Monday Mash-Up #054 Let’s Talk About Reading Slumps

We’ve all been through it.  Those feelings of wanting to read something, anything, yet everything just, well, sucks.  That was my week; I hit the reading slump hard.

It took me off-guard.  This past week offered snow storms, power outages, and freezing temperatures, a combo that practically screams for me to curl up on the couch with a giant pot of tea and some good reading.  But every time I picked up a book or my kindle, I read about 10 pages and just couldn’t go on.  Sunday, the tide seemed to turn.  I flew through the one book I managed to finish this week, and made some progress on a nonfiction.  Which leads me to my one review for the week……

The Yard by Alex Grecian — 3.5 out of 5 stars

One of my choices for my January “New Year, New Series” theme.  And I can honestly say the lower rating is definitely a case of “it’s not you, it’s me.”  While the last 200 pages grabbed my attention and I couldn’t read them fast enough, the first 200 left me feeling confused and irritated.  There are a lot of characters that are introduced at a pretty quick pace, as well as several changes in the point of view.  I just couldn’t connect with the main characters until later on, but see my note above.  I already have book two, The Black Country, so I guess when I read that one I’ll know for sure if it was really the slump talking or if this series is only just “not bad.”


Here’s to getting over our reading slumps!  Have a great week, and Happy Reading!!

January @Night_Worms — “Miscreations”

I know, I’m a bit late in posting this…..

But just because I was unable to post earlier does not diminish my excitement over this month’s delivery from NightWorms!   😀

Three books arrived this month, with the main feature being an early release  exclusively for NightWorms— Miscreations:  Gods, Monstrosities, and Other Horrors, edited by Doug Murano and Michael Bailey.  This collection features stories from a large group of talented authors, including several new-to-me authors like Linda D. Addison, Kristi DeMeester, Lisa Morton…….I already see my want-to-read list expanding at an alarming rate with these discoveries!!  Also included were two other collections:   Adam’s Ladder:  An Anthology of Dark Science Fiction by more various, talented authors (with even more new-to-me to add to my reading list!!), and Oversight by Michael Bailey (which I read a few days ago;  three strange, somewhat unsettling stories, and I found myself not able to put it down until the end!).

And of course, the extra swag is always great!  There’s the Frankenstein keychain from SkullandHawk.com that my son instantly laid claim to, bookmarks, artwork, and my favorite, Milk Chocolate Mint hot cocoa from Moonstruck Chocolate Company.

Thank you to NightWorms for another great month, and as always I’m counting down the days until the next!

 

Monday Mash-Up #053

Winter is here……..

We got our first real snowfall last night, and it looks like tonight will bring a bunch more.  It’s always beautiful for the first hour or so (longer if I don’t have to drive anywhere!).  I’m guessing my son will get a snow day from school tomorrow;  if so, we’re planning on drinking lots of hot cocoa, watching movies, and curling up with a good book of course!

I had a mixed bag of books I finished this past week, which seems to be the norm for me.  Hey, variety is the spice of life, correct?!?!?!   😀

The Week in Books

In the Scrape by James Newman and Mark Steensland — 5 out of 5 stars!

My Goodreads review:

I know I cannot adequately review this story, so I will say this:
While reading this 97 page novella, I was overcome with feelings of anger, sadness, compassion, shock, surprise, and horror. As I finished the last couple of pages, I had goosebumps. When two authors can write a seamless story and invoke these emotions in such a short space, I say “Thank You” and “Go Read This Book Now”

Oversight by Michael Bailey — 4 out of 5 stars!

These three short stories are definitely strange.  The main theme is how we use our sight (or lack thereof), whether it’s our physical sight or our inner one.  A bit odd but highly readable; great for a quick afternoon read.

The Spirit of the Dragon by William Andrews — 3 out of 5 stars

My Goodreads review:

It looks like I’m in the minority with this one, but that’s okay, I have no problem with being honest in my reviews, good, bad, or indifferent.
The Spirit of the Dragon fell under the indifferent category for me. I really wanted to enjoy it more than I did. The synopsis made this sound like some gut-wrenching tale of love and survival, with a potential murder mystery thrown in early on. The majority of the book is narrated by Suk-bo, an elderly Korean woman who survived World War II and the Korean War. She is telling an international rights lawyer named Anna her life story while sitting in a police interrogation room after she is found next to a dead man. Sounds pretty good to me. But after a while, Suk-bo’s narration just came across as emotionally flat. When I should have been caring for the protagonist, crying with her, cheering her on, I felt like the simplistic narrative itself: I will turn the page. I will read some more. I will hope things get better. I will be disappointed at the end.
I do give major props to William Andrews for his research and recreating the historical areas and events. I just didn’t care for the almost drone-like narration from the main character that I should have been cheering for.
Thank you to Lake Union Publishing for sending me this kindle copy for review.

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James — ???

This classic has some good, creepy moments and some long-winded passages that seem to go nowhere.  I’m going to reread this one before giving it a star review (it’s not a good idea to read it when extremely tired!).

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A bit short and sweet this week.  I better get outside and shovel some snow!  Until next time, Happy Reading!

Monday Mash-Up #052

I hope 2020 has been good to everyone so far!  While this past week has been mainly a mix of cleaning up and putting away all of the holiday decor, this coming week brings yet another milestone to our household:  my son’s 16th birthday on January 10!  I never thought I’d be one of those parents who constantly says “Where did the time go?” but it really doesn’t feel like 16 years have gone by.  And while we are still facing challenges with his Asperger’s, he has definitely overcome others thanks to the help and attention of his teachers (you all rock!!).

The year has also started out on a very positive note with the books I recently finished, check these out——

The Week in Books

In the Kingdom of Ice:  The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette by Hampton Sides — 5 out of 5 stars!

Arctic explorations in the 1800’s?  Sign me up for the adventure!  I don’t know why these stories intrigue me as much as they do, and I am putting this story up at the top of the list of the ones I’ve read.  Sides does a wonderful job of telling the story of the boat and her crew, and the subsequent disaster and battle for survival.  I’ll admit it seemed a little muddled for the first couple of chapters, mainly due to all of the people being introduced,  but I still highly recommend this amazing tale of exploration and man’s struggles against one of the harshest environments on earth.

We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix — 4.5/5 out of 5 stars!

This was a solid 4 star read for most of the book, but I have to say that the final showdown (so to speak) actually gave me goosebumps so I upped it to 5 stars for Goodreads.  The story of a rock band who sold their souls, Hendrix offers his (un)usual blend of “real” life meets monsters, with a bit of humor thrown into the mix.

Doll Crimes by Karen Runge — 5 out of 5 stars!

Horror doesn’t always mean werewolves and zombies.  Some of the scariest horror involves the depravity of the human race.  This is the story of a girl and her mother, traveling through the fringes of society.  The subject matter is tough and not for everyone.  But Runge creates world-weary characters and a world of desperation with very little graphic descriptions (which, in my opinion, makes it even more haunting).  And while the ending was unexpected, sadly it didn’t really surprise me.  I highly recommend, but with some caution.

Roads to Quoz:  An American Mosey by William Least-Heat Moon — 2 out of 5 stars

I have never been so glad to finish a book in my life….and that’s saying a lot, especially after reading Atlas Shrugged and James Joyce’s Ulysses.  It took me nearly seven months to slog through this.  Why? you may ask.  Because I remember enjoying Least-Heat Moon’s earlier work, Blue Highways, and I’m also a stubborn reader, determined to stick it out to the bitter end.  There were a few hidden gems hidden in the detritus, but by and far this was the author’s ode to the thesaurus, creating 600 pages of nearly unreadable text that made me want to reread Joyce’s Ulysses because even at it’s worst, it made more sense than these moseys through America.


After starting out the year with such great books gives me hope this year will be the first without a 1 star review!!  Fingers crossed!!

Until next time, Happy Reading!

January—New Year, New Series!

Happy New Year!

I have a giant to-read hoard, and at times I just get overwhelmed and can’t decide on my next read.  So, for 2020, I’ll be sharing a monthly theme and my choices from my personal library.  I’m hoping to inspire you to try out  a new author or genre, and feel free to read along with me (or share what titles you would choose for each theme!).

For January, I thought starting a new series for the new year seemed appropriate.  It was a tough choice, but I decided on the following:

The Way of Shadows was one I was planning on reading in 2019 but it just got away from me.  Now is the perfect time, especially since I love digging into a good epic fantasy during the winter months.  The Yard sounds like a juicy mystery/thriller set in London during the late 1800’s and one I can’t wait to dig into.

I belong to a few groups on Goodreads, and my favorite is the Reading List Completists.  The goal is to read through various best-of lists, mainly classics, with the members voting on the monthly and “big read” selections.  To start out the year, the group decided on:

Goodreads Group Reads

The Turn of the Screw is the January choice, while An American Tragedy will carry us through March.

Thanks for joining me on this monthly adventure, and feel free to comment or share your January reading selections!

Until next time, Happy Reading!

My Top 19 of 2019

I have to say, this year was an amazing book year for me.  Not only did I pass my Goodreads reading goal (as of today, December 30th,  I have read 224   books!!), but I only had one 1-star read and more 4- and 5-star reads than ever!!

Since there were so many great books this year, I decided to simply share my favorite reads of 2019.  No fancy graphics or pictures, just a list of the books that made a lasting impression and all of which I would highly recommend.  So, in no particular order, here we go!

–Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

–Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham Jones

–NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

–We Live Inside Your Eyes by Kealan Patrick Burke

–The Line That Held Us by David Joy

–Grind Your Bones to Dust by Nicholas Day

–Dracul by Dacre Stoker

–Scythe by Neal Shusterman

–The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

–On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

–The Nameless Dark by T. E. Grau

–The Ritual by Adam Nevill

–The Passage by Justin Cronin

–Stirring the Sheets by Chad Lutzke

–One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

–I’ll Be Gone in the Dark:  One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara  (nonfiction)

–Death’s Acre by William M. Bass (nonfiction)

–In Search of Hope:  The Global Diaries of Mariane Pearl by Mariane Pearl   (nonfiction)

–Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher by Timothy Egan (nonfiction)

This was also a year of discovering some authors who taught me the meaning of fangirling!  😀  I’ve been obsessively reading everything I can get my grubby little hands on by these awesome and talented authors, and I look forward to all of their future work!  In no particular order:

David Joy

Chad Lutzke

Kealan Patrick Burke

Stephen Graham Jones

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So that pretty sums up all the good stuff for 2019.  Now on to all the great books and authors yet to be discovered in 2020!

Happy Reading!

 

Monday Mash-Up #051 And a Happy New Year!!

That’s right, it’s almost time to break out the champagne and get into party mode!

At least, in theory it is!  Our household keeps it pretty low-key for the new year.  Hey, I’m happy if I manage to stay awake until midnight, haha!  And while I don’t really make any hardcore resolutions that I know I will break by noon on January 1st, I do find myself reorganizing and reassessing….dusting off the cobwebs if you will.

I’ve been trying to finish up my current reads so I can start with a clean slate on the 1st.  I’m not sure I’ll finish the last two books I’m reading, but I’m going to give it my best shot!

The Week in Books

Where the Dead Go to Die by Aaron Dries and Mark Allan Gunnells — 4.5 out of 5 stars!

Zombie story that makes you think.  This novel takes a different look at a zombie outbreak—what would happen if we were able to put those infected into secure hospices, where they would be treated as humans until the disease won out?  And then what to do with the newly “dead”?  At turns creepy and heartbreaking, this is by far one of my favorite zombie books.

Highway Speed:  Stories by Stephen Roger Powers — 4 out  of 5 stars!

I received this ebook through a Goodreads giveaway, and I have to say I really don’t know how to describe it!!  Powers takes the reader on a roadtrip through his mind, with stops featuring heartache, heartbreak, and floating lips (yes, you read that correctly!).  There is a surreal, almost mythical, quality to some of the stories, and the powerful writing helps navigate the reader through all of the twists and turns.  As with most story collections, I found favorites (One More Time For Donny Deadborne, Bad Manners Are Better Than No Manners at All, and Snake Wine are definitely my top three) as well as a couple that just didn’t work for me, but overall this anthology is entertaining and, for me, a great introduction to Stephen Roger Powers.

Car Heroin Train by Virginia Austin — 3 out of 5 stars

The story is pretty simple (the title pretty much gives everything away!) and overall not bad.  I just couldn’t connect with any of the characters, and the sudden ending didn’t work for me.

The Missing Italian Girl by Barbara Corrado Pope — 2.5/3 out of 5 stars

I went into this one not knowing it was the third in a series, something I should have checked into as I think I would have benefited from reading the first two….or maybe not.  The attention to the details of the time period and the city (Paris in the 1890″s) was quite good and definitely helped, but the plot just didn’t seem to come together for me.  If I come across the first book I will give it a try, but I think this was just a case of “It’s not you, it’s me.”


I want to wish all of you a very Happy, Healthy New Year!  And, as always, Happy Reading!

My 20 For 2020

It’s that time of year to start making resolutions for 2020.  While looking through my book hoard last month, I asked myself what reading goals I wanted to accomplish:  Should I read more classics?  Focus on historical events or biographies?  Catch up on recent best-sellers?

In the end, I decided to let the books do the talking, and these were the ones that called to me.

For nonfiction:

I love a good biography or memoir, and these just screamed to be chosen.  The Bedford Boys doesn’t fall under those categories, but it’s one I’ve wanted to read for some time now.

For fiction:

Really a little bit of everything.  While I have Murakami’s 1Q84 in my hoard, I thought I’d start with Kafka on the Shore.  Drowning Ruth, Do Androids Dream…, and All the King’s Men have been on my shelves for some time, and I really want to finally find out if the hype is real behind Little Fires Everywhere, Dark Matter, and Olive Kitteridge.  And check out that dragon on the cover of Eon, that alone is what drew me to this book (plus it sounds pretty darn good).

I also have plans to announce monthly themes the first of each month with my personal choices, as well as share updates from some of my Goodreads groups and their monthly reading selections.

What are your reading goals for 2020?  Feel free to share, I always love seeing what everyone is reading!

Here’s to a wonderful 2020, and until next time, Happy Reading!!

 

 

Monday Mash-Up #050 Merry Christmas!

It a couple of days early but I wanted to wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

Do you have any books you’re wishing for this holiday?  Santa delivered mine a little early this year, and I can’t wait to share them with you!

The Week in Books

Out Behind the Barn by Chad Lutzke and John Boden — 5 out of 5 stars!

My review from Goodreads:   I’ve read a few of Chad Lutzke’s works, but this was my first foray into the mind of John Boden….and I absolutely loved it!! I will not give any spoilers, but I will say this: I tend to stay away from collaborations simply because of past reading experiences where it was obvious who wrote what. Not in this case. The story is seamless, and the characters embedded themselves into my reading soul. Plus, any book that brings a couple of tears to my cynical, seen-it-all eyes gets the full 5 star treatment. I can’t wait to read more from both authors.

Hark!  The Herald Angels Scream by Various Authors — 4 out of 5 stars!

How about a little bit of horror for the holidays?  This collection offers 18 twisted holiday tales from horror greats like Joe Lansdale, Jeff Strand, Josh Malerman, Kelley Armstrong, and several more.  Some were creepy, some were surprisingly sad (the post-apocalyptic Santa hurt my heart a little)…..and I’m pretty sure I’m going to hell for laughing while reading Strand’s Good Deeds, but I just couldn’t help it!  Great variety and an overall strong collection.

The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles — 4 out of 5 stars!

A relatively modern classic, and one that I think will continue to stand the test of time.  There are some elements of adventure, but the main focus is character development, and what a cast of characters!  For the most part I really liked this, but I’m still not sure how I feel about part three, which puts the focus on Kit (maybe since I didn’t care for her is the reason I didn’t care for this part of the novel).  If you’re looking for a classic that is accessible, offers beautiful descriptions, some good vs. evil, and a bit of adventure, give this one a try.

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Enjoy the week, and Happy Reading!

Monday Mash-Up #049

This pretty much sums up how I spent my birthday on Saturday….

Two great books and the total opposite of each other!

It’s hard to believe Christmas is only a week away.  I need to get my behind in gear and start my holiday baking, I always think I’ll get a head start but always seem to wind up doing it all in a rush a couple of days before Christmas!   😀

The Week in Books—

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey — 4.5 out of 5 stars!

A story where fairy tales meet the real world, set in the wilderness of 1920’s Alaska.  A mix of love and loss, joy and sorrow, written in simple and beautiful prose that had me staying up until 2 a.m. to finish it.  A great story for the holiday season, highly recommend.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened:  A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson —  4 out of 5 stars!

Blogger Jenny Lawson takes us on a journey not soon to be forgotten.  From her truly strange childhood to her marriage to a very patient man, Lawson shares some laugh-out-loud stories, as well as some more serious content involving miscarriages and mental illness.  My biggest complaint:  Lawson  incorporating “vagina” into seemingly every conversation and scenario got a bit tedious after the third or fourth time.  Otherwise, a very entertaining read.

Death by Rum Balls by Colleen Mooney — 3 out of 5 stars

A fun cozy mystery with a Christmas twist.  The characters and plot lines may seem like other cozies out there, but I enjoyed the author’s writing style and the funny “handyman,” Frank.  I’ll definitely be reading more of this series.

Too Many Cooks:  Kitchen Adventures with 1 Mom, 4 Kids, and 102 Recipes by Emily Franklin — 3 out of 5 stars

A wealthy suburban housewife/supermom shares her culinary adventures with her precociously perfect young children, all while documenting every time she breast-feeds her infant.  Every.  Fucking.  Time.  Three stars because some of the recipes sound pretty good.

Squat by Taylor Field — 1 1/2 stars out of 5

The Holiday spirit overtook my inner bitchiness and I rounded up to 2 stars on Goodreads.  I don’t know if it was terrible editing or what, but at times the story rambled and would switch from one time frame then back for no discernible reason.    And one word:  pronouns.  Don’t be afraid to use them!!  Overall, a potentially decent story turned hot mess.


Be sure to watch for some upcoming posts, including my 20 books I want to read in 2020 as well as my annual The Good, The Bad, and The Bizarre of 2019!  Until next time, Happy Reading!