October Reading – Haunted House Stories

In this house, we don’t just celebrate Halloween, we pretty much celebrate Hallotober. Usually, that mainly takes the form of watching a lot – and I do mean a lot – of horror movies. This year, I feel like it’s been slightly slimmer pickings to stream, and since we’ve also been dealing with a bit of a cold snap, I’ve been indulging in a bit of warm-in-bed reading.

Somewhere, in the boxes we have yet to unpack after moving several years ago, I have an old, beaten-to-hell copy of Peter Straub’s Ghost Story – a book I would absolutely list near the top of an all time favorites list. It’s usually the first book I think of when I’m craving a good old-fashioned haunted tale. But this year, instead of falling into the trap of forever re-reading, I decided to avail myself of some of Kindle Unlimited’s haunted house selections.


I am absolutely giddy at how much the face of publishing has changed, and I love that it’s easier than ever for an aspiring author to get their work into the hands of readers. However – as with all good things – there’s a cost, and that cost comes here in a crazy influx of poor editing and not-so-great stories. Craven Manor by Darcy Coates was neither of those things, and I devoured it in a single sitting.

While Craven Manor doesn’t tip the traditional haunted mansion trope on its head, it definitely makes it wobble a little bit. What it lacks in creepy, it makes up for in a protagonist you can’t help rooting for. I’ll definitely be reading more of Darcy Coates’s books in the future.


While browsing through some other available ghost stories, I came across a 14 book series by a handful of different authors. I figured I’d go through and read them in order, although it doesn’t seem to be necessary as their only connection is that they’re all about haunted houses.

The Haunting of Bechdel Mansion was a solid enough story, but would have greatly benefited from at least one more pass by an editor before publication. Because of this, it doesn’t make the best impression as a first in a series, but that didn’t deter me from moving on to the second book!


I totally get why some folks struggle to move on from authors that they are already familiar with, but – despite the fact that I can sometimes go months without picking up a book – I really believe that Kindle Unlimited is a great value just because it allows readers to try things outside of their comfort zones risk-free. Maybe that seems like a bit of a hot take from someone who struggled against the concept of giving up paper books for an e-reader several years ago, but I really am delighted by the current accessibility of books in general – both for readers and authors.

Happy Hallotober, y’all, and may all your reads be spooky!

Getting Lost in Urban Fantasy

I used to be an insatiable reader. According to my GoodReads profile, I read 183 books in 2007 (the first year I tracked my read books online). In the dozen years since then, I slowed way down, although I do occasionally still indulge in periods of binge-reading.

With the fantastic integration of GoodReads and my Kindle, I decided to set myself a moderate reading challenge of 30 books this year, and surprisingly, I’m a little over halfway through.

My to-be-read list is at least as long as my to-be-played list, and I don’t fuss overly much about either one; whatever appeals at the time is what I indulge in. For the past few months, I’ve mostly been drawn to urban fantasy.

Urban Fantasy, as defined on Bookriot.com

Fantasy (and all its many sub-genres) isn’t really my jam. I dragged myself through four and half books of the Game of Thrones series before deciding I’d really just rather watch the show. I am risking any nerd cred I might have by confessing that I find J.R.R. Tolkien fabulously dull.

A few years ago, my husband introduced me to Simon R. Green, and by extension, John Taylor, Suzie Shooter, and all the other denizens of the Nightside. I devoured all the main books in the series, and promptly went back to my murder mysteries, historical fiction, and thrillers.

Recently, however, I decided to spoil myself and get a Kindle Unlimited subscription. It’s an inexpensive little luxury that I can put on hold as financial constraints demand, but it also allows me to try out a bunch of new-to-me books and authors without risk – if I don’t love something, I just return it.

(Ok, for all of you saying “That’s what LIBRARIES are for!” – I agree with you in principle. I love the idea of libraries. I’m glad they’re still a thing that exists. They’re fantastic resources. I also know that I will rack up insane late fees and stubbornly NOT read my books because of the firm return deadline, so it doesn’t really work for me.)

Through Kindle Unlimited, I discovered E. A. Copen and her delightful Lazarus Codex. I’ll be frank; my expectations weren’t high, but the books were, at least for me, a perfect combination of horror and comedy. From the first book to the last, I found myself reading every time I had a spare moment (and sometimes when I didn’t).

As a former aspiring author, I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about all the ways that tech and accessibility has changed the face of publishing, but I also realize how much I’m reaping the benefits of those changes. I love having so much fiction available to me at the touch of a “Download Now!” button.

Now I’m hunting for the next great little-known urban fantasy series – I have no intention of waiting years before finding another modern magical world to lose myself in.