Thursday, January 2, 2020

Some Very Loosely Held but Intentionally Pursued 2020 Goals

I was looking at the January 2020 calendar this morning and I was struck by this "clean slate" feeling I was experiencing. January is the one month of the year that holds the most promises, the most anticipation and is the most inspiring.
There's a temptation to revisit the 2019 highlight reel with you; list my accomplishments, type out the big milestones in big, bold letters. But I don't really feel like it.
I've seen a lot of other people do it and I've enjoyed reading them but for myself--it feels like a chore to sit and think of everything. Is that weird? Psychologically, I have no idea what that means (if anything) but I'm sticking to the mantra of my 40s which is "give less fucks about this shit".
(I like that I cuss twice in my mantra)
(also, Grammarly corrected me and told me it's "give FEWER fucks about this shit" go home Grammarly! Hahah)
This post is going to be loosely based on some goals and resolutions I have for this year. The overarching theme being "REST" underscored with "INTENTION". I'll explain.
A New Year always ushers in these New Year's Resolutions where everyone is low-key promoting the idea to do MORE, be BETTER, work HARDER.
I'm like, naaaaaw. Don't do that to yourself. That's why there are so many stupid jokes like, "The diet starts tomorrow!" Everyone sets these lofty goals and then when we fail to fulfill them, we're full of all this self-loathing and pity which is really destructive and unnecessary.
SO! I'm making these goals and resolutions this year but I'm holding them in an open hand so that if (when) I fail to meet the demands of them, I'm not going to get trainwrecked over it. But if (when) I'm successful, I'll celebrate them as the little miracles they are and pat myself smugly on the back. Ha! Which reminds me of a little piece of art I ran across that resonated with me:
"Be so into your own game it scares people."
GOAL ONE: Dude. I'm sorry (not sorry) but I spent so much of my adolescence being insecure that now--I do not have the patience for feelings of inferiority. Call it arrogance, call it pride, but it's not. It's self-care. It's loving myself and being kind to myself. Forgiving my flaws and celebrating what I'm good at. This is goal one. Doing things to support me. Because it's true what they say if you don't love yourself first and foremost, how can you love others without robbing yourself of time, energy, etc? You can only give what you have plenty of...this is the way the world works. Sure, you can fake most things and spend all of what you have on others but eventually, you will crash & burn. My hubby and I know this so well. You can only muster up your own strength for so long before you just can't anymore and BURN OUT IS REAL. So be good to yourself. Know your limits. Say "No" to things that you don't have the capacity for. Let go of toxic relationships, toxic environments, toxic people who steal your joy. I can go on and on with this topic (just love yourself. Be into your own game). I'm also identifying and being intentional about my personal style. I realized that many of the clothes I own and wear do not make me happy. They don't make me feel good. I have a few pieces that I enjoy wearing and so, I'm building my wardrobe around those things. I've donated a lot to Goodwill and I'm very intentional about what I bring into my closet. In a nutshell: GYPSY, BOHO, GRANDMA, WITCH defines my personal style. Think Stevie Nicks but without the Top Hat because I can't pull off a Top Hat in my everyday life, otherwise I WOULD.

GOAL TWO: Loving myself and self-care eventually leads to healthy habits. I'm going to focus on my mind and my body. I will intentionally start the day with stuff that feeds my mind, heart, and soul first (NOT social media....DUH) and then feed my body well too. I'm going back to *clean eating. It's not a diet. It's just eating clean. Processed food is out. Junk food is out. Just real food which means, real sugar, real fats, real ingredients. This is a hard road because I love crappy food. Sometimes I crave a super nasty frozen pizza or greasy chips with cheese melted on them, cookies, chips....GARBAGE. It needs to stop. 
Along with clean eating is Intermittent Fasting. This is the hubby's idea. We're going to eat food between the hours of 10am-6pm. That's it. We allow ourselves our morning coffee with real sugar and real half & half. If you take away one thing from this post, please stop using CoffeeMate Creamer. It is literal shit. Full of chemicals and partially hydrogenated oils that will kill you. Look it up.
And the gym: Mon, Tues, SKIP WEDNESDAY, Thurs & Friday. Weekends OFF.
When I fail to meet all these things, I'll be gracious to myself and allow for bad days, mistakes and laziness. Then I'll get back up and start over.
*Want to see some examples of Clean Eating? Follow my Pinterest Board "Clean Healthy Eating"

I love this picture. The man is like, "Oh! You made bread! Thank you honey." and her face is like, "I was going to eat that whole loaf myself but you came home early. heh. Sure, help yourself."

I'm going to try and put myself out there in a variety of ways. I have lots to say, lots to write about and I have this blog just sitting here as well as the Night Worms blog so between me, Ashley (my partner in crime) and the Night Worms Review Team, we're coming at 2020 HARD. We've been talking about it and we are NOT just a book review blog. We have so much more up our sleeves, you don't even know (It won't be another podcast! Sweet baby Moses in a basket. Too many podcasts)
So get ready! Put your goggles on because we're over here full of ideas to blow shit up! This counts as a goal, yeah? I think so. Yeah!
I'm an entrepreneur. I never stop hustling. I always think, "How can we blow that up?!" How can turn my passion into a career? How can this do more? Can that get more traction? Is this too bland? Can we SPICE it up?? Reviews are VANILLA how can they taste more like Ice Cream people want to bathe in?? Hmmmm.... 

*actual picture of me thinking of how to take horror to the next level.

Okay, well, that's my goals schmoals.
I hope something sparked a little flame of an idea that will grow into a forest fire. Or a kernel of truth that will birth a whole garden.
2020 is gonna be bad ass.

One more thing:

Some more Florence Given. Seriously, do better at this. All of us. 

Monday, December 30, 2019

Mother Horror's Best of 2019

How I Broke This Down...
I know people say things like, "This year flew by!" every year and it's almost cliche and not taken literally anymore, but for me--this year--seriously, where did 2019 go in such a hurry? I'm not complaining. 2019 was a real pain in my ass in a lot of ways--seasoned with some special moments and important milestones but also just some hard trials. That being said, in addition to moving from one house to another, basement renovations all year and going through the first year of a new business, I somehow managed to read 150+ books. I decided to highlight 50 favorite books from the year, total.
Best 10 Novels in 2019
Best 10 Novellas in 2019
Best 10 Short Story Collections or Anthologies
Best 20 Previously Released Titles
also, as per a request, I'll pick some individual short stories to rank as the best of what I read in 2019

* 2019 is the year I tried dark poetry for the first time and fell in love with it.
* I feel like 2019 was an especially great year for author collaborations-some of my favorite reads was written by two voices. I am 100% behind you all for any future collaborations ( I LOVE THEM)! * Because Night Worms is a huge part of my life now, I read for a larger horror audience. This changes the way I engage with a story now; I take into consideration a much more general preference than just my own. I ask myself if a book or writing style would appeal to horror fans at large and I like the way this has broadened my own tastes.
* I'm anticipating two important events in 2020. I was invited by Becky Spratford to be a guest speaker on a panel of others on behalf of horror at the HWA Librarians' Day event in Naperville, IL. I'm excited and nervous! I know I'll get to meet so many of my horror family there and I could talk about horror fiction for a lifetime so this is going to be a real treat. I also bought tickets for Scares That Care in Virginia! I cannot wait to meet fellow reviewers and favorite authors. It's like anticipating a family reunion but without the annoying relatives, you'd rather not meet.
* Podcasts! I did a few podcast episodes this year, I was on GHOULISH with Max Booth III twice and I was a guest on Ink Heist with Shane Keene and Rich Duncan. I really enjoyed it and I hope to do more in 2020. It's like a dream to be on Brian Keene's show and This is Horror, so we'll see!

Best 10 Novels in 2019:

COYOTE SONGS by Gabino Iglesias
A PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS by Matt Hayward & Bob Ford
WANDERERS by Chuck Wendig
VIOLET by Scott Thomas
THE REDDENING by Adam Nevill
DOLL CRIMES by Karen Runge
THE FEARING (4 book series) John F. D. Taff

Best 20 Previously Released Titles:

BONE WHITE by Ronald Malfi
RED by Jack Ketchum
KNOCK, KNOCK by S. P. Miskowski
GHOUL by Brian Keene
THE BOTTOMS by Joe R. Lansdale
COME CLOSER by Sara Gran
THE DOG DAYS O' SUMMER by James Newman & Mark Allen Gunnells
TRIBESMEN by Adam Cesare
UNDER THE BLADE by Matt Serafini
BENEATH ASH & BONE by D. Alexander Ward
JIMMY THE FREAK by Mark Steensland and Charles Colyott
TEETH by Kelli Owen

Best 10 Collections or Anthologies 2019

SEFIRA by John Langan
UNDER ROTTING SKY Matthew V. Brockmeyer
A LUSH AND SEETHING HELL by John Hornor Jacobs
OUT OF WATER by Sarah Read

Best 10 Novellas in 2019

69 by Tim Meyer
IN THE SCRAPE by James Newman & Mark Steensland
DEAR LAURA by Gemma Amor
TO BE DEVOURED by Sara Tantlinger
RATTLESNAKE KISSES by Bob Ford & John Boden
THE PALE WHITE by Chad Lutzke
REMAINS by Andrew Cull

Short Stories:
The Last Conversation by Paul Tremblay
The Teacher by Paul Tremblay
It's Against the Law to Feed the Ducks by Paul Tremblay
The Thirteenth Temple by Paul Tremblay
How We Broke by Bracken MacLeod & Paul Michael Anderson (Chiral Mad4)
Golden Sun by Michael Wehunt, Damien Angelica Walters, Kristi DeMeester and Richard Thomas (Chiral Mad4)
The Pool by Jason Sechrest
Comes the Red Man Tom Deady (When the Clock Strikes 13)
Mommy's Girl by Somer Canon (When the Clock Strikes 13)
Carrion: My Wayward Son by James Newman (When the Clock Strikes 13)
A Short Madness by Bracken Macleod (The Seven Deadliest)
All You Care to Eat by John F. D. Taff (The Seven Deadliest)
A Serving of Nomu Sushi by Eric Guignard (That Which Grows Wild)
Last Days of the Gunslinger, John Amos by Eric Guignard (That Which Grows Wild)
*Dirtmouth by Stephen Graham Jones (Haunted Nights Anthology 2017)
*Water Thy Bones by Mercedes M. Yardley (Gutted Anthology 2016)
*Love is a Cavity I Can't Stop Touching by Stephen Graham Jones (Suspended in Dusk II 2018)
*An Elegy for Childhood Monsters by Gwendolyn Kiste (Suspended in Dusk II 2018)
*Living in the Sun on a Fairytale Day by Bracken MacLeod (Suspended in Dusk II 2018)
In the Pines by Matt Hayward (Various States of Decay)
Father's Day by Matt Hayward (Various States of Decay)

Monday, November 25, 2019

Ten Novellas I Recommend

Ten Novellas I Recommend:

IN THE SCRAPE by Mark Steensland & James Newman-
"Stories like IN THE SCRAPE don't come around as often as I would like. This is exactly what I want to spend my days reading about forever and ever and ever.
It's perfectly paced, the characters are real and true to life. Every detail felt authentic and important. There was a tension that grew organically--never obvious, never forced. There was a complexity to the characters, especially the father that created this conflict in my heart and in my mind--like, I loved my little protagonists so much but there were times where I wondered about their perceived reality and it made for a rich reading experience.
I love this book. I will champion this book forever as a go-to recommendation to anyone who loves a well-told, coming-of-age story that delivers on every expectation. Definitely a stand-out book for 2019.
I hope these two authors collaborate again. They truly crafted something special." Read the whole review

"Damn, this Nicholas Day is GOOD.
He's got the good, good.
My unique reading experience with this book: Right away, on the first page, my reader's brain said, "Slow down with this one. Savor the words and savor the experience."
So I'm passing that on to you.
Read this when you have like 2 hours of uninterrupted time to just settle into this read until it has had its way with you.
Also, resist the temptation to write down quotes. They are going to jump out at you right away...but know this: The whole damn thing is quotable and your heart is going to want to remember them all. Don't worry, you'll be revisiting this one again and you can read them all afresh when you do.
Your heart is going to break all over the place. Don't even bother trying to not let that happen. Feel all your feelings and afterward, you're going to want a smoke (even if you're not a smoker) and a drink and you'll want to sit out in the yard with your feelings and your tears and your smoke, feeling like you just got worked.
And you did.
Nicholas Day worked you over.
But it hurts so good, doesn't it?" Read the whole review

"Chad Lutzke has a unique brand of storytelling. 
It's actually amazing to me what he managed to do in less than 200 pages--the depth of character he developed with the protagonist, a 12 year old boy named Denny, is actually a powerful testament to Chad's ability as a writer.
My favorite thing about this novella is the overwhelming control it had over my feelings. Just in a few short paragraphs of a scene, I laughed, cried and raged reading Denny's reactions to his unfortunate circumstances. Obviously, you can read this story from any personal context but reading this story as a parent, oh god, hang on to your heart because I lost it a fair amount of times just agonizing over Denny's pure, innocent, sweet soul. I confess *hand raised* I laid the book down a few times just to wipe tears so I could read words that were no longer blurry.
But this story isn't just sad, sometimes I was crying from tears of joy and because I have the "gift of tears" I cried over the heartwarming moments too--in other words, I was probably crying for one reason or another the entire time I was reading this book." Read the whole review

BENEATH ASH & BONE by D. Alexander Ward
"Sometimes you read a book and you're like, "Why isn't this WAY more popular?!"
Beneath Ash & Bone by D. Alexander Ward is that book. First of all, the blurb across the cover from Ronald Malfi reads, "Engaging, resonant, smart and downright goddamn terrifying."
AND from Josh Malerman,
"I wanted to invite the narrator of Beneath Ash and Bone over to my house for whiskey and have him tell me the whole damn thing in person. Great voice."

I fully agree with both of those statements. The narrator, town sheriff Sam Lock is a new favorite literary character. He gets this story of a boy gone missing and travels out to the estate in the middle of winter to see what's what.
It's 1860 in Virginia before the Civil War.
The author does an impeccable job of setting, characterization and building suspense." Read the whole review

"Does all of this sound super epic and wild and outlandish to you? Because it is.
And does it also sound like an opportunity for readers to fall in love with unlikely heroes? Because it is.
Lastly, my hope is that there is more from John Boden's universe.
I would LOVE to have a series here and if not a series than just a connected universe because I will not quickly forget my time in this novella and I sure hope I can revisit my new friends.
This is a must-have if you found my recommendation intriguing." Read the whole review

TO BE DEVOURED by Sara Tantlinger
Reviewing for an upcoming issue of SCREAM Magazine
"So I sent this review into SCREAM Magazine. It won't be available online for quite some time so I just wanted to say, I recommend this book, strongly, to horror fans who are looking for a unique, original, psychological horror story.
Not for the squeamish but definitely for readers who insist on quality writing and authentic realistic characters."

OUT BEHIND THE BARN by John Boden & Chad Lutzke
"At the end, my heart exposed, rendered and gently squeezed walked away from the last page feeling sad to say goodbye and little worse for wear. However, I also felt like I had been given a gift by two creatives who truly know what readers want. An experience/journey that won't likely be forgotten and that's exactly what they accomplished. I hope, hope, HOPE that these two collaborate again. This was a real treat." Read the whole review

DEAR LAURA by Gemma Amor
"Holy Hell.
I binged this one in two sittings and the only reason it wasn't in one sitting is that my family was hungry and I had to make them dinner. 
Where did Gemma get the idea for the book?? It's so compelling! It's so dangerously terrifying and engaging and realistic!
So our protagonist is best friends with a boy who becomes her boyfriend when they are about 13 or 14 years old.
They are neighbors, they ride the school bus together and their parents are friends.
One day, Bobby gets into a van with a strange man and never comes back.
The rest of this story is for YOU to discover for yourself. 
I devoured this little, dark, twisted book.
I ate up the words like a starving thief in the night raiding the fridge." Read the whole review

BROKEN SHELLS by Michael Patrick Hicks
"This story has one of the best horror setups I have ever read. Several pages in, I was saying to myself, "This is not going to go well." and by that, I mean, not too well for the protagonist Antoine DeWitt but plenty well for a reader of dark things like myself.
I pressed on with relish. (not that I want to be thinking about food or eating after reading this gore-fest!!) *not for the faint of heart or the weak stomach
Hicks has designed the perfect nightmare--I won't spoil the surprise (and there are lots of surprises!) I was reading the middle portion of this book with my mouth open and my eyes bugging out of my head. Literally terrifying!! I could see this story becoming a blockbuster movie right now! (I wouldn't go watch it though because I'd be scared out of my mind to see on screen what I just saw in my mind.
In terms of Hicks' writing ability, there were so many times where he chose the perfect words, the best analogy, the choicest description--I was blown away by what he managed to accomplish in just a few pages." Read the full review

IN THE RIVER by Jeremy R. Johnson
"In the River, is no exception but it’s maybe the darkest of his unique brand of horror.
This tale plumbs the depths of grief and loss in a way that forces the reader into some unexpected and slightly jarring moments of introspection.
We are sucked into a nightmare that unfolds during a father and son fishing trip. This torment reaches out beyond the pages of the book, into your heart, to probe at buried and unspoken fears. So be prepared: This story doesn’t allow you to sit on the sidelines, a mere observer to the events unfolding, no. Johnson challenges you to participate in the horror and engage with it. 
Around forty pages or so into the novella, I was feeling uncomfortable with the level of intimacy. I put it aside to allow my heart and mind to rest from the unrelenting anguish the protagonist experiences in waves. Each new isolation focused on the different ways humans respond to tragedy and it was gut-punching me over and over again.
Eventually, I was drawn back. The story is overwhelming in its magnetism." Read the full review

Friday, November 22, 2019

In 2020 I'm Taking a Goodreads Rest

I decided that in 2020 I will not be participating in the Goodreads Challenge. I'd also like to invite others to join me. I'm prefacing this post with this:
If you love Goodreads Challenges and you find that they enhance your life, I'm truly happy for you! This is in no way, shape or form casting shade on people who enjoy the Challenge. Please hear that. Enjoy your things. Don't let any negative feelings that others express dampen your love of your favorite things. Also, if you think you're going to feel attacked by reading this post, please don't read this post and don't @ me. This is not for you.
This post is for people who feel fatigued from the Goodreads Challenge. I've been setting and meeting or exceeding my goals since 2016.
Each year I have managed to read more books than I intended and each year I have set the bar higher for myself. In order to beat the Challenge in 2019, I would have to set my goal in 2020 for more than 150 books. Even thinking of that number exhausts me. For my own self-care and mental health, I could just lower my goal, right? But I don't want to stop there--I want to experience total freedom from numbers. I've already purposed in my heart that for 2020, I'm going to take on fewer review books and I'm going to enjoy more mood reading, including books from my shelves that I have been dying to read but the reviews won't really "benefit" anyone. Did I just say that?? And did you hear that?? I have to preach to myself the very obvious fact that my recreational reading habits do NOT have to benefit anyone! I can read whatever books I want and know that at the end of it, I don't have to review it, share it on social media or tag anyone in a fancy photo of the book on Instagram.

A part of who I am is an unnecessary inner-struggle to please people. I enjoy making others happy. I love to help others. I like to give gifts. I get fulfillment and joy when others are pleased with my efforts. I have always been this way. Even as a child, I worked hard to impress my teachers so that they would be proud of me. Sometimes I would finish a paper and see mistakes that I had made so instead of crossing things out, I would just start completely over until the paper was "perfect". All through grade school, I made a strong effort to have high marks on all my papers. High school was a little different and I allowed myself to slack off in favor of just having fun and hanging out with my friends or putting more energy into my passions like reading or performing in my drama class. 
But I do think my people-pleasing tendencies have carried over into my adult life in a variety of ways. My work ethic and performance in various jobs have always been a big priority for me. Much to the detriment of my own self, I can borderline perform at a perfectionist level--which sounds like an attribute but it's really a flaw/disservice. Perfectionism does produce excellence but it more often results in an inability to finish tasks in a timely manner. If I don't think I can do my very best at a task, I will procrastinate or ignore the task until to the point of suffering consequences either from not meeting deadlines or a manifestation of stress/anxiety because the task looms large over my head.
Performance anxiety is real. It's beneficial for someone like me to eliminate any unnecessary demands on my life. It has taken me a long time to reach this conclusion. I credit participating in NaNoWriMo as the catalyst for this revelation. NaNoWriMo is an organized event in November that employs deadlines and word goals to help writers achieve goals.
It does NOT work for me. It is not a healthy way to get me to finish anything. It manufactured too much self-loathing, anxiety and stress.

This is why I'm doing a Goodreads Rest in 2020 and YOU can join me if anything in this post sparked a truth for you.
I will be talking about it on social media with the hashtag #GoodreadsRest if you want to follow along or use it yourself to promote allowing rest for your busy soul.
We have so many demands on our lives that we cannot control, I strongly believe that we should exercise more control over the things where we do have choices.
So in 2020, I'm choosing rest in all areas that I can.

The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Personal Mission Statement & Review Policies 2020

I have learned so much in 2019 about reading, reviewing and promoting horror fiction that I have decided to boil it all down into a clear and concise personal mission statement for 2020. The motivation for publicly sharing it with my 2020 review policies is for community accountability. I invite anyone to take me to task if they find that my behavior is not in-step with my mission.

Sadie Hartmann's (Mother Horror) Personal Mission Statement for 2020
  • I will read, review and promote horror fiction to the best of my ability in the year 2020
  • I will be working alongside authors and publishers to create large reading/reviewing/promoting campaigns for books I strongly believe need that boost; an advocate for horror. A cheerleader for horror writers. I'll be doing the work of a publicist with the passion of a fangirl
  • I promise to be more discerning and intentional about the books I choose to read in order to eliminate (as much as possible) books languishing for too long, unread, on my shelves
  • As far as it depends on me, I will work ethically, responsibly and mindfully in the horror community-building up existing relationships and rejecting anything that tears down the work of another. 
  • I will not engage in, participate in or condone petty, destructive, time-wasting squabbles on social media. Social Media will serve as a tool to enhance my efforts to read, review and promote horror fiction. It will not be used to distract me from my mission
  • I will set a schedule for reading, writing & promoting. Diligently setting aside the most time for that which will serve the genre and less time on personal/unintentional time wasting
  • I will make more time for self-care (Excercise!! Drinking more water & less coffee) so that I can be my best self and ultimately more productive
  • I will not make myself available to anything that distracts me from the time set aside for family. I will remember that just because I see emails, comments and messages does not mean I have to address them immediately
  • I am working towards a future goal of having maximum visibility for my horror reviews and a platform to voice my passion for the genre that has served me well over the last 33 years as an avid reader
  • I am working towards a future goal of MORE integrity, honesty, authenticity, and purpose in my reading & reviewing habits
Sadie Hartmann's (Mother Horror) Review Policies for 2020

  • I accept physical & digital review copies. I am an influencer on social media sites such as InstagramTwitter and Facebook. My reviews rely heavily on having a photograph of the book I'm reading but I also just got a Kindle and I'm reading books on it now! I also make review graphics like this now: 
  • I reserve the right to read & review books on my schedule. If you need your book reviewed by a specific deadline, I'm probably not the right reviewer for you. I do try to keep to an order of when books are received but I enjoy the freedom to make changes to the order.
  • Reading a book does not always result in a review with Cemetery Dance or SCREAM Mag. Reading a book might not result in a review if I choose to not finish the book for personal reasons. Accepting a book also is not a commitment to photograph it or post it to my social media platforms. 
  • I write honest, unbiased reviews based on my personal reading experience. This may mean an unsavory or low starred review. Please don't take my reviews as a personal attack or an invitation for a discussion. 
  • I generally post 3-5 star reviews EVERYWHERE because I'm a passionate reader and love to fangirl over the books that I enjoy and love. It's my greatest joy to encourage others to read awesome horror fiction so I spread the word like a freakish, magical, horror-loving megaphone so if you don't want to be tagged on social media posts gushing about the merits of your writing ability, please let me know in advance.
  • Please browse my reviews and social media accounts to see if your book would be a fit. I'm currently reading mostly horror fiction in all the 20+ sub-genres, dark fiction, and some dark/horror poetry. I'm not interested in much else at the time.
  • A link to your book on Amazon or Goodreads is required. I don't read books that are not listed on either of those sites. I DO read books that are Indie, Small, Self-Published and Traditionally Published (they just also need to be listed on Goodreads so I can track my progress)
  • Manuscripts or blurbs- I am only accepting manuscripts, beta reading or "blurbing" for authors I have already read and enjoyed before. 
  • If I have accepted a book from you before and you have my address, still submit a request for any future books--don't just send them to me. This creates confusion for me as I get books in the mail that I am expecting, on a daily basis and your unsolicited book might find its way into a Little Free Library instead of my bookshelf.
  • I read & review because I love it. Not because you're paying me to do so, please be kind and courteous! I look forward to hearing from you if you agree to these terms and conditions. 
  • for submitting a request for me to review
  • if you are interested in Night Worms
  • Monday, November 4, 2019

    An Open Letter to Liam Potter and Other Genre Gatekeepers

    This morning, one of our BookTube reps for Night Worms, Rachel- The Shades of Orange, shared with us a screenshot of a comment she received on her video, Horror TBR for Halloween.
    "I seldom criticize another Book Tuber, however your a phony. All you do is constantly inflate your book aspirations and in one vid had other people talk about their favorite "Horror" books. I don't now why Night Worms would ever pick you as a rep when you have never even read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. It's required reading in high school for freak sake. Your request for free review copies doesn't even match your so called review quotient. It's a joke."

    As a co-owner of Night Worms, I'd like to take this opportunity to answer Liam's question about why we would choose Rachel to represent our company.
    Rachel is well-spoken, eloquent and represents our brand perfectly. She embodies our ideal customer--she's enthusiastic and excited about the horror genre. In her about section of her channel, she states:
    "I like my stories dark, gritty & unapologetic."

    Not only does she promote horror through her YouTube channel (which has over 6,000 followers) but she also reads and reviews it on Goodreads. Night Worms cares very much about the promotion of horror. "Horror is Our Happy Place" and through our subscription package, we hope to win more souls over to the dark side of fiction so that Horror can be their happy place too. We'd like to offer any newcomers to the horror genre with the code: WELCOME. You can enjoy a 5% discount when you purchase your first Night Worms package--you don't need to come with any knowledge of the horror genre in order to become a fan. Come as you are. -Sadie & Ashley, owners of Night Worms.

    As Sadie Hartmann, I would like to personally add this:

    Liam Potter, does it make you feel better to troll people's accounts and shit on their joy? Are you embarrassed at all that in your ugly attempt to make Rachel feel inferior you used "your a phony" instead of "you're phony"? I review horror fiction professionally for Cemetery Dance, SCREAM Magazine and more recently, Black Static Magazine. I'm a member of the Horror Writers Assoc. and between last year and right now, I have read and reviewed 230 horror fiction books. I actually have read FRANKENSTEIN but guess what you snob?? I haven't read any H. P. Lovecraft! You better come over here and take my Horror Fiction Fan Card away!
    You're the phony.
    True Horror Fiction Fans are inclusive, accepting and welcoming. We don't shame others for not having read every, single horror book Liam Potter deems necessary in order to come to the horror genre table. So when you're ready to get off your high horse and play nice with others, you can have your card back but for now, it's in a vault with all the other COCKADOODIE assholes who are rude to others on social media. We collectively rejected it.

    Friday, October 18, 2019

    13 Days Until Halloween! Read One Every Night

    Only 13 days left until Halloween! October went by waaaay too fast for me. There's still time to squeeze in some amazing short horror stories before our favorite spooky month gives up the ghost. Here are my recommendations:

    1. THE VISIBLE FILTH by Nathan Ballingrud

    From my review: This short story, about 70 pages, was my first read of author Nathan Ballingrud and it could not have made a more lasting impression on me.
    There are two levels of interest that play off each other in THE VISIBLE FILTH; almost like Ballingrud is some kind of wordslinging-magician, expertly trained in the art of misdirection, "Look over here, Reader. Watch these young, immature people engage in toxic relationships while I work on something sinister over here in your periphery."Every time Ballingrud peeled back the curtain to reveal a glimpse of what stirred behind the scenes, he simultaneously orchestrated the characters to shuffle about and cover it up again. As a result, the tension building is extraordinary; ultimately setting the stage for an eye-popping, mind-blowing ending.Truly amazing.I loved the way the protagonist, Will, seemed 100% incapable of making any reasonable life choices. It's this man's inability to do anything right that makes him the worst (or best?) possible person to have to deal with the craziness befalls him.There's no way I'm going to even suggest what transpires in these pages. Just picture me urging you to read this, sliding the book towards you with a wicked grin on my face and an evil twinkle in my eye. My hope for you is that you don't heed my warning to read this in the daylight. I hope you think that you're immune to horror and nothing gets under your skin...I hope this one rattles your cage pretty good and you sleep with the lights on."There's something in the room with me."You can watch the movie on Hulu tonight!

    2. IN THE TALL GRASS by Joe Hill & Stephen King

    This short story is seriously disturbing. It hits on a lot of basic fears: Getting lost, feeling disoriented, being pregnant in the wild (I had a few dreams when I was pregnant of having to deliver my baby alone in the outdoors-nightmare fuel) that alarming feeling of being watched or stalked, and then that ending. Oh my god that ending. I haven't watched the movie but I've heard mixed reviews for it--trust me that the novella/short story is scary and good.

    3. ECHOES- The Saga Anthology of Ghost Stories by Ellen Datlow

    There are a few stories that I've read in this thick boy that I want to highlight:
    Most notably was Paul Tremblay's story, ICE COLD LEMONADE HAUNTED HOUSE TOUR: 1 PER PERSON
    I loved this short story. Love, love, loved it. Equal parts nostalgia and just plain old creepy horror and dread. Perfect for right now. Read it right now.
    I also loved Nathan Ballingrud's story (it wrecked me. I cried) and Bracken MacLeod's. Just buy this anthology and cherry-pick your way through it until Halloween. 

    4. OCTOBER FILM HAUNT- Under the House by Michael Wehunt

    I'm going to read this story again before October is over. It's my favorite kind of horror besides "coming-of-age", it's a found-footage story. How much do you love scary found-footage stories??
    Read this one! Go buy this collection and read this story before October leaves us for a whole year!! Hurry up. Michael Wehunt is a gift. You need this collection anyways.

    5. 40 WAYS TO LEAVE YOUR MONSTER LOVER by Gwendolyn Kiste

    This story was my first brush with Gwendolyn's work and it left a lasting impression. It would be perfect to re-read it this month given the nature of the story. You should just buy this anthology because there are several stories here that are really good, Tom Deady's PINK BALLOON and I think I remember a werewolf story I enjoyed. Just get it--it's a great book to have for Valentine's Day horror as well.

    6. DELPHINE DODD by S. P. Miskowski

    From my review: "S.P. Miskowski writes what I want to read. Her storytelling voice is seriously unparalleled among her peers. The narrative pulls the reader in with vibrant characters, authentic/realistic dialog and engaging drama. There is *never* a good place to drop your bookmark down--the story consumes and demands to be finished.DELPHINE DODD is the tale of a young girl and her sister who are abandoned by their "free-spirited" (selfish) mother and left in the care of their grandmother. The scenes where the two girls adapt to their new life with their grandma, Eve Alice, are some of my favorites. These chapters reminded me of when I would get lost in my Little House on the Prairie books! Lots of details about fishing and food gathering, learning and growing while managing chores and having some playtime while being resourceful. I could read that sort of thing forever and ever. Eve Alice is a tidy, live-off-the-grid sort of woman and the era is in the 1920s, I believe, so we're talking outhouses and no neighbors--a real cabin in the woods. Except, Eve Alice practices home remedies and such, so people come to see her and she also makes this herbal tea for a doctor that runs a sanitorium nearby.Things get really interesting with that sanitorium.Terrifying.I loved this novella."

    7-11 COMES THE RED MAN by Tom Deady, MOMMY'S GIRL by Somer Canon, CARRION: MY WAYWARD SON by James Newman, CALM DOWN TIME by Richard Chizmar
    I'm afraid this anthology flew under the radar a bit, I hate to say this for fear of sounding rude or mean, that's not my intention but I don't think this cover artwork does the book justice. 
    *****“Comes the Red Man” by Tom Deady - I loved this story! I thought it was very compelling. I enjoyed the way Deady unpacked this one slowly and deliberately until the shocking conclusion. One of my favorites. It scared me too.

    *****“Mommy’s Girl” by Somer Canon - YES! *clapping* I loved this one. Somer did such an incredible job capturing the young man's sweet personality against the unreliable female protagonist. It was unsettling right out of the gate the way this 17-year-old girl was referring to her mom as, "mommy". I just knew something was up but I was not expecting what ended up happening. I loved the Lovecraftian influence too. 

    ****“Calm Down Time” by Richard Chizmar - I loved the way Chizmar wrote his protagonist, Molly. I thought she was so cute and funny and she felt like people I know in real life. I was distracted by her the entire time--I couldn't care less about what was freaking her out and so the ending really freaked me out.

    *****“Carrion: My Wayward Son” by James Newman - This is the scariest most intense story in the entire collection. I loved it! It was completely unexpected and scary--especially tucked inside an anthology with a variety of tones and styles. It really stood out.

    **** Open Waters” by Richard Thomas - I liked the way this story enticed the reader by starting off in the middle of the action and then flipping the script on you halfway through. Great ending.

    12. - 13. WELCOME TO THE SHOW by Matt Hayward and Doug Murano
    From my review:
    "WELCOME TO THE SHOW centers on The Shantyman, a bar in the Tenderloin district of San Fransisco. The tales are told from The Shantyman's past and present and not one story is alike because of the wide variety of storytelling voices represented here.
    I thought I would highlight some of my favorites from the collection:
    NIGHT AND DAY AND IN BETWEEN by Jonathan Janz- Set in the 1920s, I loved the descriptions of hard-edged men & a woman named Clara singing in a sequined dress. This one starts out innocuous enough, a tough guy goes to a night club to watch an old flame perform but then by the end, things are so much more...insidious.
    A TONGUE LIKE FIRE by Rachel Autumn Deering- This one got under my skin. In just a few pages, Rachel managed to tell a lasting tale of a father's grief and the power of words."