Monday Mash-Up #036

The Week in General —

Autumn is definitely in the air now.  The mornings are a bit chillier, the days shorter.  But with autumn comes my favorite month of October and Halloween!!  I’ve already started putting things away to make room for my decorating binge at the end of the month….it’s never too early!  😀  Another bonus with the shorter, cooler days is that I don’t feel guilty curling up with a good book…….but I should vacuum sometime soon, haha!

The Week in Books —

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill — 5 out of 5 stars!

By far the best Hill novel to date, at least of the ones I’ve read.  I could see glimmers of Hill’s dad, Stephen King, coming through.  Whether this was intentional or some subliminal Oedipal complex thing coming out, it worked and worked really well.  And I will never think of Christmas the same way again!

We Live Inside Your Eyes by Keanan Patrick Burke — 5 out of 5 stars!!

Very rarely do I give a full five stars to a short story collection, but Burke’s twisted tales are well deserving.  Burke knows how to write horrific fiction by tapping into the everyday stuff and making it horrific.  There was also a fantasy horror story that worked really well, a bit of a surprise in the middle of the chaos.  If you haven’t read any of Burke’s works, I would recommend starting with this one as it shows his range and is just damn good.

Bumps in the Road:  A Horror Anthology by various authors — 4 out of 5 stars

I enjoy reading short story collections because I often discover authors whose voices I wouldn’t normally find on my own.  This anthology, edited by one of my new favorites Chad Lutzke,  is a collection of authors I haven’t had the chance to read before and for the most part I was left truly impressed.  There were a couple that just didn’t work for me though, nothing personal to those authors, it’s not you, it’s me.  Overall, I would recommend this, especially for some quick Halloween reading.

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong — 4 out of 5 stars

Wow, what a beautifully written book!!  I devoured this in an afternoon, and I can’t wait to read more from this author.  This is a letter to the narrator’s mother, something she will never read but needs to be said.  It reaches back to the Vietnam War, exposing the ghosts that still haunt the survivors, up through the narrator’s teen and young adult years and his struggles not only with his haunted mother and grandmother but his own life questions of his sexuality and place in the world.  Not a full five stars due to some passages that just didn’t seem to fit with the rest of the story, but overall one I would highly recommend.

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton — 4 out of 5 stars

This was more of a 3 to 3.5 for most of the book, but the ending twist was not something I saw coming so I rounded up.  While the storyline is definitely unique, kind of like Clue meets Groundhog Day, I found myself getting pretty bored about half-way through.  Maybe if it had been shaved down by 50 or 100 pages I would have it enjoyed it more.

A Massacre in Mexico:  The True Story Behind the Missing Forty-Three Students by Anabel Hernandez — 3 out of 5 stars

An interesting story that deserves to be told, but I was overwhelmed with the data-overload.  At times, it read almost like a checklist of names, times, and evidence (was is necessary to tell me about every single bullet shell?), pretty much a dossier of the events rather than a narrative.  It did get better but only when the author was recounting the survivors’ statements.  Not something I would recommend for a casual reader.

The Valley by Steve Hawke — 3 out of 5 stars

I really wanted to like this book more, but there were a few irritating things that brought it down.  First was the time changes.  I’m fine with stories going back and forth in time to tell the back stories, but when I’m reading about Two Bob cooking stew in the today and in the same paragraph we are suddenly taken back 50 years, it just annoys the hell out of me and leaves me a bit disoriented.  The other big problem—every character had three different names.  Yes, you read that right.  One chapter I’m reading about Two Bob and his twin brother Bob, next time they are referred to by their native names, then their father refers to them as Othello and Hamlet.  And that’s just two of the many characters!!  There was never any real reason why everyone had to change names so many times, which led to a lot of frustration on my part.  However, Hawke’s writing is beautiful and his descriptions of the various Australian locales kept me going.  Quick note:  about 2/3 through the book, the story gets much easier to follow and the ending was quite good.  Just wish the rest wasn’t so headache-inducing.

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Next week will be the official start of my full-on Halloween mode…..do you have a favorite scary story for this time of year?  Feel free to comment, and until next time, Happy Reading!

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