what I’ve been reading

by Kaylah Stroup

The Mud Ballad by Jo Quenell.

‘In a dying railroad town, a conjoined twin wallows in purgatory for the murder of his brother. A disgraced surgeon goes to desperate ends to reconnect with his lost love. When redemption comes with a dash of black magic, the two enter a world of talking corpses, flesh-eating hogs, rude mimes, and ritualistic violence.’

Listen, I loved this book so much it already got it’s own post here on the blog. Read my review of The Mud Ballad here. I’m still feeling like this is going to be one of my favorites of the year. Once again, if you’ve liked my book recommendations in the past this is one you’re not going to want to miss!

Tales from the Gas Station Volume One & Volume Two by Jack Townsend.

“Drunk customers. Shoplifting raccoons. Otherworldly visitors. As night shift clerk at the twenty-four-hour gas station at the edge of town, Jack has pretty much seen it all.

That is, until his best friend reveals the body of a local politician hidden in the trunk of a car, setting off a chain of events with apocalyptic potential. Soon, Jack finds himself entangled in a supernatural conspiracy involving monster hunters, sociopaths, doomsday cultists, and… garden gnomes?

Armed with nothing but his wits, sarcasm, and alarming amounts of coffee, can Jack stay alive long enough to see another morning shift? Or will he, too, fall victim to the dark, ancient force infecting the dreams of everyone around him?

One thing’s for sure. He’s not getting paid enough for this.”

I was very excited to start this series based on the fact that lots of reviews call out these books as a must read if you liked John Dies at the End.

Personally, I’m torn. If I am entertained by a book, which I absolutely was with these, then it feels wrong to criticize it. That being said, I feel like these could have been… better. The premise is super fun. I enjoyed the characters and definitely had more than a few laugh out loud moments. BUT there were also quite a few times I had to flip a couple pages back to clarify something confusing. There were also a lot of loose ends that never got tied up. When I finished up the second book and moved on to something completely different I realized how slowly I had been trudging through reading with these two.

Tales from the Gas Station is currently a four part book series. I think I’m happy stopping at two. If you’re into books that mix comedy and horror, maybe check this out! This series has a bit of a cult following and despite my complaints, I did enjoy them. I’m just not positive that I need to read more of them when there are so many other books out there to dive into!

Tales from the Gas Station review

If This Book Exists You’re in the Wrong Universe by Jason Pargin.

Book number four of the John Dies at the End series! …And possibly my favorite of them all?! I loved this whole series.

If you aren’t familiar, these books follow the adventures of David and his friends John and Amy as they investigate paranormal and supernatural phenomena, battling all manner of monsters and otherworldly threats. Some folks may find the childish humor and irreverence of the series off-putting but it’s the perfect blend of horror and comedy for me. I enjoyed all four books immensely and look forward to more. Fingers crossed!

If This Book Exists, You're in the Wrong Universe by Jason Pargin review

Bedside Manor by Jack Townsend.

When Jack’s car breaks down in the middle of a cross-country road trip, the mysterious house at the top of the hill is a beacon of hope. If he can borrow a phone to call for help, he’ll be on his way in no time. But someone – or something – has other plans. Soon, Jack finds himself trapped in a nightmare that defies logic, where a depraved killer on the loose is the least of his problems. Will Jack escape before it’s too late?
A house full of strangers.
An unsolvable mystery.
A night that won’t end.
Welcome to Bedside Manor.

This novella was written by the same author as the Tales from the Gas Station series and even includes two of the same characters but you absolutely do not need to read other books to understand this one. It’s a stand-alone.

My hot take? It’s even better than the Gas Station series. I loved this book! It was a quick read that wasn’t at all what I was expecting. The premise was familiar (murder mystery party) but the story itself was really unique and fun. I would love to find more books like this one.

Small Horrors by Darcy Coates.

A collection of fifty creepy stories all jam-packed into 366 pages! I picked this up because I had read and enjoyed one of her other books, The Haunting of Gillespie.

This was such a fun collection of horror shorts. I actually got sunburn from reading it my hammock because I just kept saying “ahhh, one more!” The stories are so short that it’s hard to talk yourself out of just one more. This was a solid collection!

Peruse the ‘books‘ category here on the blog for similar posts. Keep an eye on my instagram stories if you’re looking for even more recommendations!

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