For the last quarter of 2022, I endeavored to read a book or story from every author whose blog I follow. At first I thought I’d bitten off more than I can chew, but the holidays gave me extra reading time. I enjoyed the variety of genres and writing styles and found some real gems. I’m just nervous that I overlooked someone. (Hope not!) In reverse alphabetical order by authors’ last names, here are my one-sentence reviews for 4th quarter 2022:
The Life and Times of Le Bronco von der Lowenhohle by Thomas Wikman who is donating proceeds to the Leonberger Health Foundation International. I totally recommend this feel-good memoir about a family and their Loenberger dog because it made me laugh, stew with anger, cry happy-sad tears, and taught me about the noble Leonberger breed. Kindle.
Musings, Volume 1, by Kent Wayne. I think anyone who likes to understand both sides of an argument would enjoy this philosophical collection of Wayne’s journal-blog entries, some no more than a sentence long. KU.
“Is Anyone There?” by Rami Ungar in That Which Cannot Be Undone: An Ohio Horror Anthology, edited by Jess Landry. A solid ghost story with an added bonus that the actions of the “blond man” in the story are autobiographical. (I know because I follow Rami’s blog!) E-book through Kickstarter campaign.
If you liked C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia…
The Lucky Diamond by Valinora Troy. If you liked C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, you will like Troy’s Middle Grade fantasy world that includes danger, colors galore, an evil queen, and (get this) a sentient diamond. Kindle.
Breaking the Code by David Lee Summers. Summers takes skinwalkers, witchcraft, and Navajo code talkers and places them in a historical WWII stateside setting for an exciting, fast-paced read that never gets too gruesome. Kindle.
“Pure Trash: The Story” by Bette A. Stevens. Stevens presents a nostalgic, slice-of-life short story about a pair of country kids whose brotherly love for one another cannot be shaken by the snooty attitudes of the townsfolk. KU.
“Wisps” by Steve Stred from Books of Horror: Community Anthology Vol. 2. Summer of ’42 meets the Dunnie (a folkloric ocean cryptid) in this engaging horror story with an ending I did NOT see coming! KU.
A real-life encounter with the paranormal.
“Floor Song Tango” by Kristi Petersen Schoonover in the Out of Time: True Paranormal Encounters anthology edited by Beverly Bernard. Schoonover’s nonfiction piece about growing up in a haunted house left my hands shaking and my breath shallow, and it’s delivered with exquisite style. KU.
“The Divide” by Damir Salkovic in the Resonator anthology ed by Scott Jones. Salkovic tells a story of existential horror at its finest when he proposes a future so advanced that human minds naively gain Godlike access to all information from all time. KU.
This is a re-read for me, and it’s just as romantic the second time around.
Deep Level by Richard E. Rock. Rock sets his scary horror novel in abandoned sections of the London underground (rats! slime!) and keeps the reader in suspense by telling the story in non chronological order. KU.
“Still Life with Shattered Glass” by Loren Rhoads in the Tales for the Campfire charity anthology ed by Loren Rhoads. Sherry goes to a posh, artists party, and I thought the title hinted at the disturbing plot, but it was much, much more chilling! KU.
Dark Roots of Evil by A. Renfro. This is a domestic thriller that takes an unassuming stay-at-home dad, gets him on the bad side of very bad guys, unfolds at breakneck speed, and lands with a satisfying ending. Coming soon! (Beta read from author.)
“Journey of the Heart” by Paula R.C. Readman in Journeys: The Writers Journey Blog ed by Elaine Marie Carnegie-Padgett & Kerri Jesmer. Readman’s short story about the “cobweb of possibilities” in our life-journeys reads like a fairy tale with a sweet ending. KU.
A God for All Seasons by Cecilia Marie Pulliam. This is an undated Christian devotional in which Pulliam reflects on how God has directed her path, how He sustained her through difficulties, and what it’s like to experience miracles as a (self-described) ordinary woman. KU.
“To Getting What We Deserve” by Teri Polen in the Quantum Wanderlust anthology. This science fiction short story uses time travel, an eco-disaster future, and a scheming businessman to tell a tale of…heh-heh-hehhhh, satisfying revenge. Kindle.
Grounding and meditative.
This Is Me by Freya Pickard. This collection of poetry features short, metrical poems about Pickard’s experience with cancer, frustrations in the working world, and observations about nature for a grounding, meditative reading experience. Kindle.
“The Frog Prince” by JeanMarie Olivieri in the Pinesong anthology ed by Sherri Pedersen-Thrasher. Olivieri’s award-winning poem is a “charming” (haha, you’ll get it in a sec) and unique take on the prince-cum-frog fairy-tale. Free pdf download from poet’s website.
Natural Selection by Jacqui Murray. I wish when I was learning about ancient peoples in school that our textbooks were like all three books in Murray’s Dawn of Humanity series: fascinating, well researched, and story-driven. KU.
“Return to Hades” by Iseult Murphy in her collection Return to Hades and Other Adventures. In the titular story, space fiction with a heartfelt message that will resonate with dog lovers meets sophisticated allegory for a brilliantly told, sensitive tale. KU.
“The Shadow Stalker” by C. Le Mroch. Mroch posts interesting content on her Haunt Jaunts site (interviews, paranormal findings, reviews of horror movies, etc.), but she can write fiction, too, as I found out when I read “The Shadow Stalker,” one of the best ghost stories I’ve ever read about a pregnant woman and the apparition who’s stalking her. KU.
Miret worked in the psychiatric field for years.
Family, Lust and Cameras by Olga Nunez Miret. Miret’s domestic suspense novella has a disturbing, real-life edge to it, no doubt owing to the fact that Miret worked in the psychiatric field for years. KU.
“Best Friends Forever” by Ashley Manning https://ashleymanning.com/, a horror short story that will remind you of your childhood lovey, but all messed up.:-) Free on Manning’s blog.
“Ill Met by Moonlight” by Frazer Lee in Castle of Horror Anthology Volume 7 ed by Jason Henderson and In Churl Yo. An entertaining Gothic love tale, with an unfortunate amount of backstory, that nonetheless ends on a howling good note. KU.
Sorrowful Soul by Harmony Kent. In Kent’s poetry collection about the stages of grief, she walks the reader through to the end where time has passed and there is hope, an ultimately a feel-good collection. KU.
Best Friends and Other Lovers by J.F. Kaufmann. When a literary author applies her skills to contemporary romance stories with three-dimensional characters and erotic encounters, the result is this sensuous collection. Kindle.
Laugh, cry, pray, and cheer.
Winding Road: A Journey of Survival by Miriam Hurdle. Hurdle takes the reader on a journey from cancer diagnosis, through a horrific six-month treatment, to healing. It’s a journey that will make you laugh, pray, cry, and cheer. KU.
The Contract: between heaven and earth by John W. Howell and Gwen M. Plano. This novel is an amazing mashup of military-thriller, romance, and faith-fiction with nail-biting fight scenes and touching love scenes. KU.
Unscripted #1 and Unscripted #2 by Yawatta Hosby are a pair of slice-of-life comics starring a musician who is brought to life in vivid colors, dramatic facial expressions, and expressive body language. Physical comics through Kickstarter campaign.
A Holy Errand by Fawn Hoener. If I didn’t already believe in miracles, I would after reading A Holy Errand, a feel-good memoir of a Hospice nurse that made me cry tears of joy over stories of dying. KU.
“Gold Wings” by Joan Hall in the Quantum Wonderlust: 13 Time Travel Tales anthology. My favorite Joan Hall story to date, “Gold Wings” is a time slip tale with gentle, entwining love stories and a sweet ending. Kindle.
“All Aboard” by KC Grifant. You know the 1961 Twilight Zone episode “The Shelter”? Yeah, Grifant’s story is disturbing like that, but relevant to our times, chilling story! Free ezine at Orchard 34, Issue 6.
“Scarecrow Road” by Lionel Ray Green. I was glued to this hair-raising short story, set on Halloween in a rural area at night (already scary, eh?), to see if a certain character would survive the Scarecrow. KU.
“Silver Moon Christmas” by Lakota Grace. In this sweet Christmas story that made me tear up at the end, Ran Hollander is trying to create the perfect family Christmas in her Victorian mansion, but the weather and the turkey aren’t cooperating! KU.
“The Wank Diaries” by Peter Germany. Germany goes beyond a mere pandemic story and mashes it with an oppressive governmental regime and something else that I can’t say (spoilers) but made for a gripping read! Available on Peter’s Ko-fi page for a very small donation.
A Peril in Ectoplasm: Just Once More by Teagan Riordain Geneviene. In this novella, Geneviene throws Daphne, a medium in the 1920s, into a perilous, heart-pounding situation with ghosts on one side and evil people on the other. Kindle.
Literary, gritty, impossible to put down.
“Norfolk, Virginia, 1975” by Elizabeth Gauffreau in Distant Flickers: Stories of Identity & Loss. This is a slice-of-life, literary short story featuring a naive, eighteen-year-old mom and her equally too young Sailor husband; it’s just as gritty as it sounds and impossible to put down. Kindle.
A Precious, feel-good Christmas story.
(un)tethered by m. ennenbach. This is a collection of free verse poetry full of sensual longing for a significant other and authenticity in life, if either one can be realized, and when not, the verses turn dark and even brutal, but always retain their artistry. Kindle.
“Itchy” by Cage Dunn in the Outback Horrors Down Under anthology ed by Steve Dillon. Dunn pens a bleak but compelling dark fantasy story with an Australian desert setting in which gold fever battles with cultural ideals of morality. KU.
“The Blue Rose” by Audrey Driscoll in The Crux Anthology ed by Rachael Ritchey. A contemplative story told in Driscoll’s beautiful prose about a post-nuclear-apocalyptic future and humankind’s choices of freedom vs safety. KU.
All Mine by Dave Doran is a collection of mostly free-verse poetry with an autobiographical (Dave the child, Dave the police officer, Dave the artist) feel and easy-to-discern lines with exciting turns of phrases. Kindle.
Our stubborn refusal of the Divine.
Come Looking: And Other Poems by River Dixon. In this genius collection of free verse poetry, Dixon pours out his bleak, nihilistic notions and questions our stubborn refusal of the Divine. Ebook from publisher.
Reckless Rebellion by Carrie Dalby. The final book in Dalby’s The Possession Chronicles series, this time set in the Roaring Twenties, brings the Southern Gothic family saga to a close, giving the reader a roller coaster of sad events, jubilant achievements, frustrating characters, and love. Kindle.
“A Bad Day for a Clown” by Willow Croft in the anthology Bloody Red Nose ed by Dave Higgins. In this horror story about a clown and his girlfriend, Croft implies the gory parts and leaves it up to the reader to figure out what happened (great fun!). Kindle.
Feasting Upon the Bones by Suzanne Craig-Whytock. This is a collection of twisted short stories including flash fiction with “killer” endings, dark fantasy with a sense of doom, and touching stories of love and loss. KU.
The Mermaid and the Yellow Jellyfish by A.R. Clayton. Clayton’s early-reader children’s story hooked me immediately with the portrayal of a young mermaid trying SO hard to help strangers in need. Kindle.
I got a little freaked out during the sceance scenes!
The Haunting of Chatham Hollow by Mae Clair and Staci Troilo. This dual-timeline ghost story will make you laugh, use your noggin to solve a mystery, and freak you out a little during the seance scenes. KU.
Haunted Halloween Holiday by Robbie and Michael Cheadle. Early readers and the adults who read with them meet Count Sugular and his friends through a charming plot, jaunty limericks, and the most amazing fondant art creations you’ve ever seen! Lulu.
“Beyond Castle Frankenstein” by Paula Cappa is a Gothic, historical fiction short story in which Mary Shelley (the author of Frankenstein) tries to contact her dead husband (poet Percy Shelley) and things go entertainingly south. Kindle.
The Midnight Rambler by C.S. Boyack. The Midnight Rambler is a dark fantasy story featuring a sentient Hat and a scarecrow-gone-bad villain told in Boyack’s creative, absurd-humorous style for a fun reading experience. KU.
From Fame to Ruin by Jina S. Bazzar is a dual timeline domestic thriller set in Brazil peppered with gripping action scenes, a delightfully complicated kidnapping, messed up family legacies, and a bit of a love story. Kindle.
Baird is a wizard at dialogue.
Return of the Living Elves by Brian Asman. This is an escapist horror retelling of Return of the Living Dead, but with zombie elves and absurdist humor that would be hilarious for the right audience. KU.
I hope your 4th quarter 2022 reading adventure was just as fun as mine. Have a wonderful 2023!
Today’s feature image by Florencia Viadana on unsplash.