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.


April — Spring Cleaning!

April already!!!

Needless to say, I think March was a bitch for pretty much everyone out there.  While the future is still unknown and stress levels remain high, I’ve seen signs that there is a sort of new rhythm developing as to how we are now living our lives (at least around my little corner of the world).  And today, while venturing away from my hidden lair for supplies, I witnessed people actually caring about others, rather than the rabid “every person for themselves” mentality that was present two weeks ago.  I have to say, it did make me feel a little bit better about the human race.

I’ve been planning my monthly reads for some time now, and I still think Spring Cleaning for April seems appropriate.  Hey, we all have extra time on our hands right now!!  But seriously, my main reason was to find the books that have languished on my to-read shelves for years, nay, decades.  And these are just a few.

These are all books I bought in the early 1990’s.  Yeah, I’m that old, lol!

We all have them.  Those books that were bought with such excitement and enthusiasm, meant to be read immediately.  Then another book comes along that grabs your attention, then another, until months, then years pass by and those poor forgotten books remain on the shelf.  Well, not this month!

I’m going to admit I don’t know if I will be able to finish all of them this month, but I’m going to give it a go.  I’m especially looking forward to the fantasy worlds in Villains by Necessity and The Catswold Portal, escape from reality sounds wonderful right now!

Group Reads

I always love seeing what books will win the monthly votes in my various Goodreads groups.

Swan Song and Edgar Allen Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher led the votes in the Reading List Completists.  I did read Swan Song not too long ago so I will be skipping that one (but I highly recommend it!!  It’s just as epic as Stephen King’s The Stand, but I’m not sure how many people really want to read about mutating viral apocalypses at this moment!!).  And my friend Michelle let me know that her local book group picked The Eye of the World for their big read, covering the next three months.  Hey, since I just picked this up around my birthday and I’ve been wanting to start this series forever, what better time than now?!?!

Some other choices from my various groups, truly a bit of everything…..

The Boatman’s Daughter by Andy Davidson

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn

Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

I hope these titles give you some reading inspiration!!

March in a Nutshell

I didn’t get through all of my mystery choices for March, but I still plan on finishing them in the next month or two.  And I finally finished An American Tragedy!!  I really liked this classic but I swear it felt like I had been reading it forever!!!

What books are you looking forward to reading in April?  I always love seeing what others are reading so be sure to leave a message!  Stay safe everyone, and until next time, Happy Reading!

Monday Mash-Up #063 Staying Home

Well, today our state governor made an official “stay at home” proclamation for Washington state.  I’ve been staying at home already, not so much out of fear but because I tend to be a homebody anyways.  Here are just a few things that have been keeping my mind occupied for the past week or so…..

My yarn stash is about as large as my unread book hoard so I’ve been knitting cotton washcloths and working on my winter hat I started a few months ago (maybe I’ll actually finish it before next winter!!).  These are all things I’ve always enjoyed doing, and I find them essential to help escape reality for a bit.  And no, that’s not a vodka tonic in the center……or is it??!??   😉

And is anyone else having problems with being able to focus on reading?  I know I am.  But after a few days of “media distancing,” I found I was able to start focusing again, and managed to finish a few books.

The Week in Books

Skullface Boy by Chad Lutzke — 4.5 out of 5 stars!

As you may already know, I love me some Lutzke, and this novella did not disappoint.   It’s the story of a boy born with a skull for a face, who travels to California to look for the man who may be his father; along the way he meets a variety of characters and finds himself in some interesting situations.  It’s essentially a dark coming of age tale, and anyone who has ever been singled out because of their differences will understand and root for Levi.

The Dawn of the Living-Impaired and Other Messed Up Zombie Stories by Christine Morgan — 4 out of 5 stars!

If you are under the impression that all zombie stories are the same, you should check out this collection from Christine Morgan.  There’s humor, lots of horror, stories set in the past and the future, really a mixed bag and something for (nearly) everyone.  Fair warning, it’s not for the squeamish, but still a damn entertaining way to spend a rainy afternoon.

Dead in the Water by Stuart Woods — 3.5 out of 5 stars

This is one of those fast-paced mysteries featuring the studly main character, the wily seductress, and a variety of good and bad guys to round out the story….and I liked it!!  I see more of this series on my to-read list in the future!

Be healthy, stay safe, and as always, Happy Reading!

Monday Mash-Up #062

This has probably been the most surreal week I’ve ever seen, and I’m sure thousands of others will agree.  But I couldn’t forget to send out St. Patrick’s Day wishes!

Even though everything has been cancelled and closed down, I still hope you can find some Irish cheer at home.  I made some shamrock-shaped sugar cookies, that’s about the extent of our celebrations in this household!

While many are practicing “social distancing” I will be doing some media distancing over the next few days.  The overwhelming amount of news coverage on the internet and television has been exhausting, and I have found myself stressing out and focusing way too much on the what ifs.  Don’t worry, I’ll be keeping up to date on Goodreads and here, maybe check in on Instagram, but that’s about it for a least a few days.  I know from past experiences that brief vacations from the internet can be truly relaxing, giving my mind time to detox from all of the negativity floating around out there.

And it should give me more time to attack my book hoard!!

The Week In Books

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones — 4.5 out of 5 stars!!

A huge thanks to NetGalley for sending me an e-copy for review.  Watch for my review closer to the release date in May 2020.  *Update* review was posted here on March 13!

Snow by Ronald Malfi — 4 out of 5 stars!

If you love the first snowfall of the year, maybe standing in the swirling flakes and admiring the beauty of nature, this book may make you rethink that.  A fast-paced horror tale that I can totally see being made into a movie for the SyFy channel.  Be sure to check this out, especially if you’re a fan of strange creatures trying to take over the human race.

The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey — 3.5 out of 5 stars

This was a good, solid mystery with plenty of twists and a large list of suspects.   My biggest problem was not being able to connect with the main character/narrator, Detective Gemma Woodstock.  I just didn’t like her.  Even by the end when things changed a bit, it just didn’t do enough to change my opinion of her.

The Names of Our Tears by P. L. Gaus — 2.5 out of 5 stars

A bit of a spoiler—there is no resolution in this one, which is frustrating to say the least.  But that wasn’t the only problem for me (even though it’s the biggest one).  There is just an overwhelming amount of uninteresting, flat characters, many of whom have similar names to confuse the issue (This is one of my pet peeves.  There are thousands of names out there, why use Emma and Emily, or Tim and Tom?  You’re the author, get creative!!).  And when I’m counting down the remaining pages by the end of the second chapter, well, never a good sign.

I hope you all stay safe and healthy in the coming weeks.  Try to lose yourself in a good book, it’s always a great way to escape the real world for a bit!  Until next time, Happy Reading!

Review — The Only Good Indians

I usually have a lot to say about a book, good or bad.  I also usually know where to start a review.  I want to say so much about The Only Good Indians, yet I feel that anything I try to say will be insufficient.  But here it goes…..

I went into this one pretty blind on the storyline, and I’m glad I did.  This is one of those books that you can’t really describe without giving away major plot points, something I try not to do in my reviews.  But to sum this up as best as my limited vocabulary can, it’s a story that is realistic yet surreal; there are modern graphic horror bits and Native American mythological  stories interwoven into one.  It truly is a story of revenge and redemption, and maybe not in the ways you may think.

I loved this story.  This is one to be savored and appreciated, and one I think you won’t be able to put down.  This is also one that will haunt my dreams for some time to come…. my less than 5 stars is only due to my lack of knowledge when it comes to basketball which pulled the story down a bit for me.

A huge thank you to NetGalley for sending me an advanced e-copy for review.

And another huge thanks to Stephen Graham Jones for writing this!!

Monday Mash-Up #060 and #061

Things have been pretty quiet in my little corner of the world.  But signs of spring are beginning to pop up and the sun is showing its face a little bit more, making me feel a bit like this:

The past week was a great week for book mail.  Not only did my signed copy of The Roo arrive, direct from Australia, but…….

It’s time for another Night Worms delivery!

This month’s theme is “The Thunderstorm Returns,” featuring limited signed editions of Snow and How We Broke from Thunderstorm books.  Also included:  a signed copy of Those Who Go Forth Into the Empty Place of Gods from Wyrd Horror; a signed music cd from author Ronald Malfi’s band, Veer; and various artistic swag.  Another great month!

My reading has even been pretty slow these past couple of weeks, but I did finish a few great ones (and a couple of okay ones).

The Week in Books

Walk the Darkness Down by John Boden — 5 out of 5 stars!!

My review from Goodreads:

When a book best described as weird western horror makes me cry one chapter then has me uttering “What the holy f**k” the next (and has my husband question my sanity and reading choices while witnessing these two things), then gives me the added bonus of nightmares involving the most spine-chilling scarecrow and, well, just the character of Levi in general…. it deserves a huge 5 stars. This book did me in, and I loved every minute of it. Thank you John Boden, I can’t wait to read more from you!

The Bedford Boys:  One American Town’s Ultimate D-Day Sacrifice by Alex Kershaw — 4 out of 5 stars!

The true stories of the 22 young men from a small Virginia town who lost their lives in World War II, 19 of whom died in the first few minutes of battle on D-Day.  The stories are tragic, but there are also the stories of friendship and heroics.  A must-read for history enthusiasts.

Columbus Noir edited by Andrew Welsh-Huggins — 4 out of 5 stars!

One half of Akashic’s latest collection was fantastic, everything I want and expect from their noir series.  The other half was a mixed bag of okay and pretty darn good.  My personal ratings for each story averaged out to a 3.8 though, so I’m rounding up (as well as recommending for some good short stories).

The Secret Rooms:  A True Story of a Haunted Castle, a Plotting Family Duchess, and a Family Secret by Catherine Bailey — 3.5 out of 5 stars

This one was good but a bit misleading.  While doing research for another project, the author came across some interesting information and discrepancies in the family history of the 9th Duke of Rutland, who died in a small room of the family castle in 1940.  The author set out to find the whys of the family mysteries, using the enormous cache of diaries and correspondence kept in the family archives.  The first half moved along smoothly, but the second half started out on tangents that seemed to be more confusing than clarifying.  If you like World War I history and reading about the lifestyles of the rich and entitled, give this one a shot.  Oh, and a BTW, the idea that the family castle was actually haunted was mentioned once, so don’t expect a bunch of eerie sightings or disembodied voices.

Wilder Girls by Rory Powers — 3 out of 5 stars

This one intrigued me with the different take on an apocalyptic-style viral infection (quick note—no zombies here!!).  It kept me interested, had me caring for some of the characters, had me thinking a solid 4 star rating…..then I read the ending.  I did not like it and felt it was somewhat of a cop-out blah conclusion after such an engaging beginning.

The sun is out so I’m going to get outside and enjoy it for a bit.  Behave yourselves, and until next time, Happy Reading!