Weekly Mash-Up #148

There’s something about getting flower and seed catalogs in the mail on a dark, cold winter day that truly lifts me out of my winter blahs.  With a hot cup of tea, I can easily spend an hour or so admiring the colorful spring and summer blooms or deciding between green bean and lettuce varieties for my own little veggie patch.  With two months left of winter I know these plans are a ways off, but these colorful pieces of mail offer, in their own way, a reminder that things will get better.

And even though I spent a lot of the past week with my nose in one book or another, for some reason I only completed one…

The Week in Books

The Samurai’s Garden by Gail Tsukiyama — 4 out of 5 stars

Written in diary/journal form, this is the story of Stephen, a young Chinese man who goes to live at a family home in Japan due to health issues.  Over the course of the next year (from September 1937 to October 1938) he will meet several people who will teach him about love and compassion, and will help him in his own self-discoveries.    There’s something about Ms. Tsukiyama’s writing that just pulls me in every time.  It’s rich, layered, lyrical, even a bit haunting.  This is definitely a character-driven story with strong ties to the historical happenings of the day.  As a shorter book, this would be a great place to start if you are new to the author’s works.

Stay safe and Happy Reading!

Weekly Mash-Up #147

It’s still winter, and I’m still here.  That’s about the extent of what’s been going on in my little corner of the world!  😀

On the plus side, after a slow start to the new year, I broke out of my reading slump and haven’t looked back!  Which is a good thing since I’m a bit behind on my NetGalley reviews.

Feel free to drop me a line and let me know your current reads, past favorites, or whatever other bookish topic you want to chat about!  Let’s talk books!

The Week in Books

Malevolent by Jana Deleon — 4 out of 5 stars

I must say, this fast-paced thriller lifted me out of my recent reading slump!  Shaye Archer was found in an alley, bloody and abused, with no memory of how she got there.  Nine years later she opens her own private investigation office where her first client is a woman who is convinced she is being stalked by her husband.  The only problem?  She had killed her husband a few weeks earlier!   I was immediately drawn into this story, and Deleon kept me guessing right up to the end!  Great start to a series I hope to read more of in the very  near future.

Atlin: Where Everyone Knows Your Dog’s Name by Bradford Smith — 4 out of 5 stars

Look for my full review coming here and at MrPinkInk the weekend of January 28-30.

The Whale Tattoo by Jon Ransom — 4 out of 5 stars

An amazing debut novel!  Our MC Joe believes that death follows him and that the river speaks to him.  Through vivid dreamscapes and backstories, Joe’s story emerges as one of love, lust, and loss, and a personal journey that ultimately leads to the path of acceptance and redemption.  I’m already looking forward to Jon Ransom’s future works.

Hell in the Heartland: Murder, Meth, and the Case of Two Missing Girls by Jax Miller — 3.5 out of 5 stars

In the wee hours of December 30, 1999, flames consumed a mobile home in rural Oklahoma.  In the rubble, the bodies of Danny and Kathy Freeman were found, and their teen daughter, Ashley, and her best friend, Lauria, were missing.  In the months and years following the murders and disappearances, rumors swirled, hinting at drug deals and police corruption, while grieving families searched for the truth.    Jax Miller did a lot of research and reached out to a lot of people in the attempt to bring clarification (and perhaps closure) to these horrific crimes.  And while Miller does have a gift for descriptions that bring the places and people to life, I think this actually brings the book down a bit.  This is not the type of story that needs flowery embellishments and the author’s introspection that I feel ultimately bog down the narrative.  I would still recommend this for true crime fans, just be prepared for a lot of unanswered questions.

Stay safe and Happy Reading!

Weekly Mash-Up #146

2022 is barely two weeks old and I’ve already found myself in a reading slump!!

Gossip Girl Whats Wrong With Me GIF

Instead of picking up a book, I’ve been binge-watching reruns of shows I’ve seen a million times or obsessively playing Mahjong Trails on my tablet.  I usually don’t get the winter blahs like this until mid-February…could be a long winter!

I was able to finish a couple of my current reads despite my brain turning to mush…

The Week in Books

The Twelve by Justin Cronin — 4 out of 5 stars

What began as a government experiment gone horribly wrong in The Passage continues into the future with mankind’s struggles to survive in the second book, The Twelve.  It’s been a couple of years since I’ve read The Passage but I fell right into this one!  Justin Cronin once again does an excellent job of world- and character-building, and while it did take me a bit to get into the story, once it started going it didn’t stop.  I have the final book out and ready to go, I can’t wait to see how this ends!

Blueburied Muffins by Lyndsey Cole — 3 out of 5 stars

One of my January selections.  This cozy had some potential story-wise, but when our MC walks into her cafe, finds a dead body, and the first thing she does is make herself some coffee…well…that’s just too stupid even for a bad cozy.  It did get a bit better and I know I will probably pick up the next in the series because I’m a bit of a masochist.  I just have to remind myself of the inanities that this particular series seems to have.

Stay safe and Happy Reading!

Weekly Mash-Up #145

After all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it’s time to kick things into gear and get back to the weekly update!

The Week in Books

And the Devil Cried by Kristopher Triana — 4.5/5 out of 5 stars

Our MC Jackie is one of the most vile, disgusting characters I’ve come across in a long time.  Fresh out of prison, he soon takes a “job” involving the kidnapping of a young girl who is the daughter of a drunk driver who killed Jackie’s boss’ son.  This story is a crime thriller at its most extreme and definitely not for everyone (let’s just say, trigger warnings would come with content warnings).  But there’s something about Triana’s writing skills that kept me reading even when I hit some points where I just wanted to bleach my brain.  If you like taking your reading experience to disgusting extremes, this book is for you.

Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi — 3 out of 5 stars

The death of renowned surgeon and failed husband Kweku Sai reunites his scattered family and brings to light the family secrets long hidden.  This was one of those “quiet” novels that examines family dynamics and disfunctions, mainly through flashbacks from various characters.  Not bad as far as the plot, but I found it pretty slow-going, and at times choppy and confusing.

Anna by Niccolo Ammaniti — 2.5 out of 5 stars

In the near future, a virus wipes out everyone over the age of 14, then lies dormant in the remaining children until they, too, succumb when they reach puberty.  Anna and her younger brother set out in hopes of finding help?/immunity?/other survivors?/ ???          The blurb drew me in on this one, and it started out well enough, but by the half-way point I had reached an eye-rolling, mind-numbing point of no return.

Novellas, Short Stories, and Anthologies

Palmetto by Ania Ahlborn — 4 out of 5 stars

Fair warning:  if you have a fear of bugs, especially cockroaches, you might want to pass this one by!  Palmetto bugs are basically large flying cockroaches and one of the few insects that make my skin crawl.  This is the story of a young couple, expecting their first child, who move into a seemingly perfect home…key word seemingly!  This felt like a blend of Rosemary’s Baby and any insect-centered horror movie you can think of, and even with my hatred of the lead insect I really liked this quick, creepy-crawly read.

Mojo Rising by Bob Pastorella — 3.5 out of 5 stars

A new drug called Mojo is interrupting Juney’s drug business, so he sets out to take down the competition.  Add in the murders of his brother and cook and you get the set-up for a twisted tale of crime and revenge.  Overall I liked this one, but I felt there was something missing that would have lifted the story to the next level.  The ending was a bit of a letdown as well.

Stay safe and Happy Reading!

Twenty Plus Two in 2022

It’s that time again, time for my reading goals for the new year!

As for my list of twenty-one books for 2021, I did pretty darn good.  My biggest problem was I saved the two longest books on my list for the very end.  Sorry The Twelve and The Crimson Petal and the White,  I will finish you eventually!

After going through my shelves and boxes of unread books, as well as all my kindle titles, I was able to pick out my twenty-two must-reads for the coming year.

Fiction (physical books)

Betty by Tiffany McDaniel

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

You Will Be Safe Here by Damian Barr

Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane

The Samurai’s Garden by Gail Tsukiyama

Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford

Crow Lake by Mary Lawson

A Stain on the Silence by Andrew Taylor

LaRose by Louise Erdrich

These Women by Ivy Pochoda


Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kayson

Practice to Deceive by Ann Rule

A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout

Code Talker by Chester Nez

Chefs, Drugs, & Rock & Roll by Andrew Friedman


The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa

In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills by Jennifer Haupt

Handbook for the Criminally Insane by Brian Holtz

Cruelty: A Novel by Edward Lorn

Burning Bridges Along the Susquehanna by Paul C. Nelson


Silas Marner by George Eliot

Quite the handful (book over 600 pages)

Black House by Stephen King and Peter Straub

What are your reading goals for the new year?  Drop me a line and let’s talk books!

Until next time, stay safe and Happy Reading!

January — New Year, New (to me) Series/Author

Happy New Year GIF

A Happy New Year to all of you!!

Now let’s talk books!

One thing I’ve learned from my monthly themed TBR lists is that I tend to go overboard with my selections, often picking too many books and not having the time to finish them all.  This year, I will be limiting my monthly selections to one or two titles, and I will still be sharing featured titles from my Goodreads groups as additional inspiration for your own reading lists.

To start out the new year, I picked out a couple of new-to-me authors whose books just happen to be the first in a new-to-me series!  One of my kindle freebies, Blueburied Muffins by Lyndsey Cole, is a cozy mystery featuring Annie Fisher, a young woman who is running from her boyfriend and returns to her small hometown and starts working for her aunt at The Black Cat Cafe.  Of course, in true cozy fashion, chaos and murder follows Annie and has her looking for answers.

My second choice, also a kindle freebie, is Malevolent by Jana DeLeon.  Shaye Archer was found in an alley, beaten and with no memory of her past.  Years later, she becomes a private investigator helping others find answers to their pasts.  This one sounds like a good solid thriller and I can’t wait to dive into it.

The selections from my Goodreads groups all seemed to be ones I’ve featured in the past so I will wait until February to pick that up again.

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

Stay safe and Happy Reading!


My Favorites From 2021

It’s just a few hours until a new year begins and I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the past twelve months.

I swear, at times 2021 felt like a repeat of 2020…on steroids.  But even though the world seemed to be stuck in a seemingly never-ending cycle of bad news, I tried to find happiness and peace in the little things and the baby steps back to some sort of normal.  From the relief of getting vaccinated to bringing home two new family members (bearded dragon Fu-tzu and kitten Rosalina), I did have some memorable moments and I hope you all were able to find some good moments in your lives as well.

And, of course, there were the books!  So now I would like to share my top reads of 2021 (in no particular order)


Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

Crossroads by Laurel Hightower

The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward

Tender is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica

The Good Son by You-Jeong Jeong

We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker


End of the Road by Brian Keene

Do Something for Nothing: Seeing Beneath the Surface of Homelessness, Through the Simple Act of a Haircut by Joshua Coombes

In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

Without You, I Would Be Nothing by Brooke L. Davis

What’s Good?  A Memoir in Fourteen Ingredients by Peter Hoffman

What were your favorite reads this past year?  Feel free to drop me a line and let’s talk books!

And what do I have in store for 2022??  Stay tuned…

Stay safe, Happy Reading, and all the best to you in the New Year!!