Reading Mash-Up #180

I must say, January has started out with a bang in terms of reading.  Compared to last year at this time, I’m feeling motivated rather than feeling bogged down.  I hope to keep this streak going!

What I’ve Been Reading

Charcoal by Garrett Cook — 4.5/5 out of 5 stars

One of my January TBR selections.  Art student Shannon finds her life turning inside out after using drawing charcoals rumored to have been made from the ashes of sadistic artist Thomas Kemp.  Beautifully horrific are the first two words to pop into my head as I finished reading this.  The writing is mesmerizing, the characters flawed, and the ending sent shivers down my spine.  Highly recommend, especially for fans of “literary” horror.

The Book of Dead Days by Marcus Sedgwick — 3 out of 5 stars

One of my January TBR selections.  The first in a series (or maybe only a duology?  Not sure), this quick YA/middle-grade read mixes fantasy, magic, and a bit of horror.  I know I’m not the target audience by a long shot, but I do think the characters could have been fleshed out a bit more as they felt flat to me.

Daphne by Josh Malerman — 2.5/3 out of 5 stars

I usually enjoy Malerman’s work, but this story was a swing and a miss for me.  I can usually get over repeated sports references, and I’m familiar with the basketball game the girls were doing (basically Magic 8 Ball questions, only the answers come from making or missing baskets).  But by the end, I just felt unsatisfied with the whole Daphne spectre, and I really didn’t care who lived or died in the final showdown.  If you’re new to Malerman’s work, I suggest starting with anything other than this one.

Northwest Angle by William Kent Krueger — 2.5/3 out of 5 stars

It’s been a long time since I read the first book in this series (Iron Lake), and admittingly I haven’t read the nine books between that one and this.  That being said, I don’t remember so much religion and misogyny in the first one  that infiltrated this story.  The first half was very good (Cork and his family caught in a deadly storm, Cork’s daughter, Jenny, stumbles across a dead woman and rescues her infant son), putting this on track for a good four stars.  Then it just started to go downhill fast with the introduction of a doomsday cult and Jenny’s obsession with her instant motherhood status.  When it was suggested that to be a real mother, one has to breastfeed the baby, I just about threw this into the trash.  I did finish it, rolling my eyes the last twenty percent or so.  If this is what the series has become, then I’m bowing out and donating my other Krueger titles to my local library book sale.

What I’ve Been Watching

American Horror Story:  NYC (season 11)

I’ve been watching AHS since the beginning.  Over the years, there have been some very good seasons, some “okay until the ending” seasons, and a small percentage that just simply sucked shit (season 8 Apocalypse, I’m looking at you).  I went into season 11 not knowing what to expect, and I wound up binging all ten episodes over a two day period!  Set in 1981 New York City, someone (or something) is targeting gay men.  I can’t say much more about the plot without revealing major spoilers, but I will say this is the strongest season AHS has put out in a while.  And a first for me with this series:  I cried not only once, but twice!!  The last twenty minutes just devastated me (and that’s saying a lot!).  All the stars for this one, and here’s hoping they keep up the momentum going into season 12.

Stay safe, and Happy Reading!

Reading Mash-Up #179

So, I decided to do a bit of renaming and rearranging for 2023.  I started out with good intentions of a weekly update, but as life happened around me, I found myself unable to keep up for a variety of reasons.  This led to frustration on my part, and the feeling of failure would sometimes creep in as well.

I still plan on sharing my latest reads with you, I’m just not making it a set schedule (I do hope to post every 7 to 10 days, depending on how many books I’ve finished).

Books are a big part of my life, but I do have other interests, believe it or not, haha!  Since our household has finally jumped into the 21st century and we now have several streaming services, I’ve been catching up on some fantastic movies and rewatching favorite television series.  Starting next time, I will be adding What I’ve Been Watching, as well as What I’ve Been Doing for the other noteworthy events that pop up during the year.

So here’s to a healthier and happier 2023!

What I’ve Been Reading

A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett — 5 out of 5 stars

In 2008, Amanda Lindhout traveled to Somalia with photographer friend, Nigel Brennan.  On day four, they were kidnapped by Islamic extremists and wound up being held captive for 460 days.  This remarkable book tells Amanda’s story, from her early years and adventures that led to this fateful trip, to the horrors and abuse she endured while in captivity.  This is, at times, an extremely difficult read, but I think it truly exemplifies the strength of the human spirit in the face of such horrendous acts.  An absolute must-read.

In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills by Jennifer Haupt — 4.5/5 out of 5 stars

This unforgettable novel set in (mainly) Rwanda tells the stories of Lillian, a woman who left Atlanta, Georgia in the late 1960’s and found her calling as a caregiver for orphans, and Rachel, who sets out to try to find her father in the late 1990’s after finding clues that lead her to Lillian’s doorstep.  With a strong cast of characters, Haupt not only tells an emotional story of family, but also of the lasting effects of the 1994 genocide, and the trails that lead to redemption and forgiveness.  Highly recommend.

The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan — 4/4.5 out of 5 stars

This turned out to be one of those books I didn’t know I needed in my life, and I’m so glad I read it!  The stories of Anthony Peardew, Laura, Eunice, and all of the “lost things” combined charm and heartbreak, and I have to say, there were three simple words that at one point brought a whole lotta tears to my eyes.  Highly recommend, especially if you’re a fan of stories like A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman.

Chefs, Drugs, and Rock & Roll by Andrew Friedman — 4 out of 5 stars

My first review for MrPinkInk coming at the end of the month!

Novellas, Short Stories, and Anthologies

Twilight at the Gates by Mark Allan Gunnells — 4 out of 5 stars

These 31 short tales and poems are Mark Allan Gunnells’ tributes to the iconic television series, The Twilight Zone.  As with the shows in the series, there is a wide range of weirdness to choose from.  Some stories left me scratching my head, but the vast majority I found entertaining and often creepy.  Great selection, and a good starting point for those new to Gunnells’ work.


Stay safe, and Happy Reading!

January — New Year, New Series/Author…Plus, My Reading Goals For 2023!

First of all, Happy New Year!!

I don’t know about you, but I am so glad the shitstorm that was 2022 is officially in the rearview window.  Time to recharge and look forward to 2023.

First up, my January theme:  New Year, New Series/New Author.  I like to start off the new year with this theme as it just seems fitting.  This month I am looking forward to these two titles…

For the new series, I picked up The Book of Dead Days by Marcus Sedgwick.  This sounds right up my alley, with a mix of fantasy, mystery, and magic.  Added bonus:  it’s set between Christmas and New Year’s, a perfect fit for this time of year.  My other selection is a brand new release from new-to-me author, Garrett Cook.  Charcoal is described as “a dark allegory about the nature of art and the monsters that create it.”  I’ve been holding onto this one since it arrived a couple months ago, and I can’t wait to finally start it.

As for my 2022 goals, and my new ones for 2023…

I did complete my Goodreads challenge of 150 books (final count was 155).  However, I fell a bit short with my personal “22 books for 2022.”  Why do I always seem to put off reading the longer titles until the end of the year?!?!  I am currently reading the last two from that list, Chefs, Drugs, and Rock & Roll and Black House, and while I want to finish them up soon, I also don’t really have them on my priority list at the moment.  But I do have my must-read books set up and ready to go.  This year I’m setting that goal to twenty…

FICTION (10)—The Painted Drum by Louise Erdrich

Northwest Angle by William Kent Krueger

Genocide of One by Kazuaki Takano

The Bottoms by Joe Lansdale

Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

Road Seven by Keith Rosson

A Quiet Belief in Angels by RJ Ellory

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Build Your House Around My Body by Violet Kupersmith

NONFICTION (3) — The Lizard King by Bryan Christy

In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson

American Overdose by Chris McGreal

KINDLE (5) — Children of the Dragon by Frank Robinson

City of Endless Night by MM Hastings

The Dead Girls Club by Damien Angelica Walters

The Hobgoblin of Little Minds by Mark Matthews

Whimsical Leprosy by Brandon Faircloth

CLASSIC (1) — The Island of Dr. Moreau by HG Wells

MEGA (Over 600 pages) (1) — 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

I’ll also be making a few small changes to my Weekly Mash-Up, I should have that up in the next day or two.

What are your reading goals for 2023?  Drop me a line, let’s talk books!

Until next time, stay safe, and Happy Reading!