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

My 2021 in Reading: That’s a Lot of Things, Jo

I read 198 books this year in a split of: 39 ARCs, 59 audiobooks, 85 manga volumes, 9 physical copies, 2 light novels, and 6 eBooks. As my boyfriend said, “That’s a lot of things, Jo.” It is that time of year where I want to share my favorites, so please enjoy my top 20 2021 books, top 20 books from before 2021, and, a new feature, 5 manga.

I realize that I make lists for books I’m excited for and book I want to read, and failed on both those lists. So, my lists for 2022 books is mostly about boosting others works regardless of if I personally get around to reading them. That’s just how it is when you’re employed and vastly mis-measure what kind of focus you’ll have as the year goes on. Moving also robbed me of a bunch of my focus, which should not have been as surprising as it is. On top of working full time. On top of being in a relationship and trying to participate in the communities I’m a part of.

“That’s a lot of things,” indeed, self.

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June 2021 Reading Recap

June was my birth month! I also finished writing an entire project! It’s an exciting time of reconnecting with myself and art, and it’s been lovely. I also spent a lot of time at the gym getting into the rowing machine and preparing for my big move in August.

I am so excited to have hosted Fran Wilde to cheer on The Ship of Stolen Words and Jen Karner to celebrate the release of their debut, Cinders of Yesterday.

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Light Novel Review: BOOGIEPOP AND OTHERS by Kouhei Kadono & Kouji Ogata (2006)

Genre: Horror
Year Release in English: 2006
Source: BOOK☆WALKER

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Content warnings: Gaslighting, violence, blood, gore, murder, dismemberment, kidnapping

I had watched the Boogiepop Phantom anime several years ago and due to my recent foray into manga and light novels, decided to give the source material a try. It is a treat.

Told non-linearly, we follow a collection of high schoolers as some of their own disappear and others turn into either Boogiepop or their enemy the Manticore. Souls get devoured in a technological attempt to subjugate humanity, and Boogiepop needs their own set of allies to set things straight.

The craft here cleverly plays with reader’s sense of reality as the grounding of real vs. surreal becomes upended from the point of view of the character narrating that chapter. The kids are certainly not all right, and the adults are strangely absent. I’m interested in seeing if we get any of them involved. There seem to be strict rules about attendance, phone use, dating, etc. but when one of them goes missing, no one talks about it. It’s eerie in the same way groupthink is, and it just adds to the unsettling nature of this story and its telling.

I’m lucky to have already purchased the second novel, and I’m excited to dive in.