It’s been a year to the day that I set Kendall Reviews up! I’m delighted with how the site has grown and the relationships I’ve built up with authors and publishers alike.
To celebrate I’m launching a new ongoing feature inspired by a very popular article I posted last year from Mike Thorns where he wrote about his 10 favourite films of the 2010’s
Each month I intend to post a Top 10 from an author, publisher or fellow blogger/reviewer. These can be on any subject as long as it’s relevant in some way to the genres Kendall Reviews cover. The variety of content already supplied has blown me away to be honest, I’ve some fantastic posts lined up starting with the brilliant BP Gregory who offers her Top Ten Reads of 2017.
Thank you so much Bronwyn for kicking my second year off with such a fantastic piece.
The kettle is on and the biscuit tin is out…
BP Gregory: My Top Ten Reads 2017
Thankyou to Kendall Reviews for inviting me in for tea and biscuits and a bit of guest-posting. This has been a bumper year for great things to read, especially feeding my growing appetite for eerie short story collections.
I generally try to make my way through a hundred new stories each year (note: new to me, not published in 2017). The full list is on Goodreads but I’d like to share my particular top ten favourites with you. We’ve got some fleshworlds, nuclear bunkers, cephalopods, dick jokes, and of course a whole lot of horror.
10. The Thing on the Shore, Tom Fletcher
This is Book #2 of the Fell House series, but reads as a stand-alone just as nicely (which is how I came across it – went back and did the series after). A cry of modern despair blends with deep cosmic horror. Corporate conspiracy seeks to bring about the birth of something new into this world, something with its own plans; while the only ones who suspect are already failing to cope with the pervasive sadness of their everyday.
9. Black Mad Wheel, Josh Malerman
Science Fiction/Horror, Novel
A washed up band and a military secret – nothing in the summary appealed to me. But Bird Box blew my mind, and I try to read a variety of stories (as an author it’s key to avoiding becoming a one-note wonder). Pleased to report my faith in Malerman was fully justified: Mad Black Wheel is intriguing, creepy, and just the right combination of interesting but accessible.
8. Hasty for the Dark, Adam LG Nevill
Horror, Short Stories
Recent British Fantasy Awards winner Adam Nevill lunges at us from the dark once again with his second collection of short stories. As part of an author’s body of work I’m finding short stories invaluable at demonstrating writing range: experiments in tone, scope, and shape that push the boundaries in very different ways to a novel. Particular to this collection is the playfulness of Hippocampus; a tale with no active players as the reader/viewer pans slowly through the aftermath of a mysterious disaster.
7. The Hematophages, Stephen Kozeniewski
Science Fiction/Horror, Novel
I enjoy space epics, strong characters, body horror, and I love reading something that’s a little different so The Hematophages was always going to be a book for me. In search of a long-lost and legendary colony vessel, Kozeniewski’s female-only corporate-ruled society happens upon a “fleshworld:” an entire gory planet made of flesh and blood. Which is only the beginning of their problems. This is the sort of world you can jump into feet first … if you’re not worried about getting a little red on you.
6. Everything That’s Underneath, Kristi DeMeester
Horror, Short Stories
Sometimes horror comes from without, and sometimes it springs from what hides within every human. What would you embrace? What would you flee from? Addiction, sickness, longing, monsters, all trapped in the tension between two people. DeMeester is a must-read for fans of both physical and psychological horror, or anyone who wants a masterclass in crafting fascinating characters.
5. Metro 2035, Dmitry Glukhovski
Science Fiction, Novel
The mighty Metro 2033 saga comes to an end and I did not see that end coming. We return to the survivors of nuclear war, huddled in the metro tunnels beneath Moscow, and their fascinating shifting society. No longer a naive innocent, Artyom has nonetheless still not given up his dream of finding others in the rubble of the rest of the world. Glukhovski’s denouncement of government and the grasping human need to cling to power will hit you like a blow to the chest.
4. A Collapse of Horses, Brian Evenson
Horror, Short Stories
You know that feeling when things just aren’t right and you want to run away but you’re scared people will look at you weird. And now it’s under your skin and you can’t scratch it away? Now available in beautifully poetic story form. Do not read if you’re worried about reality shifting. A bunch of authors I follow online recommended this, and I’m glad they have excellent taste.
3. What the Hell Did I Just Read?, David Wong
I’m a David Wong convert. John Dies at the End is one of the best things I’ve ever read and like all Wong fans I’ve been shaking and drooling waiting for this to come out. And it doesn’t disappoint: pushing well loved characters further and juxtaposing life and death seriousness with all the existential horror and dick jokes you can handle.
2. The Nameless Dark, TE Grau
Horror, Short Stories
I got onto this because of the cover popping up in my social media timeline, and hooboy. Return of the Prodigy is my all time favourite short story, a reluctant honeymoon of unkind satire and Lovecraftian inevitability. Tubby’s Big Swim is a triumphant tale of a bullied outcast and his pet cephalopod. Grau grounds all of his horror in characters so real they’ll take over your brainspace.
1. The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break, Steven Sherrill
Magical Realism, Novel
The bestial Minotaur, having survived all these long years of history, now lives in an American trailer park. Working as a line cook, his attempts to fit in are both prosaic and unexpectedly beautiful. The lens of the alien observer brings a tentative, fragile mythos to the American south everyday; even as xenophobic humanity rises to crush the intruder. I’m extremely thankful to my friend D for bringing this novel to my attention.
Also just quickly, these are the top five films I loved:
1. A Cure for Wellness
There is a cure. The emphasis on modern spiritual ills really struck a chord. For a long film not a moment of screen time felt wasted, blending modern and Frankensteinian tropes into a dreamy miasma where any transgression could be possible.
2. Train to Busan
Classic busy modern bad-dad flees disaster with his impossibly adorable daughter. Seriously, if you’re in the middle of an outbreak and you see a dad stroll in with a kid this cute, just resign yourself to an untimely gory death to buy them a couple of seconds. Coming at you from a subtle build-up this film was exhilarating and emotionally exhausting. In turns lighthearted, insightful, and then devastating – I’d thought zombies had been done to death, and I’m so glad I was wrong!
Fed a steady childhood diet of Wolverine comics, I always wanted to grow up to be Logan. This film hurt my heart in the good/bad way, taking youthful wonder and plugging it into the brutal world of adult reality. Also makes up for certain other disappointing films in this franchise.
4. The Autopsy of Jane Doe
Went into this on the basis of the poster, knowing nothing more than how great Brian Cox looks in a mandigan. Take a confined, unsettling mortuary. Add familial conflict, a horrifying small town tragedy, and a mysterious unknown corpse. Despite a few unwieldy leaps of intuition toward the end the actors keep the creepiness rolling, to stay with you after the end credits.
5. Thor Ragnarok
I am SO happy that society has come back around to where simply being Jeff Goldblum is awesome again, and you can take as much screen time to do it as you want. Anyone who lined up just to see a goofy superhero movie would have walked away happy; but the sly social commentary and potential to subtly influence change can’t be discounted, and elevate this film to punching well above its genre.
So that’s it – hope I’ve given you some ideas of things to read, or watch. Have a great holiday break everyone!
Author and avid reader BP Gregory brings monsters, machines and roaming cities, insanity, betrayal and lust! With such tales you shouldn’t always feel comfortable or safe.
Hailing from sober corporate beginnings she’s been an archaeology student and a dilettante of biology, psychology, and apocalypse prepping. Her love of frogmarching hapless characters through hell drew her to science fiction, horror and urban fantasy: all vehicles for peeling back screaming layers to discover what, if anything, lurks within. Do we each treasure some inviolate core of self, kept safe from our actions and choices? Would it matter if nobody saw it?
BP Gregory is the author of four novels including the recently released outback horror The Town, about a mysterious hidden town and those desperate souls who vanish seeking it. A stroll down life’s eerie back alleys with a few fistfuls of short stories, and a novelette which was a messy love letter to her adolescence in the city round out the piece.
She lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and is currently working on Flora & Jim, the frozen post-apocalyptic tragedy she’s always wanted to write.
For sneak peeks, more stories, reviews and recommendations as she ploughs through her to-read pile visit bpgregory.com.
BP Gregory Amazon author page can be found here
If you would like to contribute a Top 10 then please do not hesitate to get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org