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The Naming of the Books 2018

It’s hard to believe there are only two days left in 2018! The days are speeding by, and as a result it feels like I have less and less time for reading. So which books did I read in 2018?

First, the rules: I count trade collections of comics but not individual issues. I include chapbooks, but not individual short stories from magazines, online, etc. I do not include unpublished works that I read for critique. Yes, I know this all seems arbitrary, but it’s my system. If you don’t like it, go make your own system, pal! Ahem. Anyway, let’s get to the list, presented here in the order in which I read them:

The Daily Show: An Oral History by Chris Smith
The House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson
Behind You: One-Shot Horror Stories by Brian Coldrick
All Heads Turn When the Hunt Goes By by John Farris
Other Places by Karen Heuler
Backward Masking Unmasked: Backward Satanic Messages of Rock and Roll Exposed by Jacob Aranza
Destroyer by Victor LaValle
Rat Queens, Vol. 1: Sass and Sorcery by Kurtis J. Wiebe
Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem
Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl by Andrea Lowler
I Am Providence by Nick Mamatas
The Terror by Dan Simmons
Mine! edited by Joe Corallo and Molly Jackson
Ten Dead Comedians by Fred Van Lente
Steve Lichman, Vol. 2 by David Rapoza and Daniel Warren
The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay
A Natural History of Hell by Jeffrey Ford
After Pie by Stefan Petrucha
We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix
Pet Sematary by Stephen King
The Bone Mother by David Demchuk
The Con Artist by Fred Van Lente
Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones

That’s 23 books for the year, a little shy of my annual goal of 30. Although, in my defense, The Terror is an extremely long novel that took something like two months for me to read in its entirety!

The breakdown:
13 novels
5 graphic novels/comics trade collections
2 story collections
2 works of non-fiction (although Backward Masking Unmasked is so ridiculous it could easily be called fiction)
1 novella

There you go, those are the books I read in 2018! Here’s wishing you and yours a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year, and lots more books in 2019!

Get 10% Off at LitReactor

Get 10% off my LitReactor online writing class on how to write fast-paced novels, Runaway Prose, or any other LitReactor class, if you register by Sunday and use the discount code NEWYEAR2019!

And remember, online writing classes make perfect belated Christmas gifts for those budding writers in your life who swore they would start their novels in the New Year!


MongrelsMongrels by Stephen Graham Jones
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

We all know about werewolves from the movies, but in this lively, poignant powerhouse of a novel, Stephen Graham Jones gives us a glimpse of what they might be like if they existed in the real world. It’s hard for me to find the right words to properly describe how much I love MONGRELS. So much more than a werewolf novel, it’s a peek into a subculture that is at once both recognizably human and exotically supernatural. Our young narrator wants very much to be a werewolf like his aunt, uncle, and grandfather, but so much of the novel is about all the dumb, mundane things that can go wrong for werewolves that you can’t help but feel sympathy for them. (Some of the best parts of the novel have to do with the new rules Jones invents for werewolves, which lends the well-worn trope an air of freshness and, at times, added piquancy.)

The prose is exquisite. Each chapter reads almost like a perfect short story. The characters are so well drawn and relatable that you feel like you know them as soon as you’re introduced; like you’re part of the narrator’s family, moving with them from state to state, never staying long enough to put down roots because that’s the way it is for werewolves. Well worthy of all its award nominations, MONGRELS is truly one of the best novels I’ve read. It’s a genuine masterpiece.

View all my reviews

Adding a Supernatural Element to Your Thriller

The kind folks at Killer Nashville asked me to write an article for their website. I wrote a piece called “Adding a Supernatural Element to Your Thriller,” and now it’s live! Click the excerpt below to read the whole thing:

Growing up, I was a Monster Kid through and through. One of my favorite memories from my youth is how every Sunday morning at 11 AM, WPIX-TV out of New York City would show an old, black-and-white Abbott and Costello movie. It seemed like they showed every film the comedy duo ever made, and week after week I watched and laughed along with their classic mix of physical comedy and wordplay. I enjoyed all the films, but my true, whole-hearted devotion was reserved for the movies in which Bud Abbott and Lou Costello encountered monsters, haunted houses, and mad scientists, movies like Hold That Ghost, Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man, Abbott, and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy, and of course their greatest film and one of my all-time favorite movies, the incomparable Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.