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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

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