Monstrous Mash-Up: My September Reading List

My reading goals for the month did not go as planned. Originally, I was going to make the theme: books by Guillermo Del Toro, and anything with a movie adaptation. But then, there were books I wanted – needed – to read that didn’t fit that category. Specifically, there were audiobooks I had free access to as part of my Audible membership that would soon expire. Plus, there were some books I was just aching to read.

But that’s not the only thing that shook up my reading list. Extra errands and days out of the house meant more time to listen to my audiobooks. I soon finished everything I wanted to listen to for September, and started to dip into my October audiobooks (the theme is non-fiction). But exhaustion upon returning home meant less time and energy to read my physical books. So I fell behind in that goal and moved the remaining books to fill the space in October left by the audiobooks I already completed.

Confused yet?

I kept having to remind myself that as long as I was reading, it didn’t matter if I stuck to my arbitrary themes. Besides, I’m going to change up the blog in the new year so I only have to keep up with this format I’ve set for myself for only a few more months.

So, without further ado, here is my messy September reading list!

Jaws: Big Shark, Little Boat! A Book of Opposites (Funko Pop!) by Geoff Smith and Kaysi Smith:

Obviously I needed this for my collection. And after reading two shark-related books in August I had to start my month off with this Little Golden Book.

It’s a simple little children’s book of opposites and takes maybe a minute to read. But if you’re as much of a fan of Jaws as I am, it’s pure fun.

Get your kids hooked on horror at an early age!

Star Trek Deep Space Nine: A Stitch In Time by Andrew J. Robinson:

Okay, so it’s not horror related. But I’ve been waiting so long for this audiobook to come out that I had to listen to it right away. And why the audiobook specifically? Because it is narrated by Garak himself! For a DS9 fan like myself, this book was like a warm hug. Well, that is, if you can get past the war crimes, torture, and general Cardassian atrocities.

And here’s the horror connection: Andrew Robinson also stars in Hellraiser. So there.

Hotell Volume 1 by John Lees, Dalibor Talajic, Lee Loughridge:

I bought this from The Comic Book Shoppe as a reward for myself when I first dropped off my books for sale. It’s been screaming at me to read it ever since. I figured since I’d already gone rogue on my reading list that this was as good a time as any.

This comic is delightfully messed up and I want more.

Clearly, I’m a fan of short stories, so I enjoyed the format of this graphic novel. But I also appreciated that all of the stories wove together into a larger narrative. As with any short story collection (yes, even mine), there are always going to be weaker and stronger stories. I felt that the one to finish off the collection was, unfortunately, the weakest. If I had to pick a favourite, I think the one that involved crawling through the walls is the winner.

Ring Shout by P. Djeli Clark:

I don’t typically read historical fiction, but the premise and cover art caught my attention so I couldn’t say no.

Admittedly, I had a harder time with the first half of the novel. I felt that situations were rushed and characters were under developed.

But once Dr Antoine Bisset and the Night Doctors entered the story… Oh boy! The chapters featuring them were the most captivating and delivered on both the character development and the horror. Not to mention the body horror in the finale was phenomenal. Definitely worth the wait.

Special shout-out (no pun intended) to Channie Waites for delivering a spectacular audiobook performance. She nailed all the voices, dialects, and gross sound effects.

Clowns vs. Spiders by Jeff Strand:

I don’t know what I was expecting from this – other than the obvious – but Strand’s book was delightfully unexpected. The characters and situations are perfectly ridiculous, and it delivers on it’s promise. You get non-stop action of clowns vs spiders. The clowns are much more wholesome than I was expecting, but it just made the wacky scenario that much more entertaining. This might be my favourite read of the month.

The Labyrinth of the Faun: Pan’s Labyrinth by Guillermo del Toro and Cornelia Funke:

Of course I’ve seen the film. I’m a huge fan. So I wasn’t going to say no to this book when it crossed my path.

This is a well-written and faithful novelization of the Oscar winning film, and adding Funke as a co-author was a good choice. As a child, I too was swept up by the Inkheart craze and read many of her books. Given the tone, structure, and subject matter of the story, it makes sense to include a children’s book author. The fairy-tale elements and child-focused chapters had the feel of a children’s story, but those moments of horror from del Toro are always lurking just around the corner.

Wasteland: The Great War and the Origins of Modern Horror by W. Scott Poole:

This non-fiction book not only provided the kind of insight I was looking to gain, but also forced me to re-evaluate some of my thoughts on the subject matter. For instance, I will only ever think of Franz Kafka as a horror author from now on.

I enjoyed that Poole focused on multiple aspects of horror in pop-culture. He provided his analysis on not only film and literature, but on art as well.

With any lengthy non-fiction book, some segments were a little dry and/or repetitive for my liking, but overall I’m glad I read it. And, of course, I added some post-war movies to my watch-list after reading.

Witchcraft in the Western Tradition by Jennifer McNabb:

Unfortunately, this was the letdown of the month. As other readers on Goodreads complained, this book is not so much about witchcraft as it is about the way witchcraft has been prosecuted.

Another issue was the structure of the chapters. In The Great Courses, each chapter serves as a separate lecture on a topic that fits in to the larger theme. Here, McNabb’s lectures repeated a lot of information from chapter to chapter, so that all of the lectures blended together into a loosely structured repetitive blur. This is disappointing given how good the lectures in this series usually are.

The Hollow Ones by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan:

This is a great start to a larger story. Given the multiple POVs and timelines woven throughout the narrative, I felt like the book only scratched the surface. This one book could have easily been stretched into a three-book series. And it does end on a cliffhanger that suggests there is more coming.

So much of the novel focuses on lore and character development that this triller doesn’t actually thrill. In some scenes, the action is of secondary importance. And unfortunately, it meant that the final climactic moments felt rushed. There was so much build up that is was almost like “oops, we’re running out of book space and haven’t come to a conclusion yet, so here it is!” Hogan and del Toro needed to add some extra chapters in here to raise the stakes and intensify the action.

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