Monday Mash-Up #031 and #032

Summer vacation is starting to wind down, much to the disappointment of my teen son (he’ll be starting school August 27).  It’s been a quiet summer, to say the least.  We are still hoping to make a day trip to the beach this weekend; we had to cancel twice because of rain.

With the cooler temps and rain, I had a lot of reading time on my hands and read an interesting mix over the past two weeks!


Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham Jones — 5 out of 5 stars!

I really don’t know how to describe this somewhat “quiet” novella.  It’s a combination of Native American mysticism, a bit of horror, some heart-wrenching coming-of-age….and it left me feeling like I had been sucker-punched.  I loved it.  I don’t know if I would recommend this as an introduction to Jones’ works, but if you want to read something totally different then make sure to give this one a shot.

Bird Box by Josh Malerman — 4.5 out of 5 stars!

Wow, that was a trip!  This one really delivered on the creepiness and suspense, I was just a tad disappointed with the last few pages (after being on the edge of my seat for so many pages, I found myself thinking “That’s it?” at the end).  I’ve heard great things about the movie adaptation so I may track that down for some Halloween viewing.

The Dry by Jane Harper — 4 out of 5 stars!

Yet another one to add to my recent Australian favorites!  Murder and secrets in a small, sun-parched Australian town.  Kept a good pace with some interesting characters.  I’m looking forward to reading more of this Aaron Falk series!

The City Where We Once Lived by Eric Barnes — 4 out of 5 stars!

I’ve read my share of dystopian novels,  but this one was probably the most disturbing because it could easily happen tomorrow (and in some cities I’m sure it’s already started).  This isn’t a zombie apocalypse, there is no plague or sudden loss of all computers or machinery.  Instead, it depicts the slow death of an unnamed city and the struggles of those who choose to remain.   While bleak, Barnes does offer glimmers of hope and the inherent goodness in humanity.

Shock Totem #10 — 4 out of 5 stars!

I really hope the founder of this horror anthology-type publication will  decide to continue (apparently this issue is the last one for the time being).  A great selection of horror short stories, a bit of non-fiction, and a couple of author interviews (including Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts).

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney — 3.5 out of 5 stars

I liked it, more than I thought I would.  It was the perfect summer read, some funny moments, a lot of drama.  My biggest issue—not really feeling a lot of anything for most of the characters.  But that is just me, I tend to be overly critical of stories that fall in this genre.

Peony in Love by Lisa See — 3 out of 5 stars

Honestly, I only read this one to satisfy one of my prompts in a summer reading challenge I’m doing (read a book with a plant on the cover).  It wasn’t bad, just not something I would normally read, even with the whole ghost world aspect.  I did like See’s writing style and will probably try another of her books, hopefully one without an overwrought, sickly sweet unrequited love story involved.

Zuleikha by Guzel Yakhina —3 out of 5 stars

I came across this one in the new releases section at the library.  It sounded intriguing, dramatic, overall interesting.  Well, not so much.  There were parts that were amazing, followed by mediocre.  I found it somewhat disturbing that the author seemed to glorify the situations (based on true historical events) and create something akin to a Siberian utopia.  This book is also not only about Zuleikha, there are so many other characters that I gave more of a damn about but the reader is given nothing  about them.  Too bad.

From the Midway:  Unfolding Stories of Redemption and Belonging by Leaf Seligman — 3 out of 5 stars

I received this uncorrected proof from Bauhan Publishing and Librarything Early Reviewers giveaways in exchange for an honest review.

It’s hard to review an uncorrected copy, not knowing how much will be corrected at the final printing, but here it goes.

From the Midway is a series of short stories, each focusing on a different character involved with Beasleys’ Traveling Amusements, set during the first half of the 20th century.  We have the usual “oddities” including the bearded lady, the shortest and tallest, Lizard Man, Flipper Boy, as well as stories about  one of the dancing girls and a couple of the workers.

I found some of the stories pretty intriguing and well written.  Some, however, didn’t seem to be complete and were almost like an afterthought or filler in order to plump up the book.

About a third of the way in, I also realized I was reading essentially an adult Sunday School sermon, which may work well for some readers but it was not what I was expecting.

Overall, not bad, I was just expecting more story and less sermon.

*Posted on Librarything 8/15/2019


Happy Reading!

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