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!

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