Top Ten Tuesday: New-to-Me Authors I Discovered in 2022

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.  Click on the link for more info and to find out about future topics.

This week’s theme is:  New-to-Me Authors I Discovered in 2022


I read quite a few new-to-me authors in 2022, and enjoyed each of the books I read enough that I’d like to check out more from any of the authors listed below. I’ve linked the covers to my reviews (where possible) in case anything catches your attention. On to the books..

PracticalMagic SomethingWicked WhatMovestheDead
MidnightMan RoomintheAttic AngryPlanet
Wehrwolf CrucifixKiller Hollows
NothingMan

This weeks post features books from:

Alice Hoffman | Ray Bradbury | T. Kingfisher | Caroline Mitchell | Louise Douglas | Becky Chambers | Alma Katsu | Chris Carter | Mark Edwards | Catherine Ryan Howard


So, which books made your list this week?
See you again next time for another Top Ten Tuesday.

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Book Review: What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher

Name:  What Moves the Dead
Author:  
T. Kingfisher
Number of Pages: 
159 (Kindle)
Published: 
July 12th 2022 by Tor Nightfire
Genre: Horror, Gothic, Fantasy

Goodreads

What Moves the Dead is Kingfisher’s retelling of Edgar Allan Poe’s classic “The Fall of the House of Usher.”
When Alex Easton, a retired soldier, receives word that their childhood friend Madeline Usher is dying, they race to the ancestral home of the Ushers in the remote countryside of Ruritania.
What they find there is a nightmare of fungal growths and possessed wildlife, surrounding a dark, pulsing lake. Madeline sleepwalks and speaks in strange voices at night, and her brother Roderick is consumed with a mysterious malady of the nerves.
Aided by a redoubtable British mycologist and a baffled American doctor, Alex must unravel the secret of the House of Usher before it consumes them all.

My Rating:

5diamonds

My Thoughts:

What Moves the Dead is the first book I’ve read by T. Kingfisher and it won’t be the last. I really enjoyed this retelling of The Fall of the House of Usher. So much wonderfully Gothic content that I couldn’t put the book down, even when things did start getting gruesomely strange as Alex Easton pays a visit to their old friends in the House of Usher.

The Usher siblings themselves are clearly in the grip of something or someone, for neither of them is a picture of robust health, and Easton is shocked to see the pair of them. Roderick has taken to playing haunting piano refrains late at night and is given to bouts of melancholy.
Madeleine’s decline is even more pronounced, her physical state frail and upsetting.
Despite all this the siblings seem bound to their home and wish to remain there.

Alongside Easton are a number of other characters, all of whom must figure out and face what is lurking within the walls of the House of Usher.
I loved Easton. Formerly a soldier, Easton is capable and determined and not given to flights of fancy, so their experiences at the house are definitely eye opening. I loved their wit and humour, which shone through despite the horror they were facing, and their devotion to helping their old friends and, in Roderick’s case, former comrade-in-arms.
Easton meets Eugenia Potter, a lady ‘of a certain age’, in the grounds surrounding the Usher house, where she’s busy making detailed paintings of mushrooms. Oh Eugenia, I could read a whole book devoted to her adventures and endeavours to gain access and acceptance to the Mycology society. As it is here she’s useful, informative and a great help to Alex in figuring out what is going on, however hard it is to believe at first.
Am American doctor, Denton, another friend of the Ushers, completes the trio. I loved them all.
And as a counterpoint to the malevolence of the local hares (more to come on this presently), an opinionated horse by the name of Hob lightens the mood during every scene he’s in, expressing his opinions clearly with a mere turn of his ears.

The old house in which the Ushers reside and to which their friend Easton is summoned is something of a character in itself – becoming more dilapidated, run through with mold and fungus, it looms like some ghostly spectre, and there’s a wonderful description as Easton sees it up close for the first time on their visit.
The library is full of horrifically moulding books, literally rotting as they sit there, and there have been sightings of a woman wandering the corridors at night.
The house, awful as it is, seems to hold the Ushers captive in some way beyond the normal. It’s so clear something is dreadfully wrong but despite imploring and offers of accommodation from Easton and another friend, Denton, the Ushers refuse to move.
There are whispers that the place is cursed, and the local wildlife, particularly the hares, exhibit some very strange behaviour. It‘s all very eerie, unsettling and threatening.

What Moves the Dead features some brilliantly creepy scenes, from the quietly unnerving to the outright horrific, and I just couldn’t put the book down. What begins as mildly strange becomes an all out life-endangering fight for survival as the horrors are revealed, and I flew through the story.

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Books of 2022

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.  Click on the link for more info and to find out about future topics.

This week’s theme is:  Favourite Books of 2022


Top Ten Tuesday this week gives a chance to look back over last year’s reads and pick out ten favourites. I’ve linked to reviews where possible in case anything catches your attention.

OnceandFutureWitches EvilMind HuntingEvil
WhatMovestheDead DeathontheNile SomethingWicked
BillySummers MidnightMan Foundryside
WindThroughtheKeyhole

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow
An Evil Mind and Hunting Evil (Robert Hunter #6 and #10) by Chris Carter
What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher
Death on the Nile (Hercule Poirot #17) by Agatha Christie
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
Billy Summers by Stephen King
The Midnight Man (Slayton Thrillers #1) by Caroline Mitchell
Foundryside (The Founders Trilogy #1) by Robert Jackson Bennett
The Wind Through the Keyhole (The Dark Tower #4.5) by Stephen King


So, which books made your list this week?
See you again next time for another Top Ten Tuesday.

Book Review: Practical Magic (Practical Magic #1) by Alice Hoffman

Name:  Practical Magic
Author:  
Alice Hoffman
Number of Pages: 
290 (Kindle)
Published: 
October 19th 2017 by Scribner UK (first published July 1st 1995)
Genre: Fantasy, Magical Realism

Goodreads

For more than two hundred years, the Owens women have been blamed for everything that has gone wrong in their Massachusetts town. Gillian and Sally have endured that fate as well: as children, the sisters were forever outsiders, taunted, talked about, pointed at. Their elderly aunts almost seemed to encourage the whispers of witchery, with their musty house and their exotic concoctions and their crowd of black cats. But all Gillian and Sally wanted was to escape.
One will do so by marrying, the other by running away. But the bonds they share will bring them back—almost as if by magic…

My Rating:

3halfdiamonds

My Thoughts:

Practical Magic is a story of family – aunts, siblings, daughters.
The Owens sisters, Sally and Gillian are completely different in every way, yet they’re both destined to feel the influence of being part of a family that, generations back, were apparently known as witches.
In childhood this leads them to be outsiders as there are whispers of witchcraft and some slightly strange events lead their peers to keep their distance.
As adults, Sally and Gillian choose very different paths, and the two grow apart until something happens that brings Gillian back to her sister, seeking help.

I enjoyed reading this, although I went into it thinking there would be more magic than there was. This is really a tale of two women, their lives, their families, and their relationships, both romantic and familial.
I liked that they were total contrasts to each other, yet their bond remained strong even after so much time apart, and that when it really mattered they were still there for each other.
Gillian’s return brings a certain amount of chaos into Sally’s otherwise ordered life, and she accepts it even though she’s tried so hard to provide a regular upbringing for her own daughters.

I’m looking forward to reading the next in this series as I think it is the story of the aunts who featured briefly in this tale. I liked both of these characters and would have liked more of them here, so a whole book devoted to their story is something I’m looking forward to. I’ve had this series on my ’to read’ list for a long time so I’m glad I’ve finally started it and am looking forward to reading the next book.

Book Review: The Wehrwolf by Alma Katsu

Name:  The Wehrwolf
Author:  
Alma Katsu
Number of Pages: 
79 (Kindle)
Published: 
September 29th 2022 by Amazon Original Stories
Genre: Short Story, Horror, Historical

Goodreads

Germany, 1945. In the waning days of World War II, the Nazis have been all but defeated. Uwe Fuchs, never a fighter, feels fortunate to have avoided the front lines as he cared for his widowed mother.
But Uwe’s fortune changes when Hans Sauer, the village bully, recruits him to join a guerilla resistance unit preparing for the arrival of Allied soldiers. At first, Uwe is wary. The war is lost, and rumor has it that Hans is a deserter. But Hans entices him with talk of power, brutality, and their village’s ancestral lore: werewolves.
With some reluctance, Uwe joins up with the pack and soon witnesses their startling transformation. But when the men’s violent rampage against enemy soldiers takes a devastatingly personal turn, Uwe must grapple not only with his role in their evil acts but with his own humanity. Can he reclaim what this group of predatory men has stolen from him?
Or has he been a monster all along?

My Rating:

4halfdiamonds

My Thoughts:

The Wehrwolf is a short story by Alma Katsu. I don’t tend to read many short stories but I’m glad I picked this one up as it’s introduced a new-to-me author whose works I would certainly be interested in discovering.

Katsu packs a lot into a short number of pages.
The story plays out in a vividly created setting of a village community where the inhabitants are living in fear, suspicion and uncertainty.
Rumours about what is to come fuels fear, which spreads among the people, making usually mild-mannered, decent folk make choices they would never otherwise have made.
Events in the village only serve to heighten this fear.

The issue of choices and consequences is explored here as Uwe ends up personally affected by his choices, but there are also repercussions for those he cares about.
Uwe is a well-developed character, a decent man in a seemingly impossible situation with a great desire to defend his family and his home. His peers put pressure on him, and he’s deceived until the last moment as to exactly what is going on, at which point he doesn’t really have the option to just walk away.

Hans Sauer is a bully and is driven by nothing but ill-intent. He’s the leader of a group who claim to be defending their homes and families, and it becomes hard for Uwe to resist, even though it’s clear there’s more to what is going on than the group first claim.

And, of course, there are werewolves, given an origin story here that I’d never come across before, although I’ve probably not read that many werewolf stories.

So, a lot going on in this engaging read which is perfect for the darker nights of autumn. Glad I picked this one up and I’d like to read another Alma Katsu book in the future.

Book Review: The Executioner (Robert Hunter #2) by Chris Carter

Name:  The Executioner (Robert Hunter #2)
Author:  
Chris Carter
Number of Pages: 
492 (Kindle)
Published: 
July 1st 2010 by Simon & Schuster UK
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Crime

Goodreads

Inside a Los Angeles church, on the altar steps, lies the blood-soaked, decapitated body of a priest. Carefully positioned, legs stretched out, arms crossed over the chest, the most horrifying thing of all is that the priest’s head has been replaced by that of a dog. Later, the forensic team discover that, on the victim’s chest, the figure 3 has been scrawled in blood.
At first, Detective Robert Hunter believes that this is a ritualistic killing. But as more bodies surface, he is forced to reassess. All the victims died in the way they feared the most. Their worst nightmares have literally come true. But how could the killer have known? And what links these apparently random victims?
Hunter finds himself on the trail of an elusive and sadistic killer, somone who apparently has the power to read his victims’ minds. Someone who can sense what scares his victims the most. Someone who will stop at nothing to achieve his twisted aim.

My Rating:

4halfdiamonds

My Thoughts:

The Executioner is the second book in the Robert Hunter series.  

A brutal murder with a possibly ritualistic air sees Hunter and his partner Carlos Garcia take on a dangerous killer who has an uncanny way of knowing exactly how to scare their victims to death.

Hunter and Garcia are a great duo.  They’re a good balance for each other, Hunter with his solitary way, Garcia with his family and trying to keep his work from invading his family life.  There’s a great new character in Captain Barbara Blake, and I think she’s one I’m going to like.  Here we experience her initial frustrations with Hunter, and the pair learning to trust and tolerate each other, and work together, going against authority if required to solve the case, which sets the scene for a new partnership going forward and I’m looking forward to seeing how the two work together in future books.

I liked the inclusion of Mollie, a young woman with an almost supernatural gift, seeing flashes of the crimes being committed by the Executioner.  Despite her story being unusual and quite difficult to believe, she comes forward, convinced she can assist the police in their investigation.  Mollie added a slightly supernatural feel to the story that I’ve not come across so far in this series, and I liked the way her presence brought out Hunter’s protective side.  He wanted all to be well for her, and would personally put himself at risk to see her safe.

As always the story flies forward at a great pace, delivering new shocks and horrors along the way.  The time there’s also the addition of another case, that of The Slasher, another killer intent on wreaking havoc, so, not one serial killer, but possibly two.  Talk about having a lot to contend with.

The killer dubbed in the press as The Executioner certainly gets imaginative in their methods.  I read on with growing horror at what had been done to these various individuals, each one playing on their own private fear.  Whatever scares them most in the world is used against them in the manner of their murder.  

I kept wondering what was driving this person, what could have caused them to go to such extremes, so I was intrigued as the truth was finally revealed towards the fast-paced conclusion, with Hunter and Garcia once more thrown into massive amounts of peril and danger.  Seriously, these two just do not seem to get a break.

The Executioner is a good follow up to The Crucifix Killer, and I’m going to carry on with this series.  I’ve read four books now, so there are still quite a few left, but I might wait a short while at least.  I’ve rarely gone through a series as quickly as I am with this one, and I want it to last a little bit longer.

Book Review: The Night Whispers (Slayton Thrillers #2) by Caroline Mitchell

Name:  The Night Whispers (Slayton thrillers #2)
Author:  
Caroline Mitchell
Number of Pages: 
240 (Kindle)
Published: 
July 28th 2022 by Embla Books
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Crime

Goodreads

It began with the whispers. In the woods, in the park, and always at night. Then they came into town, down dark alleys, and in the shadows. Before long, the black-eyed children were moving closer, until finally there was a knock on the door.
When the couple were found dead with their faces frozen in permanent horror, the children were nowhere to be seen. Until it happened again.
Join Detective Sarah Noble as she investigates another dark case in the town of Slayton.

My Rating:

3diamonds

My Thoughts:

We return to Slayton in The Night Whispers, a town first brought to life in the eerie tale of The Midnight Man. I really enjoyed the first instalment, so looked forward to starting this book.

It begins with a wonderfully creepy opening, and a violent crime which may have a strange element to it based on the experience of the victims in their final moments, but then the supernatural potential is dialled back somewhat, and we’re into a more grounded real world police investigation.

What Slayton has in abundance is a varied cast of strange characters, all behaving furtively or concealing something from their past, so there are enough people to give Sarah Noble and her team cause for interest and in some cases concern. And then there are the newcomers, from the troubled Gerard to the Youtube broadcaster who fuels the fire with the stories of ‘sightings’ of the black-eyed children said to be tormenting the town.

From the derelict but still-standing Blackhall Manor and it’s surrounding woods, to cottages falling into disrepair this book has some good settings which all add a slightly creepy air to the story.

Character-wise Sarah holds the story together. She’s more settled in her police work, finding her place in the team and dealing with new colleagues. Her friendships with Maggie and Elsie have developed further, with the group regularly meeting up to chat.
There’s also Elliott, Maggie’s son, with his strange and inexplicable talent of knowing things that others don’t. He seems to have a link to a pair of siblings who feature in Slayton’s long ago past, and their presence causes him many a sleepless night as he wonders what they want and how to quiet the whispers that keep him awake.

There are things to like here, yet I found myself at times thinking back to The Midnight Man, which I read quite recently, and feeling that somehow this latest visit to Slayton didn’t quite have the same appeal of the previous book.
There was more in the way of talking and speculation, among Sarah and her friends and between her colleagues, and I didn’t feel quite so much of that air of creepy dread that kept me turning the pages of The Midnight Man.
I did enjoy reuniting with the characters from the first book and seeing their relationships develop, and if there are future additions to the Slayton series I would still be interested to read more.

Book Review: The Crucifix Killer (Robert Hunter #1) by Chris Carter

Name:  The Crucifix Killer (Robert Hunter #1)
Author:  
Chris Carter
Number of Pages: 
448 (Kindle)
Published: 
October 1st 2009 by Simon & Schuster UK
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Crime

Goodreads

When the body of a young woman is discovered in a derelict cottage in Los Angeles, Robert Hunter is thrown into a nightmare case. The victim suffered a terrible death, and on the nape of her neck has been carved a strange double-cross: the signature of a psychopath known as the Crucifix Killer.
But that’s impossible. Because two years ago, the Crucifix Killer was caught and executed. Could this therefore be a copycat killer? Or could the unthinkable be true? Is the real killer still out there, ready to embark once again on a vicious and violent killing spree, selecting his victims seemingly at random, taunting Robert Hunter with his inability to catch him?
Hunter and his rookie partner, Garcia, need to solve this case and fast.

My Rating:

4halfdiamonds

My Thoughts:

The Crucifix Killer certainly starts as it means to go on. If you’re not sure or hesitant about the level of violence and gruesomeness in a series, you’ll get a feel for what you’re in for within the first couple of chapters of The Crucifix Killer.
Gruesomeness aside though, what an opening. Talk about leaving us hanging, quite literally.

The Crucifix Killer is a great introduction to the Robert Hunter series, as both central characters Robert Hunter and his new partner Carlos Garcia are immediately thrown into peril just before the narrative switches back to several weeks earlier. So, a violent beginning, and then the character development begins.

Hunter and Garcia make a great pairing, Hunter with his previous experience and past losses, Garcia new to the team and thrown in at the deep end with the case of a violent killer who is very imaginative in their methods.
They’re very different; Hunter lives alone and doesn’t really have any ties, Garcia is married to his childhood sweetheart and happy, although the things he sees during his work may start to impact on his personal life.
Hunter’s past is brought to the fore as the case evidence casts doubt on a previous conviction, one that ended in the execution of the supposed Crucifix Killer. Now it seems that the killer is back in action once again, so, what’s going on?

The plot is fast paced, the chapters are mostly short and there are many mini-cliffhangers that make the book very hard to put down as you’re in search of answers as much as Hunter and Garcia. There are many exciting moments as our duo go in search of a dangerous killer, following where the leads take them, into all manner of unsavoury places, meeting a whole host of characters from the decent to the downright violent, hoping they can work it out in time before another victim is claimed.

So, what really happened in the original Crucifix Killer case? Did they convict the wrong person? Is this a copycat? Only one way to find out, get started on the Robert Hunter series.

Book Review: Witch by Finbar Hawkins

Name:  Witch
Author:  
Finbar Hawkins
Number of Pages: 
277 (Kindle)
Published: 
October 1st 2020 by Zephyr
Genre: Historical, Fantasy

Goodreads

Set in the 17th century, a breathtaking debut, and a potential prize-winner, about the power of women, witchcraft, fury, revenge and the ties that bind us.
After witnessing the brutal murder of her mother by witch-hunters, Evey vows to avenge her and track down the killers. Fury burns in her bright and strong. But she has promised her mother that she will keep Dill, her little sister, safe.
As the lust for blood and retribution rises to fever pitch, will Evey keep true to the bonds of sisterhood and to the magick that is her destiny?

My Rating:

3halfdiamonds

My Thoughts:

Witch is the story of a young woman willing to risk all for revenge against the people who killed her mother. When Evey’s mother is named as a witch her fate is more or less sealed. These women live in a time when it was potentially dangerous to be thought of as a witch, unless of course it suited other people’s purposes. For example, at earlier times most of the people involved in the capture had consulted Evey’s mother at one time or another for healing remedies or help for their families. All of which serves to ignite Evey’s rage and desire for revenge. Escaping before she too is captured, her sole focus centres on finding and punishing the people who killed her mother.

Evey and Dill are sisters but they’re very different, and their differences irritate Evey to such an extent that her choices drive the two apart, which may have dire consequences later on. There are some good characters here. Setting out on her own Evey meets a young woman called Alice. I liked Alice a lot. The pair meet first just as Evey is about to get into more trouble, and Alice gives her shelter and friendship. Her kindness means a great deal to Evey in a world where everyone seems to have turned against her. Through Alice Evey also finds other people will to offer support in various ways.

Initially I found the writing somewhat distracting. I couldn’t seem to connect with it somehow, and I felt it slowed my reading at times which is a shame because I did enjoy the story as it progressed and Evey found a way to take on those who had harmed her family.

I enjoyed the magic and fantasy elements, which came into play more towards the end of the book, by which time Evey was coming to terms with her own strengths and powers, and without giving anything away about the ending, I would like to know what happened next for certain characters.

Book Review: Hunting Evil (Robert Hunter #10) by Chris Carter

Name:  Hunting Evil (Robert Hunter #10)
Author:  
Chris Carter
Number of Pages: 
496 (Kindle)
Published: 
May 2nd 2019 by Simon & Schuster UK
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Crime

Goodreads

‘Every story one day comes to an end.’
As roommates, they met for the first time in college. Two of the brightest minds ever to graduate from Stamford Psychology University.
As adversaries, they met again in Quantico, Virginia. Robert Hunter had become the head of the LAPD’s Ultra Violent Crimes Unit. Lucien Folter had become the most prolific and dangerous serial killer the FBI had ever encountered.
Now, after spending three and a half years locked in solitary confinement, Lucien has finally managed to break free. And he’s angry.
For the past three and a half years, Lucien has thought of nothing else but vengeance.
The person responsible for locking him away has to pay, he has to suffer.
That person … is Robert Hunter.
And now it is finally time to execute the plan.

My Rating:

5diamonds

My Thoughts:

Hunting Evil is book 10 of the Robert Hunter series and the second book that I’ve read. It’s the sequel to An Evil Mind, so I’d say read that one first. You could pick up Hunting Evil without having read the previous book, there’s enough description of past events to go along with the current narrative, but you get a much deeper understanding of the relationship between Robert Hunter and Lucien Folter through reading the first book. Long story short, they’ve encountered each other previously, Lucien then spent over 3 years imprisoned, and in that time occupied himself with thoughts of revenge against Robert Hunter.
And now Lucien has escaped.

An Evil Mind has massive amounts of tension despite (or perhaps because of?) Lucien being captured for the majority of the book. Even from a cell the amount of damage and chaos he inflicted seemed limitless.
Hunting Evil has a different feel to it altogether. Lucien is free, has had many hours of confinement to think about his revenge, and has all the tricks and tools to evade detection until it suits his purposes to come out of hiding. And he has a plan, to go bigger and more extreme than anything he’s ever done before. There seems to be little that Lucien cannot and will not do, which makes him one of the most evil and dangerous characters I’ve come across. I thought this reading the previous book, and it remains true here.

There’s a great dynamic between Hunter and Lucien. He goads Hunter and his colleagues, asking them to go through his ‘research’ to discover at least one thing that Lucien has yet to try, and they’re horrified when they realise what he has planned. Through a question and a well-thought-out riddle which has the authorities clutching for answers, the stakes turn out to be higher than ever, yet at the centre of the chaos are Robert and Lucien, with a clear eye for each other. One intent on revenge, the other intent on recapturing one of the most dangerous men he’s ever encountered. The antagonism is mutual and personal and the lengths both men will go to to ensure their preferred outcome is extreme.

Short chapters, switching viewpoints, misdirection, great reveals, all these kept me reading, and wondering just how far each of the main characters would go. The body count inevitably mounts; from the outset Lucien’s brutality is laid out clearly, and there are more gruesome scenes ahead, so perhaps not one for the squeamish (although I may have applied that to myself and my own reading choices prior to discovering this series so who knows?!).

I enjoyed every fast-paced moment of Hunting Evil, and the Robert Hunter series is one I am going to read more from. Now I’ve finished this two-part tale of Robert and Lucien I think I’ll go back to the beginning and read the rest of the series in order. I imagine there will be more gruesome, thrilling escapades ahead, and my newfound enjoyment of this genre cannot wait.