Category Archives: Recommendations

Three Great Horror Reads for Halloween 2019

Three Great Horror Reads for Halloween 2019

It’s Halloween today, the perfect time to curl up with a good scary story. I’ve been reading horror since I was a kid, and I wanted to share three of my favorites. Since I’ve read a lot of good horror, I figured it’d be best to limit myself to books I’ve read over the last few years. You can see my reading list for 2017 and 2018 here on my blog, and you can view my current list for 2019 over on Goodreads. So, what three did I choose? Why let me show you…


A Lush And Seething Hell by John Hornor JacobsA Lush And Seething Hell

by John Hornor Jacobs

I’ve just started into my reading of A Lush and Seething Hell, a book consisting of two masterful novellas of cosmic horror. The first, The Sea Dreams it was the Sky was one of my favorite books from last year [See my review here], and I’m finding myself falling into John’s beautiful and haunting prose all over again. Lyrical and evocative while remaining starkly human, I cannot wait to dive into the second story, My Heart Struck Sorrow. I’d also recommend John’s weird west series that begins with The Incorruptibles.

 


Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham JonesMapping the Interior

by Stephen Graham Jones

Jones is a modern master of horror and always approaches the genre in unique ways; Mapping the Interior is no exception. Told from 12-year old Junior’s perspective, the story is one part family-struggle and one part ghost-story all woven with a heartfelt earnestness that’s easy to believe and hard to shake. It’s a book about childhood, about family, about heritage, about legacy, and the cost and ramification of all four. The ending devastated me. I’d also recommend Jones’ Mongrels.

 


The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley JacksonThe Haunting of Hill House

by Shirley Jackson

A horror classic that I (oddly) hadn’t read until last year. This is the archetypical haunted house story that defined the genre for decades to come. You’ll recognize the tropes it established right immediately, but be drawn along by Jackson’s incredibly descriptive prose and the layer of uneasiness she weaves throughout. It’ll get under your skin, and you’ll see its fingerprints everywhere. I’d also recommend Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle.

 


So there are three of my favorite horror novels from the last several years. If you’re looking for something to read on a cozy and dark autumn night, you’d be hard-pressed to find better. What are your favorite horror novels from the last few years? Leave a comment below and let everyone know!

Have a safe and happy Halloween!


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Like My Books? Here Are Some Other Authors to Read...

Like My Books? Here Are a Few Recommendations…

I’m still hard at work on Gleam Upon the Waves, and while I’m making significant progress, I don’t have a specific timeline for release. So, if you’re a fan of my work and you’re looking for something to read in the interim that strikes a similar weird-fiction chord s, let me recommend a few of my favorite novels from a whole bunch of amazingly talented writers. In no particular order…


Cherie Priest

What to Read: Maplecroft & Chapelwood

Priest is a talented and multifaceted author who has written a great many books in a variety of genres. However, if you like books where heroes willingly fight against the madness of Lovecraftian monsters then I cannot recommend her series The Borden Dispatches enough—the first book is a solid new-mythos entry with great characters and a fascinating premise, but Priest really hits her stride in book two, Chapelwood, a humid deep-south foray into the mythos. Pick them both up and read ’em in order.


John Hornor JacobsThe Sea Dreams It Is the Sky by John Hornor Jacobs

What to Read: The Incorruptibles & The Sea Dreams It Is the Sky

Jacobs is well known among mythos enthusiasts for his 2011 novel, Southern Gods. But lately he’s stepped up his game; first, there’s his weird-west trilogy: The Incorruptibles, a combination of classic western, high-fantasy, and Roman mythology. His latest mythos novella The Sea Dreams It Is the Sky (one of my favorite books from last year) is an absolute masterpiece of modern cosmic horror—I can’t wait for the follow up: A Lush and Seething Hell.


China MiévilleThe Scar by China Miéville

What to Read: The Scar

If you like my strange city filled with a variety of even more unusual inhabitants, then you’ll love the steampunk-influenced world of New Crobuzon.  Miéville’s writing is evocative, his world rich and vibrant, his characters flawed yet relatable, and everything is weighted in a deep history that always leaves me in awe. While all three in the series are solid books and huge influences on me, my favorite is easily the middle novel, The Scar. A swashbuckling adventure that takes place in the mobile pirate-city of Armada.


Fonda LeeJade City by Fonda Lee

What to Read: Jade City

I discovered Lee’s work after sitting on a panel with her at OryCon in 2017. After hearing her talk about her urban fantasy wuxia novel, Jade City, I knew it would be something I enjoyed. I wasn’t wrong. The city is captivating, the worldbuilding fantastic, and Lee’s characters are grounded and flawed. There’s a lot here, and it’s worth exploring. If you like gritty cities and enjoy crime dramas, then I’d recommend you take some time and spend a few days in the streets of Janloon. (The sequel, Jade War is coming soon!)


Lost Gods by BromBrom

What to Read: Lost Gods: A Novel

My friend Brom is both an incredible artist and a fantastic writer. For me, his 2016 novel, Lost Gods, stands out. It’s a rich exploration into the bizarre and brutal world of Purgatory and the people, monsters, and strange creatures who live (and die) therein. It’s a vast story that mixes a variety of mythology and weaves a remarkable and splendid tapestry of broken and complex characters and has you cheering for an unlikely protagonist searching for a way home.


The Half-Made World by Felix GilmanFelix Gilman

What to Read: The Half-Made World

I love a good weird-west book, and there isn’t enough of them. The world of Gilman’s novel is stunning in its intricacies and feels vibrate and alive and offers up something unique and engaging that feels thoroughly fresh. I want more. There’s a lot of love: warring factions, a clash of cultures, an unlikely set of anti-heroes, and a surprising plot that feels as unique as it is enthralling. A rollicking gunsmoke-tinged romp that I found delightful.


There’s a wide variety in this list, everything from cosmic horror to steampunk to weird-west. I’m sure you’ll find something to enjoy. All the links go to Amazon, but if you can, I’d recommend asking for them at your local indie book store. Once finished, be sure to leave a review for other readers on Amazon and Goodreads and share your thoughts about the books. It’s a small but powerful way to help out an author and your fellow reader.

What about you? Do you have any reading recommendations for folks who enjoy my books? Leave a comment below and help others discover some of your favorite novels.

Happy reading!

 

Reading Recommendation: Blogroll #2

Reading Recommendation: Blogroll #2

Last time I did this, it was 2013. So it’s been a ridiculously long time between posts. A lot has changed since those carefree halcyon days of yore. Blogs have fallen off my RSS reader, others have been abandoned, and new ones have risen to take their rightful place. Since it has been internet eons, I thought it was high-time to take a moment and share five blogs I’ve been enjoying over the last few years.


File 770

Mike Glyer’s Hugo Award-winning fanzine is a reliable resource for those who want to stay in touch with the comings and goings in science-fiction and fantasy. If you write speculative fiction, or if you’re just a fan I highly recommend making File 770 a part of your day. (In particular pay close attention to their daily Pixel Scroll.)


Pornokitsch

Don’t let the name fool you, Anne C. Perry and Jared Shurin run a solid fanzine. While you’ll find the more standard book reviews and opinion articles among their content, Pornokitsch also focuses on sharing longer-format articles. Well written and often thought-provoking these posts make Pornokitsch stand out.


Mythcreants

A blog about RPGs and writing with a focus on gaming and worldbuilding, Mythcreants goes out of their way to be a resource for the creator. There’s a lot of content, from podcasts and how-to articles, all work towards making your work the best it can be.


MONSTER BRAINS

Those who have been reading my blog (and books) for any length of time know that I am a big fan of old art—epsecially the weird stuff. (Heck, the engravings of Gustave Doré features prominently on the covers of The Bell Forging Cycle.) MONSTER BRAINS celebrates the weird old creations and highlights the strange. It’s an excellent resource and a must-follow for monster fans.


Fantasy Book Critic

The good folks at Fantasy Book Critic focus on—as one would expect from their name—reviewing fantasy books. But, unlike many other sites of their size, they’re also active in the indie community and go out of their way to feature articles from newcomers. It’s a great community and a phenomenal blog.


Hopefully, it doesn’t take me four more years before I  serve up another blog roll. In the meantime, I hope you find these five blogs handy. Perhaps they will become regular reading for you as well.

How about you? What are your go-to daily blogs? Leave a comment below and let me know!

Reading Recommendation: Join by Steve Toutonghi

Join by Steve Toutonghi

“Join is a searing, ballistic plunge into the mysteries of identity and mortality. Its ingenious core is revealed and amplified by high voltage suspense and murder. Delicious.”

Katherine Dunn, Geek Love

If that quote doesn’t make you want to read this book, you’re probably dead. I’m happy to say that today is the launch of Join by author Steve Toutonghi. Now before I continue, full disclosure: Steve is a friend of mine, a former co-worker (and boss), and I was lucky enough to be an early a beta reader of the manuscript that became Join.

Join is good, it’s real good, and you should buy and read it. As I mentioned in my review on Goodreads, Join reminds me of the work of Philip K. Dick, Kurt Vonnegut, or, more recently, Jeff VanderMeer. A strange and cerebral tale that is both intimate and engaging. The story is set on a familiar near-future Earth that has been ravaged by extreme weather events. In this setting, we find ourselves confronted with the technology of Join: the merging of individual’s consciousnesses (and bodies) into a single person with the memories comprised of each former individual. The Join technology is the crux of the story, the partial cause of tragic events on a personal and, ultimately, global scale. Throughout the novel, Steve takes us on a journey into the ramifications of Join, masterfully weaving beautiful prose with his dark humor, while examining ideas of individualism, mortality, gender, and consciousness.

A great novel doesn’t have to provide answers, often all it needs to do to achieve greatness is asks the right questions. The thing I like—and this is something a lot of authors can glean from this book—is Steve’s use of restraint. This was something that was present even in early drafts. Steve goes just far enough, poking and prodding at ideas and asking difficult questions. Ultimately this tactic challenges us the reader to provide the final answers. As a result, the story left me dwelling on Join’s themes long after it had ended.

Join a beautiful first book, and one I am happy and excited to recommend. It arrives today from Soho Press, and you can purchase it pretty much everywhere: Amazon, Barnes & NobleIndieBound, and more. I’m sure you local library or independent bookstore can get it as well. Make sure to follow Steve on Twitter and check out his website at stevetoutonghi.com. When you’ve finished, make sure to leave a review on Goodreads.

Reading Recommendations: Art & Fear

Read This: Art & Fear

“Look at your work and it tells you how it is when you hold back or when you embrace. When you are lazy, your art is lazy; when you hold back, it holds back; when you hesitate, it stands there staring, hands in its pockets. But when you commit, it comes on like blazes.”

As any creative there are times where I struggle. There are moments when I’m plagued with self-doubt, and there are instances where I grow frustrated. For many, being a creative can be particularly lonely. Thankfully, I am lucky enough to be married to an artist, and having Kari-Lise as my partner in this life has been an excellent balance for the two of us. For months (maybe years) whenever I have slumped into one of these holes, she has hounded me to read David Bayles and Ted Orland’s books, Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking. In the past, I have shrugged off her suggestion for various (and in retrospect: dumb) reasons.

Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking

Recently, while wallowing in the midst of an especially dismal time, I finally gave in. I took Kari-Lise’s advice and decided to settle down to read this book. As she guessed, it was exactly what I needed. I finished it in two sitting, plowing through each page and finding myself nodding along.

If you’re a writer, painter, musician, crafter, whatever and you have struggled then you need to read this book. It’s not your typical self-help book. It is unpretentious and honest. It doesn’t shy away from the realities inherent in the struggle of creation and it presents the journey candidly. It also pushes any creator to continue the journey no matter what obstacles for reasons we somehow all know and often choose to forget. It’s a straightforward look at the art of making.

It’s very much worth the nine dollars to add this to your library. I know it’ll be something I often reference in the future. After finishing it, it was a no-brainer to add it to my list of recommendations.

Gran Text Auto

Go Play Gran Text Auto

I’m not much of a gamer these days. Between editing Red Litten World, working on finishing up my new manuscript, and starting the research and planning phase for book four of The Bell Forging Cycle, I don’t have very much time. It’s probably no surprise that I love short play games. They’re the perfect gaming fix while I commute on the train or find myself in a waiting room.

Gran Text Auto

Yesterday, a good friend of mine, Kevin Mangan, released his first iOS game: Gran Text Auto. I absolutely love it. You play as a sassy octogenarian emoji named Gran. Your goal is to do your best answering text messages while trying to dodge obstacles at the same time. Sounds simple enough but it’s much harder than it seems. So often as I am trying to respond to one of the game’s many characters I find myself over-correcting and ending up in a horrific crash.

Gran Text AutoWhile the gameplay is challenging and fun and provides that right balance that leaves you craving for another go around what really sold me was the writing. The dialog, provided in the form of text messages, is witty and sharp. The jokes are layered sometimes subtle but always hilarious. Another friend of mine recently posted that he often gets in wrecks because he’s laughing at the texts. I know those feelings. Oh boy, do I know those feelings.

If you’re looking for a fun game to play for the upcoming weekend, give Gran Text Auto a shot. It’s perfectly polished. The music is incredible. The voice acting is spot on. The gameplay is addicting. Also, it’s FREE (supported by ads, which you can turn off for only 99¢). It’s a great mobile game with a tremendous sense of humor and very much worth your time.

Download Gran Text Auto →
Follow Gran on Twitter →
Follow Gran on Facebook →

So far my high score is 24. Can you beat me?