NightWorms May Theme — Classic Horror in Collaboration with Paul Tremblay

Another month and another great bookmail delivery from NightWorms!

The May package offers a salute to classic horror,  but perhaps not the kind you would expect!  The NightWorms gals teamed up with Valancourt Books to bring back some classic ’70’s pulp horror, thanks in part to Valancourt reissuing several such titles from the ’70’s and early ’80’s (for which you will have to thank Grady Hendrix and his awesome ode to classic pulp horror, Paperbacks From Hell.  Oh, and Grady offers a new intro for one of the books, added bonus!).   I’m the first to admit I am not familiar with Steve Rasnic Tem’s work, but the guy published 400+ short stories plus other longer tales  so I’m curious to see what twisted mind is at work here!  The Auctioneer from 1976 sounds strangely familiar to me (did I read it or was it turned into some sort of low-grade horror movie I watched in the ’80’s?) and I’m looking forward to this one as well.

A bittersweet note comes with the copy of Graveyard Slaughter’s Video Hell comic.  One of the co-creators, Kevin Watkins, passed away suddenly in April.  After seeing his work here and reading the tributes on social media I am saddened that I will not get a chance to read more of his creations.  Peace to you and your family Mr. Watkins.

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Stay tuned for the June package, with the theme being “Boys of Summer” and Poltergeist Press involved!  Until next time, as always, Happy Reading!

 

 

Monday Mash-Up #70 Mother’s Day

First of all, a belated Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!  And I know we’ve all felt like this at some point!!    😀

I’ve mentioned before that all the days have been melding together these past couple of months, with my only excitement being my forays to the grocery store every two weeks.  But to not realize it was Mother’s Day until the last minute really made me realize how much advertising and commercialism plays a part in our everyday lives.  There weren’t the ads for the best brunch in town, commercials showcasing the best perfumes or flower arrangements that moms can’t live without…….and you know what?  It didn’t bother me one bit.  It was a quiet day here, I made waffles topped with some blackberries I had defrosted, and I got to read, mostly uninterrupted.  Not much more I could ask for.

I have several books going right now, but I was able to finish these three……

The Week in Books

Tales of Dark Melancholy: A Collection of Short Stories by Paulo da Silva — 4 out of 5 stars!

Wow, just wow.  I found this title on Amazon while scrolling through the free kindle titles, and with the help of some adult beverages I decided “what the hell, it’s free,” and clicked buy.  And I’m glad I did.  This collection by a new-to-me author is well-written and sucked me in on the first page.  Yes, they are dark and some are disturbing, and I’m already trolling the internet for more titles from Mr. da Silva.  Highly recommend.

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix — 4 out of 5 stars!

I was so excited when I learned this would be in my April delivery from NightWorms…..and it did not disappoint!  I’ve been a fan of Grady Hendrix since I read Horrorstor back in 2014; he has a knack for mixing humor with the macabre.  I will admit this one had some slow parts, but when the shit hits the fan, it hits hard (I’m still cringing over the whole scene with the rats!).  In  a nutshell, picture genteel southern housewives who create an “unofficial” book club to discuss books about true crime and fictional horror while a vampire roams their neighborhood.  Make sure to check this one out.

Two Days Gone by Randall Silvis — 4 out of 5 stars!!

This started out so disjointed and random that I figured it would be a DNF.  I’m glad I powered through, because once this mystery/thriller got going I couldn’t put it down!  A professor’s family is brutally murdered, the professor disappears….did he do it?  There were some twists I didn’t see coming, and once the writing evened out I thought it was fast-paced, engrossing, and, well, just damn good.


What are you reading, watching, or doing during these isolating times?  Have you started a new hobby?  Catching up on your TBR pile?  Feel free to drop me a line, and as always, Happy Reading!!

Monday Mash-Up #69

The winners of the Pulitzer Prize were announced, and once again I am left wondering how these choices are made.  So in a fit of boredom, I decided to do some research to see if I could find some sort of magic formula in the judges’ decision making.  However, I wound up doing something much more entertaining:  spending a couple of hours scrolling through the past winners of not only the Pulitzer, but the Nobel literature prize, PEN/Faulkner, Booker, Newbery, and Bram Stoker awards.  Yeah, I’m a nerd like that.  I have to say, it was enlightening and enjoyable.  And while I will always question some of the choices made (Rabbit at Rest over The Things They Carried?  The Overstory beating out There, There ?  And too many others to mention here), I came away from that 2 hour session with a list of 75+ more titles to add to my want-to-read list….and a case of eye strain.  *sigh*

Meanwhile, back in my little dragon den, I was able to finish a few more from my hoard over the past week…….

The Week in Books

When the Shit Hits the Van (The Neon Owl #1) by Chad Lutzke — 4 out of 5 stars!

This was a pleasant surprise and nice change from Lutzke’s darker, more horror-driven works.  There’s a definite old-school noir feel mixed with heavy doses of humor.  Lutzke always does a great job with his character building, and Jinx and Roddy are no exceptions.  I’m looking forward to more in this series!

Attack of the 50 Foot Indian by Stephen Graham Jones — 4 out of 5 stars!

A satirical look at stereotypes, politics, and science.  It’s amazing how much impact a little 30 page short story can have, I’m still thinking about this one several days after finishing.

I Want You to Know We’re Still Here by Esther Safran Foer — 3.5 out of 5 stars

I’ll be writing a full review for NetGalley soon.

Billy Bathgate by E.L. Doctorow — 3 out of 5 stars

This has been sitting on my shelf for well over 20 years (yes, you read that right!), so what better time to dive into a classic of sorts than during a pandemic isolation?!  I remember buying this because I enjoyed Doctorow’s Ragtime,  but I’m beginning to question my memory.  The overall story is pretty good (a young teen works for a known mobster, pretty typical 1930’s-era gangster fare), but when the narrative started to lapse into the dreaded stream of consciousness style, I very nearly tossed it out (my hatred of SOC writing is that strong).  But I took a deep breath, put on my big girl panties, and plowed through.  If you’re a fan of Doctorow and early gangster fiction and don’t mind SOC writing, then I’d say give it a try.  The story is there, I just hated part of the delivery.


Stay safe and Happy Reading!

May — A Mother’s Love

May 10 is Mother’s Day, so in honor of all the great moms out there, I chose these four books that showcase the lengths a mom will go for her children.

Dave Eggers introduces us to Josie, who flees with her kids to the wilds of Alaska; What She Knew involves a missing child and a mother accused; a single mother raises her child in the Dust Bowl era of rural Texas in Rainwater; and finally the true story of Philomena whose child was sold by the nuns she had sought to help her, and her life-long search to find him.

Goodreads Group Reads

There are two stand-out choices for the month of May, and while I have already read both I would highly recommend them if you haven’t already had the chance.  One is J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic, The Hobbit, which I first read in 5th grade and several times since (and I’m thinking I may have to revisit this month!).  The other is Delia Owens’ novel, Where the Crawdads Sing.  I read this about a year ago and fell in love with it, it actually broke my cynical heart.


And what will you be reading this month?  Feel free to drop me a line anytime!

Take care, stay safe and healthy, and Happy Reading!

 

Monday Mash-Up #67 and #68 Short n Sweet

The end of April?  Already??  Even though the days are all the same now, it certainly feels like this month flew by…..or maybe it’s just because I’ve slowly lost track of what day it is!!

I’m used to isolation and staying at home, thanks to living in a rural area an hour’s drive from the nearest city, but that doesn’t mean I’m not starting to go a bit stir-crazy!  However, on the plus side, our state governor just announced today that there will be a partial reopening of state parks and other outdoor recreation areas next week…..I know my son is really looking forward to doing some day hikes at our favorite parks again!

And I may not have completed any books before last Monday, but I certainly made up for it this past week….

The Week in Books

Acid For the Children by Flea — 5 out of 5 stars!

I’ll be writing a full review very soon!

Bones by Howard Odentz — 4.5 out of 5 stars!

Only 32 pages, but this little story really delivers.  I can’t say too much without giving away the story but I gotta say I did get the creepy shivers at the end.

Silence of the Grave by Arnaldur Indridason — 4.5 out of 5 stars!

We meet up with Inspector Erlendur again in my personal favorite of the series (so far!).  Decades old bones are unearthed and Erlendur wants to figure out the who and why.  This has two stories in one, plus more background and development of the recurring cast of characters.

Until Summer Comes Around by Glenn Rolfe — 4 out of 5 stars!

A full review for NetGalley coming soon, but I will say this:  if you liked the movie The Lost Boys, then you’re sure to enjoy this tale of vampires and teen angst.  It’s expected to be released late May, 2020.

Before You Sleep: Three Horrors by Adam Nevill — 4 out of 5 stars!

Okay, now I’m torn between this collection and the one I mentioned last time.  These three stories have a shared theme involving creepy houses and their occupants.  Make sure to put these on your Halloween to-read list!

Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny by Holly Madison — 3 out of 5 stars 

I sacrificed a few brain cells to read this, but that’s okay, I needed a break from all of the dark shit I’ve been reading lately.  It’s pretty much what I expected it to be (a fluff piece written by a celebrity who wants to flaunt their “work”), but it was a quick read and did give some insight to Hugh Hefner and the workings at the Playboy Mansion.  Oh, and Holly, I get it, you were naive (as you mentioned pretty much every other page).  We’re all naive at some point, but we learn and grow.  Using that as an excuse for 10 years doesn’t make you look innocent, it makes you look stupid.

Alabama Noir by Various Authors — 3 out of 5 stars

What I’ve always loved about the Akashic Noir series is the atmosphere.  That’s the main thing I found lacking in this latest collection.  Pretty much all of the stories could have been set anywhere, there was really no feeling of being in Alabama (except for the one with the alligator, but even that one could have been set elsewhere).  I also found a few of the stories confusing and/or abrupt in their conclusions, with my notes on these simply stating WTF.  Don’t get me wrong, there are some very good offerings that I give 4 stars to, but the overall collection just fell a little flat for me.

The Girl in the Woods by Michael Robertson — 3 out of 5 stars

A very low three at that.  This novella started out pretty good, building suspense and drawing me in.  But once the “scary” stuff started, it went downhill fast.  And don’t get me started on the ending!


Short and sweet this week, but stay tuned, I’ll be sharing my reading theme for May in a couple of days!  Stay safe and healthy, and Happy Reading!

 

Review — YA —The Invocation

4 out of 5 stars!

Synopsis from Goodreads

When Kenna Trigg plays with an Ouija board, little does she know that she is about to unleash a malevolent spirit upon the world, leaving her and her older brother, Jake, to stop the spirit as it leaves a trail of dead bodies in its wake.

In The Invocation, a supernatural thriller that combines elements of Stranger Things and The Exorcist, Kenna Trigg and three of her friends from the fourth grade manage to befriend a spirit named Mia, who died in her late teens in a drowning accident, using of an Ouija board. Cotter, a malevolent spirit who had been a con-man and criminal in life, tricks Kenna and her friends into releasing him into our world by posing as Mia. Cotter has the ability to take control and possess people he comes across. With this new power, he begins a vicious crime spree. Kenna turns to her older brother, Jake, a professional mixed-martial artist who has recently been released from prison. Now, Kenna and Jake must stop Cotter from unleashing havoc in our world.

Oujia boards scare the crap out of me.  I just want to put that out there.   And when I read the synopsis of this book, I knew I just had to read it.  Plus, I’m always looking for fresh YA stories that my teen son (who happens to have Asperger’s) is willing to put down the gaming controls for……and I found that with The Invocation.  In fact, my delayed review is due to giving my son the book to read to get his opinion as well.  The following is a melting pot of sorts of our opinions.

The story sucked us in from the first page.  The characters are realistic and likable (as well as unlikable in certain cases), with enough backstory to flesh them out.  Where my son and I have differing opinions falls into the ensuing side stories.  I was looking forward to a bit more of the occult horror genre, as the whole cage-fighting/MMA aspect isn’t really my cup of tea.  However, my son loved these passages (and I will say they were well-written and really brought the action through to the reader).  I also thought the ending felt a little rushed, but with no complaints from my son I’ll just chalk it up to personal preferences.

Overall, I thought this was a very good story and after hearing my son’s glowing review of it, I will say it definitely hit the mark for the target 14+ YA audience.  I look forward to reading more of Carl Alves’ work in the future.

Stay safe and healthy, and Happy Reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NightWorms April Theme–Author Spotlight Grady Hendrix and Tim Lebbon

As you know, I always look forward to my monthly delivery from NightWorms.  And this month???  Well…….

Not only the new Grady Hendrix, but the new Tim Lebbon?!!!!?!!!  Yes!!

I’m a fan of Grady Hendrix so when they announced his new book would be featured I started counting down the days until I could get my hands on it!  It sounds like Steel Magnolias and Fried Green Tomatoes meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and I can’t wait to start it.  The second book remained a mystery until its arrival, and I was not disappointed.  I’ve had a couple of Tim Lebbon’s books on my want-to-read list, and this new one sounds intriguing (in a nutshell, Mother Nature fights back against humans.  That could get interesting).  Another great month and one that will keep me entertained until May’s delivery.

Have you received any good book mail lately?  Feel free to drop me a line, I love seeing what everyone is reading!  Stay safe and healthy, and Happy Reading!

 

Monday Mash-Up #066 Easter!

Happy belated Easter!  I hope this finds you all doing well, staying safe and sane!

Easter has always been a quiet holiday at our house, so in a way it was pretty much business as usual.  Of course, having nicer spring weather helped tremendously.  We may not be able to travel freely, but being able to get outside and walk up the road or explore the woods behind our house has become almost a daily necessity, one that I’m sure is keeping our (or should I say my) sanity in check.

Over this past week, I found the more I got outside the better I was able to concentrate on my reading…..yay, I finally feel like reading full-length novels again!!  Time to dive back into my book hoard!

The Week in Books

This week, I want to start giving shout outs and thanks to the authors who have provided their works for free through online sources like Amazon kindle.  From last week, Robert Ford and Matt Hayward, and this week,  Bracken MacLeod, Jeff Strand, and Adam Nevill, a huge thank you, and much appreciated!

Mouse and Owl: A Novelette by Bracken MacLeod — 4.5/5 out of 5 stars!

I’m familiar with Bracken MacLeod’s more eerie stuff, but this dark fantasy really hit the spot for me.  In such a short space, he creates a world and a character that takes some authors hundreds of pages.  My only complaint:  the ending left me wanting more, and I can’t have it! (Insert temper tantrum feet stomping here)

Specimen 313 by Jeff Strand — 4 out of 5 stars!

Think  Little Shop of Horrors, only no singing and more gore.  And the humor!  This was free on kindle a couple of days ago and at only 17 pages long, a great way to kill a few minutes (no pun intended!!)

Before You Wake: Three Horrors by Adam Nevill — 4 out of 5 stars!

Adam Nevill came into my reading radar with his novel, The Ritual, and I have been wanting to get a hold of more of his weirdly creepy works.  These three short stories keep with the whole weird and creepy vibe:  a landlord/tenant dispute that isn’t what it seems; some hit and run revenge; and a floating “ghost” ship with it’s own story to tell.  If you haven’t read Nevill’s fiction, these stories would be a good place to start.

All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy — 4 out of 5 stars!

Cormac McCarthy is a master storyteller.  He sucks you into his world and soon you can almost feel the heat of the desert sun and taste the dust kicked up from the road.  This was the first novel in the past month or so that grabbed my attention and I didn’t want to put down.  There were a few over-drawn passages that slowed things down a bit, but overall a beautifully written modern western.  This is the first in a trilogy yet easily reads as a stand-alone.

The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe — 4 out of 5 stars!

A classic short story featuring people locked away in a creepy house while slowly going insane.  Pretty appropriate at the moment!

V is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton — 3.5 out of 5 stars!

Not my favorite in the alphabet series, but still a good showing.  But I honestly couldn’t tell you if my lackluster approval stems from the actual story or this pandemic mind melt that has been going on.  I’ll go with the latter and read the next one with a better mindset.


Feel free to drop me a line anytime.  While we may be distancing ourselves physically, we can still stay in touch virtually.  Until next week, take care of yourselves, and Happy Reading!

Monday Mash-Up #064 and #065

I hope this finds you all staying safe and healthy (and sane!) during these seemingly endless strange days.

How have you been coping?  Starting a new hobby, trying a new craft?  I’ve been watching a lot more television than normal (and that’s saying a lot!!), focusing on humorous reruns and mindless movies.  However, I was able to finally binge-watch some tv series that I’ve been ignoring for way too long, including the Canadian series Pure, based on the true stories of the Mennonite Mafia (who knew??), Killing Eve, and Mr. Inbetween.   I also received the veggie seeds I ordered so now I’m waiting for the weather to catch up with my gardening  enthusiasm!

I felt my reading groove coming back, even though I am still having days when I can’t focus on more than a couple of pages.  But I did get a few finished over the past two weeks.

The Week in Books

The Heart and Other Monsters: A Memoir by Rose Andersen — 5 out of 5 stars!

Be sure to check out my review posted April 4th!

A Penny For Your Thoughts by Robert Ford and Matt Hayward — 4.5/5 out of 5 stars!

A jar full of wishes sounds pretty innocent, right?  Yeah, not so much, as a ragtag group of friends soon find out.  There’s some pretty good humor mixed into the horror which makes this a great afternoon read.

How We Broke by Bracken MacLeod and Paul Michael Anderson — 4 out of 5 stars!

Brother and sister revisit their past at a family vacation cabin.  Are those dark forms real or the ghosts of their childhood?  Great psychological horror.

An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser — 4 out of 5 stars!

Even though it seemed to take forever to read this classic, I have to say it was much better than I anticipated.  Yes, there were some slow parts and yes, it was way over-written at times, but overall I enjoyed it and would recommend giving it a shot……plus knowing that it was based on a true crime story doesn’t hurt either.

Taaqtumi: An Anthology of Arctic Horror Stories by various authors — 3 out of 5 stars

I’ll be writing a full review soon.  Thanks to NetGalley and Myrick Marketing & Media for sending me an ecopy for review.

The Best American Mystery Stories 2017 by various authors — 3 out of 5 stars

Definitely not the best in the series.  There were a handful of stories that I enjoyed, that were intriguing and entertaining.  But most fell under the “blah” category for me.

Dark Web by Kevin Teo — 2.5/3 out of 5 stars

A kindle freebie I picked up the other night, not knowing it was the first in some sort of mini-series.  It intrigued me enough that if I come across the rest of the story for free I may check it out, but it does read more like a middle grade story trying to play adult so I may pass.

Haunting at Spider Gate Cementary by S. M. Evermore — 2.5/3 out of 5 stars

Another kindle freebie….at least this one told the whole story.  Not much of a story though, but it was only 17 pages long (and did I mention FREE) so I won’t complain too much.


Feel free to drop me a line anytime, let me know how you’re dealing with this new normal.  Take care and Happy Reading!

Nonfiction Review—The Heart and Other Monsters: A Memoir by Rose Andersen

Synopsis from Goodreads

A riveting, deeply personal exploration of the opioid crisis-an empathic memoir infused with hints of true crime.

In November 2013, Rose Andersen’s younger sister Sarah died of an overdose in the bathroom of her boyfriend’s home in a small town with one of the highest rates of opioid use in the state. Like too many of her generation, she had become addicted to heroin. Sarah was 24 years old.

To imagine her way into Sarah’s life and her choices, Rose revisits their volatile childhood, marked by their stepfather’s omnipresent rage. As the dysfunction comes into focus, so does a broader picture of the opioid crisis and the drug rehabilitation industry in small towns across America. And when Rose learns from the coroner that Sarah’s cause of death was a methamphetamine overdose, the story takes a wildly unexpected turn…….

Five out of Five Stars!!

I knew going into this one it may trigger some feelings in my usually neutral-reading soul.  Little did I know…..

This memoir wrecked me in a way that no other memoir to date ever has.  I could feel Rose’s anger, pain, regret, guilt, and, above all, the love for her sister   coming through on every page. It’s one thing to lose a beloved sister to an overdose, but to a potential murder?  I can’t even imagine.

Rose Andersen’s writing is powerful and cohesive without trying to be flowery.  There is no sugar-coating, no excuses.  She takes the reader into her past, with the abusive, alcoholic stepfather and the mostly absent father.  She shares the story of her own descent into addiction and her hard-won sobriety.  I have a feeling this memoir was more of a cathartic and healing experience for her as well as the need to share the story of her sister.  And it’s something that I commend her for finding the strength to do.

I read this memoir in an afternoon, yet it’s taken me a few days to mentally process it.  It dredged up a lot of feelings for me, including my own pain over the loss of some close friends to drugs and alcohol and my own substance  abuse problems.  But at the end of the day, this story of Rose and her sister Sarah is a powerful testament to family bonds and coping with the unexpected.  Be sure to check this book out when it is released July 2020.

Thank you to Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing for sending me this early e-copy for review.