Weekly Mash-Up #154

Spring is here!

Autumn may be my favorite time of year, but spring is a very close second.  After the dark, cold days of winter it’s always refreshing to see the flowers blooming and the trees leafing out.  Even the rainy days seem warmer and brighter.  The longer days also bring a renewed vigor, making me want to get outside and get some hiking or yardwork in.  Spring also means it’s that much closer to outdoor reading weather, when I can relax in the shade of my big maple tree with a large glass of iced tea and a good book….soon!

The Week in Books

Practice to Deceive by Ann Rule — 3 out of 5 stars

Ann Rule is considered the queen of true crime writing, and I have been a fan of hers since I was a teenager.  Her “True Crime Files” collection (seventeen volumes in total I believe) are addictive, and her earlier full-length investigative books like Green River, Running Red and The Stranger Beside Me  are true crime classics.    Sadly,  her last couple of full-length books just don’t reach the same level of excellence of her earlier works.  Practice to Deceive would have been perfect in shorter form, but either money or publishers called for more so Rule put in a lot of unnecessary filler to create a 336 page book that focuses more on random background stories about people unrelated to the crime than the crime itself.  If you haven’t read any of Rule’s books, I suggest picking up anything written before 2009.

Stay safe and Happy Reading!

Weekly Mash-Up #153

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Since I have a bit of Irish in my history, I make sure to wear some green on this day, and tonight I’ll be enjoying a beer (or three, haha!).  That’s about the extent of celebrations in this household.

Today is also the start of a long weekend readathon with the Unexpected Readathon group on Goodreads.  This morning I finished a couple of my current reads,  next I’ll be searching my TBR for a book with green on the cover.  Once again I didn’t make any definitive goals or reading lists, I’m just going to get as much reading time in as I can during the next few days.

The Week in Books

The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo — 4.5 out of 5 stars

One of my selections for March.  Detective Harry Hole has made one too many mistakes and has been put on surveillance duty.  While checking into the activities of a neo-Nazi group, he finds himself in the middle of an investigation into the murders of some WWII veterans.  Alternating between the past and present, Nesbo introduces some of the history of Norwegian soldiers who chose to fight for Nazi Germany, and masterfully weaves the sins of the past into the actions of the present.  An additional storyline left me reeling, and from what I understand, will haunt Harry Hole through the next two books.  If you haven’t read any of the series, you can easily start with this one.  Highly recommend.

Little Bird by Tiffany Meuret — 4 out of 5 stars

Josie spends her time playing with her dog and drinking large amounts of vodka in an effort to cope with her father’s death and the end of her marriage.  This lonely, solitary life soon changes when a strange plant starts growing in her backyard, followed by the appearance of an unexpected guest:  a talking skeleton named Skelly.  Where did Skelly come from, and will her wisdom be able to help a grieving Josie?  I really didn’t know what to expect, but I quickly found myself caught up in this story.  Josie may not be the most likeable or sympathetic character, but I could relate to some of the emotions she had regarding her losses.  I’m still not sure how I feel about the ending (maybe I was building up something different in my head?  I don’t know), but overall a great novel, one of my favorites of 2022.  Highly recommend.

Any Man by Amber Tamblyn — 4 out of 5 stars

Amber Tamblyn’s novel looks at rape from a different perspective:  from men who have been victimized and damaged by a serial female rapist known only as Maude.  Utilizing poetry, inner monologues, chatroom exchanges, and other writing skills Tamblyn explores the personal and social fallout that all rape victims, regardless of gender, must face, from suicidal thoughts to victim shaming.  It’s a tough read but one I highly recommend.

Spare Parts:  The Story of Medicine Through the History of Transplant Surgery by Paul Craddock — 4 out of 5 stars

Look for my full review coming here and at MrPinkInk the weekend of March 25-27!

Novellas, Short Stories, and Anthologies

Devil’s Night by Curtis M. Lawson — 4 out of 5 stars

During the 70’s, 80’s, and much of the 90’s, October 30 was Devil’s Night in Detroit, a night where people would set fires and loot buildings and leave the city in smoldering ruins (think The Purge only with arson instead of murder).  Lawson focuses on one night in 1987 and creates fourteen stories that showcase the horrors of that night.  There are tales that tie in the local myths of Nain Rouge (a devil who brings death to your loved ones until you are the only one left) and Piggy Peggy, a bloodthirsty butcher’s wife with the face of a pig.  A biker faces his own mortality; a stripper is hired to kill a man at a party that isn’t what it seems; a vampiric “angel” is brought back to life; two young boys use a devilish version of Dungeons and Dragons to help their drug-addicted mother.  I thought that this was a strong collection, thoroughly creepy and entertaining.  Be sure to add this to your Halloween reading list.

Stay safe and Happy Reading!

Weekly Mash-Up #152

Yes, it’s been a while since my last mash-up.  No excuses, really, just a case of the late winter blahs.  But with spring now in sight, and having my daffodil bulbs starting to break through the ground, I’ve been getting a bit of an energy lift!

The Week in Books

Dead Mountain:  The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident by Donnie Eichar — 4 out of 5 stars

Look for my full review here and at MrPinkInk coming out the weekend of February 25-27.

Song of Kali by Dan Simmons — 3.5/4 out of 5 stars

Robert Luczak travels to Calcutta in the attempt to find out what happened to a famous poet.  What he will discover is unimaginable horror.  Originally published in 1985, this was Simmons’ first novel, a pretty powerful debut.  I could feel the setting and the oppressive heat and humidity, and I could smell the foul streets.  I would probably describe this as a slow-burn horror that will sucker punch you and leave you wondering what the hell just happened.

The Pale-Faced Lie by David Crow — 3 out of 5 stars

David Crow recalls growing up with an extremely violent, abusive, and manipulative father and a psychologically fragile mother, telling not only of his own abuse but the abuse and misdeeds he did as a youngster at the behest of his father.  While definitely tragic and brutal, there was a certain sort of pride that came through Crow’s descriptions of the terrible stunts he did against others (mainly Navajos and Mexicans) that left a bad taste in my mouth.

Death of a Knit Wit by Peggy Ehrhart — 3 out of 5 stars.

While the mystery itself was good (an unpopular professor is poisoned at a luncheon, leaving a list of suspects that weren’t too upset he was gone), sadly this book fell a bit flat for me.  I just couldn’t connect with any of the main characters (I wanted more of the members of the Knit and Nibbles club and less of Bettina’s wardrobe), and the extremely detailed (and sometimes repetitive) descriptions became annoying by the 50% mark (Pamela’s car is serviceable.  We get it.).  I may try another book from the series to see if this was just a case of wrong book at the wrong time.

Novellas, Short Stories, and Anthologies

The Backbone of the World by Stephen Graham Jones — 4.5 out of 5 stars

Rounded up to 5 for NetGalley and Goodreads.  Millie Two Bears has a husband in prison, is facing eviction, and is fighting a losing battle against prairie dogs invading her property.  Enter a young woman named Frog and things really start to get strange!  I would categorize this as a blend of  contemporary fantasy and horror, and is easily one of my favorite short stories by SGJ to date.

Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms by Tim McLoughlin — 4.5 out of 5 stars

Tim McLoughlin offers up six street-wise short stories and seven nonfiction essays in this fast-paced collection.  His life experiences from living in New York and being a peace officer for thirty years lend a grittiness to the entries (however, I did find Maharaja for a Year to be pretty darn funny).  Great writing and a good variety of topics.  Highly recommend.

Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw — No rating

I can now say I’ve read this book…and that’s all I’m going to say.

Stay safe and Happy Reading!

March — A Month of Mystery

As I’ve mentioned before, I love a good mystery.  Mysteries and horror are the two genres that I immediately gravitate towards whenever I enter a bookstore.  But how in the world do I narrow down my choices?

This year I decided to select two titles from my TBR bookshelf that fall under one of my favorite mystery sub-genres, Nordic Noir.

I’ve been a fan of Jo Nesbo for a few years now, and for some reason I’ve been reading the Harry Hole series out of sequence.  After having read books one, two, and four (among others), I decided to finally fill in the gap and read book three, The Redbreast.  It looks like Detective Hole’s bad temper and even worse decisions take him down yet another rabbit hole, this time linking past crimes from World War II to the present.

Kjell Eriksson is a new-to-me author, and his Ann Lindell books caught my attention a couple of years ago at a used book sale where I picked up four of the titles (unfortunately not the first in the series).  I have yet to find the first book, The Princess of Burundi, so I decided to just dive in with the second book, The Cruel Stars of Night.  A serial killer is targeting older men and Ann Lindell must track him down without falling into one of the killer’s traps.  I’m hoping this is one of those series that doesn’t have to be read in order to be fully appreciated.

Goodreads Group Reads

Keeping with my mystery theme, there are a couple of selections from my Goodreads groups that I want to check out as well…

A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham  features Chloe, a psychiatrist whose father was arrested for being a serial killer when she was younger.  Now, new murders are happening that seem to be linked to Chloe’s past.

Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney  is touted as a domestic thriller, with a couple celebrating their ten year anniversary by traveling to Scotland.  Oh, the husband has “face blindness,” a condition where he doesn’t recognize anyone, including his wife.  That could get interesting!

Also on my reading radar is Dead Silence by S.A. Barnes.  This one has been getting a lot of attention and it sounds like something right up my alley!  A sci-fi/horror/thriller novel about a salvage crew in outer space who stumble upon a seemingly deserted spacecraft, one that went missing on its maiden voyage.  We all know that this can’t end well!

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

Stay safe and Happy Reading!