re eating around here, but apparently it’s pretty nutritious! Mephisto Disco is fun, happy reading! And I’m glad to give The Pure World a(nother) mention. It’s a fab book. Thanks for commenting, Rami.:-)

      Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s the size of a quarter. Rami (commenter above) says they aren’t that big, but we’ve seen several now, and all but one were rather big. We have a gazillion grasshoppers, so maybe they’re eating a lot of grasshoppers. Yeah, they jump. Very fast, so fast you can’t follow the jump with your eyes! They bite, but they’re not aggressive, so you just gotta make sure you don’t step on one or something (found one in the mailbox… ).
      Your She Who books rock, Audrey! Thanks for commenting.:-)

      Liked by 3 people

  2. What a good mix of reviews this quarter, Priscilla. I’ve got ‘The BEK Curse’ on my list and look forward to reading it.

    I’m glad to hear you’ve found a new home, and I hope everything is going well. I’m not sure about the spiders, though!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t mind the spiders as long as they stay outside. That one was actually on the inside of a window when we took the picture. I hope you enjoy The BEK Curse. It’s a popular urban myth around here. I wonder if black-eyed kids are talked about or seen in other parts of the world. Thanks for commenting, Debbie!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. So I was almost put off your email because of the spider, then found out it had nothing to do with the reviews anyway, it was just there to scare me – THEN find out it JUMPS!!! This, this is the stuff of my nightmares. WTG Priscilla, lol (oh, and good reviews BTW)

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Totally freaked out by the fab photo of the spider who is your new home!!! 🙂 Amazing photo, and wishing you all the best in your new home! I love your one sentence reviews, such a great idea. A few of these are already on my TBR but now I have more to add to the list! Thanks for the book tips!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. The spider almost gave me heart failure, lol 😂! Wonderful one-line reviews. I’m thrilled you loved Life & Soul as much as you did! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, Priscilla. Have a great day 💕🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I love your eclectic list of topics and reviews, Priscilla!

    Your spider photo reminded me of a time before fire ants, free to lie back on the green lawn and enjoy summer. My best friend told a funny story, and I laughed — all fun and games until a spider jumped into my mouth.

    On that day, I became a serial spider killer.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. HI Priscilla, what a wonderful selection of books you have read. I also really enjoyed The Insurgent and Life & Soul. I have the books by Cage and Audrey on my TBR. Some of the horror short story collections and novellas sounds right up my street. I also have a few of Denise’s books on my TBR and I like your summary reviews of both of hers.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I love your one-line reviews, Priscilla. You give the author marketing words. 🙂 Thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to read Jagged Feathers and I am thrilled that you enjoyed it. I’ve read several of the books you have listed but see a few more that grab my attention!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jacqui! There are some gems for sure. I think you would like She Who Returns (but read the first book if you haven’t, She Who Comes Forth); something tells me you’d enjoy the ancient Egyptian parts. I’m glad you stopped by!


  9. Another batch of great reviews! And I once again love your awesome formatting! Not sure how you do those blue boxes, but they’re so much fun! Double Date Disaster sounds so fun. Love that it’s a Golden Girls type cast but the series is Garden Girls. SO clever! And the BEK Curse, The Again-Walkers and the Ghostly Tower all caught my eye. THANK YOU for pointing me towards some new reads!

    Liked by 1 person

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