HALLOW-READS 2021: 31 Book Recommendations for the 31 Days of October

For more about the books pictured above, here are blurbs and lkinks to my reviews for buy links and all that:

  1. A Dowry of Blood by S.T. Gibson
    • Dracula’s brides retelling in which they fall in love bisexually and vampirically yeet their abuser
  2. The Blade Between by Sam J. Miller
    • Taking place in the city of Hudson, this horror has gentrification, Grinder tulpas, ghosts, gay disasters, and more
  3. Ibitsu by Haruto Ryo
    • An urban legend about a young Gothic lolita girl in the trash in search of a sibling has deadly consequences. Absolutely horrifying, especially as shit escalates
  4. Lakewood by Megan Giddings
    • To save her family from dire financial straits, Lena takes a job that looks great on paper but involves a lot of questionable medical research
  5. The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling
    • Marriage of convenience turns spooky as a new wife spends the night in her husband’s literal haunted mansion; chaos magic ensues
  6. Near the Bone by Christina Henry
    • Marriage of convenience turns spooky as a new wife spends the night in her husband’s literal haunted mansion; chaos magic ensues
  7. The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass
    • Being one of the only Black kids at a prep school is hard enough. Being haunted by the ghost of a mass shooter doesn’t help
  8. The Troop by Nick Cutter
    • Campfire stories & camping have a certain charm. But when a bioengineered rot terror shows up, things only get grosser and more thrilling from there
  9. The Grip of It by Jac Jemc
    • A literary horror about a young couple buying their first home together–and it’s haunted. Terror ensues.
  10. Ring Shout by P. Djeli Clark
    • Dark historical fantasy in which the KKK turn into eldritch horrors and the only thing standing between them and Armageddon is a girl with a magic sword
  11. The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones
    • Childhood friends got greedy on a hunting trip and now, as adults, they’re haunted and hunted by a a mysterious elk woman
  12. Boogiepop and Others by Kouhei Kadono & Kouji Ogata
    • This light novel is about high schoolers disappearing only to reappear as the titular phantom or their enemy, the Manticore. Spooky and unsettling
  13. Small Spaces series by Katherine Arden
    • Ollie, Coco, and Brian are haunted by an entity known as the Smiling Man in a series of adventures perfect for fans of Over the Garden Wall
  14. Dai Dark by Q Hayashida
    • Zaha Sanko and his back paggy Avakian are constantly on the run from aliens who want to use Sanko’s bones to grant wishes. Perfect for people seeking to scratch that Gideon the Ninth itch
  15. The Wolf Among the Wild Hunt by Merc Fenn Wolfmoor
    • Get your queer ace/aro werewolf fix here. After killing the wrong nun, Skythulf has to redeem himself by joining the Wild Hunt. Metal af with awesome illustrations
  16. The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher
    • In which cleaning up your grandmother’s home reveals more secrets than you cared to know & makes rocks fucking terrifying
  17. The Hunger by Alma Katsu
    • One of my faves? One of my absolute faves. Character-driven retelling of the Donner Party tragedy horror
  18. Psycho USA: Famous American Killers You Never Heard of by Harold Schechter
    • Greatest crash course in almost every fucked up thing with incredible organization according to timeframe
  19. Mieruko-Chan by Tomoki Izumi
    • A slice of life comedy manga in which the main character sees some of the scariest ghosts I’ve seen in any piece of art
  20. Butcherbird by Cassie Hart
    • Local woman goes back to clear out family farmhouse that is totes haunted and the family secrets might be even scarier
  21. Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage
    • In which a mother is having a hard time with her obstinate child, but we also get the kid’s terrifying point of view
  22. The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris
    • When Nella is no longer the only Black girl at the publishing house, conspiracy threatens to unravel the fabric of reality itself
  23. A Monstrous Love by Magen Cubed
    • A collection for those who like stories in which girls kiss and one of them may or may not be a literal monster
  24. A Certain Hunger by Chelsea G. Summers
    • It’s eat, pray, love, but more like love and eat the prey as a food critic recounts her more unsavory tastes
  25. Bent Heavens by Daniel Kraus
    • A teen girl is seriously fucked up from her father’s encounter of the alien kind, but there is so much more to it than that
  26. Folklorn by Angela Mi Young Hur
    • A particle physicist in the Antarctic is haunted not only by a literal ghost but also doomed to become one of the women from her mother’s folk tales
  27. Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo
    • In which Andrew is haunted by his best friend Eddie’s ghost and that supposed suicide spirals into mysteries of the dark academic variety
  28. The Last Book on the Left: Stories of Murder and Mayhem from History’s Most Notorious Serial Killers by Marcus Parks, Henry Zabrowski, and Ben Kissel
    • Nonfiction & illustrated, serial killer heavy hitters galore
  29. Pan by Christopher Ruz
    • This retelling casts Peter Pan as the villain and has lived rent-free in my head ever since I read it
  30. Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw
    • A group of friends spend the night in a blood-thirsty haunted mansion and it ends poorly
  31. The Bloodborne comic by Ales Kot and Piotr Kowalski
    • The unsettling joy of Bloodborne fully illustrated. Mind-bending and terrifying

March 2022 Reading Recap

March is another month I largely took off because of Futurescapes and traveling to a work convention. In that time, I played a ton of Elden Ring and mostly did a hard reset of my brain. My writing brain has somewhat defrosted and after setting some boundaries on the work I’ll be doing moving forward, I’m hoping my reading brain will defrost a bit as well.

No author interviews this month but there will be plenty in the next few months.

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ARC Review: THE FERVOR by Alma Katsu (2022)

Genre: Adult Historical Horror
Year Release: April 26, 2022
Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Books | Libro.fm

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read an eARC from the publisher
Content warning: anti-Japanese racism, anti-Asian racism, slurs, white supremacy, arachnophobia, gore, blood, miscarriage

It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Alma Katsu’s historical horror novels. This one takes a little bit of a different approach, delving into a specific historical chapter but using characters largely invented for the story. In one of the very real Japanese internment camps in Idaho, Meiko Briggs notices a mysterious shipment arrive while her daughter, Aiko, sees portentous demons in the corner of her room. In Oregon, preacher Archie Mitchell eagerly awaits the birth of his first child, while those dreams are dashed when a mysterious balloon explodes and kills his wife along with some local children. In Nebraska, a journalist, Fran Gurstwold sees one of these mystery balloons and falls down a rabbit hole of government conspiracy and further abuses.

Unnervingly relevant, The Fervor offers a critique and condemnation of racism and xenophobia while weaving a terrifying story featuring demons from Japanese folklore and a mysterious illness.

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2022 Bookish Hype Train

2022 will continue to slap as far as reading goes. So many old faves releasing new work, several new blog interviews to come. You are in for a year that will turn that to be read list into a to be read horde.

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My 2020 in Reading

I read 153 books this year in a 50/50 split between audiobooks and other formats. Being unemployed helped that along, didn’t do much for me in terms of my mental health. But there were so many good reads consumed and published this year, I had to make two lists. Enjoy!

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March 2020 Reading Recap

March2020RR

Here we are friends, in a time of social distancing where staying at home is the most productive thing you can do to keep yourself and those around you safe. Which for me, includes working my dayjob from 9 to 5 and then spending time with audiobooks while playing video games (currently playing Animal Crossing). This is what I read in March. I should really consider augmenting my reading goal, I’m 17 books ahead already.

This month, I also interviewed K.M. Szpara to celebrate the release of his debut novel, Docile.

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ARC Review: THE DEEP by Alma Katsu (2020)

Rating: 5/5 stars
Genre: Adult historical horror
Year Release: 2020
Source: Edelweiss

Read an eARC off Edelweiss

Having loved Katsu’s previous historical horror, The Hunger, I had high expectations for her second. The Deep is a fictional take on the events of the Titanic and the Britannic, ships which had sunk in very different circumstances, but shared a few passengers, including main character Annie Hebbley.

Katsu has such a knack for managing several timelines and points of view in one narrative. In addition to the great historical tragedies, Katsu delves deeply into one personal tragedy which spans both ships’ journeys. The one that carries the story—the Fletcher family consisting of Caroline, Mark, Ondine, and the late Lilian Notting—was particularly compelling. It features the promise of better, jealousy, terrible choices, and redemptive arcs which try to right the wrongs of the past. Katsu also narrows in on the stories of other passengers, like the Astors, Guggenheim, and more. The depth of research simmers on page, maintaining immersive dread.

Much like in The Hunger, each character gets ample page time. The supernatural, folkloric scares in this one work so well because this narrative is so character-driven. The ships simply serve as a backdrop and madness thrives independent of its majesty. Personal sins and tragedies haunt everyone every step of the way, making for yet another heart-wrenching narrative.

Once again, I found myself the kind of upset in a way that makes me say thank you.

February 2020 Reading Recap

February2020RR

I am so ahead on reads and somehow feel behind. These last few months have been rough for me, but I am so glad that 2020 continues to deliver incredible reads which provide some kind of escape.

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Review: THE HUNGER by Alma Katsu (2018)

Rating: 5/5 stars
Genre: Adult historical horror
Year Release: 2018
Source: Audible audiobook

Listened to the audiobook

This book has been on my mind ever since I learned the story of the Donner Party over at Last Podcast on the Left. Having survived a horror read like The Devil in Silver, I figured I dive in with this historical horror.

Dear reader, I found something far more upsetting.

Come for the rumors of cannibalism, stay for a story of human error, loyalty, and fear of the unknown as a wagon train falls under a series a mishaps. Could it be the witch, Tamsen Donner? Could it be the scoundrels of John Snyder and Lewis Keseberg? Could it be biting off more than you can chew when trying to escape your tragic past, a la Charles Stanton? The book answers these questions and more.

Katsu expertly navigates several points of view while trying to humanize the members of the Donner party. After finishing the book, I think the tragedy came from an unfortunate concoction of error, fear, and interpersonal conflicts. From the outset, it’s hard to decide whom to trust and the morality there is kept so gray. If you know the story, then you’ll know who the villain is. Worry not, there’s no sympathy given there.

This read left me equal parts nauseated and the crying kind of upset in a way that makes me say thank you.