Weekly Mash-Up #119

This week’s book mail!

I’ve been watching the television series The Terror, a story about a doomed Arctic expedition with some supernatural twists.   When I found out it was based on a book by Dan Simmons I knew I had to get a copy.    Things We Lost to the Water is a debut novel about a Vietnamese family trying to adjust to their new life in America…and a Goodreads giveaway win!  Many thanks to Knopf/Penguin Random House for sending me an early copy, I’m looking forward to this one.     I’ve been reading Clive Barker since the early 1990’s and I can’t believe I’ve overlooked his Books of Blood collections.  This copy, combining volumes 1-3, include 16 of his earliest, scariest works.  Hmm, sounds like a good start for the Halloween reading season!   And finally, Michael Symon’s Playing With Fire is a cookbook I’ve been wishing for since it’s 2018 publication.  I’ve already picked out some recipes to try once summer grilling season begins!

I don’t know where my reading time went this past week, but I did get to finish a few books…

The Week in Books

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy — 5 out of 5 stars

Based on historical events, McCarthy delivers  a harrowing, haunting, and often brutal novel that deserves all the praise.  Much like The Road and No Country for Old Men, I can’t stop thinking about this book and the deeply flawed characters.  And knowing that the brutalities depicted throughout were carried out in the not so distant past makes it all the more horrific.  While not for everyone, this is one I highly recommend.

The Girl in Cell 49B by Dorian Box — 3.5 out of 5 stars

Book 2 in the Emily Calby series finds teenage Emily facing prison time for a past crime.  While awaiting trial, she finds herself in a series of subplots ranging from prison corruption to first love.    Overall I found this fast-paced story entertaining but a bit predictable.  Since I hadn’t read the first book I appreciated the author offering enough background so this could be enjoyed as a stand-alone story.  Recommend for fans of strong female leads and trial procedures.  Thanks to NetGalley for offering an early e-copy for review.

Antioch by Jessica Leonard — 3 out of 5 stars

Antioch is Leonard’s debut novel, one that I would categorize as psychological thriller over the horror label it’s received.  Six women have been abducted and murdered, a seventh has gone missing, and local bookseller Bess gets involved after picking up a strange message on her short-wave radio.  The beginning really sucked me in, but along the way I started to feel a disconnect from both the characters and the storyline.  And the ending?  Don’t get me started on that!  While this wasn’t a home run for me, I am looking forward to reading more of Ms. Leonard’s works in the future.

Stay safe and Happy Reading!

Weekly Mash-Up #118

Nothing says spring as much as when my weeping cherry tree is in full bloom!

This past week has been unseasonably warm in my little corner of the world.  Since we are doing some yard renovations I’ve sooo wanted to buy every pretty plant and flower that has caught my eye, as well as start planting my veggie seeds.  I am holding back though, as I know there will be a few more freezing nights in the next few weeks.  This is the time of year where patience truly pays off in the long run.

Even though I was spending my days outdoors, I was able to spend some evening time finishing a few books…

The Week in Books

Going Crazy in Public by Earl Emerson — 3 out of 5 stars

Fire chief Mac Fontana is looking for a serial arsonist who just became a murderer after an elderly woman dies in one of the fires.  I’ve enjoyed Emerson’s books in the past, but for some reason this one just seemed to lack any momentum.  The first 2/3rd was slow-going (the last part did make up for that though).  I think I’ll stick to Emerson’s Thomas Black series in the future.

Novellas, Short Stories, and Anthologies

HOWLS From Hell edited by Grady Hendrix — 3.5/4 out of 5 stars

HOWLS (Horror-Obsessed Writing and Literature Society) will be releasing this anthology in May 2021.  If you are looking for a great variety of short stories by some truly promising up-and-coming horror authors, be sure to add this to your TBR list!  This anthology offers a wide range of styles, from  sci-fi-esque to a modern fairy tale (and everything in between).  As with all collections/anthologies I’ve read, there are those individual stories I love and those that just didn’t click with me.  But the best part is I now have a long list of new-to-me authors and I look forward to reading more of their work in the future.

Goddess of Filth by V. Castro — 3 out of 5 stars

So, apparently “feminist horror” is not my cup of tea.  It’s a great premise:  five teen friends hold a seance and actually make contact with the other side.  But what exactly did they bring into this world?     There were some good moments, even some creepy ones.  And I do like stories that involve women becoming empowered and owning their sexuality.  But this one just lacked something and at a certain point felt a bit too “preachy” (for lack of a better word).  And don’t get me started on the random priest subplot.  While this particular story didn’t grab me, I am looking forward to reading more of Ms. Castro’s work.

Stay safe and Happy Reading!

NightWorms April Theme — We Are The Weirdos

I may not be able to visit my local library or wander the aisles of my favorite bookstore, but I can always depend on my monthly NightWorms shipment!

This month offers some truly intense stuff.  You may recognize Whisper Down the Lane as an ARC I received a few months ago.  The storyline is based on the “Satanic Panic” of the 1980’s and the McMartin preschool trials.  I am a huge fan of this book and excited to now have a hardcover edition with signed nameplate for my library.

I tore into Scanlines the day I received this package over a week ago and I still can’t stop thinking about it.  While this has major trigger warnings for graphic suicide content, I could not put it down.  One that will be haunting my dreams for some time.

I’ve been hearing about author V. Castro so I am excited to read her novella, Goddess of Filth.  Described as a story of five friends who hold a seance that brings forth more than what they were expecting.  Sounds right up my alley!

And, of course, all the extra goodies!

Have you received any great book mail lately?  Drop me a line and let’s talk books!

Stay safe and Happy Reading!



Weekly Mash-Up #117

After taking a week off for spring break, I’m back, and with some great book mail!

I am so excited to finally get my hands on My Dark Vanessa, a book I’ve been dying to read for over a year now.  On the surface it sounds like a new version of one of my favorite classics, Lolita, but I’m sure there will be much more to it than that.  Six Four is a Japanese mystery/thriller that sounds like a mix of unsolved mystery and police corruption.  I devoured Furiously Happy in one day (see review below), it was the comedic relief I didn’t know I needed.

And, of course, I was able to get some reading done…

The Week in Books

August’s Eyes by Glenn Rolfe — 4 out of 5 stars

Glenn Rolfe is quickly becoming one of my favorite horror authors, and August’s Eyes (to be released in August 2021) shows he just keeps getting better with each book.  There are some truly memorable characters in this novel, and the mix of coming-of-age, mystery/thriller, and supernatural worked well.  There were a couple of things that felt a bit off, but since this was an uncorrected advance copy I will refrain from going into depth in case these are changed in the final copy.  If you’re looking for a truly creepy read with some 90’s nostalgia mixed in (plus lots of spiders!!), be sure to look for this book in mid-August.    Many thanks to Flame Tree Press, Glenn Rolfe, and NetGalley for sending me an ecopy for review.

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson — 4 out of 5 stars

Author Jenny Lawson has a slew of things wrong with her, from mental illness to physical ailments, and she knows how to turn these negatives into some truly entertaining anecdotes.  When Lawson is funny, she is hilarious, but be warned:  she seems to have some weird obsession with vagina jokes and references that gets beyond annoying after a bit.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn — 4 out of 5 stars

Yes, it’s true.  It’s taken me ten years to finally get around to reading this giant best-seller.  And I don’t know how I avoided spoilers but I did!  The story of a wife gone missing with the husband as the main suspect…this one had me rapidly turning pages to find out what the hell was going to happen next.  I’m not sure I’m 100% behind the ending, but overall I loved this fast-paced read.  The hype is real!

Midnight at the Dragon Cafe by Judy Fong Bates — 3.5 out of 5 stars

The story of a young Chinese girl who moves to Canada with her family in the 1950’s.  This is a kind of slice-of-life narrative which looks at prejudice and family dramas (and some very unusual family drama at that).  While well-written, I thought it became a bit repetitive, and I really couldn’t get a good “feel” for the narrator.  Still, if you’re looking for a quiet historical drama, I recommend giving this one a shot.

Novellas, Short Stories, and Anthologies

Scanlines by Todd Keisling — 5 out of 5 stars

A huge trigger warning for this novella for graphic suicide scenes.  Similar to the plot behind the movie The Ring, this tale centers on the myth of The Duncan Tape which supposedly shows a fallen congressman committing suicide at a live press conference, and what happens when some unsuspecting teenagers think they’ve stumbled across it.  This one got under my skin more than I thought it would, truly creepy and disturbing.

Stay safe and Happy Reading!

April — Spring Cleaning

It’s that time of year where many of us start some spring cleaning around the house.  For me, that has meant doing some decluttering of the kitchen and closets, deep-cleaning the carpets…and trying to organize my massive TBR hoard!

With two book carts, two book cases, and nine boxes filled with unread treasures, it’s often difficult to decide what to read next.  This month, I decided to pick some titles that have been waiting for my attention for 10 years or longer.  Believe me, there are quite a few!  But these two popped out…

Candle in the Wind has been sitting, overlooked, on my shelf since the early 1990’s!  A different take on the Marilyn Monroe legend, this story goes into alt-history territory by asking “What if Marilyn had lived?”  Well, it’s time for me to finally find out!

A friend introduced me to local author Earl Emerson and his fast-paced mysteries in the late 1990’s, and Going Crazy in Public has been begging for my attention for at least 15 years!   In this installment of the Mac Fontana series, Fire Chief Fontana must figure out who is behind a series of arson fires in the sleepy town of Staircase, Washington.  Sounds like a perfect rainy afternoon read!

Goodreads Group Reads

My Goodreads groups have some great titles picked for this month.  Here’s just a sampler…

How convenient that I received The Sanatorium recently!  I’m definitely putting this creepy tale on my April TBR.

Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth has been on my shelf for some time.  I’m not sure I’ll be starting this epic tale anytime in the near future, but I’ve heard great things about it.  If you start it, let me know what you think!

Mr. Mercedes is the first in Stephen King’s Bill Hodges trilogy, and takes us into the minds of a psychopath and the man trying to stop him.  I think of this as more thriller than typical King horror and highly recommend it.

Other group titles include On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong, a beautiful heart-breaking tale written as a son’s letter to his mother (and one I highly recommend); and The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang, a historical fantasy based on events in 19th century China.  This one really intrigues me…I would love to hear your opinions on it!

What do you have on your April TBR?  Feel free to drop me a line, I love to talk books!  Until next time, stay safe and Happy Reading!