Monday Mash-Up #043 and #044

Once again, the days flew by and I fell behind…..not that there was any major life events around here, but still…..

I am excited to say that I am looking at my first blog-aversary coming up on the 19th!!  And even better, my first year as a member of Mr Pink Ink’s Pink Blots!!  Then, with the month of December comes my “Milestone Birthday!!!!”  and some new ideas for 2020!!!   I love this time of year!!  😀

The Week in Books—–

The Devil’s Dreamland:  Poetry Inspired by H. H. Holmes by Sara Tantlinger — 5 out of 5 stars!

If anyone had ever told me I would be singing praises for a book of poetry, I probably would have laughed and given a witty comeback like “No way.”  But The Devil’s Dreamland is not just a book of poems.  Tantlinger took inspiration from the stories surrounding H. H. Holmes, America’s first serial killer.  This collection does read much like a story, starting in Holmes’ childhood and continuing through his grisly crimes and conviction.  There is great build-up through the collection; I could almost feel Holmes’ descent into madness.  If you want to give some poetry a try, I’d recommend this fantastic collection.

Grind Your Bones to Dust by Nicholas Day — 5 out of 5 stars!

My Goodreads review—

Brutal and horrific, with the added bonus of beautifully written prose. I loved this book, even when I was feeling the need to scrub my soul clean. I will definitely be looking for more of Day’s work in the future.

And I will never look at a donkey the same way again.

Anthony Bourdain Remembered by CNN (Cable News Network) — 5 out of 5 stars!

This is a must-have for Bourdain fans.  A compilation of remembrances and tributes from friends and family, as well as some wonderful photography.

Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher by Timothy Egan — 5 out of 5 stars!

I am currently writing a full review and will be sharing it here and with my friends over at Mr Pink Ink.  By far one of the best biographies I’ve read.

Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum — 3 out of 5 stars

Set during World War II and the late 1990’s, this is really two stories:  first about surviving Nazi Germany and the second about mother-daughter relationships.  First off, this could have easily been shaved down by 100 or so pages, as by the mid-point I was feeling things starting to become repetitive.  I also think there should have been more about the daughter, Trudie, and her own struggles trying to understand her mother.  Overall, not bad, and this would probably make a good selection for a book club as there are definitely some interesting topics to discuss.

Those Across the River by Christopher Buehlman — 3 out of 5 stars

I was expecting a bit more from this one after reading and enjoying The Suicide Motor Club, but by the time the story started to really get going I just wasn’t caring anymore.  And was it really necessary to the story line to constantly read about Frank and Eudora’s never-ending sex life??  When it was good, it was really good though, so a full three stars.

Dearly Devoted Dexter by Jeff Lindsay — 3 out of 5 stars

I read the first Dexter book some time ago, and I remember it being a bit more entertaining than this sequel.  Dexter, that lovable serial killer who only kills serial killers, is back and itching to release his inner darkness.  I felt the story was lacking something, and the writing was choppy (no pun intended).  Overall, if you’re a Dexter fan, give it a go, but I probably wouldn’t recommend this one for a first-time reader to the series.

Chopping Spree by Diane Mott Davidson — 3 out of 5 stars

After non-stop horror reading over the past couple of months I needed to cleanse my palate, and this little cozy mystery did the trick.  The 11th book in the Goldy Schulz series features the usual murder and mayhem as well as some great sounding recipes.  If you need a quick entertaining read, this series always delivers.

Before She Was Found by Heather Gudenkauf — 3 out of 5 stars

This started out as a solid 4 star story.  I was sucked in from the beginning and really couldn’t put it down.  But adult characters that seemed more like caricatures and a very unsatisfying ending dropped it down to a low 3 stars.


I’m truly getting excited for a new year here at All Dragons Read!  Thanks for following me and as always, Happy Reading!!

@Night_Worms #04 “Feasting on Horror”

Saturday’s mail brought the latest Night Worms package…….and I was beyond excited to find the following!!!

Oh…My…Gawd!!!  Grind Your Bones to Dust by Nicholas Day has been at the top of my horror to-read list, and Nicole Cushing’s A Sick Gray Laugh is one of those I saw on Goodreads and was beyond intrigued and added it to  my ever-expanding “must read” list.  And don’t get me started on The Devil’s Dreamland:  Poetry Inspired by H.H. Holmes…….I devoured this offering from Sara Tantlinger in a Saturday afternoon reading frenzy and enjoyed every bit of it!!!

Of course, there are the added bonuses of signed book plates and some awesome artwork (I love the Halloween magnet!!).

Another huge shout-out to Night Worms and their commitment to sharing some of the best horror out there.  I’m already looking forward to December’s package, it will mark Night Worm’s one year anniversary with FOUR books (plus added bonus of it being my milestone birthday month!!!  😀 ).

Happy Reading!!

Happy Halloween!!

 

Just in case I don’t get online on the 31st, hope you have a spooktacular Halloween!  Have fun and stay safe!!

 

Now the real question is—-will I finish my last 2 books to complete my 31 books of Halloween?  And will you mind terribly if I use November 1, the Day of the Dead, as a backup deadline?!?!?  😀

Happy Halloween and Happy Reading!!

Monday Mash-Up #042

Lost in a maze of corn, listening to the wind rattling the dry husks, trying not to think of Children of the Corn…….

…..and we reach a fork in the path.  Which to choose, left or right?   Will we find an exit or wander aimlessly?

Well, thankfully we found the way!  Time to search for some pumpkins!

Saturday we went to a local place appropriately called The Pumpkin Patch, a little tradition we’ve been doing since my son was 3 or 4.  It’s a small, family-owned farm offering hay rides, a corn maze, and a ton of huge pumpkins to choose from.  We went a little late in the season this year so the pickings were not as large as usual, but we still found some great ones!

Now to figure out what we want to carve!

It was also a great week for finishing up some Halloween and October-themed books, check these out……..

The Week In Books—

The Line That Held Us by David Joy — 5 out of 5 stars!

To say I love David Joy’s writing would be an understatement.  His stories are bleak, depressing, sometimes disturbing, but are well worth reading.  Joy blurs the lines between good and evil; in this story, several times I found myself wanting to give Dwayne, the “bad guy,” a big hug and have him cry on my shoulder, then within a few paragraphs I would be rooting for justice to be served against him. The “eye for an eye” mentality is strong in this book, and it will make you question if it is really the solution.  Highly recommend.

The Passage by Justin Cronin — 4.5 out 5 stars!

Vampires and the apocalypse?  Sign me up please!  It took me a while before I finally sat down to read this, and I was not disappointed.  I’ll admit I watched the television series first, which really stoked my interest in the book.  An interesting twist on the apocalypse, with my only complaint being some slower parts in the middle.  Make sure to read it with the lights on!!

Tales From the Shadow Side by Jonathan Janz — 4 out of 5 stars!

After reading the first short story in this collection, Old Order, I was seriously questioning being able to continue.   It was sick and twisted, even by my standards.  But I kept on and I’m glad I did!   Janz’s work is definitely not for everyone;  I consider myself a pretty hardcore horror fan but I found myself feeling a bit squeamish with some of the imagery.  But this collection is a definite must-read for horror fans, plus it gives a great introduction into the mind of the author.  Read if you dare!!

Blood Sugar by Daniel Kraus — 4 out of 5 stars!

This is not your typical horror story, but in a way it’s scarier than any ghost tale or gorefest pulp fiction.  The story is narrated by a young boy named Jody, who, along with his younger foster sister and a girl he secretly loves, befriend a local outcast named Robbie.  All of these characters are damaged, if not completely broken, living in horrific circumstances, yet all yearning for their own sense of family and belonging.  Then comes the plan to poison trick-or-treaters on Halloween and, well, things go even more downhill.  Fair warning:  the narrative is in Jody’s voice, which includes a lot of slang and run-on sentences.  But I think once you get used to his speech, you will find this little book as heartbreakingly horrifying as I did.

Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire — 4 out of 5 stars!

I was having a lot of mixed feelings about rating this one.  Seanan McGuire knows how to write a ghost story (I’m a big fan of Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day).  I was hooked at the beginning, intrigued with this twilight of ghosts.  But around the half-way mark it started to feel slower and repetitive.  After putting it aside for a few days, I was able to jump back into the story of the ever-wandering Rose and devoured the last 130+ pages.  A bit of a spoiler though:  it is setting up for book 2, something I wasn’t aware of until after I started reading and saw there was a sequel.  It doesn’t diminish McGuire’s writing, just fair warning that not all questions will be answered.

Cutting Edge:  New Stories of Mystery and Crime By Women Writers — 3.5 out of 5 stars

Review to come.  I received this ARC from Akashic Books and LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers Giveaways.


I just noticed on my Goodreads list I’ve completed 29 Halloweenish books…..hmmm, will I make it to 31 by the 31st??  Stay tuned……..and Happy Reading!

 

Nonfiction — Gettin’ Scary!

My attempts to find some new-to-me nonfiction regarding the supernatural to coincide with Halloween wound up being a bust……Why in the world did I not just go to my personal library to begin with?!?!  😀

It’s not a secret that I love Halloween.  It’s not for the candy or the overpriced decor.  There has always been something about the darker side that intrigues me.  Yes, I do believe in ghosts and spirits, and I believe in a lot of things that can’t be explained away with a scientific experiment.  Those are the main reasons that the following books still capture my attention (and imagination) to this day, especially during this haunting time of year……..

Leslie Rule and her mother, the late true-crime author Ann Rule, always talked about living in haunted houses throughout their lives.  Leslie takes these experiences to another level by seeking out other haunted places and trying to figure out the who and why behind the hauntings.

These books do not go in-depth into ghost hunting, but Leslie does offer her own personal experiences at various places throughout the United States, as well as lists of other places that have similar hauntings.  She talks to people who have experienced the unexplained as well as giving some of the legitimate backgrounds, not just the rumors, surrounding certain places.  And even though the photos throughout both books are questionable at best, they add to the overall creepiness and authenticity.

 

Haunted Heartland  by Beth Scott and Michael Norman reads more like an anthology of urban legends than true paranormal stories.  However, who’s to say what is really true when it comes to ghostly encounters?  These stories focus on Middle America, from Minnesota to Missouri.  One of the reasons I peg this more as “legend” is the lack of personal accounts from the authors.  But hey, some of these tales still creep me out to this day.

 

Whether you believe in the paranormal or not, if you want to curl up on a dark, stormy autumn day and feel the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, then I recommend checking out any of these books.

Do you have a favorite ghost story, “real” or not, you’d like to share?  Feel free to comment, I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time, Happy Reading!

Monday Mash-Up #041 Are you scared yet?!?

The Week in General—-

The days are shorter and darker, the leaves are falling from the trees, even the coyotes seem to be howling more than usual.  With the recent stormy weather, it’s been a perfect week to curl up with mugs of hot cider or tea and get into a good book!

 

The Week In Books—–

Hex Life:  Wicked New Tales of Witchery — 4 out of 5 stars!!

What a great selection of stories from some of today’s top women horror writers!  The witch-inspired stories covered a lot of ground, from modern day horrors to glimpses into the past.  Widow’s Walk by Angela Slatter offers a great explanation as to how witches get all of those cats; Bless Your Heart by Hillary Monahan will make you think twice about the other parents at the PTA meetings; And if you want to find out what happened to Snow White after her marriage to Prince Charming and her descent into middle age, be sure to check out How to Become a Witch-Queen by Theodora Goss!!

Highly recommend!

Dead Leaves:  9 Tales From the Witching Season by Kealan Patrick Burke — 4 out of 5 stars!

Time for some fangirling—-I love me some KPB!  This short story collection offered a bit of everything.  Someone to Carve the Pumpkins had a sad but eerie feel along the lines of the movie The Others;  The Toll showcases some sadistic revenge.  My favorite was The One Night of the Year, which was creepy yet somehow poignant at the same time.  A must-read for the Halloween season.

Creature by Hunter Shea — 4 out of 5 stars!

Is the real creature the unknown thing that goes bump in the night or the known disease ravaging the human body?  A bit different from the other creature features of Shea’s that I recently read, and the one I liked the best.

The Jersey Devil by Hunter Shea — 3.5 out of 5 stars

This was definitely an old-school slasher type of horror story, complete with lots of decapitations and naked chicks covered in blood,  one that I could totally see as a straight-to-video (or cable television) kind of movie.  Overall I liked it, it was what I was expecting from all the hype behind the author.

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena — 3 out of 5 stars

The other night I couldn’t sleep so I grabbed this chick-lit thriller, dusted it off, and dove in (hey, it worked for my insomnia, after 40 pages I was out like a light!).  However, the next day when I decided to keep going with it, I was pleasantly surprised that I kind of liked it.  Yes, it still offered all of the usual cliches I’ve come to expect from this genre:  the unreliable main character, the unlikable cast of supporting characters, the somewhat bumbling detective who will stop at nothing to find out the truth……you know the drill.  But the fast pace and decent writing kept me hooked.  I didn’t even roll my eyes once!!  If you like the genre give this one a go (added bonus:  works better than chamomile tea for those sleepless nights!).

——————————————————–

This week looks to be a good week to finally get to the Pumpkin Patch for some fall fun, as well as hunkering down and enjoying some classic horror movies from my collection.  Plus one of my current reads involves ghosts and haunted highways—-if that doesn’t put me in Halloween mood, nothing will!  😀

Enjoy your week, and until next time, Happy Reading!

 

Monday Mash-Up #040

The Week in General—

Yep, that about sums it up!!  😀

The Week in Books—

Last Train From Perdition by Robert McCammon — 4 out of 5 stars!

Supernatural creatures terrorizing the Wild West of the 1800’s?  Sign me up please!  We have our somewhat good guy vampire, Trevor Lawson,  an adventurer for hire who longs to become human again, and a slew of not so nice bloodsuckers wrecking havoc wherever they go.  Last Train is the 2nd in a short series, one that makes me hope that the late McCammon left some notes somewhere to continue on with the story.

Tortures of the Damned by Hunter Shea — 3 out of 5 stars

Hunter Shea is known for his “creature feature” horror novels so I was expecting a lot from this apocalyptic thriller.  Yes, there were rats, bats, cats, dogs, horses, and even hawks and seagulls that kept the horror coming (note to Mr. Shea:  I would have enjoyed more of the flesh-eating raccoons and skunks, nobody ever thinks of skunks!!).  But what took this book down a full star was the ending, the last 10 or so pages that just made me wonder why the hell I had bothered with the first 430+.  Not cool.

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury — 3 out of 5 stars

This was a reread for me, and while I was hoping to like it more I still found it to be the same as I remembered:  some genius mixed with some over-written prose.  One of the few times I will admit that I prefer the movie over the book.


Short and sweet this week.  I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that the rain doesn’t wash out our plans to visit the Pumpkin Patch and the Rutelidge Corn Maze in the coming days!  Until next time, Happy Reading!

 

Night Worms #03 Hex Education!

It’s that time for the latest package from Night Worms!  This month’s theme, Hex Education, involved all things witchy, perfect for Halloween!

Among the goodies:  some amazing scented tealight candles from Get Fictional, “Witch’s Brew” herbal berry tea, candy, artwork and special offers from a variety of artists, and the books!!  Hex Life is a collection of short stories (about witches, of course!!) by some of the best female horror authors out there today.  I couldn’t wait and already started it…..I love Widow’s Walk by Angela Slatter, can’t wait to get farther along tomorrow!

And check out the cover for Blood Sugar by Daniel Kraus!  Now that’s a witch!  😀

Thanks to the gals at Night Worms for putting together another great month!

Monday Mash-Up #039

Not that I didn’t have enough scary books to choose from in my personal hoard….

I stopped by the library on Saturday to pick up my latest hold collection.  I’ve heard a lot about Hunter Shea’s “creature feature” horror novels so I really wanted to check these out.  And I am a big fan of Robert McCammon so I couldn’t pass these two up.  I’m already thinking that I may go ahead and buy Speaks the Nightbird, it sounds amazing and is the first in a series I’ve looked into before.

The Week in Books—

Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin — 4 out of 5 stars

Yes, it’s true, I’ve never seen the movie and this is my first time reading the book.  I have to say, it was much better than I expected and definitely makes me want to continue on with Son of Rosemary.

The Sound of Broken Ribs by Edward Lorn — 4 out of 5 stars

This is one of those stories that defies description.  At its core is a solid thriller involving revenge, with some crazy supernatural stuff thrown into the mix.  I love Lorn’s humor in his book reviews, and this also comes through at times in the story.

The Guilt We Carry by Samuel Gailey — 4 out of 5 stars

Another great thriller featuring a young woman living with guilt over her young brother’s accidental death.  After living a runaway life and falling into alcoholism, she winds up involved with some stolen drug money.  I’m still not sure if I really liked the ending, it seemed a little rushed, but overall a great read.

Encounter With Hell by Alexis McQuillan — 2 out of 5 stars

Well, my search for a good nonfiction book to go with the Halloween season has not been very successful so far.  If the writing hadn’t been so painfully bad, this might have been a three or even low four star.  Out of 190 pages, only about 5 or 6 really dealt with the “demon” that supposedly followed McQuillan for five years.  A few good passages dealing with the old mansion and it’s ghosts kept this from being a one star.


Autumn is in full swing now, with the colorful leaves and the colder days.  I even baked my first pumpkin pie of the season the other day!

And I just realized that I am a month away from my first blog-aversary!!  Time to start planning a new year of fun!

Until next time, Happy Reading!

I Was Bad………

I’ve been trying to be good with my book-buying habit, telling myself to save up for my annual Birthday Book Binge in December.  But December seems so far away, especially when it’s BOGO at my favorite thrift store!!

It all started when I found The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook, one that’s been on my wish list for a couple of years now.  And hey,  since it’s buy one get one free, I had to keep looking!

I know, I’m known for my hatred of chick-lit and my vows to avoid anything by Jane Austen.  Yeah, well…….

One of my 2020 reading goals is to try out genres that I’ve disliked or avoided in the past.  While I couldn’t get past page 5 of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, I’ve heard Emma is much better so I figured what the hell, I’ll give it a shot.  And as for The Devil Wears Prada?  I remember liking the movie well enough, so the book is always better, right?!  Of course, I’d had a few adult beverages while watching the movie so my memory of this one may be a bit skewed.

As for the others, Shreve and Coehlo have been on my to-read list for some time, and I can never pass up a Carl Hiaasen!!

The rest of my haul, truly a little bit of everything!!  All told, I spent a little under $10.  Not bad at all.  🙂

Have you bought some great books lately?  Feel free to share, I love seeing what you’re reading!  And until next time, Happy Reading!