Weekly Mash-Up #169

It’s almost time…

What titles will be chosen for my annual 31 Books of Halloween two-month-long reading marathon?  Stay tuned…

The Week in Books

Silas Marner by George Eliot — 4 out of 5 stars

Classic stories can be a bit of hit or miss for me.  Sometimes I fully embrace them, other times I loathe them from the first paragraph and find it almost torturous to finish.  Silas Marner turned out to be a pleasant surprise, and as Silas’ story unfolded, it made my cold bitter heart melt a bit.  If you are like me and find novels written in the 1800’s a bit daunting at times, give this one a try.  This story of the redemptive power of love is one not to be missed.

LaRose by Louise Erdrich — 3 out of 5 stars

I’ve been a fan of Erdrich’s work for many years, but this 2016 novel (and one of my 2022 TBR picks) just fell flat for me.  The story starts with a horrific accident that leaves one young boy dead and two families grieving.  As the story progresses, we learn more about the family histories, friendships and betrayals, the “standards” that Erdrich brings to her stories.  However, I just couldn’t embrace any of the characters, and the storyline felt almost forced at times.  Don’t get me wrong though, I would still recommend this novel, especially for anyone who has not read any of the author’s other works.  For me, it just didn’t seem as strong as the other stories I’ve read.

Six Feet Deep Dish by Mindy Quigley — 3 out of 5 stars

I’m always up for checking out new cozy series, especially those involving food, so this tale featuring Delilah and her dream of opening a gourmet pizzeria in a quaint tourist town seemed like something right up my alley.  Overall I thought the mystery was good, and all the usual cozy elements were at play.  What I found disappointing was the main character herself.  There was something about Delilah’s demeanor that I just found annoying and distracting.  However, even though I didn’t fall in love with Delilah, I did like the cast of supporting characters and the writing so I will be looking for the next book in the series when it comes out.

Novellas, Short Stories, and Anthologies

Spinal Remains:  A Collection of Stories by Chad Lutzke — 4.5/5 out of 5 stars

One of my favorite authors has done it again, delivering another amazing collection of short stories!  Lutzke writes what I like to call “horror with heart,” and these are perfect examples of why he has become one of my favs in the genre.  There are stories that will leave you gutted (He Wears the Lake brought tears to  my eyes), while others may make you laugh, even if it’s a bit uneasily.  If you haven’t read any of Lutzke’s works, this is probably the best place to start.  Highly recommend.

If Only a Heart and Other Tales of Terror by Caleb Stephens — 4 out of 5 stars

A new to me author and one I can’t wait to read more from!  This collection of thirteen tales offers a great variety, with timelines from the 1300’s to modern day, and stories involving psychological, physical, and paranormal horrors.  Many of the stories incorporate the theme of loss at different levels and in often macabre and sinister ways.  This is a definite must to put on your Halloween to-read list!

Stay safe and Happy Reading!

Weekly Mash-Up #168

It seems like my weekly updates have turned into bi-weekly ones.  Ugh!  I guess that’s what ongoing reading slumps does to a person.  However, I am so looking forward to the end of summer and the beginning of my two month long binge, The 31 Books of Halloween!  I’ve been saving up my NightWorms books and, on top of my already large collection of spooky titles, I should have more than enough to choose from!  Stay tuned!

The Week in Books

On the Hoof by Jesse Alexander McNeil — 4 out of 5 stars

Writing up a review to share here and at MrPinkInk, coming soon!

The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa — 4 out of 5 stars

On an unnamed island, things are disappearing.  Not just disappearing physically, but people’s memories are being erased of these items as well.  Some people are able to retain their memories, and those who can are subjected to the Memory Police.    Wow, I really didn’t know what to expect from this dystopian tale but it truly delivered.  I felt it dragged a bit at the beginning, but the characters kept me coming back.  And the ending?  I’m still thinking about it, several days later.  Highly recommend.

The Train Derails in Boston by Jessica McHugh — 3.5 out of 5 stars

Now this was a fucking wild ride.  I’ll sum this up as an erotic haunted house horror, but that doesn’t do it justice.  Alcoholic Rebecca, her wannabe writer husband, and horny teenage daughter move to a secluded estate.  Rebecca finds a haunted mahjong set and things start getting weird…including a whole “evil spirits having sex with humans in nearly every other chapter” storyline.  The main horror storyline is good, so if you’re looking for something really different for your Halloween reading (and don’t mind a rewind/fast-forward type of narrative) I’d say give it a try.

Novellas, Short Stories, and Anthologies

South Central Noir edited by Gary Phillips — 3.75/4 out of 5 stars

Another strong addition to the Akashic Noir series.  Fourteen stories cover a wide range of timelines and themes, from unsolved murders of young black women near the Dunbar Hotel set in 1935 (The Golden Coffin), the dark secrets at a 1960’s all-girls Catholic high school (The Last Time I Died), to a young girl dealing with life and the early days of Covid (If Found Please Return to Abigail Serna… ).  If you haven’t picked up any of the titles in this series, this would be a great place to start.

Stay safe and Happy Reading!

Weekly Mash-Up #167

Since my last update, I participated in a weeklong readathon through one of my Goodreads groups, Unexpected Readathon Time.  I have to say, even though I felt like I didn’t get a lot of reading time in,  my totals surprised me.  I wrapped up four books, and over the course of seven days logged 1,185 pages!  I guess the excessive heat we had that week made my brain believe I was reading slower than I was.   😀

The Week in Books

Creatures of Passage by Morowa Yejide — 4.5/5 out of 5 stars

I was mesmerized by this story, yet find myself unable to succinctly describe it.  Morowa Yejide has created a haunting tale that combines elements of paranormal fantasy, Egyptian mythology, horror, and magical realism, set in the Anacostia neighborhood of Washington D.C., 1977.  With topics like alcoholism, racism, and horrific child abuse, it is not an easy read, nor should it be.  But even with such heaviness, the writing is beautiful and the story unique.  One of my top five favorites for 2022.  Highly recommend.

Ouch by Pug Grumble — 4 out of 5 stars

“A comical and quirky tale about a masochist, a sadist, and a klutz” is the byline for this tale, and sums up the story perfectly.  Masochist Sylvester is in a relationship with sadist Felicia, but when klutzy Natalie enters Sylvester’s life, he finds himself yearning for more than his next encounter with pain.  I found myself chuckling quite a bit throughout this funny yet somewhat dark love story.  Fair warning, there are some uncomfortable and icky scenes, but if you’re looking for a funny, fast read with just enough weird, you may want to check this one out.

Crow Lake by Mary Lawson — 3.5 out of 5 stars

An invitation to a teenager’s birthday triggers reflection on the past in this 2002 novel.  Told through the eyes of Kate, whose adoration for her older brother Matt changes through the years and after a multitude of various tragedies.  This is also the story of the neighboring Pye family, whose paths will intersect with Kate and her family in various ways.  The story is beautifully written, but by the end I guess I was just thinking that Kate would have gained more insight…or something!  A good choice for book club discussions.

Stay safe, and Happy Reading!

August — Summer Beach Reads

What is your idea of the perfect summer beach read?  A light romantic comedy?  Maybe a fast-paced thriller or a head-scratching who-dunnit?

For me, I like my vacation reads fast-paced and fun, something light that I can spend a lazy afternoon with.  This month, I picked a couple of lighter reads, a sort of palate cleanser before my two month journey of darkness, The 31 Books of Halloween, begins on September 1.

First up is a new cozy mystery series from Mindy Quigley, Six Feet Deep Dish.  Set in a small resort town in Wisconsin, we have a woman opening a pizza shop who stumbles onto a murder and is aided by her quirky friend and an oversized cat named Butterball.  Basically, all the markers of a good cozy!  My other selection is one from a series I haven’t picked up in some time, Janet Evanovich’s Eleven on Top.  I think it’s been nearly two years since I last visited private eye Stephanie Plum and her weirdly chaotic world and I think it’s time to fix that!

July Wrap-Up

My July reading goal was to catch up on my 2022 TBR that I had set at the beginning of the year.  I did finish two from the list of twenty-two, Crow Lake by Mary Lawson, and You Will Be Safe Here by Damian Barr.  Both were good overall, but for my reading experience I felt they both fell a bit flat at times, thus my 3.5 star ratings for both.  I also started a third book from my 2022 TBR, The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa.  I’m only about 16% into it, but it’s shaping up to be a potentially intense and perhaps tragic read.

Goodreads Group Reads

The past couple of months, it seems like the same titles have been coming up in my Goodreads groups for their monthly reads, but Shine and Shadow has one that has been on my to-read for a bit now:  Five Little Indians by Michelle Good.  The story of five indigenous children taken from their families and sent to a remote religious residential school, their journeys into adulthood and their struggles to cope with the trauma they endured.  Not a light read for sure, but I’ve heard a lot of great things so I’m hoping to track down a copy soon.

What is on your August reading list?  Drop me a line and let’s talk books!

Stay safe and Happy Reading!