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  • Writer's pictureChristina Pfeiffer

6-2-2024 Christina Critiques

Hi, friends!

Do I have some goodies for you this week! Time travel, lonely online teenagers, dwarfs and witches, devilish shenanigans and SO MUCH MORE. It’s a good week to add some weight to that ol’ TBR.

Let’s get into them!



Tom Sweterlitsch

Are you due for an existential crisis? If you are, keep reading.

John Blaxton had the best of luck on the worst day of his life. When his job calls him away and he loses his wife to a terror attack, all he wants to do is live in the happy moments. But he finds himself in a life-or-death situation when he is given a death to research in the archives. Blaxton doesn’t realize he will come face to face with truths he never could have imagined.

Ugh. Where do I start with this one! It’s 340 pages of just pain. But so worth it. The social commentary is phenomenal with the idea of how we live too much of our lives in the past instead of seeing the beauty of the now. But also, isn’t the past safe? I also LOVED the art and literature references, especially the Guernica usage. The worst part of the novel is it makes you think, if you could relive one section of your past over and over with memory, what would you relive? Your marriage, kids being born, falling in love?

Absolutely remarkable in every way. I am obsessed with Sweterlitsch’s writing and wish he wrote faster so I had more. But alas, I’ve read his two novels.





By Mique Watson

This is the reason I give every author three chances. I read BROKEN DOLLS by Watson and was disappointed in many ways, but I felt there was something there in his writing that would mature, and I was right!

BE MY FRIEND is upsetting on more levels than I can explain. Simply, it’s about a boy who doesn’t fit in anywhere until he meets someone on the internet that listens. But more, it’s about how he sees the world one way and others see it another. Jacob is a child crying out for help and no one is there for him. And it just gets progressively more unnerving.

THIS is Watson at his best. From the depths of loneliness, Watson doesn’t hold back on the treatment of his characters. The mom, brother, friend, and Jacob all must come to terms with their treatment of each other. I bawled through most of it because it just has this visceral feel for anyone who has ever felt like they weren’t enough.

I REALLY hope to see more like this from Mique. I will warn you; this isn’t an easy read in the slightest. But it’s an important one.





By Natasha Sinclair

“She wasn’t anyone’s idea of perfect.” And this began my spiral into sobs throughout this short three-story collection.

Rebecca dies… three times. How and why are the reasons to read.

That’s the easiest way to explain it. But what deeper it is somehow beautiful in its depiction of suicide. I know, it’s an odd thing to say but it is. I cried through this one too because I have felt many of the feelings Rebecca does. It also shows the stigma of suicide, “Judgement has no bearing on the dead.”

A LIFE OF SUICIDES hurts. Every page, every line but you also see the beauty of life. I’m not sure why this is a hidden gem but it’s one that should be read but with caution.





Jason Nickey, Stuart Bray, and Chuck Nasty

This collaborative effort is something else, I can tell you that. Want to throw up? Read this. Want to need a shower for 3 hours straight? Read this. Want to question every literary choice that led to this book? Read this. Let’s get into the stories, lol.

What Happened To River? by Stuart Bray - River is a basement dwelling mama’s boy. And that’s being nice about it. When a literal trip sends him into the lagoon in his yard, things get a little… confusing for him. (My favorite of the book.)

Dick Worm by Chuck Nasty - Don’t have unprotected sex. It’s that simple. Also, don’t trust vaginas.

It’s In The Shed by Jason Nickey - Don’t have unprotected sex with an extraterrestrial. Especially women extraterrestrials. (Wait a minute… I’m seeing a pattern here…) (Second favorite.)

Toxic Mouth by Chuck Nasty - Don’t have sex in a cave. And don’t trust hillbillies.

Heavy Flow by Jason Nickey - Don’t look under the dividers of the bathroom stall. Also, don’t be polite and offer tampons.

This was a fun collection of stories. Each one is such a departure from the last that at least one will strike your fancy.

A Definite Recommend 4/5.




By John Wayne Comunale

I make zero apologies for my love of JWC’s books or his narrations. But when you put them together… MAGIC! Let’s mosey on to Cocytus (Co-sigh-tus).

Lloyd got caught up in a weird culling of the town. He’s on the hunt for his Lemar gun and won’t be leaving until he finds the scoundrel that took it. At the same time, his son, Charlie or Cherub, has been abandoned by his mother and Lloyd is playing parlor gun games with a dwarf in god only knows where. THEN you have a bunch of rapscallions trying to feed bodies to bring forth Behemoth but they don’t like their boss, Lycus, none. Lycus has secrets from his sidekick, Alabastor but she has some secrets of her own.

Let me take a breath. That’s a lot happening in 177 pages. But true to JWC’s stories, they work like a charm. I was cackling through much of the story especially with the dwarf. This novel is hilarious, bloody, sad, unnerving, cosmic, and so much more. Without a doubt, Comunale’s best to date. Stellar from page one to the end. (Make sure to read the acknowledgement. Absolute perfection.)





By Lucas Mangum

Oh, look. It’s new wordsmithing from one of my most favorite authors! And it’s a doozy.

Lydia’s family has a bit of a past in Reaper’s Bend. An old barn on the property holds local urban legends. Carson and her family move next to the property and things get a bit… bloody. With the help of the local sheriff, can the town make it through the local celebration, or will there be Hell to pay?

Mangum does it again! With strong characters and twists I was not expecting, he takes us on a literary cinematic journey. BDtH felt like I was watching movie while I read. The characters are so rich and complex I couldn’t help but connect with most of them. If you love supernatural, hay, and/or blood, this is the one for you.




I HATE THIS PLACE (Issues #1-6)

By Kyle Starks

Gabby and Trudy think they have moved into the perfect situation. Gabby recently inherited a farm from her grandma and will be there until they can sell the farm and animals to start a new life. But there is a problem. Something won’t let them leave once they get there. When a family secret is hidden in the wall, things become more undead and alien.

This was a recommendation from Patrick McDonough and I’m so glad I started this one. It’s eerie, uncomfortably, and scary. The art style is very vintage and the LGBT+ representation is present. I will definitely continue this series.

A Definite Recommend 4.5/5.


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