Holiday Reading Recommendations!

So, with the holidays right around the corner (the start of Chanukah is two days away & Christmas is five days away), it’s time to take a break from the holiday preparations. This colder weather makes you want to cozy up in front of a fire with hot cocoa, sitting in an overstuffed recliner and grab a great read. These recommendations include science fiction and zombie apocalypse stories, as well as humorous or horrific stories. Like the gifts under a Christmas tree, there is something here for everyone.

Here are some reading recommendations that will help put you in the holiday spirit. Or they’ll just create an atmosphere that will just chill you to your bones with the cold and wind.


Novella: Christmas Between Life and Death by Ann Christy

Holiday Category: Christmas, gift-giving, heartwarming

It’s been six years since the zombie apocalypse started and the events of the Between Life and Death (6 Book Series) have taken place. But now that the cure has been found, this is the first Christmas where there is something to celebrate.

The biggest problems they have right now are ac-blad xmasnot how to survive but how to enjoy the holiday. But when Emily conspires with Veronica’s friends to keep a secret, what is Emily up to?

Now that our merry band of survivors can do more than just survive, they’re allowed to thrive and continue to move back towards establishing a more civilized society. These are good problems to have and through their interactions, it’s creatively demonstrated through these characters that we have come to know and care for. It’s a cheery and heartwarming tale of what Christmas is all about!

For the full Indie Athenaeum review of this title, please click here.


Book Title: The Resurrectionists – The Salem Hawley Series, Book 1 by Michael Patrick Hicks

Holiday Category: Winter, snow, cold, chills

It’s 1788 and New York City continues to develop in a post-Revolutionary War period of America. Slavery is rampant, people are separated into haves and have-nots by demographic and economic status as well as skin color. As the medical field continues to flourish, corpses are needed for learning purposes, despite how illegal it is. So, this shortage leads many to steal them from cemeteries, especially Negro cemeteries.

ressThe doctors and their body-stealing crew are a bunch of detestable, gruesome and loathsome individuals who are curious about something they learned about on the battlefields of the American Revolution. Armed with dark motivations, ancient books and a morbid fascination with the macabre, they struggle to find the right method to introduce themselves to a creature they find majestic and mysterious.

It’s a wild, horrifying cacophony of carnage, with blood, bone, gristle, exploding heads and strange creatures indiscriminately killing left and right. As the situation reaches its apex, the intensity of the danger is disturbingly real. It induces a high sense of queasiness and moral outrage that rings very true as I read it. Using post-war America as a setting for horror is an unusual idea. The author maximizes it and fills it with captivating characters and tantalizing situations.

For the full Indie Athenaeum review of this title, please click here.


Short story collection: Memory’s Children by Samuel Peralta

Holiday Category: Winter, snow, cold, chills

“Humanity” – When a family inadvertently crashes into a multi-vehicle accident on the side of a freeway due to cold, inclement weather, Mathison, a truck driver, sees what happens and attempts to help them escape their smashed car. With the extreme cold threatening the lives of everyone in the crash, he sp-memory'sdetermines he has a limited amount of time to save some of the family and then realizes that the child is a lifelike robot who is, for all intents and purposes, treated by the family as if she were their own biological child.

What happens next is an emotionally strong story of how society’s negative prejudices affect Mathison’s decision-making process on who to save and why. The author does a great job getting us into his head as you watch the gears turn, making justifications for his decisions before he comes to an epiphany on what to do. A profoundly moving tale of what makes us human and how we define what humanity is.

For the full Indie Athenaeum review of this title, please click here.


Short story collection: The Golem of Deneb Seven and Other Stories by Alex Shvartsman

Holiday Category: Chanukah, Christmas, Santa Claus, religion

The use of religion here makes for a journey into different faiths and how, when used in a science-fiction or horror context, breathe new life into them and make for deeper characterization and motivation. It’s not preachy as some stories about religion can be, golembut it is informative, utilized well and infused into the story, making for a stronger narrative.

Several short stories focus on this theme: “Golem of Deneb Seven” was about how a family responds to a planetary invasion by aliens and how their faith gives them strength and the fortitude to fight back in unimaginable ways. It leads off this collection, deservedly so, as it has a powerful message about faith and how our beliefs inform our actions.

“Dreidel of Dread: The Very Cthulhu Chanukah” is a funny tale about how the apocalypse begins on the first night of Chanukah and how one man does his best to avert it. Bonus points for cleverly skewering Santa Claus and the myths surrounding him.

For the full Indie Athenaeum review of this title, please click here.


Short story collection: Tales from the Canyons of the Damned: No. 29 – published by Daniel Arthur Smith, with stories by Robert Jeschonek, Will Swardstrom & Daniel Arthur Smith

Holiday Category: Christmas, Santa Claus, elves, gift-giving, heartwarming, snow

Jack Frost is nipping at your nose in these short stories using Christmas as a theme for this newest collection. From a wayward elf to time traveling back to the distant past and to the far future in a human colony, the holidays present an opportunity to tell some unusual stories as only Canyons can tell them.29

I’ve read and treasured stores from all three of these authors before and they all utilize their wonderful storytelling style to channel the Christmas spirit. To me, they bring their tales and place them in their sled full of toys, taking the reader on a grand journey into a child’s unforgettably special morning and across time and space.

Strap on your Santa hat and enjoy these compelling holiday tales. You won’t find holiday stories like this anywhere else but in the Canyons of the Damned, where exceptional and unique tales like these are told.

For the full Indie Athenaeum review of this title, please click here.


Short story: Agent Smith and the Naughty Elf: A Utility Company Story by Will Swardstrom & Paul K. Swardstrom

Holiday Category: Christmas, elves, heartwarming

Agent Smith, a workaholic, is one of the last ones still working as everyone clears out for the upcoming holiday. He works for The Utility Company, a section of the government that investigates the weird and unusual. With nothing of note to go home to tonight, he ws-agent smithdecides to follow up on some paperwork he needed from Area 51. But in doing so, he discovers a cunning little alien that looks like an elf has somehow gotten into the basement of their building and is now wreaking mischievous havoc!

What follows are hysterical hijinks, humorous happenings, Christmas song lyrics cleverly woven into the narrative and uproarious laughter as Smith and his boss Wall try one attempt after another to catch this resourceful creature with little success. A witty and well-done romp that was elfin’ delightful!

For the full Indie Athenaeum review of this title, please click here.


I hope you’ve enjoyed these holiday reading recommendations. Happy holidays, everyone!

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