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

July 2022 Reading Recap

July was…heavy, to say the least. There was some writing professional news that netted out less than positively, a meteor of a personal emergency that is still unfolding, and I think I finally figured a writing time management system that works for me (and a realization that I definitely write to run away, and there is a lot I want to run from).

I also went to NYC to see my family and catch up with some friends. Equally restful and stressful. I’ve stayed safe from disease the best I can, and wish the same for you and yours.

This month’s blog interviews were:

In August, I have four days off from my dayjob, which I intend to use for making lots of paintings

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Review: IN THE BEDROOM OF MEDUSA by Magen Cubed (2022)

Genre: Adult Fantasy
Year Release: 2021
Source: Kindle

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Content warning: snakes

Evelyn Horne is an escort met with an enigmatic new client proposition in the form of Lady Demetria Balaskas, whose presence is powerful and enigmatic, accompanied by hissing and rattling. Evelyn is invited to live on the Balaskas estate and dalliances plus feelings ensue.

What I particularly love about this novella is how much respect there is for every working person. From the maids to the secretary to Evelyn’s work as an escort itself, there is an attention and care there that I haven’t personally seen in erotic works so far. In Lady Demetria’s house, all women are women, sex work is work, and all workers are deserving of their dignity. I particularly loved the secondary relationship between Lucy and Evelyn for many of these reasons and, honestly, wouldn’t mind a spinoff that’s just their friendship.

The novella has rad slice-of-life elements taking shape as wish fulfillment for being financially and personally taken care of by a monster dommy mommy.

Oh, and the sex is very hot.

February 2022 Reading Recap

February is a month where I largely took off from writing my own fiction in preparation for Futurescapes this weekend. Like, I dabbled a bit, mostly played video games. Still did some reading. I finally can go back to listening to audiobooks, which is great for my brain buzz.

Here is a round up of my February reads. I got to interview two fabulous authors to kick off the month:

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Review: A BLOODY LITTLE VALENTINE (Tales from the Sothern Gothic) by Magen Cubed (2022)

Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy
Year Release: 2022
Source: Book2Read

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Content warning: discussion of blood play

Vampire Dorian Villeneuve and cowboy Cassius “Cash” Leroy are hunters who are best friends in love. In this short, they talk about Dorian’s pole dancing past which merges with their committed relationship present.

The characterization continues to be top notch. Both Dorian and Cash have such distinct on-page personalities, and their contrasts make for incredible chemistry and charming tension. This vignette from their home life in which Dorian gives Cash a lap dance is as erotic as it is tender. These two are so in love and it’s absolutely swoony.

One of the things the author mentioned on their Twitter is the presence of drinking in the lives of these hunters as it relates to their profession. It feels natural and cleverly works as a vehicle to portray character development. I myself used to have a drinks with coworkers, and we weren’t doing anything nearly as life-threatening as hunting monsters.

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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December 2021 Reading Recap

December went by like a flash. I attended Dis Con III, visited my family for Christmas, and write you from Chicago. Please enjoy this final reading recap of 2021. What a year it’s been.

Tomorrow, we have my annual recap coming up. I hope you’re excited.

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Review: LEATHER AND LACE (The Southern Gothic Series #1) by Magen Cubed (2021)

Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy
Year Release: 2021
Source: Kindle

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Content warning: blood play, violence, murder, autopsy

Vampire Dorian Villeneuve and cowboy Cassius “Cash” Leroy are hunters going against all sorts of cryptids, from vampires to mothman to the pair of weredeer hunting others for their hearts. Partners in crime, but it seems they both want to be partners in much more.

This book is a goddamn delight with a compelling friendship-turned-romance that’s as easy to invest in as the mystery behind the grisly murders.

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November 2020 Reading Recap

In November, I attempted NaNoWriMo, and I did not win. Which is fine. Work was wild. I’m not on any contractual deadline. I read a lot, but I feel like this month had more duds in it than usual. It happens.

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