I have never been happier to see a year end. 2020 was just TOUGH, ya'll. Life in the pandemic hasn't been fun. It definitely threw a...

My Favorite Reads of 2020

I have never been happier to see a year end. 2020 was just TOUGH, ya'll. Life in the pandemic hasn't been fun. It definitely threw a lot of challenges my way and I know I'm not alone in that. I'm hoping 2021 is a gentler year for everyone. One great thing about being a reader is being able to escape into a new book but I'll tell you—even that has been a challenge this year! I did NOT complete my Goodreads challenge goal of 130 this year though my final total of 124 was close. Last year I completed 131 so at least it wasn't a huge change. *shrugs* I still read 24,500 pages and there were some incredible books along the way.

 Best Horror Short Stories/Novellas

The Worm and His Kings by Hailey Piper (Review)

Simple yet unyielding prose creates a foreboding experience as Piper leads the reader on a merry monster chase through the tunnels of Manhattan and deeper underground in this short novel.

These Deathless Bones by Cassandra Khaw (Review)

Maybe it's my love for dark fairytales that propelled this short story into one of this year's most memorable reads. Maybe it's the twist of the "evil" stepmother perhaps having good reason to be the way she is. Maybe it's the gorgeous prose and emotional hit that the narrator doles out with each spoken word. Either way, this story stayed with me long after I finished.

A House at the Bottom of a Lake by Josh Malerman (Review)

Don't expect a rush to the ending on this one. While it is a novella, Malerman excels at the slow burn. Take your time and enjoy the summer days with young love. It's enchanting and mysterious, sometimes awkward and painfully heartfelt, but always genuine.

Origin Story by T. Kingfisher 

Listen to it here.

Food Frights by Nico Bell (Review)

Bell, however, mixes her ingredients with care, making sure that the absurd doesn't outweigh the terror. While the horror manifests itself in ways that are ludicrous and laughable, it doesn't do so at the expense of producing a frightful setting.

 Best Collection/Anthology

Midnight in the Graveyard (Review)

The stories inside this volume are sure to give even the harshest horror critic something to smile about. Ranging from despondency and despair to ghastly and grim, this work of spooky stories would indeed be perfect for midnight in the graveyard, if reading by the graves of the unquiet dead in the wee hours attracts you.

Green Fingers by Dan Connor 

(Review can be read at GingerNuts of Horror here)

There’s a uniqueness to the stories despite the common theme. Unlike a lot of eco-horror, there is really no explanation of why things have suddenly turned sinister.

Dark Blood Comes From the Feet by Emma J. Gibbon 

(Review can be read at GingerNuts of Horror here)

...there weren't any of the seventeen stories that I didn't enjoy. Dark Blood Comes From the Feet was a delight. Emotional, visceral, and just a lovely assortment of horror.

Betty Bites Back (Review)

Sixteen stories, sixteen authors, all with a different take on standing up to the patriarchy. Whether it's a simple as a smile or the sisterhood created by facing the same challenges, Betty Bites Back proves while women may be the fairer sex, we are not alone, and we've had it with your crap.

Black Dogs, Black Tales (Review)

This is a rich collection and one I'd recommend to horror and dog lovers alike. To one degree or another, they all center around a pooch, whether actual or supernatural, and it was exciting to see the diversity of writing given the meager guidelines given.

 Best Urban Fantasy

A Feast of Phantom by Kat Ross (Review)

This isn't a book that gives you a gratifying all-ends-tied up completion, proving that sometimes it's not about the destination in fiction, it's the journey.

Dragons Don't Eat Meat by Kim McDougall 

Night Scourge by Pippa Dacosta 

(I haven't reviewed this one yet but Twilight Seeker, the first in the series can be read here.)

This is an exhilarating dark and deadly new world that Pippa DeCosta has created. Unique and engaging, Twilight Seeker is a weird and wonderful start to a new urban fantasy series.

Poison and Honey (Review) by Kristen Brand

Poison and Honey walked up behind me and whacked me upside the head with everything it had in it. The characters are fantastic, the world-building is sublime, there's no end to the action, and there's that smoking little ember of heat thrown in for good measure.

Sting of Thorns (Review)  by Kristen Brand 

Brand once again devises an exciting world and characters to get lost in for a few hours.

 Best Horror

Sisters of the Moon by Alexandrea Weis (Review)

More than just a fable of sisterhood and triumph of the feminine, this good-versus-evil plot is a slow-burning shifter horror tale at heart. Don't let the YA appearing cover deceive you—there are shadowy secrets around every corner and a much darker side of the Sisters of St. Gertrude to discover.

The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher (Review)

With inspiration drawn from the 1907 novella "The Willows" by Algernon Blackwood, T. Kingfisher's disquieting novel could be regarded as portal fiction. However, this newfound doorway isn't an opening to Wonderland and instead beckons the reader into a cruel and indifferent world.

Survivor Song by Paul Tremblay (Review)

Tremblay's ability to convey human emotion sometimes even overshadows the plot. From the difficult decisions to the heartbreak, it's hard not to become emotionally invested in these characters, knowing it will just gut you when it all goes pear-shaped.

The Patience of a Dead Man by Micheal Clark (Review)

What moments weren't spent with the disturbing presence were permeated with hunched shoulder anticipation of their reappearance. There's a feeling of wrongness from the very start and it only becomes more expansive as the story continues.

The Ghost Tree by Christina Henry (Review)

Henry's narrative ebbed and flowed like a backwoods creek—sometimes quietly burbling along and at others racing white-capped over stones.