Weekly Mash-Up #77

Another pretty quiet week here in this little corner of the world so I’ll just go straight to the books…

The Week in Books

Red Means Run by Brad Smith — 4 out of 5 stars!

This was a pleasant surprise!  Virgil Cain is a man on the run, accused of murdering two men.  Will he be able to convince the smart and sexy detective Claire Marchard of his innocence?  Yeah, it’s truly better than it sounds!  At times it felt a bit rambling with the author trying to get extraneous backstory in, but if you’re looking for  good suspense for a vacation read this will hit the spot.  I’m definitely looking forward to book two!

It Will Just Be Us by Jo Kaplan — 4 out of 5 stars!

For fans of gothic horror/suspense, be sure to check this one out when it’s released in mid-August!  There are ghosts of the past, present, and future (including a very creepy boy with no face) residing in a labyrinthine mansion, family drama, a haunted history, and some psychological mind warps, perfect fodder for a good gothic tale.  I was completely drawn into the story (when I finish a chapter by saying “What the fuck?!!” out loud and having my husband question my sanity, then you know it’s a keeper).  Less than the full five stars due to some personal pet peeves which I won’t disclose since not everyone gets as easily irritated as I do.   😉

Poisoned Primrose by Dahlia Donovan — 3.5 out of 5 stars

Rounded up to 4 on Goodreads.  I tend to read a lot of dark fiction, so I like having a variety of “cozies” on hand to lighten my mood, a bookish palate cleanser so to speak.  I saw a friend’s review of this soon-to-be released title and the premise intrigued me:  an autistic, asexual, almost-40 woman moves to a small village with her cat and turtle, a body is found, and the typical cozy scenarios unfold.  What makes this different is our main gal, Motts.  Seeing life through the eyes of someone with autism is not something that is done very often in the literary world, and I applaud the author (who is autistic) for creating this lovable, eccentric character.  I can’t wait to read more Motts!

Short Stories, Novellas, and Anthologies

Lullabies For Suffering — 4 out of 5 stars!

Six stories of addiction horror from some of the best horror writers today:  Kealan Patrick Burke, Gabino Iglesias, Caroline Kepnes, Mark Matthews, John FD Taff, and Mercedes Yardley.  Addiction horror isn’t always about the needle or the bottle; sometimes it’s about the addiction to the rush, to the pain, and even to a person.  While these stories share the same theme, all are wonderfully different, all are well-written, and, if you’re not familiar with their other works, a great introduction to each author.

This past weekend, I read quite a few very short stories (under 20 pages) that I’d picked up for free for my Kindle.  Sadly, most fell under “not worth mentioning,’ but these were pretty good….

Double Barrel Horror: Punk Rock Re-animator/ Holes by Chad Lutzke — 4 out of 5 stars!

A story about punk zombies, followed by a tale of sadistic revenge??!  Sign me up, please!  Once again, Lutzke brings it, creating atmosphere and characters in under 30 pages that some authors can’t accomplish in 300.  Makes this fangirl very happy!

The Doll by J. C. Martin — 4 out of 5 stars!

If you’re not familiar with The Island of Dolls in Mexico, be sure to google it and check out the eerie images and the historical rumors about it.  Martin uses this place as the backdrop to her short story and it’s a winner (and solidifies my belief that dolls are just downright creepy!).

Cat Fancy:  A Short Tale of Feline Terror by A. E. Hodge — 3 out of 5 stars

This one was so uncomfortably weird at one point I just had to share it.  Think of it as a PSA for dating apps:  be careful who you pick!

I hope this finds you all staying safe and sane!  Take care of yourselves, be kind to others, and Happy Reading!

Weekly Mash-Up #76

Let’s see, the summer solstice, Father’s Day, and my local libraries starting to open up for contact-free pick-ups?!  Yep, a lot can happen in just a few days!

First of all, a belated Happy Father’s Day to all of the awesome dads out there!  I lost my dad back in 1991 and I still miss him every day.  And a huge shout-out to my other half, Dave, who our son thinks is the best dad ever!  And yes, I tend to agree  🙂

It’s summer already?!?!  And the rain has stopped (for a couple of days at least!) and today it actually felt like a nice summer day?!!!  Being able to sit out on my porch, enjoying a good book and beautiful weather, was something I’ve been craving for a looooong time.  Thank you Mother Nature!

Another bit of good news came in an email earlier today:  some of my local library branches will be reopening starting June 23!  Now, granted, it is only for non-contact pick-ups of materials on hold, but still a wonderful thing!  Plus I can finally turn in the books I checked out back in late February, before the proverbial shit hit the fan.  While I don’t have any immediate plans to utilize these new reopenings since I have more than enough reading material on hand, just knowing that this option is once again available really lightens my mood.

The Week In Books

Crow Shine by Alan Baxter — 4.5 out of 5 stars!

Australian author Alan Baxter has a knack for telling dark tales that, at their core, reveal the darkness of the human soul, even when bringing supernatural or horrific creatures into the mix.  This collection offers a wide variety, from vindictive wild west ghosts to modern day sirens.  If you haven’t read Baxter before, I recommend this one to give you a taste of what he can do.

Misfits by Hunter Shea — 4 out of 5 stars!

Make sure to mark your calendar for the September release of Shea’s latest!  Misfits is a face-paced homage to the horror movies of the 80’s and 90’s.  You have a group of misfits from a small town discovering that the local legends of cannibalistic “melon heads” are all too real.  I was rooting for all of the characters, even had some feelings for the unsavory ones, and Shea has a knack for bringing those creatures of local folk stories and urban myths to life.  Next to no slow moments in the book.  My reason for a 4 star rating stems from some issues I had with certain parts, but since I received an uncorrected first printing ecopy I will refrain from going into detail just in case these things are changed in the final copy.   Overall, I would say this is a must read for all horror fans!  (Originally posted on Netgalley 6/19)

The Green Kangaroos by Jessica McHugh — 4 out of 5 stars!

In a blender, combine equal parts The Matrix and Blade Runner, add a dash of Soylent Green and a pinch of Drugstore Cowboy, mix well……and you still won’t come up with anything remotely close to this truly fucked-up addition to the addiction horror genre!  Set in the year 2099, this story offers love, hate, and the depths of human depravity.  Not for everyone, but if you’re up for it I think you’ll like it!

Bottle Toss by Howard Odentz — 3.5 out of 5 stars

This YA novel definitely had it’s ups and downs for me.  The beginning lured me in, seeming to promise more than it actually delivered over the next 150+ pages.  However, the ending?!  Not what I expected, and in a good way!  I think this would have made a great novella, but creating a 240 page novel took some of the allure and drama away from the overall story.  Not bad by any means, just stretched out too much.

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt — 2 out of 5 stars

When I first heard of this historical fiction involving the infamous Lizzie Borden I knew I had to read it, so I spent some birthday money to get it…….and was completely disappointed.  On the positive side, the author does know how to turn a phrase, but the amount of repetition in the 319 pages turned this potentially great read into a boring slog of a mess.  Seriously, enough with the fucking pears!!!

And that sums up this past week so until next time, stay safe and Happy Reading!!


NightWorms June Theme– The Boys of Summer

Another great bookmail month from NightWorms!  This month’s theme, The Boys of Summer, focuses on coming-of-age horror from some fantastic authors.

The October Boys by Adam Millard is the story of a group of 12 year old boys haunted by a nefarious Ice Cream Man.

Those Below the Tree House by Matt Hayward introduces us to 13 year old Tony, who, along with some other neighborhood kids, must find refuge in his tree house from “moss-covered abominations.”

And Brian Keene offers up an exclusive Nightworms edition of his 2007 tale, Ghoul, an ’80’s tale of supernatural terror.

And no package would be complete without some swag.  This month included some delicious-sounding peach berry tea from Riddle’s Tea Shoppe (I see a pitcher if iced tea in my future!), bookmark, and an IT inspired sticker.

I’m looking forward to diving into these while awaiting my July delivery!

Happy Reading!


Weekly Mash-Up #75 Rain, Rain, Go Away

The calendar says it’s almost summer…..it certainly doesn’t seem like it around here!!

This pretty much sums up the past few weeks!  On the plus side, with all the rain I don’t feel guilty about sitting on my butt and catching up on some of my TV shows, namely Killing Eve, What We Do in the Shadows, and Schitt’s Creek.  My gardening plans may have been put on hold, my yard may be starting to look like a jungle, but as long as I have some good movies and TV shows, some mindless housework to pass the time, and plenty of popcorn in the cupboard, I can patiently wait for the sun to make it’s summertime appearance.

And there’s always the books!

The Week In Books

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward — 5 out of 5 stars!

The fictional story of a family in the days before, during, and after Hurricane Katrina.  Ward writes with such raw honesty, mixing life’s brutal realities with love and heartbreak.  I highly recommend this one.

Fish Out of Agua by Michele Carlo — 3 out of 5 stars

Carlo shares her story of growing up with feelings of not belonging, both within her tight-knit Puerto Rican family and in life in general.  Some of the stories were funny, some highlighted the family angst, but after a while it started to get a bit repetitive.

Villains By Necessity by Eve Forward — 2.5 out of 5 stars

I’m always up for a good epic fantasy but….I don’t know if this was a situation of wrong book, wrong time or if the story really was as sub-par as I thought.  It started out pretty good, but by the middle I had to force myself to pick it up, then force myself to actually open the book and read!  While some of the characters were intriguing, even fun, I thought there were too many holes in the plot and scene jumping to allow for the story to progress smoothly.


Until next time, Happy Reading!

Weekly Mash-Up #73 and #74

Hello again!  I’m hoping this finds you all safe and well.

With all the crises going on right now, not only nationally but world-wide, I thought we could all use a bit of kitten zen…….

Last week, I really felt like I couldn’t write anything, let alone read.  I still feel like I’m at a loss for words for pretty much anything, positive or negative, but at least my reading concentration came back, and at full force.  Here’s what I managed to finish since the last update……

The Week in Books

What She Knew by Gilly MacMillan — 4 out of 5 stars!

I’ll admit, I was surprised with how much I liked this book.  I’ve read several “child goes missing, parent is blamed” stories over the past few years with mixed results, but this one just felt different from the beginning.  I think it helped that this is the first in a series featuring Detective Jim Clemo, giving it more the air of a mystery rather than a melodrama gone awry.  A good, solid story that kept me guessing until the end, and I’m looking forward to reading the next in the series.

The Crooked Heart of Mercy by Billie Livingston — 4 out of 5 stars!

If you’re looking for an uplifting, happy, fun read… this isn’t it.  This is a tale of loss, grief, family dysfunction, heartbreak, and the power of love.  A thoroughly depressing story but still one that I would recommend.

The Midwives by Duncan Ralston — 4 out of 5 stars!

Much different from Ralston’s Ghostland which I recently read, in that this focuses more on the story-telling over the gore.  Don’t get me wrong, there are still some vivid scenes, but fewer and far between.  It’s almost folkloric in a way, with an ancient evil and some pretty creepy old ladies reigning over a small East Coast island.  I thought it was a little slow at times, but that could also be due to the mindset I was in and the lack of concentration I had at times over the past couple of weeks.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng — 3 out of 5 stars

I try to avoid over-hyped bestsellers for as long as possible.  But I had enjoyed Ng’s Everything I Never Told You so I went against my own counsel and, well…….at least it didn’t suck.  There were enough good moments to keep this floating at 3 stars, but I hated most of the characters and I grew tired of the overdone melodrama pretty quickly.

Novellas, Anthologies, and Short Stories

The Pale White by Chad Lutzke — 4.5 out of 5 stars!

Three girls held captive and used as sex slaves plan their escape.  In less than 100 pages, Lutzke takes you into their world and makes you care about these girls.  His ability to develop these complex characters in such a short amount of space always impresses me, this story is no exception.  I will agree with a fellow reviewer that I wasn’t too fond of the ending, but it still works.

Shallow Waters Vol. 1:  A Flash Fiction Anthology by Crystal Lake Publishing — 4.5 out of 5 stars!

Every month, Crystal Lake Publishing hosts a contest for authors to create some flash fiction (1,000 words or less) using a particular theme or prompt.  This is by far one of the better anthologies I’ve read and features some horror greats like John Boden, Chad Lutzke, Robert Ford, Armand Rosamilia, Mercedes Yardley, and many more.  I can’t wait to read the rest of this awesome series!

The Edge of Life by Joe Hart — 4 out of 5 stars!

Only 23 pages but a lot of story!  What would you do, to what lengths would you go, to bring your family back and keep them safe?  The premise is simple and straight-forward, and will chill you to the bone.

99 Stories of Blood on the Wall:  A Collection of 99-Word Horror Stories by Kevin Cathy — 3 out of 5 stars

I give the author props for coming up with 99 stories, all with only 99 words.  There were some very good ones, even a few darkly funny ones, but by a certain point they all seemed to become the same story, just different order of words.

I always welcome comments and reading suggestions, feel free to drop me a line!  Be sure to take care of yourself, and be kind to others.  Until next time, Happy Reading!

Black Lives Matter!

June — Just Because

When I was coming up with ideas for monthly themes, the month of June stumped me.  Should I go with a tribute to fathers for Father’s Day?  Maybe a nod to the beginning of summer?  A particular genre, setting or?????

Finally, about a week ago, I had my idea:  ask my son (who happens to have Asperger’s) to pick three books for me.  While I’m sure he was a bit overwhelmed by the vast amount of boxes and shelves to sort through, he took on the challenge enthusiastically and I present to you his top 3 picks for me to read for the month of June:

My son’s thought processes are a bit different than most people’s, so I was curious to his reasoning behind the choices.  For North Country:  “It sounds like a good outdoor adventure.”  The cover of The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill captured his attention, mainly due to our own backyard birdwatching.  And as for The Green Kangaroos?  Well, that was a simple decision:  “I like the title!”

He also had a separate pile, the “runner-ups,” with more surprises:

I give him kudos for the attention he gave to my nonfiction boxes, and of course the cover of See What I Have Done features a bird so that was a given.   Thank you kiddo, and I will do my best to read as many of these runner-ups after I finish the first three!

Goodreads Group Reads

With all of the chaos lately, I haven’t paid as much attention to my Goodreads groups like I normally do.  I did go through today to see the June selections, and these three stood out….

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong—I read this a few months ago and  I highly recommend it.

The Silent Patient By Alex Michaelides—This has been on my radar for some time, but I’m a bit leery of popular thrillers after reading some crappy ones that were touted as the best ever.  If you’ve read this one recently, let me know your thoughts!

A Passage to India by E.M. Forster—I have a love/hate relationship with Forster’s works so I’m not sure if I’m going to pull out my copy, but you never know.

I hope these titles give you some reading inspiration.  What will you be reading this month?  Feel free to drop me a line to let me know!

Please stay safe and healthy, and until next time…….


Let Me Take A Moment……..

On Saturday, I tuned into my local news channel to find out more about the severe thunderstorms we were experiencing.  Instead, I found myself watching the minute by minute destruction of downtown Seattle.  I spent the next several hours watching with a mix of horror, anger, sadness, and shock, not only at the devastation locally but nationwide.

I’m not an extremist.  I’m not vocal with my views.  But what happened to George Floyd a week ago in Minneapolis was sickening and beyond comprehension and I truly hope justice is served.   I understand the anger, the rage, the sense of helplessness and I will say this now that I stand with the PEACEFUL protesters, those who are truly wanting to make changes. But the sheer numbers of those taking advantage of the situation to further their extreme agendas, as well as those just wanting to take advantage of the situation as an excuse to plunder and pillage, make me sick and do nothing to start any sort of unifying or healing. It also doesn’t help that we are a nation without a leader, at least not one with the guts to come out from behind his twitter feed to try to make positive changes….that would upset his agenda of hatred and disunity. But I digress…….
I thank you for reading this.
Stay safe, and until next time……
<3 <3