Reading Mash-Up #183

Flower Love GIF by Felicitate88

Got a lot of reading time in the past couple of weeks, so let’s get to it…

–What I’ve Been Reading–

Wandering Souls by Cecile Pin — 4/4.5 out of 5 stars

The story of siblings Anh, Minh, and Thanh told through the decades, from their fleeing Vietnam in 1978, to their relocation from a Hong Kong refugee camp to a London resettlement center, and their life journeys to modern day.   This is a beautifully written story, and will take you on an emotional roller coaster ride (Dao’s chapters absolutely broke my heart).  Highly recommend.

The Hobgoblin of Little Minds by Mark Matthews — 4 out of 5 stars

Kori enters an abandoned psychiatric hospital, a place where her father was last seen being treated, hoping to find some clues to his whereabouts.  What she finds instead is unimaginable horror.    It took me a bit to really get into this story, but once I did, I could not put it down.  There’s some weird stuff happening here (as to be expected with any book set in a psychiatric hospital), and overall is a creepy, frightening read.  There were a couple of things that felt “off” to me, but it may just have been my expectations of what I wanted to happen.  A good starting point for those new to Matthews’ work.

End of Watch by Stephen King — 4 out of 5 stars

One of my March TBR selections.  It’s been a few years since I started the Bill Hodges trilogy (Mr. Mercedes), so I was a bit afraid of some disconnect on my part.  But I have to say, I think this installment was the best of the three.  Brady Hartsfield is still as cunning and evil as ever, and Holly’s character has really grown.  I think King has a certain fondness for inserting telekenesis into his storylines, and I am here for it.  This could possibly be read as a stand-alone, but you would be missing out on the character development that has happened from the start.  Gonna miss you Bill Hodges, but thanks for the ride.

American Overdose:  The Opioid Tragedy in Three Acts by Chris McGreal — 4 out of 5 stars

This is a stark look at the making of the opioid epidemic that has destroyed the lives of countless Americans over the last two decades.  McGreal exposes the backstory of corporate greed that fueled the over-prescriptions of dangerously addictive opioids (OxyContin, among others) and their targeting of poorer, undereducated communities.  I found this not only informative, but emotional as well.  Well-researched and accessible writing makes this a must-read.

Beasts of 42nd Street by Preston Fassel — 4 out of 5 stars

So just how fucked up is this story?  Where do I even begin.  Fassel’s tale of junkies, snuff films, and revenge set in 1970’s New York City makes Nic Cage’s movie, 8MM, look like an episode of Sesame Street.  It’s brutal, it’s disturbing, it’s graphic.  I could smell the filthy rooms and back alleyways, I could feel the grime that covered every surface.  This book is not for everyone (fair warning:  if you have any triggers, just walk away now, as this pretty much has them all), but if you like to immerse yourself in depressing stories of depravity, then you really need to check this one out.

Tell the Rest by Lucy Jane Bledsoe — 3.5 out of 5 stars

This novel focuses on Delia, a basketball coach forced to return to her small hometown where she will have to confront her past experiences at a Christian conversion camp.  I liked the book overall and felt it did a good job at addressing the traumas that many have endured at these camps and other forced conversion “therapies.”  But while I appreciated Delia’s story, I would have liked to know more of Ernest’s and Cal’s stories as they seemed to be the ones who bore the brunt of the abuses.

Malorie by Josh Malerman — 3.5 out of 5 stars

One of my March TBR selections.  The follow-up to the hit Bird Box takes up a few years after Malorie and her children found shelter at the school for the blind, then takes another ten-year leap, which is where the main focus of the story is based.  This had been one of my highly anticipated reads as I really liked the first book, but this one was a bit of up-and-down for me.  The story felt disjointed at times, like Malerman wasn’t sure which direction to go.  And there was a certain plot point that kept getting thrown around that I was expecting some grand finale only to have a two sentence blase conclusion.  Overall, I am glad I finally read this one, I was just expecting more.

Novellas, Short Stories, and Anthologies

The Forbidden by Clive Barker — 4 out of 5 stars

This Barker short is technically a reread for me, but I haven’t read it since the early ’90’s so I don’t remember it, let alone remember it for being the inspiration for the horror movie, Candyman.  I’ve been getting back into Barker’s works after twenty-plus years away from them, and while this short isn’t one of my favorites (so far), it does excel at building suspense and the creepiness factor is right up there.  A good place to start if you’re new to Barker’s work.



Stay safe, and Happy Reading!

Reading Mash-Up #182

After teasing us with some beautiful sunshine last week, Mother Nature brought the snow back, reminding us all there is still a few weeks of winter left.  Thankfully I don’t have to travel in it, giving me plenty of time for books and channel surfing…

–What I’ve Been Reading–

Three-Smile Mile by Chad Lutzke — 4 out of 5 stars

The latest Lutzke is in the house!  This new offering goes in a different direction from Lutzke’s usual style.  Described as a “cat-and-mouse crime thriller,” we meet Cake, a line cook at a small diner.  A snap decision has him on the road with an attractive older woman, driving a classic car filled with stolen money.  An angry husband and murderous criminals round out the characters in this fast-paced, dark, bleak story.  I kept getting True Romance vibes while reading this one.  Great way to spend an afternoon.

Full Immersion by Gemma Amor — 4 out of 5 stars

One of my February TBR selections.  Imagine finding your own dead body on a riverbank, then walking through your memories with a familiar stranger.  Is this a sort of purgatory, or something more sinister?  This latest from Amor is a real trip, and had me guessing up to the end.  There is also a heavy theme of post-partum depression, as Amor mentions in her foreward.  I’m not one to need trigger/content warnings, but I have to say, there were a couple of sentences that brought back the emotions I felt when I went through my own struggles with PPD years ago.  A wild ride, highly recommend.

No Gods For Drowning by Hailey Piper — 3 out of 5 stars

One of my February TBR selections.  Set in a sort of alternate reality, this is a tale of old gods who abandoned humankind, leaving them to become prey to ancient monsters of the sea.  Throw in a serial killer, and that pretty much sums it up.  But it’s not as simple as that.  There is A LOT to digest, and so much is just thrown at the reader quickly and early on, that I found myself wondering if I should keep going or not.  I did finish it, and yeah, in the end it was worth it.  The story itself is truly imaginative, I just had issues with the delivery.

Novellas, Short Stories, and Anthologies

Tales of Sley House 2022 —3.5 out of 5 stars

One of my February TBR selections.   A lot of new-to-me authors and a wide variety of themes, including tales of aliens, golems, ghosts, and more.  As with most anthologies, I found some stories more to my liking than others, but overall a great way to discover new authors.

Festival by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon — 3 out of 5 stars

A music festival that commemorates an ancient Viking massacre, set at the very same spot where the slaughter took place?  Gee, don’t know what could go wrong with that.   This quick read was pretty entertaining, but I just felt like something was missing, either with the characters or the origin story (maybe both?).  While not my favorite from these authors, still a pretty good way to spend a snowy day.

–What I’ve Been Watching–

Nothing beats a good sitcom to brighten up dark, cold days, so over the past couple of weeks I’ve been catching up on season two of Abbott Elementary and Ghosts.  I just love these shows, they’re light fun that always put a smile on my face!

Stay safe, and Happy Reading!

March — Finish the Damn Series!

I love a good series.  When the author is able to create a world and characters that I become wholly invested in, to the point of obsessing over the next installment, you know you have a winner.  Over the years, I’ve read my fair share.  Some I’ve finished in record time (I tore through The Hunger Games trilogy in a couple of weeks, with the only reason it took that long is that I was waiting for book three to arrive).  Other series I have been relishing, knowing that they will eventually end and I’m not quite ready to give them up (Sue Grafton’s Alphabet series, James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux, and Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole are at the top of this list).  And there are those series I enjoyed but will never get to finish (thanks a lot George RR Martin and Patrick Rothfuss!).

For the month of March, I decided to finally attempt to wrap up a couple of series that I started some time ago and just haven’t gotten around to reading the grand finales…

I started Stephen King’s Bill Hodges trilogy back in 2016, and Justin Cronin’s The Passage trilogy in 2019.  I’m thinking its way past due to finally see how these stories play out.  I can’t guarantee I will finish both these month, with both of them being pretty hefty tomes, but I am hoping to finish one and have a good start on the other (while enjoying some aptly named tea from Riddle’s Book and Tea Company called TBR Brew!).

And as for the March pick for my “Unofficial NW Club”…

…as fate would have it, Malorie by Josh Malerman was chosen, another series that I started a while back and just never got around to finishing.  Sticking with the theme indeed!

As for February, I finished a total of nine books, four of those being my monthly TBR selections.  I did start Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay, and I’m currently about 130 pages in and absolutely loving it!

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

Stay safe, and Happy Reading!