Weekly Mash-Up #86

The last day of August!   I don’t know why, but once August is over, I always think of summer being over as well.  And while we didn’t get to visit some of our normal summer haunts like the Portland Zoo (between the covid closures and the continuing riots, I don’t see us visiting Portland anytime in the near or distant future, too bad since it’s always been one of my favorite big cities), this past week we were able to get in some more hiking at nearby state parks, and I’ve started making large batches of fresh applesauce to put away for the winter…as well as an apple pie thrown in for good measure!

And while I didn’t get to spend as much time as I would have liked reading, I did manage to finish these…

The Week in Books

Loudmouth by Robert Duncan — 4 out of 5 stars!

Robert Duncan introduces us to Thomas Ransom, a boy growing up in a strict environment who finds his voice and freedom through the emerging rock scene of the 1970’s.  This is supposedly inspired by the author’s real-life experiences, which of course had me guessing the entire time what was possibly true and what wasn’t.  Duncan’s prose is amazing, the story entertaining and addictive.  If you’re a fan of stories with the Almost Famous vibe, be sure to check this one out!

Hunger Pangs by Scott J. Moses — 4 out of 5 stars!

This collection of dark fiction/horror from Scott Moses has me hooked and wanting more!  Hunger in its broadest sense is the theme running through these short stories.  Each one stands out on its own (unlike some collections with a common theme); all are well-written and create atmosphere and characters in a shortened format.   A strong debut, I can’t wait to see what Moses brings to the table in the future!  Thanks to NetGalley and Xpresso Book Tours for sending me an advance ecopy for review.

The Keep by Jennifer Egan — 1.5/2 out of 5 stars

God, where do I start?  I was actually drawn into the story with it’s potential in the first few pages.  I was even good with the dual storyline that was going on.  But when young Danny (or Denny?  I don’t even care what his name is, that should tell you about the character development) drinks 100 year old wine and has sex with a 98-year-old “crazy hag,” well, that’s about the time I wanted to tap out.  But my inner masochist made me keep reading to see where this train wreck would take me.  And sadly it wasn’t even a decent train wreck!!  I rounded up to 2 stars because there were a few good scenes that helped me keep the faith that it would improve.


Stay tuned…my September list will be popping up soon!

Stay safe, stay healthy, and Happy Reading!!

Weekly Mash-Up #85

There’s a hint of autumn in the air…and I couldn’t be happier!

Summer’s fine and all, but there’s something about the longer nights, the cooler temperatures, the changing colors that I just love.  Oh, and there’s also  Halloween!  Since 2020 has been one long horror movie I’ve been tempted to start bringing out my Halloween decorations a bit early.  Hmmm, I have no plans this weekend………..   😀

The Week In Books

Night of the Mannequins by Stephen Graham Jones — 4.5 out of 5 stars!

Some friends find a mannequin and use it in a prank…then things start to go horribly wrong.    I can’t say too much about the plot without giving the story away but once again SGJ shows his skill at getting us into the minds of the characters while throwing in some twists and turns that will leave your head spinning.  Great horrific fun!

A Fine Dark Line by Joe Lansdale — 3.75/4 out of 5 stars

I totally get the hype behind Lansdale’s stories.  For this one, I think I read it too soon after Boy’s Life, as I couldn’t stop making comparisons in my head as I read.  Set in a small east Texas town in 1958, this is a coming of age story featuring young Stanley, his sister Callie, loyal dog Nub, and a wide variety of other memorable characters with a plotline involving small town politics, racism, and a couple of unsolved murders.  Overall a very good story, but there were times that things felt hurried or unfinished.

After Sundown edited by Mark Morris — 3.475 out of 5 stars

This anthology definitely offers a wide variety of stories, something that I always appreciate.  There were some strong showings, including my personal favorites Butterfly Island by C.J. Tudor and Swanskin by Alison Littlewood.  But many of the stories fell in the 3 star range for me, good but not something that stayed with me after I finished.  I’d still recommend this though, it’s a great introduction to a wide variety of authors and styles.

It’s almost September, what will be on your reading list?  My September theme is coming soon!

Stay safe and healthy, and Happy Reading!

NightWorms August Theme — Campfire Tales

Now this was one NightWorms package I couldn’t wait to get my hands on!!

So let me start with this—

Stephen Graham Jones is one of my top five fan grrrl authors, I would stand in line to read an advanced copy of a hemorrhoid cream commercial if he wrote it.  So, needless to say, I was super excited to get his latest….added bonus is getting it a full month before it’s official release!  I wound up reading it the other night, look for my thoughts in the next weekly mash-up!

I read Josh Malerman’s hit novel Bird Box last summer and really enjoyed it; finding out the sequel, Malorie, was going to arrive this month saved me the time tracking down a copy to buy–I need to find out what happens in this strange new world!

Also included: signed name plates, a bookmark featuring the art of Ethan Pollard (the ink smithe on Insta), and tea that tastes like…s’mores?!?!  Can’t wait to brew up some of that (not to mention my s’more loving son has put dibs on the first cup!).

Have you received any fun book mail recently?  Hit me up, let’s chat books!  I love seeing what everyone is reading!

Meanwhile, stay safe and sane, and as always…Happy Reading!


Weekly Mash-Up #84

Sometimes, a day spent with Mother Nature…

…enjoying the sun…

…is just what a person needs to refocus.

That, and some great reading of course!

The Week In Books

Comaville by Kevin Bigley — 4.5 out of 5 stars!

Josh lays in a coma, but not in complete silence.  His mind stays active, visiting places and people from his past.  Meanwhile, in his hospital room, his parents and sister try to deal not only with his condition but with their own family dysfunction.    Truly amazing work; I especially enjoyed Josh’s childhood teddy bear transformed into an oversized drunken thug.  Highly recommend.

Burn Fortune by Brandi Homan — 4 out of 5 stars

Described as a “story in fragments,” this is the tale of young June, growing up in a small town, and her obsessions with actress Jean Seberg and Joan of Arc, obsessions that stem from trauma.  Homan’s poetry background really comes through, giving this story a free-form poetic feel.   The format is not for everyone (I admit I was a bit put off by it until I got into the rhythm), but still one I would recommend.  Side note:  I had to google Jean Seberg as I had never heard of her, now I’m obsessively searching for the two biographies about her!

A Waffle Lot of Murder — Lena Gregory — 3.5 out of 5 stars

Gia is the owner of The All-Day Breakfast Cafe, has an adorable dog, supportive best friend, a detective boyfriend…and a knack for getting involved in local homicides.  I really enjoyed the autumn/Halloween theme of this cozy mystery (the main reason I requested it); it was well-paced and included a couple of good twists.  I also appreciated the focus on friendships rather than romance.  However, it fell under “typical cozy” for me, meaning it was predictable and followed the ABC’s of the genre without offering any real stand-out character or unique plotline.  Still, a good way to spend an afternoon.

Beneath Ash and Bone by D. Alexander Ward — 3.5 out of 5 stars

Set in the days before the Civil War, Sheriff Sam Lock makes his way to the isolated Evermore mansion to search for a missing boy.  Once there, he finds an evil he wasn’t expecting.         This had a lot of potential to make a great story, but by the end I just felt…unsatisfied I guess.  The writing and the characters were both good, and there were some truly creepy moments, but there were some plot gaps that left me wondering “What happened to —?  Why is this even happening to begin with?”  Still, at only 160 pages, I’d say give it a shot.

Africa in My Blood: An Autobiography in Letters by Jane Goodall — 3 out of 5 stars

The use of personal letters can be a great thing in nonfiction as it gives the reader intimate glimpses into the subject and their life.  But this collection was just tooooo much.  This first volume starts with Goodall’s childhood writings (age 10 I believe) and goes through 1966, just as she was starting to make some breakthroughs in her chimpanzee research.  I found the nature and chimp observations interesting, but I found myself skimming over the more personal letters requesting sweaters or inquiring after family pets.  And no, I won’t be reading the second volume any time soon.

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout — 3 out of 5 stars

Good God, what a totally depressing novel!!  And not depressing as in “my favorite character died, how depressing” but in a thoroughly “life sucks, give up on any happiness while you’re alive” kind of depressing.  This is actually a series of short stories, all of which somehow include the namesake, Olive Kitteridge, who is her own kind of miserable.  I get the hype behind this book as it is well written, but I’m not a fan of stories where every single character is gloomy and pathetic.

Until next time, stay safe and sane, and Happy Reading!

Weekly Mash-Up #83 I’m Still Here…..

This past week was not a good one in any way, shape, or form.  Over the past few days I’ve experienced extreme anxiety (to the point I thought I was having a real heart attack, chest pressure, pains, and all, not to mention the headaches and insomnia), extreme rage, depression…then out of nowhere…a glimmer of hope.  I found my dark humor again.  I was able to focus on reading again.  I was able to shake myself off like a dog after a bath and refocus.

I know I’m not the only one with these feelings and currently facing these situations.  I know this is not just a personal,  local, regional, or national thing, but world-wide.  I was brought up to be tough and to face every challenge life gives me head-on.  But there are times when I can’t always be that tough Glenda; there are times when I need to grieve, to rage, and to take time to process life’s sucker-punches.  I thank you for allowing me to do just that.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming!

I have decided to delay my August theme and selections until November (which works out well since I was still trying to come up with a good November theme!).  My son played a role in the book selections again, and I will be using the winner of the photo “contest”  I had on my Facebook page.  Don’t worry, September is set and ready to go!

I’m also playing a bit of book tag with my good friend Jacques, aka Mr. Pink Ink.  I can’t wait to share the results!

And, as always, there will be more of…

The Week in Books

Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon — 5 out of 5 stars!

This is one of, if not THE, best coming-of age novels out there.  We have the story of young Cory Mackenson, who lives in the small town of Zephyr, Alabama in the mid-1960’s.  There really is a bit of everything:  small-town politics and unforgettable, often eccentric, characters; friendships; love and loss; childhood magic, and even some real magic thrown in as well.  Oh, and let’s not forget about the mysterious murder that starts out the story!  This was my second time reading, and it’s just as mesmerizing as the first time ’round.   Highly recommend.

Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton — 4 out of 5 stars!!

Believe it or not, I went into this one totally blind on the subject matter and storyline.  But I have to say, this is one of those classics that is just as important today, perhaps even more so, as when it was originally published in 1948.  I really think everyone should read this timeless story of race, class lines, and humanity in general.  I can’t even begin to describe it adequately so I’ll just say this:  Highly recommend!

Coyote Songs by Gabino Iglesias — 4 out of 5 stars!

Wow, wow, wow.  These interwoven stories are set on the U.S/Mexican border, and include narratives from a “coyote” who wants nothing more than to save all the unwanted children from fates worse than death (with the Virgin Mary as his guardian and guide); the ghost of a grieving mother; a man fresh out of prison wanting to change his life; a woman who uses live vlogging to make a point.  And that doesn’t even begin to paint the portrait of what this book is truly about (something that I can’t even begin to really put into words).  All the stories are very different and distinct, yet all share the same elements of hopelessness, sorrow, familial bonds, redemption and rage.  I was wrecked after some of the conclusions, and  I can’t wait to read more of Gabino Iglesias’ works in the future.  Highly recommend.  **Note:  there is a lot of Spanish that is not translated, especially the prayers.  I have a rudimentary knowledge of the language so I could piece together much of the simpler exchanges (especially the cuss words, lol!).  This would have been a 5 star read if I had taken the time to translate the longer passages, so that is all my bad.**

The House That Fell From the Sky — 3 out of 5 stars

A dark house appears out of nowhere, taking over a city block and destroying anyone who tries to enter it.  Four friends win a chance to spend the night and win some money; will they survive??  I’m still trying to put together a review for Netgalley but I will share this:  take my advice and skip the first 200 or so pages and go straight to Part 3:  The House.  Believe me, you won’t miss anything and hopefully it will make your reading experience a helluva lot better than mine was!!

Wither by Amy Miles — 2 out of 5 stars

A virus sweeps around the world, infecting and killing millions (sound familiar??).  Good news–a vaccine is created that stops the virus.  Bad news–the vaccine turns out to be worse than the virus, turning humans into quasi-zombies known as withers or moaners.  There was potential with this take on the zombie apocalypse but damn, talk about a hot mess!  By the 30% mark I felt like I had reading whiplash from the sheer amount of plot twists and turns  without any rhyme or reason behind them.  And writing a novel in first person narrative works more effectively when the main character isn’t passed out or drugged for long periods of time, thus missing out on the action that I wanted to read about!  Overall, I felt like there were huge gaps in the storyline, and with a wishy-washy main character that I really didn’t give a crap about left me not really giving a crap about the rest of the series.  Too bad.

Stay safe, be kind, and Happy Reading!!