This year I'm going to try to focus more on tracking my reads for the  Scaredy Cat Bingo Challenge , which consists of 25 reading prompt...

Feed Me, Seymour || 18 Books of Ecohorror

And the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich

Silla and Nori are sisters running away from an abusive home in London and into the countryside to leave with their aunt but the woods are creeping closer each day. 

The Black by Paul Elard Cooley

This time we take to the sea and an oil drilling platform but something lives beneath and it's pissed.


Two dozen weird and wild stories about fungi going from bizarrely whimsical to horrific. 


This dystopian novel has evolution moving backward. The government is capturing pregnant women and holding them through their delivery but why? 

FEVER DREAM BY SAMANTA SCHWEBLIN

A young mother is dying in hospital with a young boy at her side but he's not her son. She can't see or move and David tells her it's because of the worms. 
Of course it is.  


SEALED BY NAOMI BOOTH

A pregnant woman escapes to the mountain to escape a skin-sealing epidemic but the mountains aren't the safe place she expected.
The Nest by Gregory A. Douglas

Huge mutant cockroaches make up the bulk of this 80's novel. 
That's it. That's all you need.

The Swarm by Frank Schätzing

The ocean and its occupants take revenge on humans. 

Mists and Megaliths by Catherine McCarthy

Ten supernatural stories span themes from gothic to cosmic, folklore, and myths. 

Cold Storage by 

Publication date: October 5th, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads Practical, unassuming Jane Shoringfield has done the calculations, and deci...

Review || The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling



Publication date: October 5th, 2021


Practical, unassuming Jane Shoringfield has done the calculations, and decided that the most secure path forward is this: a husband, in a marriage of convenience, who will allow her to remain independent and occupied with meaningful work. Her first choice, the dashing but reclusive doctor Augustine Lawrence, agrees to her proposal with only one condition: that she must never visit Lindridge Hall, his crumbling family manor outside of town. Yet on their wedding night, an accident strands her at his door in a pitch-black rainstorm, and she finds him changed. Gone is the bold, courageous surgeon, and in his place is a terrified, paranoid man—one who cannot tell reality from nightmare, and fears Jane is an apparition, come to haunt him.

By morning, Augustine is himself again, but Jane knows something is deeply wrong at Lindridge Hall, and with the man she has so hastily bound her safety to. Set in a dark-mirror version of post-war England, Starling crafts a new kind of gothic horror from the bones of the beloved canon. This Crimson Peak-inspired story assembles, then upends, every expectation set in place by Shirley Jackson and Rebecca, and will leave readers shaken, desperate to begin again as soon as they are finished. 

Read now
 


The Death of Jane Lawrence is a bit of a genre meld: part Victorian-style romance, part gothic horror, with a good splash of the magical realism. It's a odd mix, no doubt.  The first half of the book is traditionally gothic, even if it's based in a world of alternate history. Lindridge Hall is every gothic manor house. The grounds ill-kept, overgrown with vines, dead shrubberies. Inside, it's much the same, with a Winchester House vibe with fake doors, odd hallways, and a locked cellar door. Of course, the house comes with its share of secrets and so does her new husband, Augestine. 

The second half of the book is where things get really odd. I can't say too much without giving away the plot, but think how Mexican Gothic flipped things on its head. You go in expecting a dark past, apparitions, and other gothic accoutrements according to formula but what you get is so much more. Old friends of Augustine's appear at the Hall, bringing metaphysical elements and magic into play. Jane's (and Augestine's) sanity is frequently in question and as she spirals down and down, it gets weird. but in the best way.

I can say without doubt that I loved sensible Jane Shoringfield. Living in a time period where she MUST get married, she makes a list of all the eligible bachelors and lists them off by how likely they are to let her continue with the life she has without disturbing it. She's determined by her careful selection that Dr. Augustine Lawrence is that person. She only has to convince him, which she does, with logic that includes their marriage as a business arrangement. Having spent a lot of time reading Harlequin romances, Jane is exactly the bluestocking kind of character I would choose. Fiercely independent, inquisitive, and ever questioning, she's a force to be reckoned with.

I think those that go in expecting a cut-and-dry gothic ghost story are going to be disappointed with the transcendental twist, but I highly enjoyed it. I favor books that stray outside of the tried and true formula and this one certainly did. 



This year I'm going to try to focus more on tracking my reads for the Scaredy Cat Bingo Challenge , which consists of 25 reading prompts...

Howl At The Moon || 20 Books of Werewolf Fiction

picture of the full moon with words Howl at the moon | 20 books of werewolf fiction

This year I'm going to try to focus more on tracking my reads for the Scaredy Cat Bingo Challenge, which consists of 25 reading prompts on a bingo board.


Today's prompt:

 Howl at the Moon

 
For this prompt, you'll need to read a book with shapeshifters. I've chosen werewolves specifically but any shapeshifter counts.




For horror lovers, there are plenty of wolfy reads out there!
Here are just a few to get you started:
Book covers for The Wolf's Hour, Wolf Land, The Wolfman, Sharp Teeth
 by Robert R. McCammon

This WWII alternate historical drama has a little bit of everything: Nazis, spies, werewolves. Can't decide whether to read horror or a spy thriller? The Wolf's Hour means you don't have to choose

 by 

The Wolfman by Nicholas Pekearo

Marlow Higgins is Dexter with hair. His wolfen dark passenger is sated by killing but he only chooses those who do harm. When a serial killer stalks his town, he goes after the killer but it doesn't go quite as planned. 

Side note: Nicholas Pekaro found out his book would be published and was killed three days later in the line of duty as an NYPD Auxillary policeman. 

Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow

In a world taken over by werewolves, what is a love-sick dog catcher to do? Especially when his crush is a lady werewolf who has left her pack. Sharp Teeth is unique in that it's written in free verse. 
Book Covers for Mongrels, the Last Werewolf, Wolf Hunt, Cycle of the Werewolf
Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones

Mongrels follows young Toby and his family as they travel across the American South in this coming-of-age tale. Always on the outskirts, Toby's tale subverts the typical werewolf tropes. 

The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan
Jacob Marlowe is the last of his kind. After 200 years, he's ready to end it all but fate and love have other plans. 

 by Stephen King 

A killing every full moon plagues this Maine town. (It's always freaking Maine isn't it?) Cycle of the Werewolf was adapted into the film Silver Bullet later on. 

Wolf Hunt by Jeff Strand 
Transporting a werewolf cross-country. What could go wrong? The first of three books, Jeff Strand's special brand of humor brings a darkly humorous addition to the werewolf genre.  




Love urban fantasy?
There are SO many shifter books out there but here are a few of my favorites.

Book Covers for Throw me to the Wolves, Sisters of the Moon, Moon Called, Misfit Pack, Clean Sweep
Throw Me to the Wolves by lindy ryan

Cursed by a witch who murdered her entire family, Britta heads back home when the witch's remains are found in the house where it all began. 

Sisters of the Moon by Alexandrea weis

Taken to an abbey on a deserted island, Durra is told this odd place is now her home. Tending to the nuns and their many cats, Durra starts searching for answers about the abbey and the creatures she hears howling outside her window. 
   Read my review here

Moon Called  by Patrica Briggs

Mercy Thompson is a Volkwagon mechanic and a coyote shifter. Her next-door neighbor is a werewolf that she loves to taunt. The first of thirteen books, Moon Called has shifters, gremlins, vampires, and more. 

Misfit Pack by Stephanie foxe

Attacked in the park one night, Amber finds herself changing. Bitten wolves are looked down upon even if they didn't choose it.  She and two others changed against their will bind themselves together to form a new pack.  However, Amber has to fight in the Trials to keep the title of Alpha or her pack will be disbanded. This five-book series is will have you rooting for the underdog.

Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews

Running a Victorian B&B is no joke in a normal world, but what happens when your clientele is more than human? The first of a five-book series, this world has a lot of magic, intergalactic monsters, and a bit of romance.



Is red more your color?
Check out these fairytale retellings.
book covers for The Girl in Red, Of Snow and Scarlet, Curse of the Wolf King, For the Wolf

The Girl in Red by Christina Henry

This post-apocalyptic take on Little Red Riding Hood casts Red not as a damsel in distress, but as someone who might just eat you up herself.


Of Snow and Scarlet by Katherine MacDonald

A white wolf saved Andesine as a child. After the wolf turns out to be an omega hiding from his former pack, Andesine finds herself returning the favor and getting caught in the middle of something much bigger than herself. 

Curse of the Wolf King  by tessonja odette

This twisted fairytale is a Beauty and the Beast retelling, not Little Red Riding Hood but there's still a wolf involved. Gemma is captured by a Fae King and in order to gain her freedom, will help him break his curse. But when the curse is broken, he'll return to his wolf form. Is it worth it?

For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten 
As the second daughter of the queen, it's her turn to be sacrificed to the Wolf of the Woods. Not everything is as it seems though. This tale melds Little Red Riding Hood and Beaty and the Beast for a slow burn fantasy romance. 
book covers for Sisters Red, Wolf Skin, For the Wolf

Sisters Red by 
Wolfskin by 
Red Wolf by 

 In order to get more done this year, I've started doing mini-reviews of somewhat like books.  These are primarily reads picked up from ...

Mini Reviews || The Hungry Earth by Nicholas Kaufmann, Mexican Gothic by Silva Moreno-Garcia, and Mass Hysteria by Michael Patrick Hicks


 In order to get more done this year, I've started doing mini-reviews of somewhat like books. 

These are primarily reads picked up from KU and a few from Netgalley here and there. Any direct requests will not be a part of the mini-reviews series.

Today's mini-reviews are 3 eco-horror books that I read late last year: The Hungry Earth by Nicholas Kaufmann, Mexican Gothic by Silva Moreno-Garcia, and Mass Hysteria by Michael Patrick Hicks. 





Sakima, New York, a sleepy, idyllic city nestled in the Hudson Valley, a place where everyone knows each other, families look after the highly prized community garden, and the crime rate is so low that Dr. Laura Powell, the police department’s medical examiner, spends most of her time tending to her own private medical practice.

That changes drastically the day a local high school student is found dead, an apparent suicide. Called in to perform the autopsy, Laura uncovers a strange growth inside the body, composed of a mysterious substance she can’t identify. Enlisting the aid of her scientist ex-boyfriend, Booker Coates, Laura launches an investigation that leads to a horrifying discovery.

Something deadly has taken root in Sakima, an organism whose toxic influence spreads like a disease through the population, dangerously altering minds and dominating wills, a ruthless intelligence that demands obedience. As more and more townspeople fall under its control, forming violent mobs to seek out those who remain uninfected, Laura and Booker must find a way to stop it before they become its next victims. But how can they stop something they don’t understand?

Publication date: October 5th, 2021

My Thoughts...

The Hungry Earth is no doubt a homage to the small-town horror novels of the '80s and early '90s. If I hadn't known when it was published, I would think that I would have picked up this novel at a thrift shop or used bookstore. It's that kind of good. There's plenty of fun body horror with mushrooms bursting eyes from sockets and when not doing the deed themselves, the infected helps them along. The synopsis is straightforward and you won't find very many surprises when it comes to the fate of characters or the plot, but that's the beauty of it. It's a mycelium Invasion of the Body Snatchers when the townspeople hear the call and are unable to resist. They are missionaries, evangelists for the God of Dirt.  It's a mycologist's nightmare. There's nothing scarier than fiction with its basis in fact and The Hungry Earth is a suspenseful, eco-horror that turns into the best kind of '80s horror at its core. 






After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.

Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemí’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind. 


Publication date: july 30th, 2020

My Thoughts...

I always dread reading books that have such a good following because I am usually in the minority of loving it. Mexican Gothic was one of those books that kept getting the hype everywhere I turned but thankfully, it did not fall to the popularity curse. 
 
This is a very mystery-driven plot. The eerieness of both the setting and the unknowns of the characters added to the overall feel of the novel. So many gothic checkmarks are hit with this story yet we are still given a wonderfully feminist MC in Naomi. She handles all that is thrown at her with remarkable aplomb. The expected debutant is at odds with the untrusting, independent character that we are given. The house, as in many gothic fictions, is remarkably its own character as it should be, and the worrisome behavior of those in the house only added to the mystery. 

On the same level of novels as Rebecca, Mexican Gothic is atmospheric and evasive.  It's definitely a slow burn, but once the stone starts rolling, it will crush anyone who stands in its way. 




It came from space…

Something virulent. Something evil. Something new. And it is infecting the town of Falls Breath.

Carried to Earth in a freak meteor shower, an alien virus has infected the animals. Pets and wildlife have turned rabid, attacking without warning. Dogs and cats terrorize their owners, while deer and wolves from the neighboring woods hunt in packs, stalking and killing their human prey without mercy.

As the town comes under siege, Lauren searches for her boyfriend, while her policeman father fights to restore some semblance of order against a threat unlike anything he has seen before. The Natural Order has been upended completely, and nowhere is safe.

…and it is spreading.

Soon, the city will find itself in the grips of mass hysteria.

To survive, humanity will have to fight tooth and nail. 

Publication date: August 10th, 2017

Brutal is the only way to describe this novel by Michael Patrick Hicks. This is one of those that you don't need to see the trigger warnings on. Assume that if it's a trigger, it's in this book. Necrophilia, bestiality, gore, animal death, child death...the list truly goes on and on. I distinctly remember listening to this while out for a walk and the words that came out of my mouth were "Oh hell no". Truly, if you have any triggers, scroll on by. You have to be able to take a true unflinching look at yourself to see exactly what you can handle. Hicks doesn't waste any time taking you into the graphic depravity of the human mind. Savage and unyielding, this extreme horror is not a story for the faint at heart. 

Happy 2022 and happy horror reading! Here's the roundup of anticipated horror releases for January 2022.  ( If you plan on purchasing an...

This Month in Horror || January 2022





Happy 2022 and happy horror reading!

Here's the roundup of anticipated horror releases for January 2022. 

(If you plan on purchasing any of the books on this page, it would be awesome if you’d use the affiliate links. This helps to support the blog and doesn’t cost you a thing. Thanks!)


If you’ve read my bio, you’ll get a pretty-good sense of who I am even if you don’t know me and you’ve never read my books. However, ...

Author Spotlight || Kristina Rienzi, author of Among Us

If you’ve read my bio, you’ll get a pretty-good sense of who I am even if you don’t know me and you’ve never read my books. However, there’s more to an author than her writing life summed up in one paragraph. I’m here to let you in on the details I left out. 

If you’ve read my thrillers, but never met me in real life, you’d likely believe that I’m an introvert. You’d also probably believe that something dark lurks inside of me. Then, you’d meet me in person and your head might just spin around. 

We’d talk and you’d see that I’m bubbly, outgoing, positive, and intently engaged in our conversation. I’d look like any other extrovert you’d ever seen. As we chatted, you’d hear me talk about dreaming big, never giving up, and likely glean some inspirational message or positive affirmation from our conversation. 

Darkness? Not so much. 

Two different people, yes. Nevertheless, we’re one in the same. I assure you, the motivational-speaker-personality you meet in real life IS the real me. So is the introverted, dark girl. We go hand in hand. Not surprising for a Gemini. When you add writing to the mix, it makes for interesting stories.

Confusing? Sure. That’s because introversion isn’t what it seems on the surface. It’s not about being quiet vs. loud. Social vs. antisocial. Friendly vs. shy. It’s about where introverts get their energy from, and the answer is, ourselves. Extroverts, on the other hand, get their energy from other people. 

It’s probably why most writers are introverts at heart, even if they feel extroverted in social situations. However, introverts feed off being alone. We’re energized when the door is closed, and only our thoughts and our story (plus some coffee!) remain in the room. It feeds our souls so much that after we write as many words as our fingers can speedily type, we still have the wherewithal to rally with friends. That is, until we inevitably collapse from social interaction. 

Because as introverts, we lose our energy around people. We give every ounce of what we have to others until we’re depleted entirely. Therefore, after a conference or a book signing, you’ll find me in my usual restorative place---on the couch binging Netflix, wine in hand,…zombified. 

For my darkness obsession, it’s real. Sadly, no matter how hard I try to be a kind person and bring those around me up, darkness lives in our world. Instead of confronting it head on and trying to change the unchangeable, I write dark stories where, as the author, I’m in control. Through my stories, I can face my fears and grow. Powerful stuff.  

Truth be told, darkness has always intrigued me. It inspired my advanced psychology degree, and then my coaching certification. I wanted to learn why people did the things they did, and what motivated them to change, or not. 

I hope my dark stories inspire others to face their fears and embrace the unknown so they can live their best life---happier, stronger, and more in tune with who they are and what they want. When my characters overcome obstacles, I want my readers to feel empowered to do the same. 

Because, as Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.” 

I’m grateful for all the readers who trust me to pull them through the darkness and into the light. They’re why this introvert writes at all. If you haven’t read my books, I hope my words intrigued you to come over to the introverted, dark side! 

~Kristina 


Check out Kristina’s debut audiobook, AMONG US. This new-adult sci-fi thriller was chosen as an April 2019 Audible Editors Select Pick and featured on Audible’s ACX University 2018 webcast series.



Danger lurks in the unknown… 

Marci Simon lives a double life: conservative professor of English by day, and controversial blogger of aliens by night. But when a classified document lands in her lap, her two worlds collide in an explosive revelation of shocking and deadly secrets.

Despite imminent danger at every twist, Marci embarks on an unstoppable quest to expose the terrifying truth. Only she never anticipated the entangled nebula of dark lies, nor the never-ending wormhole the government would spiral through to silence her forever.

Knowledge can kill.

And Marci knows too much. With global security at risk, no one can be trusted. To debunk the stratosphere of deceit, Marci races at the speed of light to escape the grips of the clandestine Extraterrestrial Security Agency (ESA) hunting her before she vanishes like all the others. But Marci is unique. Despite being the ESA’s prime target, she’s also the skeleton key to the deadliest truth in the history of the universe.

The nightmare is real, and it’s only just begun. Marci must take a nefarious leap of faith before her options, and her breaths, evaporate into a black hole for all eternity.

“It pulled me in and kept me on the edge of my seat until the final word.”
 ~Chad, Audible Listener


About Kristina:

Kristina Rienzi is a Jersey Shore-based new adult thriller author, certified professional coach, and the former president of Sisters in Crime-Central Jersey. An INFJ who dreams beyond big, Kristina encourages others (and herself) to embrace the unknown through her stories. When she's not writing or drinking wine, Kristina is spoiling her baby girl (and two fur-babies), dissecting true crime stories, singing (and dancing) to Yacht Rock Radio or rooting for the WVU Mountaineers. She believes in all things paranormal, a closet full of designer bags, weekly manicures, the Law of Attraction, aliens, angels, and the value of a graduate degree in psychology. Connect with Kristina at KristinaRienzi.com, on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.