Weekly Mash-Up #132

It’s Back to School time in my corner of the world and the past few days have been spent setting up the study area for my son and his first couple of days of 12th grade!  Thankfully his small school district is still offering online learning in the wake of the explosion of new Covid cases.  He really enjoyed the online learning last year so he’s looking forward to his classes this year.  Added bonus:  we should have better internet by the end of the month, which will cut down on the frustrations and headaches our current internet has been causing.

Returning to a more scheduled day has definitely helped me catch up on some reading!  I’m still a bit behind on my NetGalley titles, but I have started on my 31 Books of Halloween (look for the  H x/31 under the titles to keep track of my progress!).

The Week in Books

Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill — 4/4.5 out of 5 stars

One of my September TBR selections.   In a not-so distant future, the human race is extinct and robots rule the world.  Brittle wanders the wastelands called the Sea of Rust as a scavenger trying to survive.    I honestly could not put this book down!  Cargill does an excellent job creating mechanical characters that I couldn’t help but love (or hate!).  From the bleak landscape to the fast-paced action sequences, the storytelling is descriptive and well-written.  I’m still not sure how I feel about the ending, but this is one that I highly recommend!

Hope’s Boy by Andrew Bridge — 4 out of 5 stars

Andrew was raised by his grandmother until the age of four, when his long-lost mother, plagued by mental illness and substance abuse issues, returned to reclaim him.  Over the next two years, they live in poverty and uncertainty, until Andrew is taken into foster care after his mother’s public breakdown.  The bulk of this memoir is about Andrew’s experiences living with the Leonards, a foster family who weren’t exactly the Brady Bunch.  As an adult, he went on to study law and later became an advocate for foster children.  His story is a mix of heartbreak and triumph, and should serve as a wake-up call to the horrors and injustices in the foster care system.  Highly recommend.

Five Tales of Horror and Suspense by C. D. Wilsher — 3.5 out of 5 stars

(H 1/31)  There are no surprises with these five shorts.  I swear I’ve read several  variations of each one in other anthologies over the years.  However, Wilsher’s writing does draw you in and the stories are fast-paced.  I just wish there were a few more twists and surprises.  Not a bad choice for a quick afternoon read.

Alfie and the Dead Girls by Jamie Stewart — 2.5/3 out of 5 stars

(H 2/31)  This is one of those short stories that would have been much better fleshed out as a novella.  The horror of adults preying on children on the internet is truly nightmarish for all parents, but this story just didn’t quite build up that sense of fear that it should have.  And don’t get me started on the unsatisfying ending!  Not badly written, just could have used a bit more to create a scarier atmosphere.

The Doubt Factory by Paolo Bacigalupi — 2.5/3 out of 5 stars

It’s always a bummer when I read a dud from a favorite auto-buy author.  I’ve loved Bacigalupi’s dystopian fantasy novels, but this YA techno-thriller/social commentary was a huge disappointment.  By the mid-point I was really wishing the focus would turn from the self-absorbed and incredibly bland MC Alix to any of the side characters (Tank and Kook especially).  While the message the novel tries to deliver may be warranted, it came off as preachy and the story lacked any real emotion or urgency.  The ending was good though, bumping this up to three stars.

Stay safe and Happy Reading!

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