Reading Mash-Up #181

Do you have a favorite spot to sit and read?  My couch is my preferred spot, as it’s near a south-facing window so there’s a lot of natural light (especially this time of year).  If you’re like me, you probably have a stack of books near your favorite spot, those you’re currently reading and those books hoping to be the next in line.  Tonight, this is the view from my couch, with current reads on the left and those next in line on the right (with a new addition, Tell the Rest by Lucy Jane Bledsoe, my latest win from the LibraryThing Early Reviewer giveaways and Akashic Books).  And, of course, my ever-present cup of tea (tonight’s flavor choice being Evil Tea’s Sacred Grove, a blend of green tea with apricot and peach flavors).

-What I’ve Been Reading-

Road Seven by Keith Rosson — 4 out of 5 stars

This is one of those strange stories that really defies description without giving away major spoilers, as well as defying genre classification.  I loved the weirdness of it, even when it got to the point of ridiculousness.  And alongside the bizarre, there is a heart to the story that had me rooting for the main characters.  Great read, especially if you’re looking for something off the beaten track.

The End of Drum-Time by Hanna Pylvainen — 3.5/4 out of 5 stars

Beautifully written historical fiction set in the Scandinavian tundra of 1851, this is the story of old traditions meeting new religion, of family, love, and betrayal.  I appreciated the research that went into creating this tale, and overall enjoyed the story.  But even with the rich descriptions and narration, I just always felt like something was missing, especially with some of the characters.  I would give this a strong recommendation to fans of literary fiction.

Don’t Fear the Reaper by Stephen Graham Jones — 3.5/4 out of 5 stars

After enjoying the first book, My Heart is a Chainsaw, I was super excited to be able to read this advanced copy of the second book through Netgalley.  I’ve been a fan of SGJ for some time, and Reaper was at the top of my most-anticipated reads.  That being said, for me, something just felt “off” with this one.  I didn’t feel the same draw to the characters, and there were several times when I felt like an outsider listening in on strangers’ conversations and not knowing what the hell they were talking about.  However, I did like the storyline, and the last 30 percent or so was the awesomeness that I had been expecting.  Even though this didn’t hit the mark for me, I am still looking forward to the final installment.

Good Time Girls by Lael Morgan — 3 out of 5 stars

Nonfiction looking at the lives of “disreputable” women of the Alaskan gold rush era (late 1800’s and into the early 1900’s).  Reading the synopsis, I thought this would be mainly about the working girls, but well over half the book focuses on the men who created the gold rush towns in the far north and their hardships.  It’s still an interesting read, just not what I was expecting.

Novellas, Short Stories, and Anthologies

Les Femmes Grotesques by Victoria Dalpe — 4 out of 5 stars

One of my February selections.  This is a great assortment of stories, ranging from creepy and disturbing to darkly humorous.  There is also an assortment of dark beings throughout the tales.  Standard vampires, witches, and ghosts are modernized, and there are some surprises along the way, including a strange moss-like being in love with a human, and one of the best haunted house short stories I’ve read in some time.  Highly recommend, especially if you’re looking for dark and atmospheric reads.

-What I’ve Been Watching-

Yellowstone (Season One, partial Season Two)

Okay, I’ve been hearing about this show since it started, so I recently set it up to record and lucked out when they had a marathon of all episodes back in early January.  It wasn’t until a few days ago I finally took the plunge and started it…and wound up watching the first seven episodes and forcing myself to stop to get some sleep!  Two days later, I finished season one and immediately started season two.  I really get what all the fuss is about, I freaking love this show!  I will say this though:  there are some scenes that are difficult to watch, and the first thirty seconds of the very first episode were especially so.  But I have quickly become so invested in the characters that I find myself talking/yelling at them…not something I normally do, by the way (and speaking of btw, Kayce, you were a complete asshole to your wife in the hospital, just saying).  I can only sum up what I’ve seen so far as if Dallas and The Sopranos had a love child, then dumped it in the middle of Montana to fend for itself, you would wind up with Yellowstone.

Stay safe and Happy Reading!

February — Fantastical Shorts

Ah, February.  The days are getting a bit longer, and spring doesn’t seem so far away.  But around here, this month is traditionally the snowiest and coldest of the winter months, so there’s still plenty of days ahead that promise to be perfect “curl up under a blanket with a mug of tea and a good book” kind of days.

I think the shortest month of the year is the perfect time to dive into some short story collections/anthologies.  I’ve also been craving an epic fantasy, so I decided to try to fit in both of these themes.  I had my reading list all set, then some unexpected book mail on February 1 and an unplanned trip to the local library changed things up a little bit.

For my short story selection, I have been eagerly anticipating Victoria Dalpe’s Les Femmes Grotesques, where “…horror mixes with humor…and the ordinary with the macabre.”  Totally right up my alley.  My unexpected book mail on the first was an anthology that I won through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer monthly giveaway, Tales of Sley House 2022.  Glancing through this last night, I realized these are all new-to-me authors.  I love discovering new authors so this looks to be a potential treasure trove.

For me, epic fantasy and cold winter days just seem to go hand-in-hand, so I decided to finally start Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay.  This has been sitting on my shelf for way too long, and the description of “…a setting that evokes the dazzling Tang Dynasty of eighth-century China” has me intrigued.  At 567 pages, it’s a pretty big one for this month, but I’m hoping to read a majority of it by the 28th.  First up though, is my library find, Hailey Piper’s No Gods For Drowning, which sounds like a blend of fantasy and horror.  I was pleasantly surprised to find this one, and a shoutout to our local library for stocking more indie writers and publishers.

My friend M. is also a monthly subscriber to NightWorms, and we were talking about how many of those books we haven’t read yet.  So, we decided to create our own little unofficial NW book club.  We each picked five titles and we’ll be taking turns doing random drawings for our monthly read…

…and this month will be Full Immersion by Gemma Amor!  I’m familiar with Amor’s work through her short stories so I have high hopes for this novel.

As for January, I read a total of eleven books, including both of my January selections.  One of those picks, Garrett Cook’s Charcoal, was hands-down my favorite of the month.

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

Stay safe, and Happy Reading!