1. The Taxidermists Daughter - Kate Mosse 08/12/18
2. The Talisman - Stephen King & Peter Straub 25/07/19
3. The Hoarder - Jess Kidd - 03/08/19
4. Mr Mercedes - Stephen King - 15/10/19
5. 50 Things You Can Do Today To Boost Your Confidence - Wendy Green - 16/11/19
Growing Things, Paul Tremblay-- Astonishingly, enviously good horror and dark stories, beginning to weave together previous works into an expanded universe. I would kill to write that well.
Wicked Wonders, Ellen Klages-- Swung wildly between the glorious essence of Ray Bradbury and 2 Twee 4 Me.
We Were Liars, E Lockhart-- A fun quick lunch break read.
Into The Grey, Celine Kiernan-- This had some pacing/plotting issues, but was still deliciously creepy and very evocative. I'd definitely try other books by her.
Kraken, China Mieville-- Holy hell, this is a new favorite. Took me almost a month to read because I was constantly stopping to shriek and send quotes to everyone I knew.
Crash, JG Ballard-- Ballard is so hit and miss for me but god, when I love him, I love him.
This Census-Taker, China Mieville-- A big departure in style for him, and heartbreakingly, cuttingly, hauntingly beautiful.
The Drought, J.G. Ballard-- Significantly less racist and slightly less sexist than its companion novel, The Drowned World! Still painfully early 60s, but. Intense and surreal and original. His concepts are so frighteningly plausible and so bizarre at the same time.
The Perfect Mother, Aimee Molloy-- Another predictable, fun pool book.
Running Wild, JG Ballard-- Not my favorite, not bad. I have to imagine it came across more shocking back in the 80s.
Adèle, Leïla Slimani-- Sexy, readable, the perfect book to sit by the pool with.
Nightmares: A New Decade of Modern Horror, Ellen Datlow-- Now this was fabulous. She is one of the absolute masters of curating horror.
Flight or Fright, Stephen King & Bev Vincent-- I was super disappointed by this collection. A book of airplane horror should have been way more fun. Nice to see some unexpected historical choices, though.
Ghost Wall, Sarah Moss-- A delicious little quick read of feminism and anthropology and disturbing young awakenings.
The Cellar, Minette Walters - Baaaaad.
Entropy in Bloom, Jeremy Robert Johnson-- Real mixed feelings about this one. A real mix of cringey stuff and shockingly genius prose. Not sure if I'll try his other stuff or not.
Baby Teeth, Zoje Stage-- This thriller alternated between a mother and daughter's viewpoints, and the daughter's were weird and wonderful and rang true while the mother's were much clunkier and less realistic. I was gonna give it three stars on Goodreads, then the ending showed a Law & Order: SVU level lack of research into psychology and psychiatric facilities. Boo.
Occultation, Laird Barron-- This wasn't my favorite of his, but the stories that hit really hit. Even the ones I didn't prefer generally had some wild and weird greatness to them. He's definitely a unique voice.
The Drowned World, J.G. Ballard-- This was classic dizzying Ballard for the first half, staggeringly racist for the second half.
Six-Gun Snow White, Catherynne M. Valente-- I was sooo mad at this book. Look at that cover! That concept! And the writing was gorgeous. But it was a mess and racist to boot. So disappointing. THAT COVER.
The Three, Sarah Lotz-- I always like her stuff a lot-- solid paperback horror that's just a cut above in concept and description. This one ties in heavily to other works and I gulped it down.
Stranded, Bracken MacLeod-- Meh. I love maritime horror and I love arctic horror and I love time-out-of-space sci-fi-bent horror, so this should have been triple my jam. But the writing just didn't hold up.
The Devil and The Deep, Ellen Datlow (ed.)-- This is the first time one of Datlow's themed anthologies has been so overwhelmingly hit or miss for me, which is a shame as it's the theme I was most excited to read by her. Pretty much the entire first half of the book fell flat for me. A few great ones towards the end, though, especially by Alyssa Wong and Stephen Graham Jones.
Invisible Planets, Ken Liu (ed.)-- This was a really well-curated anthology that showcased a lot of different types of Chinese SF, and provided a really thoughtful overview (including a few brief essays) on what makes their corner of the genre uniquely Chinese. Great science fantasy and magical realism as well.
Black Feathers: Dark Avian Tales, edited by Ellen Datlow-- This was my choice for "Read a book of short stories" and I just loved it. Ellen Datlow's themed anthologies are always thoughtfully curated and otherworldly. This collection of bird themed horror is no exception.
Nijigahara Holograph, Inio Asano-- MMmeh. It wasn't great. I've read worse. Could have done with about 500 less sexual violence.
Dull Margaret, Jim Broadbent & Dix-- Extremely dark and blackly funny, with some stunning panel layouts and creepy art. I wish it had challenged its source material a little more, but I liked this a lot.
The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, adapted by I.N.J. Culbard from H.P. Lovecraft-- This was for my "read a graphic novel" goal. I liked the art style and the rich monochromes, but it wasn't great as an adaptation. Kadath is set in a densely built world, and Culbard really only had space to broadly touch on various bits and pieces. And, of course, it's hard to draw creatures more often not described as "unknowable" or "beyond human imagination." Still a fun quick read.
The Ice Twins, S.K. Tremayne-- Not great, I've read worse. I liked the premise of this one-- one of two identical twin girls dies, but the parents aren't sure which one and the remaining twin is becoming increasingly disturbed and unable to say who she is-- but the writing was clunky and trying too hard to throw in every possible twist. Also, male authors, please stop trying to use androgynous-sounding initials for your "unreliable female narrator" Gone Girl style books. We know you're male authors. You give yourselves away pretty quickly.
The Job of the Wasp, Colin Winnette-- Ehh, this was hovering between three and four stars for me. It's very witty and I loved a lot of moments in it, especially the ending, but the elaborate prose style-- even though it's very true to the pompous voice of the character-- starts to really wear on you to the point of skimming through.
Monsters, Emerald Fennell-- A very quick little YA read that was the perfect dark beach book for my vacation, following two sociopathic teenagers who fall for each other while investigating a seaside resort murder on summer vacation. It's the height of black humor, perfectly funny and nasty and light.
The Bear and the Nightingale, Katherine Arden-- Highly, highly recommend this one, which I picked partly for my "Read a book with magic" goal and partly because it seemed so perfect for the deep winter weather here. It's enchanting. Rich details of a world inspired by medieval Russia, deliciously dark fantasy based in Russian folklore, a well-rounded strong heroine, hilarious dialogue. I can't wait to pick up the second one.
Fast Ships, Black Sails, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer-- I usually find this duo's anthologies very hit and miss, and this collection of pirate stories was not an exception. Some real weird duds in this book. But the hits were such fantastic hits, I forgive it. I really loved the inclusion of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror pieces-- a couple of interplanetary pirate vessels, some captains who double as sorcerers, a band of piratical mice, and even a story set in an alternate 17th century where the oceans have frozen into ice. Super fun and tons of adventure.
The Hazel Wood, Melissa Albert-- I gulped this one down pretty quick but still had mixed feelings about it. It's a very nicely dark little fantasy/horror YA read and I absolutely loved the bits of fairy tales included, and I liked a protagonist who really struggled with her anger and inner darkness. But quite a bit of it was too YA-tropish for me, and I wish the second half of the book had gotten as much time and attention as the first. Definitely still fun.
A Lady in Shadows, Lene Kaaberbøl-- This historical novel about a woman in 1890s France, trying to both solve murder mysteries and become the world's first female forensic pathologist, was for my "Read a mystery or thriller" on the Ultimate Reading Challenge. It wasn't great-- the killer was obvious way too soon and the characters were pretty shallow-- but it was a fun read. I loved the old-fashioned scientific approaches. Mysteries and thrillers make up a ton of my reading as is, so I wasn't terribly concerned with finding just the right book for this one.
A Princess Bound: Naughty Fairy Tales for Women, edited by Kristina Wright-- I mean, I wasn't expecting high caliber writing for this. It just looked silly and fun and good for the two brain cells I have available to read in bed after work. But the lack of imagination in this disappointed me-- a mermaid story where the mermaid becomes human first, a beauty and the beast story where the beast is human the entire time, etc. A lot of them barely even bothered with the fairy tale setting at all, just mentioned it at the beginning. The kink was equally unimaginative and of course super cishet. Kudos to the super nice selkie story at the very beginning, though. That was worth it.
Fever Dream, Samantha Schweblin-- Haunting and hard to describe. The original title translates to "The Core of the Disturbance", which I think is more apt, but "Fever Dream" hits more to the nerve-wracking strangeness of reading it. Well done.
Seven Brief Lessons on Physics, Carlo Rovelli-- This was for my non-fiction reading goals, and also a nice slim volume to kick off my 2019 Goodreads Challenge. It's supposed to be a broad overview of physics written for people with no background in science, and for the most part I found it pretty successful. I feel like I have a pretty solid grasp on some main theories and concepts now. But the language can get really flowery, which makes it hard when you're trying to take in a lot of new and challenging information, and a couple of the chapters seem very focused on his own personal theories instead of things that would be more useful for beginners. Still, I'm glad to be doing some scientific reading and I definitely learned some cool stuff.