It’s spooky season, everyone!

To celebrate, our editors just announced the winners of our Monster Flash Contest. Running a contest is a lot of work. There is a ton of reading involved, formatting the anthology, processing payments, and all on a strict schedule.

It’s also incredibly rewarding. The response was fantastic and the stories were great fun to read. We’re very grateful. We hope that you enjoy the stories and when you finish reading them check out one of the following that we’ve been nose deep in.

Andie’s Shelf

I’ve recently introduced audiobooks to my rotation to maximize my reading. This is partly because it keeps my mind occupied while doing chores around the house and going for walks, but mostly because Josh listens to so many during his day and I hate falling behind him. I know reading is not supposed to be a competition, but it is.

The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu

I don’t like to start an incomplete series (I’m too impatient), but there’s a draft for the last installment of The Dandelion Dynasty which signaled go time for me. The Grace of Kings is a sprawling novel with so much ambition. There is a massive cast of characters (all of them flawed), gods (even more flawed), battles on land, in the water, and in the sky, really well thought out technology, and a map that you kind of have to look at for anything to make sense. At the heart of it all is Kuni Garu — a smooth talker, a low-level government worker, a bandit, a now a revolutionary against the empire.

Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman

When the movie adaptation came out, I knew I wanted to read the book before watching the movie. Fast forward two years later — I had done neither. I couldn’t stand for this to remain on the TBR list any longer. For anyone living under a rock, the novel is about a summer romance between teenaged Elio and 24-year-old Oliver. It’s surprisingly dense for such a short novel and is filled with a lot of Elio’s internal musings about life, academia, and the nature of attraction.

Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente

In the post-Sentience Wars universe, the question of who is meat and who is people is solved through song. Earth is invited to the party. Human beings need to place in the Metagalactic Grand Prix to be declared sentient. If they aren’t, homo sapiens will be exterminated. Enter Decibel Jones and the Absolute Zeros.

Valente is clearly here to claim Douglas Adams’ crown for herself. She writes with the same oddball, sharp hilarity of Adams. It’s an obvious comparison that every one that is making. But, unlike Adams, Valente writes her characters with tenderness and sadness to balance the humor and brings ruthless satire.

Josh’s Shelf

Needless to say, this is my favorite time of the year. Summer has finally left. The air is finally cool. And everyone seems to take a moment to stop being so serious all of the time and start getting into the Halloween spirit. There’s scary TV shows on all of the time. Streaming services add a whole bunch of horror movies. It’s great. And my book choices this month pretty much reflect this mindset.

The Hunger by Alma Katsu

Remember the Donner party story? You know the one. A family in a caravan gets stuck on their way west after a brutal snowstorm hits. They manage to last for a while with the stock that they have but eventually turn to cannibalism. It’s already a scary story about what humans will do to survive. However, Katsu turns this horror up a notch by making the whole situation into a supernatural horror story. I’m only about a fourth of the way through at the time of this writing, but I gotta say, it’s already gripping. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Salvaged by Madeleine Roux

I’m reading this book to write a review, which is exciting in itself. However, I’m truly looking forward to this one because one of my first experiences with sci-fi horror came with Aliens. (Yes, Aliens — not Alien. That came later and became my favorite obviously). This book promises to be a delight for anyone who is a fan of that series of films (well, most of those films anyway). I can’t wait to dig into this fully. You’ll be able to read all of my thoughts about it soon enough!

The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

I’ve finally decided that it’s time for me to sit down and read at least some of The Wheel of Time. It’s going to be one doozy of a ride, to say the least. Though I tend to gravitate to shorter things — as you can probably tell by this entire website — The Wheel of Time has always been on my radar. I just never had the motivation to spend countless hours in one world when I can jump between many more in the same amount of time. I’m changing that this month. I don’t know how many books in the series I’ll get through, but I aim to at least knock out a few over the next year. I hope they grip me and take me along for a great ride like they have with so many other fantasy lovers.

Patrick’s Shelf

October, as I’m sure I’ve said before, is my favorite time of year. And while the season’s arriving a little late for us in Pittsburgh (I’m typing this on a patio, sipping a margarita and wearing shorts), my reading choices are decidedly autumnal.

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

This was possibly one of the more impenetrable novels I’ve read in a good while, and it was exactly the sort of impenetrable I needed. Part coming-of-age tale, part mystical battle for immortality, and decidedly gripping, The Bone Clocks covers a wide berth at breakneck speed. Mitchell has proven himself a master when it comes to poetic detail that (somehow) reveals little, proves essential to the narrative, and keeps readers interested. If you’re not afraid of doing some legwork, The Bone Clocks is worth every ounce of it.

The Dark Tower, Book One: The Gunslinger by Stephen King

Ages ago, I began the Dark Tower series, only to start college a month later and effectively triple my workload. I’ve always regretted not moving forward with the series, so it seems like as good a time as any to get started again. The first book in one of the most famous series’ in literature, The Gunslinger has everything any genre fiction reader could ask for. Mutants, shootouts, parallel dimensions, and secret societies abound, all delivered in King’s world-renowned voice and style. If you’re a more literary-oriented reader but would like to branch out into something more speculative, The Dark Tower series is the place to start.

Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt by Yasuo Ohtagaki

Set in the same time frame as the original Mobile Suit Gundam universe, Thunderbolt centers on the lives of two soldiers, one fighting for the principality of Zeon, the other for the Earth Federation forces. Both are ace pilots and meet on the battlefield numerous times. Their rivalry, private pains, successes, and defeats take center stage as the false notions of decorum and glory in combat are stripped away. Once again, suit up.

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