Weekly Mash-Up #144

Today is officially the first full day of winter…

…and there’s a forecast for snow on Christmas!  This time of year I find myself going into full-on hibernation mode, where all I want to do is curl up under some warm blankets with plenty of hot beverages and escape through tv binges and good books.  There’s something I find oddly comforting about the shorter, darker, colder days.  Of course, ask me how I feel about winter in late January or early February and I’m usually singing a much different tune!!

My reading year is winding down, and while I still have four books left on my 20 Plus 1 reading list I am confident I can finish three of them.  Sorry The Crimson Petal and the White, looks like you’re going to be a January finish.  I’ve also been going through my unread TBR mountain selecting my reading list for 2022 as well as coming up with my monthly themes.  And keep an eye out for my look back at 2021!

The Week in Books

Maiden by TC Parker and Ward Nerdlo — 4.5 out of 5 stars

4.5 stars, rounding up for Goodreads and NetGalley.      If you think you’ve read it all when it comes to horror fiction, then you need to pick up Maiden!  Set on a fishing boat named The Pepper Kay, we have a ragtag crew setting off for the Bering Strait under the leadership of a captain named God.  What they haul up from the deep is more than they bargained for and sets off a battle between good (actually in this case, the not-so-good) and evil.  Fast-paced storytelling, some truly unlikeable (and unforgettable) characters, and a ship with a mind of her own make this a must-read for horror fans.  Highly recommend!

Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink — 3.5/4 out of 5 stars

One of my 20 Plus 1 selections.  Hurricane Katrina wrecked havoc across several states in 2005, and the extreme flooding brought on by the storm and broken levees stranded thousands, including staff and patients at Memorial Medical Center.  When officials were finally able to get into the hospital, they found several deceased patients, most of whom were found to have died from excessive amounts of drugs injected into their systems.  Were these acts of compassion or murder?  The author does an excellent job of recreating the harrowing five days spent at the hospital and the immediate aftermath.  However, I felt the last third or so felt rushed and lacking the same attention to detail present in the first parts.

The Darling Dahlias and the Poinsettia Puzzle by Susan Wittig Albert — 3 out of 5 stars

I was a bit underwhelmed with this Christmas cozy.  This is one of those series where the storylines keep going throughout multiple books so if you haven’t read any of the earlier ones you might feel a bit confused or, like me, wind up not caring about any of the characters and their problems since there is no build-up or added explanations.  I give credit for the attention to historical details and I might just find myself checking out the first book in the series to see if it grabs me enough to read the other seven books that led up to this one.

Stay safe and Happy Reading!

Weekly Mash-Up #143

It’s snowing!

Snow Day Dog GIF

There’s still a few days left until winter officially starts, but earlier today Mother Nature decided to give us a bit of a preview in my little corner of the world.  Nothing nearly as heavy as this clip (thank God!!) but enough to blanket the yard and turn my steep driveway into a slippery slope.  We’re used to snowfall here in the foothills, but it seems like the first snow of the season always takes us by surprise.

One nice thing with all the white stuff is it makes it feel a bit more Christmas-y!  Will it still be around for the holidays?  I’ll keep you posted!

The Week in Books

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite — 4 out of 5 stars

I wasn’t sure about this one going in as I had heard some mixed reviews about it.  However, I wound up enjoying this quick read that focuses on family relationships (kind of a “Family — Ya Gotta Love ’em” theme).  The title pretty much sums up the story, and the short chapters are a breeze to go through, perfect for an afternoon read.  I’m not sure who exactly I would recommend this to, but if you come across it give it a try.

Managed Care by Joe Barrett — 4 out of 5 stars

One of my 20 + 1 For 2021 titles.  Fair warning: this book is not for anyone who is overly sensitive to anything.   Our protagonist, Frank, is one of those guys whose heart is in the right place but his enthusiasm often leads to pretty stupid decisions.  Currently living in a care facility for the elderly (and wearing a diaper out of principle), this thirty-something teams up with a couple of 12-year-olds and set out to turn the Catholic church upside down…at least, the local church anyways.  I found myself laughing out loud quite a bit, then feeling a bit uncomfortable a few pages later.  The overall story is a good one, but I thought it went off the rails in the last third or so.  If you’re looking for a quick read that you don’t have to put much thought into, this one fits the bill!

A Gesture Life by Chang-rae Lee — 3 out of 5 stars

One of my 20 + 1 For 2021 titles.  This “quiet” novel focuses on Franklin Hata, a Japanese man of Korean birth, who is currently living in a small American town but is haunted by the women in his past, from his failings with his adopted daughter and a brief romance with a neighbor, to the tragedy surrounding his  encounter with a young Korean “comfort girl”/prisoner he fell in love with during the war.  I really wanted to like this one more than I did but it just fell flat for me.  Part of me wanted something more, but at a sluggish 356 pages, I don’t know how much more I really could have taken.

Stay safe and Happy Reading!

December — Cozy Christmas

I try to plan out my monthly themes several months in advance, and I knew that December would be perfect for some lighter “cozy” reading.  So you would think I would be prepared with several titles on hand, right?

Sorry Zach Galifianakis GIF

Yep, that’s right, I’ve had several months to find some Christmas cozies and totally spaced on it!  Luckily I will be going to the library this week so there’s still a chance of finding something to fit the theme.  If you have any suggestions, feel free to send me a message!

One goal I know I can work on for December is finishing my 20+1 for 2021 list.  While I have six books left to finish, four of those are my current reads so I feel pretty good about reaching the finish line by the 31st!

What will you be reading this month?  Drop me a line and let’s talk books!

Until next time, stay safe and Happy Reading!

Weekly Mash-Up #142

It’s hard to believe we’re in the final month of the year!  The past few months have flown by, while at the same time feeling like it would never end…it’s almost felt like living in the movie, Groundhog Day!

But December is my second favorite month, with the holidays and my birthday all coming up.  While I have no big plans for either, I do plan on spending some time relaxing and enjoying all of the festive movies, lights, and food that are to be had…

And read a book or two, of course!

The Week in Books

Reservation Blues by Sherman Alexie — 4 out of 5 stars

In his 1995 debut novel, Alexie uses magical realism to tell the story of Thomas, Junior, and Victor, three friends from the Spokane Indian Tribe who find themselves in possession of the enchanted guitar once owned by  legendary bluesman Robert Johnson.  What follows is a journey of highs and lows, humor, drama, and heartbreak.  As a longtime Alexie fan, I can say that while this wasn’t my absolute favorite of his works, it’s right up there and will stay in my thoughts and heart for some time.

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson — 3.5 out of 5 stars

This one was kind of up and down for me.  At some points I was laughing out loud at the exploits of Allan, both past and present, yet other times I was restlessly counting the pages until the next break so I could stop reading.  I liked the overall story, but by the last eighty pages or so I had pretty much lost interest.  Needless to say, I won’t be reading the sequel.

Novellas, Short Stories, and Anthologies

Tales From the Typewriter by Mark Allan Gunnells — 4 out of 5 stars

Scheduled for publication in January 2022.  The latest from Gunnells is a collection of stories within a story.  Our narrator buys an old typewriter that once belonged to his favorite (deceased) author.  Shortly afterwards, strange noises are heard late at night as the typewriter comes to life and begins to tell some scary tales…

The six short stories offer some creepy, even disturbing, narratives, from a post-apocalyptic take on Misery (The Travelling Storyteller) to a tale that will make you rethink leaving those negative reviews (The Cult of Wrath), with all six sharing the common theme of storytelling.  I enjoyed all of the stories, and found this to be a quick, satisfying read.  Be sure to add it to your TBR for 2022!

Stay safe and Happy Reading!