Dear Friends…

2020 has been, to say the least, a terrible year all around.  In the past 36 hours, it caught up to us and delivered a hard kick to the proverbial balls.  I have actually made myself physically sick from the anxiety, shock, and anger so I have decided to take a break from social media for an unknown amount of time.  I will continue to update on Goodreads and I am hoping to at least keep  posting my Week in Books here, since at this moment reading is the only thing keeping me sane.

I truly am looking forward to getting back to everyone, but at this time I feel it’s important for me to step away and refocus my energies.

Please take care of yourselves and please be kind to others!

Until next time, and as always, happy reading!

July Book Mail!

This may come as a shock, but I am a bookaholic.  😀  I love going to thrift stores and finding obscure titles; to large used book sales and packing as many titles as I can carry into heavy-duty shopping bags; wandering the library aisles and discovering new favorites.  So, needless to say, these past few months of closures and lock-downs have left me jonesing for some book-buying time, and earlier this month I got my fix!

First up…

My plunge into Joe Lansdale territory.  I’ve heard so many good things about his works, including the acclaimed Hap and Leonard series, that I decided to try out a few.  The top three are part of the H&L series, with Savage Season being the first (I read this one last week, let’s just say I’m hooked) with the other two being stand-alone titles that sound amazing.

Next up…

A little bit of everything here, short stories, horror, non-fiction.  Within an hour after receiving it, I was tearing through Samantha Kolesnik’s brutal True Crime and I just finished Gwendolyn Kiste’s haunting collection And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe.  I may need to pace myself!!

And the winners of best covers go to…

Chaplinsky’s stories have been described as strange, weird, and the ultimate, bizarro, so this anthology could get interesting!  The Magpie Coffin is the first in a series of “splatter westerns” put out by Death’s Head Press, and if the story is anything like the cover picture,it should be right up my alley!


And I would be remiss if I didn’t include my July package from NightWorms!

These monthly packages have helped to satisfy my “need” for new books, and this month offered up the new gothic horror sensation, Mexican Gothic.  Also included was a book of poetry by newcomer Adrian Ernesto Cepeda.  These free-style poems were influenced by Sylvia Plath’s The Glass Jar.  

I want to give a shout out to Clash Books, Powell’s, and Daedalus Books for their wonderful customer service and continuing to offer great selections during these trying times.

Have you received any fun book mail lately?  Drop me a line, I love seeing what everyone is reading!

And until next time, Happy Reading!!


Weekly Mash-Up #81

What’s this, the end of July already??  Needless to say we haven’t done much with our summer here other than staying close to home and venturing out every so often for groceries and dog food.  But on the positive side I have more time to participate in reading marathons!

I belong to a couple of groups on Goodreads who organize readathons on a regular basis.  This week, the 27th through the 31st, I’ll be keeping track of my pages and hopefully put a dent in my TBR hoard!  Stay tuned, I’ll keep you posted on my progress!

Meanwhile, this past week was pretty productive reading-wise.

The Week in Books

The Living Dead by George Romero and Daniel Kraus — 4 out of 5 stars!

I’m still putting my thoughts together on this one (and a huge thanks to Netgalley and Tor/Forge for sending me an early ecopy for review!) but I will say this:  clocking in at nearly 700 pages (over 1,000 on my ecopy), this is pretty much for zombie horror fans who also enjoy well-written (but sometimes overwritten) backstories of the characters mixed in with the chaos.  I did have a couple of problems with it, namely the repetition (there are only so many ways to tear apart the human body!  And I can’t believe I would ever have any reason to write those words!!!), but overall, despite the sheer volume and a few slow parts, this was something I couldn’t put down, even when I really needed to for my own mental health.

Savage Season by Joe Lansdale — 3.75/4 out of 5 stars

The first in the acclaimed Hap and Leonard series, this is a great noir-ish read, complete with double- and triple-crosses, a sultry siren, and two MC’s who shouldn’t fit together but they do.  I’ve heard the series only gets better from here, and I can’t wait!

Short Stories, Novellas, and Anthologies

And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe by Gwendolyn Kiste — 4 out of 5 stars!

Watch out, Gwendolyn Kiste is on my radar now and after this collection I am sooo looking forward to reading more from this talented young woman!  These are stories that remind me of the real Grimm Brothers, not the watered down Disney version of their fairy tales.  There is darkness,  a bit of witchcraft, and just some really disturbing imagery, both modern and ancient.  Combine that with Kiste’s  poetic prose…well, I can’t tell you what to read, but you should really think about adding this to your TBR list!

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman — 4 out of 5 stars!

I’ve been meaning to read this classic short story for some time now and finally got to it this weekend.  The narrator’s descent into madness is both chilling and disturbing.  Great choice for a quick Halloween read.

Madhouse by Miguel Estrada — 3 out of 5 stars

A kindle freebie, this tells the tale of a young boy who runs away from home, only to find himself in deep shit after accepting a ride from a stranger.  Totally predictable but it didn’t suck, there were some good bits mixed in.

Mostly Dark: A Collection of Small Pieces by Miranda Kate — 2 out of 5 stars

Ahh, the kindle freebies strike again, this time with a collection of supposed flash fiction that started out pretty good then turned underwhelming very quickly.  I can tell you there were four (or maybe five) distinct parts, and most of the stories dealt with toxic relationships, but beyond that I can honestly say not one story stood out for me enough to remember even an hour after finishing.

Stay healthy, stay safe, and Happy Reading!!

Weekly Mash-Up #80

It took a while, but it finally feels like summer!  And with the warmer, dryer conditions, my favorite part of summer is here…


Fresh berries (and cherries), yummm!!!   I was so happy my other half, Dave, brought home fresh raspberries.  They are my all-time favorite food and I wasn’t able to get any last year.  I’m happy to report I made some raspberry freezer jam, as well as put a couple of bags of the fruit in the freezer for winter consumption!  Oh, and I ate a big ol’ bowl, fresh and delicious!

We have a wonderful friend who has a strawberry farm, so I’m always excited to get these amazing gems from him every summer.  Added bonus:  he grows the everbearing strawberries so from now until mid-September I’ll be able to get fresh-picked berries, not something that I take for granted and something  I truly appreciate!  I will be stocking our freezers with jam and sliced berries to be used on cereal, ice cream, and what not during the long, dark winter months.  Sure, it’s a bit of work now, but being able to taste a bit of summer on our toast or in a sandwich in the middle of winter makes it all worthwhile.


The Week In Books

True Crime by Samantha Kolesnik — 4 out of 5 stars!

After years of abuse and torture, two siblings kill their mother and go on a crime spree road trip.  But what happens after the spree ends is just as disturbing.  I was impressed by this debut novel;  the horror is truly real, without extreme graphic details but just enough info to make the reader know the untold story and to feel disgusted/haunted/angry/shocked/slightly nauseous…you get my drift.  I can’t wait to see more from this author!

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell — 4 out of 5 stars!

I tend to be a bit over-critical, often quite cynical, when it comes to these “chick-lit thrillers” as I’ve come to dub them.  In the wake of successes like Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train it seemed like everyone wanted to be the next Gillian Flynn, offering up the same obvious twists, the same unstable characters.  But I have to say, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Then She Was Gone.  Sure, you can see the plot twists a mile away, but Jewell’s writing kept me going, wanting to find out the whys and hows.  Plus it moves quickly, making it a great choice for a summertime afternoon beach read.

Eden by Tim Lebbon — 3.5/4 out of 5 stars

Earth in the not-so-distant future sports some attempts at saving the environment.  Named The Virgin Zones, these places are off-limits to humans, heavily guarded, and totally reverted back to their natural states.  Add some “extreme adventure racers” who are determined to infiltrate the oldest of all of these zones (Eden) just to say they did it, a missing family member from an earlier breach, and some really pissed off plants and animals, well, that’s the best way I can sum up this book!  This book was strange in that it was truly slow-moving, yet I could not leave it for any length of time. I would read a couple of chapters, feel the need to put it down, but an hour or so later I had to pick it up again.  I don’t know who I would recommend it to, but I do recommend giving it a shot…..and I will never take my orchids for granted again!!

North Country by Howard Frank Mosher — 3 out of 5 stars

Mosher takes us on his journey along the Canadian/United States border, sharing tales from the various small towns he visited along the way.  Overall, this wasn’t bad, there were some good observations as well as some insights from supposedly random people he fortuitously met along the way.  I was a bit miffed that my home state of Washington was pretty much an afterthought, even though the end of his journey was at a very important and interesting area on the west coast.  But hey, we got to learn all about his fishing adventures so there’s that. Don’t get me wrong, this was a pretty good read, but at times it just felt a little bit too convenient.

Hollow City by Ransom Riggs — 3.5 out of 5 stars

It’s been a few years since I read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children so perhaps that’s the reason why I just couldn’t get into book two.  Or maybe it’s because the first half was pretty boring!  Well, maybe not exactly boring, but I just didn’t feel the same magic I felt in the first book.  The second half did pick up and by the end I was once again looking forward to the next installment.  Of course, if and when I actually get around to that is another story!

So enough of my snarky self!

Stay safe, stay sane, and Happy Reading!

Weekly Mash-Up #78/#79

Just a quick unofficial poll…is this me or WHAT?!?!?!?!?!!!   😀

With masks being a necessity nowadays ( for those living in places where they are not necessary I truly wish you luck and ask that you stay the fuck away from me, no offense), I’ve been looking for some fun, yet practical, ones.  This one came up on one of my feeds and I wanted to share for a variety of reasons.  The main reason is this:  it’s important to keep yourself healthy, not only in body but in mind.  It’s okay to laugh, it’s okay to indulge in your favorite hobby.  This new “normal” isn’t going away anytime soon, so be sure to find happiness in those little things that may have fallen to the wayside in the past, embrace them, and keep yourself and your loved ones healthy and safe.  Believe me, seeing a Great White concert is not worth your life (be sure to google this if you haven’t already heard about it on twitter).

And on to a more positive note, my latest reviews!!

The Week In Books

Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby — 5 out of 5 stars!

(Review posted to Netgalley and Goodreads)   If you haven’t put Blacktop Wasteland at the top of your must-read list for 2020 you need to fix that now…..don’t worry, I’ll wait….

I can honestly say I didn’t know what to expect, but this story blew me away.  The heart of the story revolves around Beauregard, aka Bug, who has a shady past but is trying to create a better future for his wife and kids…..but does he want it for himself as well??

This has it all—souped-up muscle cars, gunfights, love, hate, retribution…… It will kickstart your heart one page then break it the next.  I can’t even begin to put into words how much I loved this story!!  S.A. Crosby has created a masterpiece, and I don’t say that lightly.   Highly recommend.

Eon by Alison Goodman — 4 out of 5 stars!

YA fantasy involving  dragons, magic, sword fights, and the struggle of good vs. evil.  It’s the story of Eon, who is actually Eona, a girl disguising herself as a boy so she can train to become a Dragoneye and harness the power of one of twelve energy dragons (similar to the Chinese zodiac in structure).  This was a fast read and one I would recommend for teens and adults alike.  Fair warning:  be sure to have the sequel, Eona, on hand in order to finish the epic adventure!

Playing Possum by Stephanie Rabig — 4 out of 5 stars!

I probably shouldn’t have laughed as much as I did over a story involving killer opossums (that’s right, opossums), but I couldn’t help it.  I love creature feature horror, be it movies or books, and Rabig delivers a gross but fun-in-a weird-and-sick-way tale of nature gone awry.  Added bonus: this novella is part of a creature feature series that started as a lark on twitter and morphed into actual stories being published and all profits going to animal charities of the author’s choice.  Also in the series:  The Roo by Alan Baxter.

Under Rotting Sky: Stories by Matthew Brockmeyer — 3.75/4 out of 5 stars

I love short story collections, especially when it’s from an author I’m not familiar with as it’s a great way to get a sense of their writing styles.  I have to tell ya, Brockmeyer covers the spread with this anthology of 20 horror stories.  Some are simple dark fiction while others bring out the monsters, both human and otherworldly.  There are some pretty graphic scenes (one in particular involving necrophilia almost made me tap out, and that’s saying a lot!) and several of the stories end a bit abruptly, even if they were supposed to be ambiguous endings.  Overall, not bad, and I’ll be looking for more of his stuff in the future…hopefully without the necrophilia.

Thank You, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse — 3 out of 5 stars

One of my classic choices for July, I went into this one blind.  It wasn’t bad, but really not what I expected.  I didn’t realize it was 5th or 6th in a series as the description made it sound like the first, so most of the time I felt like I was missing out on something.  The first half or so had some decent humor and was enjoyable, the second half fell flat pretty quickly (plus the extended scenes involving blackface didn’t help).  Three stars because I really like Jeeves!

Norwood by Charles Portis — 3 out of 5 stars

Ah, Norwood.  I couldn’t decide if this guy was slow, cunning, unlucky, or what.  This is a pretty simplistic story, no character development or lengthy backstories.  We go from point A to B to C very quickly and with a touch of drama thrown into the mix.  This was Portis’ first novel and after reading and loving True Grit, I can understand why this one wasn’t overly hyped.  Not terrible though, makes for a good lazy day afternoon read.

The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill by Mark Bittner — 3 out of 5 stars

The big plus of this book was the birds.  Bittner describes their habits and personalities, and goes a little bit into the possible history of how the parrots wound up wild in San Francisco.  The downside:  Bittner’s own descriptions of his filthy home and habits, refusals to get a “real job,” and the constant mooching of medical advice and supplies from neighbors became irritating after a while.  Oh, and why no color pictures??  I would have given an extra star if the photos scattered throughout the book had been in color so we could admire the birds’ beauty the author spoke so highly about.  I’ve heard the documentary is much better so I’m going to try to track it down.

Stay safe and sane, and until next time, Happy Reading!

July — Classic Summer

It seems like every time I tried to publish this post over the past three days, another storm would roll through and interrupt our internet service.  Fingers crossed, I’m taking advantage of a break in the clouds to see if this one makes it through!

Ah, summertime.  Nothing like relaxing in your favorite outdoor reading spot, lemonade or iced tea at hand, and diving into a good….classic???

While many of us use these lazy days of summer to catch up on favorite mysteries or popular beach reads, I decided to choose some classic literature that’s been sitting on my “unread” shelves for way too long.  There’s no War and Peace or Brideshead Revisited here (I’m not a masochist!); instead I opted for these:

I honestly don’t know why I haven’t read Cry, The Beloved Country before now.  It’s been on my to-read list for years and I’m now going to give it the attention it deserves.  I’ve been a fan of Charles Portis for some time (True Grit will always be one of my favs) so when I came across his first novel, Norwood, I just knew I had to add it to my collection.  And for a bit of comic relief, I have P.G. Wodehouse’s classic, Thank You, Jeeves, which I’m going into rather blindly but enthusiastically.

Goodreads Group Reads

I’m giving myself a second reading chance with Lisa Jewell’s Then She Was Gone, a mystery I had planned on reading for Mystery March before the world turned upside down.  Another Group Read worth mentioning and recommending:  Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry.  I read this epic western many moons ago and I’m a bit down that I lost my copy at some point over the years.  If you can find a copy (I swear every book club everywhere must be reading this at the same time, my library hold list is a mile long and even my favorite online bookstore was out of copies!) I highly recommend this timeless adventure.

June in a Nutshell

I did finish two of the books my son picked and I just started the third one a couple of days ago.  I must say, he did a great job with his selections, I may just have him play guest advisor for me again in the near future!

What are your reading plans for July?

Stay safe, be well, and Happy Reading!