Monday Mash-Up #058

The mid-winter blahs have arrived in full force this week!  It’s also that time of year when I start to get antsy, wanting to get out in the yard or take a nice long walk (without an umbrella!!).  So I’ve started my yearly ritual of thumbing through gardening catalogs and making wishlists of the plants and produce I would love to grow.  Now, whether I actually get any of them is another story, but it does help me escape the winter doldrums for a bit!

The Week in Books

All Smoke Rises by Mark Matthews — 4 out of 5 stars!

I’ve read my share of truly fucked-up shit, but this probably ranks up there in the top five.  It’s disturbing, haunting, and will strip you of your innocence.  Yeah, once you find out what “milk blood” is, and the fact that it’s a real thing,  you will never go back to the person you were before finding out.  My only complaint is that I didn’t know about the first book, aptly titled Milk Blood,  as I think this would have helped me understand a bit more about what the hell was going on.  It’s still a good stand-alone read though, but may trigger a lot of things you didn’t think would trigger…don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The Unwinding of the Miracle:  A Memoir of LIfe, Death, and Everything That Comes After by Julie Yip-Williams — 4 out of 5 stars!

Julie Yip-Williams documented her battle with colon cancer on her blog, which was compiled into this heart-breaking, powerful memoir after her death.  What I appreciated most was her honest admissions of fear, her battles with depression, her day-to-day struggles just learning to cope with the knowledge of dying.  The only thing I found a bit overdone and off-putting was her constant reference to being able to afford the treatments, that “money wasn’t a problem” (even to the point of paying $7,000 a month for experimental drugs!!).  There are many people, myself included, who can’t afford to get sick so this started to grate on my nerves a bit.  Otherwise, I highly recommend this one.

Finger of an Angel by Panayotis Cacoyannis — 3 out of 5 stars.

I almost went with 2.5 stars but there was some great imagery so I rounded up.  This is a series of flashbacks and hallucinations that overcome a woman while she is driving home after having sex in the woods with a total stranger (who she now thinks is the love of her life).  It’s really weird and at times confusing, but it killed a couple of hours on a rainy afternoon.

Elegy For Iris by John Bayley — 3 out of 5 stars

Another one I almost went 2.5, I  must be in a generous mood this month!!  I was expecting a bit more from this little memoir/”tribute,” but it just didn’t deliver.  John Bayley, while claiming Iris Murdoch was the love of his life, showed little, if any, emotions in the writing (except for when he expressed his anger and frustrations over Iris’ declining health, seeming to aim it more at Iris than the disease).  Pretty much, the only things I learned about Iris was her ambivalence towards sex (even though it was well known she carried on multiple affairs with men and women throughout their marriage) and she was a total slob, bordering on hoarder.  Oh, and they went on walks, liked to swim, and rode bikes.  That about sums it up.


Back to my hibernation routine, but only for a few more short weeks!  Until next week, Happy Reading!

February Night Worms — Horror Addiction

It’s that time again!!!

Yes, time to reveal the latest Night Worms package!  This month’s theme centers around the horrors of addiction.  I knew Lullabies for Suffering was going to be included (one that I have been looking forward to for months!!), and I was stoked to also receive the following:

The Green Kangaroos by Jessica McHugh is described on the cover by Shock Totem as “The bastard love-baby of William Burroughs and The Matrix.  Its needle-sickness-meets-dopesick Blade Runner world is horrifying.”  My inner twisted soul can’t wait to start this one!  I just finished Mark Matthew’s All Smoke Rises, and I can honestly say I will never be able to mentally unsee some of the stuff in this one.

And to top off another great package, there is the new Night Worms logo magnet, signed bookplate, artwork sticker, and a coffee blend especially for Valentine’s Day:  Red Velvet ground coffee from Bones Coffee, described as roasted Arabica beans with hints of chocolate cake and cream cheese frosting.  I’m not a big coffee person but I may have to try this one out!!!

A huge shout-out to Ashley and Sadie, the awesome women behind Night Worms.  You rock, and I can’t wait to see what goodies you have in store for us in the coming months!!!

Until next time, Happy Reading!

 

Monday Mash-Up #056 and #057 I’m Officially Tired of Winter!

I’m posting this a bit early from the scheduled 2/10, but I don’t know how my internet and power will be then so I’m sharing now while I can.   🙂

It’s been a year since my last rant about winter sucking, and while this year we avoided record snowfalls and sleet storms knocking out power for days, instead we’ve had this….anywhere from 5 to 15 inches of rain in a 48 hour period, on top of the earlier snow and the minor flooding from last week; landslides, flooding, even more torrential rains…..  *sigh*

This is a typical shot of what’s been going on pretty much throughout western Washington state……

And this pic hit a little closer to home, outside of Mt. Rainier National Park.  And don’t let the pic fool you!  That muck is anywhere from 3 to 6 feet deep, covering a large amount of the local highway (and only one of several major landslides closing roads throughout the state).

We’ve been lucky at my house, only dealing with power and internet outages, as well as some damage to our driveway.  Oh, and a mini moat that popped up behind our house but is thankfully draining down the hill and not under our foundation.

Yep, I’m ready for spring.  The only bad thing is spring is usually the flood season around here.  More heavy *sigh*.

However, when I wasn’t worrying about the hill behind us coming down or trying to navigate the flooded roads, I read.  And I read a lot.  Added bonus was having my Kindle this year, I could read all I wanted when the lights went out, not having to worry about draining the batteries on my headlamp!!

 The Week in Books

The Roo by Alan Baxter — 5 out of 5 stars!!

My  Goodreads review—  I am a huge fan of creature feature horror stories, so when I first saw the glimmer of this tale on twitter, I knew I had to follow and read. I was not disappointed!! What started out as a real news story about a rather assertive kangaroo harassing a small Australian town quickly turned into the call for a horror story, and Alan Baxter stepped up. This is the epitome of fun horror—I laughed, I was grossed out, I cheered on the “good guys,” and I wished the wrath of The Roo on others. Read this now and have fun!

Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward — 5 out of 5 stars!!

Part memoir, part memorial.  This book hooked me into Jesmyn Ward’s world immediately.  I could feel her pain, her hatred, and her love.  It’s an uncomfortable read at worst, a powerful tribute to her brother and the other men in her life at its best.  I highly recommend this one.

August by Callan Wink — 4 out of 5 stars!

I will be posting a full review closer to the publication date of March 31, 2020.  I do want to thank Random House Publishing Group and NetGalley for sending me an ecopy for review.

Miscreations:   Gods, Monstrosities, and Other Horrors edited by Doug Murano and Michael Bailey — 4 out of 5 stars!

What exactly are monsters?  There is the Frankenstein monster, there are the monsters living under our beds, there are those we create in our minds just to get through the day.  This short story collection offers a bit of everything, from modern takes of old-school monsters to things I could never have imagined.  There’s some great talent here, including Josh Malerman, Victor LaValle, Bracken MacLeod, Stephanie Wytovich…….the list goes on and on.  It ranges from the absurd to the creepy, I recommend giving it a shot.

The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks — 4 out of 5 stars!

I don’t know why it took me so long to read this, but once I was able to sit down and get into the story, I couldn’t put it down.  My biggest complaint:  the sheer number of characters that go by more than one name (and I’m not talking about a gradual thing, I’m talking about in the same paragraph a character will be called two different names)!!!   I hate that!!!  Pick a name and stick to it, especially in the same fucking paragraph!!  Otherwise, I thought it was a pretty solid start for a fantasy trilogy and left me wanting to know more about pretty much everyone!

Spicy Constellations and Other Recipes by Chad Lutzke — 4 out of 5 stars!

I am a huge fangirl of Lutzke’s, and I have to say, this short story collection took me off-guard!!  These stories show a very different side, including some dark humor and paranormal stuff that I haven’t seen in his writing before.  If you haven’t read anything by Chad Lutzke, you might want to check this anthology out first as I think it will give you a good idea of his style, be it dark humor or subtle horror.

Inheritance:  A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love by Dani Shapiro — 3 out of 5 stars

2.5 stars    I don’t know how I would react if I found out my parent wasn’t biologically my parent.  I get that the author, raised as an Orthodox Jew and finding out that half of her DNA was comprised of blonde Protestants, went into a stage of shock.  But what I didn’t like about this book (that could easily be a stepping stone for others going through similar situations) was the sense of a pouting, petulant child stomping feet and screaming for no reason until finally mollified by a piece of candy.  At one point, I was going to just give this one star and move on, especially knowing that the author was beyond lucky to have found out the information she sought within a few days (compared to years, if ever, for most mortals).  But I became more interested in the others who aided and put up with her martyrdom, so that raised the rating.

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I hope you are all well, and I will be back soon, weather permitting!!

Until then, Happy Reading!!!

 

 

February—True Romance

I’ll be the first one to tell you I am not a fan of romantic fiction.  The wide-eyed, dewy skinned maidens, the loyal male friend always cast aside for the strong, handsome alpha male, blah blah blah…….I just can’t get into them.  However…..

I love a real love story.  You know the ones…..those elderly couples who have been together for 75 years, then pass away within hours of each other.  The celebrity couples who defy Hollywood norms and live happily together for decades (virtually unheard of in Tinseltown).  The prince who gives up the crown to marry the divorced commoner.  Yep, I’m a sucker for those stories, that’s why I decided to go through my shelves and pick out some real life romance for Valentine’s Day.

Elegy for Iris is John Bayley’s tribute to his long-time love, author Iris Murdoch.  Patrick Swayze and wife Lisa Niemi share their love story in The Time of My Life.   Both look at love’s ups and downs, and deal with the heartbreaks of terminal illnesses.  I’m going to have the kleenex ready when I read these.

 

Goodreads Group Reads

For the short month of February, the Reading List Completists chose four short classics:  Are You There God?  It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume, Go Tell It On the Mountain by James Baldwin, To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, and Animal Farm by George Orwell.  At this time, I plan on doing a reread of the Orwell classic; I’m still not sure on the others.  The Nonfiction Nerds group currently seems to be in limbo after the departure of the moderator, but there had been plans to read Inheritance:  A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love by Dani Shapiro.  Since I already have my library copy I’ll be forging ahead with this one as well.


Do you have a favorite real life love story?  What will you be reading in February?  Until next time, Happy Reading!