Weekly Mash-Up #71

From My Corner of the World

Even though we’re half-way through spring, it sure hasn’t felt that way of late.  A lot of rain and spring storms over the past week has kept us out of our yard, but the potential re-opening of some local businesses over the next week or so has buoyed our spirits a bit.  While there will be the new normal standards in place, it will be nice to be able to leave the house for something other than necessities (oh, how much I want to wander around my favorite used book store right now!!).

Even with this latest bout with cabin fever, I’ve still been able to make a dent in my to-read horde….

The Week In Books

Ghostland by Duncan Ralston — 4 out of 5 stars!

Wow!  What a ride!  What could be more fun than a theme park centered around haunted buildings and objects?  One that also features the actual spirits attached to them, of course!  And when a computer glitch allows the evil, revenge-seeking spirits to wander freely throughout the park to wreck havoc and reenact their own brutal demises on unsuspecting tourists, well, that’s when all hell breaks loose.  Fair warning:  this is not for the squeamish.  I’ve read my share of splatterpunk and gore and even I was feeling a bit of ewwwww with a few scenes.    There were a couple of times I thought the story slowed down a bit, but overall this was a great introduction (for me) to Ralston’s work……..and after reading his end notes, could a sequel be in the future??  Thanks to NetGalley for sending me an ecopy for review.

Rainwater by Sandra Brown — 4 out of 5 stars!

This one surprised me.  I’ve avoided Sandra Brown’s works in the past, assuming they were more romantic fluff than actual story.  And while this one does have a very predictable romance thrown in, the story of Ella and her autistic son hooked me from the beginning.  The story moved along well, but at times it seemed like Brown was trying too hard to include every little historical event that happened during the time period.  I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I would recommend this Sandra Brown book.

Philomena: A Mother, Her Son, and a Fifty-Year Search by Martin Sixsmith — 2.5/3 out of 5 stars

What a disappointment on many levels.  First, the title and the blurb on the back (“The heartbreaking true story of an Irishwoman and the secret she kept for fifty years…”) led me to believe this was Philomena’s story; yeah, totally not the case.  About 15% of the book looks at Philomena’s plight, the other 85% tells the story of her son, Anthony Lee, later rechristened Michael Hess by his adoptive American parents.  I also had a problem with the obvious liberties the author took with recreating conversations, as well as describing thoughts and feelings of people long deceased.  The author’s apparent obsession with Michael Hess’ sexuality was another sour point, and no grieving mother should have to read about these possibly fabricated exploits.  Perhaps if this had been marketed as a “dramatization of actual events” I would not have been as let down as I was.

Berkeley Noir edited by Jerry Thompson and Owen Hill — ???

I’m still on the fence over a final rating for this one.  The stories that were good were great (I especially enjoyed Eat Your Pheasant, Drink Your Wine by Shanthi Sekaran, a tale from a rat’s point of view!), but several fell flat or just didn’t seem like they fit with the noir theme.  Probably a 3.5 if I have to give it a number.

And I read some great novellas over the weekend as well……

Sour Candy by Kealan Patrick Burke — 5 out of 5 stars!

Mix equal parts creepy little kid with evil entities sporting deer skull heads, have Kealan Patrick Burke stir it together with his hypnotizing prose and you get this chilling little novella.  If you haven’t read anything by KPB you don’t know what you’re missing!  Make sure to give this one a shot!

Dear Laura by Gemma Amor — 4.5 out of 5 stars!

Some great psychological horror here.  Laura watched her friend get into a van, never to be seen again.  For the next several years she receives anonymous letters from a person claiming to know where her friend is and will give her information…but for a price.  Great pacing, you won’t want to put this down.

Husk by Rachel Autumn Deering — 4 out of 5 stars!

Another one I would place under psychological horror as the main character suffers from severe PTSD after a tour in Afghanistan.  While his scenes are compelling, the introduction of the Jennings family made the story seem disjointed, almost like someone else wrote those parts.  But I still give this a high recommendation.

Mango Cake and Murder by Christy Murphy — 3 out of 5 stars

A fun little cozy mystery, featuring a mother/daughter duo who start a catering business and meddle in crime scenes on the side.  Predictable but still a nice way to kill a couple of hours.

Hoping you all are still doing well in these unprecedented times.  I’ve been working on some ideas for future posts so be sure to stay tuned!  Stay safe, and Happy Reading!!

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