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text 2019-12-30 18:45
My Top Ten Novellas of 2019
Coyote Songs - Gabino Iglesias
When Darkness Loves Us (Paperbacks from Hell) - Elizabeth Engstrom,Grady Hendrix
Walk the Darkness Down - John Boden
A Lush and Seething Hell: Two Tales of Cosmic Horror - John Hornor Jacobs,Chuck Wendig
Jimmy the Freak - Pete Kahle,Charles Colyott,Mark Steensland
The Half-Freaks - Nicole Cushing
In The Scrape - Mark Steensland,James R. Newman
The Resurrectionists (The Salem Hawley Series) - Michael Patrick Hicks
Water for Drowning - Ray Cluley,John Bayley
Those Who Go Forth into the Empty Place of Gods - Jared Collins,Curtis M. Lawson,Doug Rinaldi

 

Here is a listing of the novellas I enjoyed most during 2019. 

 

I love novellas and think they're one of the best ways to present dark fiction/horror tales. There is a bit more room to develop characters than in a short story,  but due to the abbreviated length, every word still has to count. All of these authors knocked their stories out of the park!

(Looking over this completed list, it looks like I am partial to Darkness and to Freaks. Yeah, that sounds about right!)

 

Please click the links if you'd like to read my review. 

 

1. COYOTE SONGS by Gabino Iglesias. 

What an amazing novella! It had me ugly crying at some points, and cheering at others. You will not come away unmoved-you have my personal guarantee.

 

2. WHEN DARKNESS LOVES US by Elizabeth Engstrom.

I might be cheating a little bit because this volume contains two novellas. So sue me. 

They were both SO DAMN GOOD, featuring strong women I will never forget. 

 

3. WALK THE DARKNESS DOWN by John Boden.

Weird and total nightmare fuel by one of my favorite authors. I will never ever forget Jubal and his sisters. Neither will you. 

 

4. A LUSH AND SEETHING HELL by John Hornor Jacobs.

I'm cheating again because this volume also contains two novellas. I loved it so much, but I especially enjoyed the second tale MY HEART STRUCK SORROW. I'm a fan of Blues music and I don't know if any other story could be this perfect for me. 

 

5. JIMMY THE FREAK by Charles Colyott and Mark Steensland.

This is a late entry to the list as I just read it last week. This little known but excellent novella deserves a bigger audience. It's poignant and brutal all at once. 

 

6. THE HALF-FREAKS by Nicole Cushing.

A weird little tale-and Nicole is one of the BEST when it comes to those!

 

7. IN THE SCRAPE by James Newman and Mark Steensland.

A coming of age dark fiction tale. I was already a fan of James Newman and this novella made me a fan of Mr. Steensland as well. 

 

 

8. THE RESURRECTIONISTS by Michael Patrick Hicks.

A nasty little historical fiction, Cthulhu mash-up. Crazy, right?

It was!

 

9. WATER FOR DROWNING by Ray Cluley.

I won the audio for this novella and fell in love with it. The world needs more mermaid stories. 

 

 

10. THOSE WHO GO FORTH INTO THE EMPTY PLACE OF GODS by Curtis Lawson and Doug Rinaldi. I can't link you to my review because I haven't written it yet! (I read the whole thing just yesterday!)This novella was imaginative, creative, weird and...I need a sequel, and maybe a prequel too. I just need MORE. Now, please! 

 

 

Thank you for reading this far and I hope you'll stay tuned for my top ten best novels of 2019 list! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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review 2019-10-16 19:14
In The Scrape by James Newman & Mark Steensland
In The Scrape - Mark Steensland,James R. Newman

 

In The Scrape is a novella that made me feel as if my giant beast of a cat were sitting atop my chest trying his best to stop my heart from beating the entire time I was reading. Not too many books do that to me but put two sweet kids in peril and that’ll do the trick, I guess! This one is a nail-biter and I was incredibly worried for these kids during the entire story. That’s some kind of knock-out writing. I’m glad I’m finished so I can breathe again.

 

 


Set in the 80’s, Jacob and Matthew are two brothers plotting to run away from their abusive drunkard of a dad and escape to live with their mom who left them all years ago. Their situation hurts the heart. They’re so young and stuck in a situation that seems completely hopeless but they’re plotting and hopeful anyway. I loved that about them. Such brave and smart young kiddos.

As this is a horror novella and there is a schoolyard bully thrown into the mix, you can expect things to go sideways, plans to go awry and terrible things to happen. And they do, thus explaining the sensation of feeling like my chunker of a cat was cutting off my airway. The plot doesn’t travel down the same path as my brain assumed it would (thankfully because my thoughts were 100% bleak) but I still found myself horrified and surprised by the turn of events which I’m not gonna spoil.

This is a story about tenacity, survival, bravery and brotherly love and facing down terrible odds when those charged with protecting you are the ones you just might fear the most. This is really great, heavy stuff. Much different from the previous collaboration I read with author James Newman, Scapegoat, which had an 80’s feel and madness tinged plot but both are excellent stories. 4 ½ stars

 

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review 2019-08-22 18:51
Scapegoat by Adam Howe & James Newman
Scapegoat - Adam Howe,James R. Newman

If you’re feeling like you need some fun, gory 80’s insanity then do I ever have a book for you!

This is the review quote that won me over:

"As if Joe Lansdale wrote, and John Carpenter directed, the Jonestown massacre. SCAPEGOAT is Howe and Newman's Kool-Aid and you'll want to drink it to the very last drop." (Eryk Pruitt, What We Reckon)

It doesn’t lie.



This book is pure madness from beginning to end. Set in the late 80’s, that fabulous time before cell phones and back when hair-metal reigned supreme, a group of old childhood friends reconnect to head out to Wrestlemania III. Mike is now a family man and because of the wife, the baby and work he hasn’t seen his old buddies Lonnie and Pork Chop in far too long. After spending a few minutes in a smelly RV with them, Mike remembers why! Pork Chop is half in the bag, wearing a Rowdy Roddy Piper kilt with nothing under it (ahhh!) and Lonnie’s drinking, driving and doobie smoking have Mike wondering if he’ll make it home alive but he’s trapped in the passenger seat and quickly embraces the mayhem. Along for the ride is a scantily clad beauty and a trunk load of counterfeit wrestling merch. 

Sound like fun? It is! And it is so much more.

Lonnie gets stuck in traffic and freaks out that they’re going to miss Wrestlemania and decides to get off at the next exit - remember these are the days before GPS. Little does he know that he’s just driven straight into a scene from hell and it’s only going to get worse from here . . .

There are religious cults, carved up ladies, buckets of gore and an ending that isn’t afraid to go there! I loved it. This book is an experience. If you enjoy the madcap adventures of Joe Lansdale’s Hap & Leonard series I’m pretty sure you’re going to love Scapegoat too. 

The writing is terrific and the dialogue is spot-on and sometimes hilarious. I’m pretty sure I knew some of these people in the 80’s. Hell, I might even know a few of them now. The story moves fast and somehow the writers manage to fully flesh out the characters and create a plot that continually surprised and sickened me in the best way. It made me laugh and it made me cringe and that’s not something that usually happens when I read because I am grumpy, tired and jaded at the end of the day. 

It is the darkest kind of fun and if is this is your thing and you haven’t read Scapegoat yet I think you need to fix that!


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review 2019-06-15 19:29
In The Scrape by James Newman and Mark Steensland
In The Scrape - Mark Steensland,James R. Newman

Two young brothers formulate a daring plan to escape from the cruel attentions of their abusive father, and find their long lost mother.
The best laid plans of mice and boys...because their father isn't the only threat standing in their way.

A poignant, heartbreaking coming of age novella, IN THE SCRAPE delivers on an emotionally visceral level.....from the power of love, to the chains that abuse forge, to the strength that comes when one pushes the innocent to their limits...and then over those limits.

James Newman and Mark Steensland work together is flawless, their writing styles melding together perfectly, becoming one powerful, compelling voice.
This is a team readers need to keep their eye on.....along with Silver Shamrock Publishing.
Well done.

Highly recommended.

Many thanks to Silver Shamrock Publishing for the eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Expected publication: July 1st, 2019.




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review 2019-06-15 15:45
IN THE SCRAPE by James Newman and Mark Steensland
In The Scrape - Mark Steensland,James R. Newman

Two authors, writing seamlessly together, produced a coming of age novella that cracked my heart.

 

Matthew and Jacob just want to get away from their abusive father. Trying to put aside enough money to get to California where their mom is now living, there isn't much Jacob won't do. He's the oldest and he can't stand to see his little brother abused and beaten-not one more time. On top of all this, Jacob also has to deal with the local bully. Will Jacob and Matthew get away? Will they be able to find their mother in California? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

I read this novella in two sittings. The last half especially, hummed right along with a tension that was palpable. I wanted to reach out and hug these kids. I wanted to tell them several things throughout this book, but I never got the chance to breathe! As I said above, the writing style was seamless-I couldn't tell who wrote what and I didn't care. I just wanted these children to be okay.

 

I can't say too much more without spoiling everything, (and the synopsis gives away a lot already), but if you enjoy a good coming of age tale, scoop up this novella quick! Spend some time with Matthew and Jacob. They need your support!

 

Highly recommended!

 

Get your copy here: IN THE SCRAPE

 

*Thanks to Silver Shamrock Publishing for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!*

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