June Book Mail!

First up, this month’s selections from NightWorms and Fantastic Strangelings…

In the Hour of Crows is set in a small town in Appalachia and is the story of Weatherly Wilder, a young woman who is a “death talker” (someone who can talk the death out of the dying and save them).  She sets out to find the truth behind her cousin’s untimely death.  Described as a mix of Southern gothic, mystery, and magical realism, this is one I’ve put on my to-read list for July.

The Red Grove is an isolated, protected space for women, but even with the magic surrounding the place, Luce’s mother goes missing and she sets out to discover what happened.  The premise does sound intriguing, but I know I’m going to have to be in the right frame of mind to get into this one.

I read Woodworm shortly after it arrived and I have to say, it was…different.  I really don’t know how to describe it, other than it’s about a house built on sinister secrets and the generations of women who live there and cannot leave.  By the end, I still felt like I had more questions than answers, so I gave it three stars out of five.

Another winning month from LibraryThing giveaways!  Docile is Hyeseung Song’s personal story of growing up as the daughter of Korean immigrants, the expectations placed upon her, and her journey to healing and self-discovery.

I went to the Thriftbooks site to look for a particular title, couldn’t find it, so decided to buy these two instead!  I’ve been a fan of Alan Baxter for a while, so I just had to get his latest title.  I’ve also heard some great things about Moonfellows, a story about a failed moon landing set in (here’s the kicker) 1906!  Sounds like a fun ride.

Did you add any great titles to your collection this month?  Drop me a line and let’s talk books!

Until next time, stay safe, and Happy Reading!

 

May Book Mail!!

May book mail included a couple of highly anticipated novels…

I’ve been hearing some great things about Indian Burial Ground and The Day of the Door, so I was happy to find these in my NightWorms package.  I had originally planned on saving these two for my Halloween readathon, but I don’t know if I can wait!

The Fantastic Strangelings selection, Real Americans, asks the question “Are we destined or are we made?” as we follow the story of Nick, a young man trying to unravel his family’s past.  I enjoy a good generational, family secrets tale so I’m looking forward to this one.

Some of the best book mail are surprises sent by long-time friends!

My good friend, M., sent me a package that included this personalized signed copy of Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s latest.  Loosely based on The Island of Doctor Moreau, it sounds like a mix of strange and sinister, and I am here for it!  I’ve added this to my June TBR and can’t wait to dive in.

What are your June reading plans?  Drop me a line and let’s talk books!

Until next time, stay safe, and Happy Reading!

June — Pride Month

Every year for Pride Month, I look for titles that represent the LGBTQ+ community.  Earlier this year, I came across these two memoirs that I knew I just had to put on my June TBR list.

I’ve adored Harvey Fierstein for many years so I jumped at the chance to get a copy of his 2022 memoir.  I started reading this last night and so far I’ve found it engaging and entertaining (much like Harvey himself).

While I haven’t read any of his fictional works, I was familiar with author Reinaldo Arenas.  Before Night Falls is his story of growing up in Cuba and finding freedom through his writing.

As for my MAY TBR…

I finished Cormac McCarthy’s Child of God early in the month and I still can’t shake some of the imagery.  Man, that one was brutal!  I tried a couple of times to start Brian Lumley’s Vamphyri but I found I just wasn’t in the mood for it, so I have shelved it for now.

Overall, May was a successful reading month, with twelve books completed.  I’m hoping to keep on track this month by finishing ten books.

Do you have any reading goals for June?  Drop me a line and let’s talk books!

Until next time, stay safe and Happy Reading!

 

Reading Mash-Up #198

While I haven’t been in a reading slump lately, I am still dealing with a review-writing slump (going on a couple of months now!).  Is there a known cure for it?  If there is, I have yet to find it!

What I’ve Been Reading

Without a Map:  A Memoir by Meredith Hall — 4 out of 5 stars

When Meredith Hall became pregnant at sixteen in 1965, she was sent to live in exile at her father’s house and later had her newborn taken away for adoption.  This series of events (family abandonment, never seeing her baby) changed Hall’s life, and she shares her journey into adulthood while trying to deal with these traumas in this poignant and beautifully written memoir.  I know this couldn’t have been easy for Hall to relive some of these events, and I appreciate her candor about her feelings and choices.  I will admit, the “traveling” chapter felt more like a fever dream in comparison to the rest of the narrative, but hey, it was the 60’s/70’s.  High recommendation.

The Lost Man by Jane Harper — 3.5 out of 5 stars

One of my March TBR selections.  Set in the vast Australian outback, two brothers must deal with the mysterious death of their oldest brother, Cam.  While coping with this tragedy, family secrets and resentments are brought to light.  I’ve enjoyed books by this author in the past, but for some reason I just could not really get into this one.  Perhaps because I was expecting more mystery and less family drama?  I’m not sure.  But while it wasn’t my favorite by Harper, I would still recommend it.

The Prettiest Girl in the Grave by Kristopher Triana — 3.5 out of 5 stars

A great example of “final girl horror,” we have a group of older teen girls who meet at an abandoned cemetery to play a seemingly innocent game and investigate an underground crypt.  I mean, seriously, what could possibly go wrong?!  This was one of those “fun” horror stories that I could easily envision becoming a low-budget movie.  And this was one of Triana’s tamer novels, so if you’re not quite ready for the full splatterpunk experience but don’t mind some grossness then you might want to check this out.

Child of God by Cormac McCarthy — 3.5 out of 5 stars

Cormac McCarthy introduced some truly disturbing characters and stories into the world over the years (the Judge in Blood Meridian and the entire concept of The Road come to mind), but nothing really prepared me for the depravity of Lester Ballard in this 1973 novel.  Holy sh**.  I’ve read a lot of messed-up horror over the years, but this one really got under my skin.  When I picked this story for one of my May TBR selections, I was thinking of doing a comparison review between the book and the 2013 movie.  However, if the movie does stick to the story, I’m going to give it a hard pass since necrophilia is one of those horror tropes that I don’t willingly subject myself to.


Here’s to hoping I can revive my excitement about sharing my thoughts on the books I’ve read!!  I know this will eventually pass, so if you do like checking out my reviews, be sure to check back.  I’m trying, I really am.  🙂

Until next time, stay safe, and Happy Reading!!

May — In Memoriam

It’s always sad to hear about the passing of a favorite author, knowing that there will be no more new tales to be told.  Since May features the Memorial Day holiday here in the states, I decided to pick a couple of reads to remember authors who have recently left us.

Cormac McCarthy has written some true modern-day classics (Blood Meridian, No Country For Old Men, etc.) and I have loved every one of his that I have read.  I came across Child of God at a used book sale and I wondered how I hadn’t read this sooner.  Now is as good a time as any.  I also found the movie streaming on a free service so I think I may try a book/movie comparison for a review (of course, I still seem to be in a review-writing slump so we’ll cross that bridge when we get there).

I’ve wanted to read Brian Lumley’s Necroscope series for ages, and finally tackled the first book earlier this year.  After Lumley’s passing in January, I tracked down all of the remaining books in the series…so here’s hoping the next seven books are as good as the first!

As for my April goals, I finished Sati Mookherjee’s poetry collection, Ways of Being (beautiful, by the way), and am currently on page 134 of Tarantulas and Marmosets:  An Amazon Diary by Nick Gordon.

What are your reading goals for May?  Drop me a line and let’s talk books!

Until next time, stay safe and Happy Reading!

 

April Book Mail!

Another great month for book mail!

First up from my NightWorms and Fantastic Strangelings subscriptions…

The Fellowship of the Puzzle Makers is from F.S. and sounds kind of like a cross between Fredrik Backman and TJ Klune (maybe??).  NW’s monthly theme was “Echoes of Frankenstein,” so I’m expecting some good body horror from Thirst and A Botanical Daughter.

Several months ago, I placed an order with indie publisher Bad Hand Books that included a couple of preorders.  I had to patiently wait for the final preorder to get published, and it was worth the wait when these arrived in early April…

Shadows Over Main Street is an anthology of short stories described as “small town Lovecraftian terror.”  With authors like Clay McLeod Chapman, Laurel Hightower, John Langan, and Ramsey Campbell (to name a few), this is one of my highly-anticipated anthology reads for this year.  And speaking of small town terror, Hailey Piper introduces us to a place called Cranberry Cove, where a creepy old hotel is the center of some strange occurrences.

Finally, I was checking out Thriftbooks for some other titles and wound up ordering these two.  Wandering Stars is a follow-up to Tommy Orange’s There, There.  Actually, it’s more of a prequel, going back 100-plus years in the families who were a part of There, There.  I’ve had this one on my Kindle for a couple of months now as I was supposed to review it for Netgalley (oops!).  It will still get my review, just not before the publishing date!  I’ve enjoyed Ross Jeffery’s previous works, and his newest one, I Died Too… sounds like his trademark blend of family trauma and horror.  I can’t decide if I should read it immediately or save it for my Halloween TBR.

Did you get any new reads for April?  Drop me a line and let’s talk books!

Until next time, stay safe and Happy Reading!

March Book Mail!

Another great month for book mail!  First up, my monthly subscriptions did not disappoint!

King Nyx, this month’s shipment from the Fantastic Strangelings, sounds like something right up my alley, where historical fiction meets gothic horror.

The March selections from NightWorms includes two very strong female horror authors, Cynthia Pelayo and Gwendolyn Kiste.  I’ve enjoyed their works in the past so these are on my “Read ASAP TBR list.”

Then I bought these titles…

I’ve had a paperback copy of Shogun since the late 1980’s (god, I feel old just saying that!).  I remember it being everywhere for years, so I used some babysitting money to get a copy after seeing approximately one hour of the original television series in 1980 (I was ten years old in 1980, for those keeping score, lol!) and having it just stick with me for years.  Fast forward to when I saw the ads for the remake (which I’ve recorded) , and then finding this beautiful hardcover edition, well…yeah, just had to have it.

As for the others pictured, I’ve been wanting to read Elle Nash and Chuck Tingle for some time so I decided to just order since I can’t find their works through the library (and probably for good reason, lol!).  And speaking of the library, Monsters on the Couch:  The Real Psychological Disorders Behind Your Favorite Horror Movies is a nonfiction I picked up at my local library and I thought it sounded so perfect for my Halloween reading list that I instantly went online to snag myself a copy.

Did you get any new books in March?  Drop me a line and let’s talk books!

Until next time, stay safe, and Happy Reading!

 

April — Celebrating Earth Day and National Poetry Month

I decided to do something a bit different this year!

I found out that April is National Poetry Month, so I decided it would be the perfect time to read a former schoolmate’s recent collection.  I knew Sati Mookherjee in high school, and while we only knew of each other through our mutual friends, I remember her beautiful musical talents and her seemingly effortless perfect grades.  I heard about her first poetry collection, Eye, a couple of years ago, and just recently was able to track down a copy of that as well as this recent offering.  I truly enjoyed Eye (an ode of sorts to her grandfather who was exiled from his native India in the early 1900’s) and I am excited to read more from Sati.

For Earth Day (April 22), I picked Nick Gordon’s Tarantulas and Marmosets:  An Amazon Diary.  First published in 1997, this is a record of Gordon’s adventures while spending over ten years in the Amazon rain forest while being a wildlife filmmaker.  The included photos are amazing, so I have high hopes for this one.

What’s on your April reading list?  Drop me a line and let’s talk books!

Until next time, stay safe, and Happy Reading!

Reading Mash-Up #197

This year started out strong for my reading goals, and at one point I was ten (yes, ten) books ahead on my Goodreads goal.  As of today, I’m happy if I’m “on track,” haha!!  But spring is here and I find myself reading more gardening catalogs than actual books…but, hey, it’s still reading, right?!

What I’ve Been Reading

Red Sands:  Reportage and Recipes Through Central Asia by Caroline Eden — 5 out of 5 stars

Caroline Eden takes us on a very personal journey through Central Asia, from the shores of the Caspian Sea in West Kazakhstan to a truly strange (and kind of creepy) “health spa” in West Tajikistan.  Along this journey, she relates the histories of various areas and introduces us to amazing people, ordinary citizens who have found a way to survive in, at most times, very hostile situations.  Hidden amongst these stories are recipes that embody the regions and people Eden encountered.  I’ve always been fascinated by Central and East Asian culture and history, so this book was a must-read for me that I totally enjoyed.  Highly recommend.

Starter Villain by John Scalzi — 4.5 out of 5 stars

Charlie is a substitute teacher with not a lot going for him.  He finds out about an estranged trillionaire uncle’s death and his world changes forever.  Between the “talking” cats, the dolphins that are demanding a labor union, and certain characters that seem like they’re straight out of an Austin Powers movie, this book was a fun ride from beginning to end.  It was a book I didn’t know I needed in my life, and I had a blast reading it.  I can’t recommend this one enough.

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis — 4 out of 5 stars

I’m sure you’ve heard of this novel, and I’m sure you’ve heard the controversies surrounding it and have read some of the shocking reviews.  I finally picked up this 1991 horror “classic” with pretty low expectations as I’ve learned over the years that lots of hype doesn’t necessarily mean a great book.  The hype is real on this one.  Good god.  It’s been a few weeks since I finished it and I am still having nightmares and having random passages pop up in my head.  There is a connection between the extreme excess of the 1980’s and the extreme depravity of Patrick Bateman, and the author does a masterful job of connecting the two through this dark satirical  tale.  Even if you have a strong stomach for the extreme, I would still say enter Bateman’s twisted thoughts and deeds at your own risk.  And, because of this book, I will never eat brie cheese again (if you know, you know).

The Rocky Road to Ruin by Meri Allen — 4 out of 5 stars

One of my March TBR selections and the first book in Allen’s Ice Cream Shop Mystery series.  I read book three a few months ago and really liked the characters and writing so I tracked down the first two in the series.  I’m glad I did.  A great start to the series, we have Riley returning to her small hometown to help her friend, Caroline, after the death of Caroline’s mother.  In typical cozy fashion, murder and mayhem happen, with a large list of suspects and a couple of very intelligent cats.  I also appreciate that romance wasn’t automatically (and awkwardly) thrown in, and instead, the author is building the characters before that inevitably happens.  This is definitely one of my top five cozy mystery series at the moment, so if you like the genre, be sure to check it out.

Searching For Van Gogh by Donald Lystra — 3 out of 5 stars

Set in the early 1960’s, this is a coming of age story told through the eyes of young Nate, who has left home and forms a friendship with young Audrey, a broken spirit in her own right.  Nate stumbles through various experiences, some with Audrey and some without, and by the end of the novel I was wondering if all young men during this time period were as stupid and yet as arrogant as Nate.  There was a good story here, but for me, Nate’s narration came across as flat and ultimately left me wanting more from the other characters and less from Nate.

–Novellas, Short Stories, and Anthologies–

Root Rot and Other Grim Tales by Sarah Read — 4 out of 5 stars

It’s easy to see why this collection was recently nominated for a Bram Stoker award.  These eighteen tales are atmospheric, haunting, some with a gothic feel while others are just plain dark and disturbing.  There are several trigger warnings for violence/darkness regarding animals, children, pregnancy, and suicide, so while I highly recommend this collection, please keep these in mind.


Stay safe, and Happy Reading!

March — A Month of Mysteries

Spring may be right around the corner, but in my corner of the world we are still getting snow and freezing temperatures.  So what better way to spend indoor time than with some good mysteries?

I have a lot of mysteries in my TBR pile so it was a bit difficult to narrow down the field.  I decided to go with two very different styles:  a cozy and a crime thriller.

I’ve read two of Jane Harper’s Aaron Falk series and I really like her writing.   She brings to life not only the characters but the settings, and I have found myself feeling the relentless heat or smelling the smoky air.  The Lost Man is a standalone novel involving a mysterious death and two brothers trying to find out the truth.  Looking forward to starting this one.

Meri Allen’s The Rocky Road to Ruin is the first installment of the Ice Cream Shop Mysteries.  I read the third book, Fatal Fudge Swirl, a few months ago and liked it so much I tracked down the first two books so I could start Riley’s story from the beginning.  I just started this one earlier today and I can already tell I’m in for a treat.

What are your reading goals for March?  Drop me a line and let’s talk books!

Until next time, stay safe and Happy Reading!