October 2015 Wrapup: Weeks 3 & 4

5 Nov

Sadly, spooky book month has come and gone! Even though I will probably continue reading horror into November because it’s really what I am in the mood for. I read a ton of great stuff in October, and I feel good about how much I got through even though (for the first time this year!) I didn’t read a series. I just wasn’t feeling it and didn’t want to force myself to read something I didn’t want to. So, aside from that one Kate Daniels novel at the beginning of the month, no series this month! Which I actually feel okay about.

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Burnt Black Suns, by Simon Strantza. Finished Oct 21st. So this month I was really in the mood for short stories, especially horror and new weird ones. I blame it on Cthulhurotica! People who love Laird Barron recommend this collection over and over, so I had to take a shot at it. The opening story (“On Ice”) is a wonderful Lovecraftian tale, and there’s some Ligotti inspired work here as well, but a lot of it is original in both concept and execution. “One Last Bloom,” a short novella about scientists and creepy things under the sea, was by far my favorite.

Lipstick Rating 4 Full

 

 

 

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Blackout, by Tim Curran. Finished October 22nd. This book sounds like everything you’d want in an October book. The storm of the century! Tentacles descending from the sky! A small town plagued by horror! Sadly, it falls completely flat. Sure, the core concept is really cool (and the ending is the only thing that saves it from mediocrity), but nothing else stood up. The characters were boring, the action was so expected, the plot was… kind of dull. Kind of disappointing, because the monsters were totally fantastic.

Lipstick Rating 2 And 1 Half

 

 

 

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The Children of the Old Leech, curated by Ross E. Lockhart. Finished October 23rd. I adore Laird Barron, so of course I had to read a collection inspired by this cosmos. Sadly, this was not exactly what I was expecting. None of the stories have that same spark that Barron puts in everything he touches, it’s more just stories set in his world (but lacking a lot of my favorite elements). The entire first half was, for the most part, kind of dull. But the second half was incredibly strong with a lot of great stories. It left me feeling like I really enjoyed it, but looking back it was just terribly uneven. The stories should have been in a totally different order, and I wish there had been more… pizzazz? in them. Some of the stories were 5 stars for sure, but it’s hard to rate overall because I was kind of disappointed in the experience.

Lipstick Rating 3 Full

 

 

 

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The Wide, Carnivorous Sky by John Langan. Finished October 26th. After a kind of mediocre short story collection, I read an amazing one. SO amazing. Everything about this is perfect. John Langan takes classic horror tropes, like zombies, vampires, exorcism, and werewolves, and mashes them up with super inventive story structures. There’s a play, a movie, a classroom lecture, and a second-person piece of investigative journalism. Interspersed are stories inspired by the greats, like Lovecraft and The King In Yellow. The writing in this collection is so amazing: weird, lush, and wildly innovative. I’m totally in love with this author.

Lipstick Rating5 Full

 

 

 

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Slade House, by David Mitchell. Finished October 27th. Usually we get a David Mitchell book every 4 years, so it was weird to have one a year after The Bone Clocks. But the two are connected, so it makes sense! This is a novella about a house–kind of a haunted house (so it fits the spooky book month theme)–that appears every 9 years. And the plot is directly connected to all the magical goings-on of TBC, so the two are linked. You could technically read Slade House without having read TBC, but I wouldn’t recommend it. There are so many references (both to TBC and other Mitchell novels) that this really is not a good starting place. But if you are a Mitchell fan, this book is like candy. Intensely creepy, suffused with magical realism and great characters, along with a tight plot that brings in some great characters from other novels. I actually liked this more than The Bone Clocks: the plot was tighter and the magic system seemed more cohesive (though that’s probably because I knew all about it before I went in).

Lipstick Rating 4 Full

 

 

 

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The Queen, by Tiffany Reisz. Finished October 28th. I have been reading the Original Sinners book series for years. The characters practically feel like extended family. And now we’ve come to the end. This book was kind of heartbreaking to read, because I knew I’d get to the end and then it would be over. I can’t mention anything about the plot because it would just be… a lot of spoilers, but it was perfect. A great end for all the characters, along with a really nice explanation of what happened before the first book kicked off. Nora, I’m going to miss you so much!

Lipstick Rating5 Full

 

 

 

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The Red Tree, by Caitlín R. Kiernan. Finished October 31st. It’s fitting that I spent a month reading horror and saved the creepiest book for last (though not intentionally). Caitlin Kiernan is mentioned whenever someone brings up Laird Barron, John Langan, and all those guys (who I have obviously been exploring in depth this month) so of course I just had to read her. This novel is amazing–it has a simple plot that allows the horror to really build to peak tension, and also my favorite plot device: the book-in-a-book! There’s both a found manuscript and mysterious short stories over the course of The Red Tree, which is basically my favorite thing ever. It’s so creepy and atmospheric, with moments of absolutely chilling horror.

Lipstick Rating5 Full

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