Weekly Mash-Up #109

A quiet week to catch up on some reading…

The Week in Books

Hit the Road Jack by Willow Rose — 4 out of 5 stars

The first installment of Rose’s Jack Ryder series, we find Detective Ryder chasing after a serial killer in Cocoa Beach, Florida.  This was a fast-paced thriller with a MC I could really get behind.  I thought the romantic interest was a bit too much, but if the rest of the series is as twisty and addictive as this one, then I’m all in!

Merciless by Bryan Smith — 3.5/4 out of 5 stars

This was a difficult one to put an actual star rating on.  When you have main characters, newlyweds Grant and Lindsey, who make Natural Born Killers Mickey and Mallory seem friendly and normal then you’re talking about a pretty twisted story.  The violence is extreme (author Bryan Smith has won awards for his splatterpunk  if that gives you an idea) and I have to admit I almost tapped out at one point.  But what kept me going was the writing.  Smith sucked me in from the beginning.  Every time I needed to put the book down to scrub my brain of the imagery, I would soon feel the pull to pick it up again, “just a few more pages.”  If you’re into extreme horror/splatterpunk, then give this one a shot.  However, if you have any triggers, avoid it as it hits them all.

Edge Case by YZ Chin — 2.5/3 out of 5 stars

Edwina comes home from work to find that her husband, Marlin, has packed up and moved out.  Where did he go and why did he leave so abruptly?       While this may seem like a pretty straight-forward storyline, don’t be fooled.  There are many threads woven in:  both characters having issues with parents (Marlin with his father’s death, Edwina with her over-bearing mother); both working towards the coveted green card;  Edwina’s unsatisfying tech job and her dealings with co-workers, to name a few.  But I felt that there were too many of these loose threads that ultimately never really came together.  I did enjoy the flashback chapters, but the rest just seemed muddled.  Another plus:  I did enjoy YZ Chin’s writing style, and I will be looking for more of her work in the future.

Novellas, Short Stories, and Anthologies

The Water Museum by  Luis Alberto Urrea — 4 out of 5 stars

Urrea’s stories are thoughtful and often heartbreaking, from the lasting pain of love lost (Mountains Without Number) to in-laws helping each other through grief (Bid Farewell to Her Many Horses, my personal favorite).  While there are really no truly uplifting tales in this mix, there are some lighter moments and some hints of mystery.  A solid collection I would recommend for everyone.

Singing With All My Skin and Bone by Sunny Moraine — 4 out of 5 stars

I don’t think I have the right words to adequately describe this collection of  unique stories that blend fantasy and horror with dreamlike narratives.  With subject matter such as self-mutilation, sexuality, and death (especially suicide), this is no easy reading by any means.  But each story called for my absolute attention and left me thinking about them long after the last sentence.  Highly recommend.

Until next time, stay safe and Happy Reading!

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