Category: Book Reviews

  • Black Tide by KC Jones

    Book cover for Black Tide by KC Jones, with a car on the beach with scattered small impact craters, next to a dark ocean.

    Black Tide by K.C. Jones My rating: 4 of 5 stars The Oregon Coast becomes the site for a spectacular and unexpected meteor shower, followed by a grueling struggle to survive by two people already struggling to survive their day-to-day lives. I grew to care about these characters as their story unfolds over an action-packed […]

  • Girls From the County by Donna Lynch

    Girls from the County by Donna Lynch poetry collection on black tabletop with sticker

    Girls From the County by Donna Lynch My rating: 5 of 5 stars Haunting, heartbreaking, and highly accomplished. The razor-sharp poems in Donna Lynch’s latest collection mix the real and all-too-common with folklore as powerful commentary about the dangers women face, most often from men, but occasionally from themselves, too, especially while dealing with the […]

  • Cradleland of Parasites by Sara Tantlinger

    tempImage97E9Rb Cradleland of Parasites by Sara Tantlinger, paperback and hardcover editions on bookshelf

    Cradleland of Parasites might be Sara Tantlinger’s best collection yet, a sequence of frightening, gruesome, breathtakingly beautiful poems about the Black Plague and other very real pestilence horrors up through modern times.

  • House of Zolo’s Journal of Speculative Literature, Volume 3

    House of Zolo's Journal of Speculative Literature Volume 3 book cover

    The future is frightening, often radically different, sometimes bleak, sometimes hopeful, sometimes both in the beautiful poems and short fiction included in the latest volume of House of Zolo’s Journal of Speculative Literature.

  • Nightmare, Issue 93 (June 2020)

    Nightmare Issue 93 June 2020 cover art by Grandfailure / Fotolia with character in full face mask and red digital eyes, surrounded by haze and pixelated rectangles of various colors. Text: Nightmare Horror & Dark Fantasy, list of included authors G.V. Anderson, Laird Barron, Ashley Deng, and Robert Shearman, Issue 93 | June 2020, Edited by John Joseph Adams

    I really love every story in this issue. Everything had the right amount of tension, chills, and ambiguity. There’s an image of attendees at a party after the party is over in “Girls Without Their Faces On” by Laird Barron that will haunt me forever. As will the Dorset Ooser from “We, the Folk” by G.V. Anderson, which can you can find on Wikipedia and elsewhere. It’s real. AHHH!

  • Fantasy, Issue 61 (November 2020)

    Fantasy Issue 61 November 2020 Cover art by Alexandra Petruk/Adobe Stock Image with tree-like deity holding a human in their branch hands and staring at them intensely. White text for magazine title and issue information, with editor names and names of included poets and writers.

    Fantasy Magazine has been on hiatus for several years, but new editors Arley Sorg and Christie Yant have relaunched the magazine starting with Issue 61 and four short or flash prose pieces and two poems, along with interviews. In their opening editorial, Sorg and Yant discuss why they’re bringing the magazine back now; it’s a timely relaunch, to be sure.

  • Lightspeed, Issue 126 (November 2020)

    Lightspeed Issue 126 November 2020 cover art by Roman3d / Adobe Stock Image with character in headgear and mask with heads up display crossing forearms in an x in front

    There’s a humorous tone to some of the stories in the latest issue of Lightspeed Magazine I don’t think I’m really in the right place emotionally right now to completely appreciate, which might explain why my favorite story in this issue is probably “Burn the Ships” by Alberto Yáñez. It’s dark, but also deeply satisfying by the end.

  • Autumncrow by Cameron Chaney

    Book cover for Autumncrow by Cameron Chaney with farmer's skeleton holding a carved pumpkin on Halloween with the town of Autumncrow Valley and a full moon in the background

    I truly love Autumncrow by Cameron Chaney, a perfect-for-October and Autumn book, with fun and wicked, but frequently dark and troubling, stories that whisper to me about my own trauma and personal history, suggesting dark and light new ways for me to look at things. Chaney has a knack for seeing right into the soul.

  • Stories We Tell After Midnight Edited by Rachel A. Brune

    A mix of flash and short fiction, Stories We Tell After Midnight from Crone Girls Press and editor Rachel A. Brune is an uneven mix, with several gems.

  • True Crime by Samantha Kolesnik

    True Crime by Samantha Kolesnik is a difficult book to read, for sure, but what’s so remarkable about it and why I continued reading is how the author navigates this brutal material.

  • Coppice & Brake Edited by Rachel A. Brune

    Coppice & Brake book cover with illustrated crows standing on top of an illustrated doorway open to a picture of trees stand stark and tall in the snow

    One of the most exciting and enjoyable reading experiences I’ve had this year. I’m enthusiastic because in a year of great anthologies, Coppice & Brake from Crone Girls Press and Editor Rachel A. Brune is an absolute favorite. I love every single story, which I cannot say about most anthologies.

  • “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” by Frederick Douglass

    Frederick Douglass ca. 1879

    Professor Geta LeSeur at the University of Arizona introduced me to Frederick Douglass’s “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” speech, a speech I now read or watch being read every year on this day.

  • 2020 Rhysling Anthology edited by David C. Kopaska-Merkel

    Book cover of the SFPA 2020 Rhysling Anthology with a waterfall falling from a large mushroom mountain

    What bliss to read the latest Rhysling Anthology from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA) and edited by David C. Kopaska-Merkel, but what torture to select the best three short and long poems nominated for the 2020 Rhysling Award.

  • White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

    Book cover of White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo with white text including text that appears shattered over a black background

    White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo is a great place for White people to start, learn a little humility, and start building stamina for grappling with race and racism. I learned a lot while experienced many head-smack moments and moments of shame while reading this short, accessible, blunt, and necessary book.

  • Submission Opportunity: 2020 SFPA Poetry Contest

    2020 SFPA Poetry Contest announcement poster with painting of a golden dragon flying below a huge statue of a woman holding up two figures in her hands over a rocky landscape

    The 2020 SFPA Poetry Contest runs from June 1 through August 31, 2020 and is open to both non-members and members.

  • Lightspeed Issue 120 (May 2020)

    Lightspeed’s May 2020 issue includes stories by some of my favorite authors, and some new favorites.

  • In the Scrape by James Newman and Mark Steensland

    At 94 pages, In the Scrape by James Newman and Mark Steensland is a quick read, but be warned that the mounting tension might require an occasional break to catch your breath. You’re going to need the oxygen: the final third of the book, when the breathless pace escalates and characters become even more desperate, becomes unputdownable.

  • Cricket Hunters by Jeremy Hepler

    Cricket Hunters subverts the usual tropes and nostalgia of coming-of-age horror by reaching for something even darker in this tale of friendship and rivalry

  • Midnight in the Graveyard Edited by Kenneth W. Cain

    I have definitely been in the mood for ghost stories, and Midnight in the Graveyard, the first anthology from Silver Shamrock Publishing, delivers the ghostly goods!

  • Phreak by JE Solo

    Phreak often worked against my narrative expectations with its fragmented, time-jumping, and vignette-style approach, and in the process delivered a singular character whose clear and deeply felt recollections warn us how close we are to delivering a similarly bleak future to the next generation. You’ll want to get your hands on this novel as soon as possible.