Monday Mash-Up #007

Things have been pretty quiet around here over the past week.  Still surrounded by a blanket of white, waiting patiently for signs of spring.  On the plus side, my reading slump seems to have disappeared!  Since last time:

 

Ten Big Ones by Janet Evanovich—  3 out of 5 stars.  This series starring Stephanie Plum, inept New Jersey bounty hunter, is always a fun, quick read.  While predictable and often annoying (“Do I want Ranger or Morelli?  Why am I getting fat when I live off doughnuts and fast food?  So unfair!!”), sidekicks Lula and Grandma Mazur make these books more entertaining than they should be.

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn—  4 out of 5 stars.   Yes, I am the only person left in the modern world who has not read Flynn’s Gone Girl, let alone any of her other fiction.  Well, that came to an end this past week, and I must say I am impressed.  I tend to shy away from what I consider “Chick-Lit Thrillers” (you know the ones, Ware, Hawkins, Slaughter, the list goes on) simply because the ones I’ve read tend to be over-rated and annoying as hell.  What made this one better than the others?  I have no idea.  It had the same unlikable main character, the same over-done family drama ,  the same unsatisfying ending, but for some reason it worked for me.  Of course, I’ve been stuck in my house for the past couple of weeks due to snow so perhaps cabin fever has messed with my brain!

 

Granta #122:  Betrayal—  4 out of 5 stars.  I so want to subscribe to this quarterly publication!  I found this 247 page ” issue” at the library and I am hooked on the  superb variety of short fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie—  4 out of 5 stars.  As a fan of Alexie, I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to finally read his first short story collection.  All the stories are connected, yet easily stand alone.  Alexie’s stories are a blend of sadness, despair, violence, and humor, and I recommend this volume as the perfect introduction to his work.  Quick note:  my 20th anniversary edition included two stories that were not part  of the original publication.  I felt they were like the third wheel on a date, not quite fitting in with the rest.  While they were good on their own, I thought they could have been left out, perhaps added to one of his other collections.

Days By Moonlight by Andre Alexis—  ???  This was my January giveaway win from LIbrarything’s Early Reviewers and I’m having a hard time figuring out how to rate, let alone review, it!  Stay tuned, review coming soon!

And so we wrap up February.  Please feel free to leave suggestions for future posts or book recommendations, my life is pretty quiet right now!!   Until next week, Happy Reading!

Monday Mash-Up #006

Ah, winter.  Mother Nature’s gift that keeps on giving, whether we like it or not!  And this was pretty much how I was feeling last Tuesday and Wednesday…..

While in hibernation mode this past week, I found myself catching up on some television shows.  Anyone else watching I Am the Night?  Great series.  My guilty pleasure has been The Masked Singer……I even had a couple of correct guesses!

I’ve been a bit restless with my reading, finding it difficult to focus on any of the ones I’ve started.  I did finish up a few:

San Diego Noir — 3 out of 5 stars.   Another title in the Akashic Noir series, one of my favorite series going.  This one started out strong, but about halfway through I found the stories becoming a bit lackluster.

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe — 3 out of 5 stars.  A classic that I had on my 2019 to-read list.  Overall, yeah, it was good and I understand why this is on many reading lists.  It just didn’t grab me like I thought it would.  I do think I should reread it when I’m more focused, as I may not have given it the chance it deserves.

Stalking the Dragon by Mike Resnick — 4 out of 5 stars!  This was a fun romp through an alternate Manhattan, complete with a miniature dragon named Fluffy, a living wax museum, zombie bodyguards, and a sassy cell phone (yes, you read that correctly).  Added bonus:  it takes place on Valentine’s Day, perfect reading for the 14th!

Have a great week, and, as always, Happy Reading!

Review–Among the Lost

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4 out of 5 stars

There are times when I finish a book and wonder what the hell I just read—was it truly brilliant or merely crap adorned with random acts of brilliancy?

In the case of Among the Lost by Emiliano Monge, I can honestly say I’m not sure, but I liked it.

The stark narrative involves human trafficking and illegal immigration, a hot-button issue nowadays.  Among the Lost does not go into the politics, rather it goes to the underbelly, the reality that mainstream media usually doesn’t acknowledge.  There are those wishing for a better life and willing to pay, only to find out their life is payment.  There are the traffickers and their “employees” and a sadistic priest as well.  Strangely enough, there is also a love story between two of those who “survived” and now find themselves wanting the same freedom that those they kidnap and trade wanted as well.

Surreal, disturbing, and dark.     And I totally recommend.

Thank you to librarything Early Reviewers giveaways and Scribe Publications for an advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.

Monday Mash-Up #005

Almost didn’t get this posted today due to this:

   

Nearly two feet of snow in my little corner of the Pacific Northwest!  It had the internet satellite covered and I really didn’t want to climb up on the roof to clear it out!

My outdoor cat, Mister Sissy, always seems to enjoy the snow, more than my dogs do!

 

I also think Mister Sissy had more fun in the snow today than I did reading a few of my book choices this past week!

What I finished this past week:

In the Mouth of the Dragon by Myriam Millan— 2 out of 5 stars.  This sounded promising and started out pretty good, but by page 150 I was beginning to get bored, by page 250 I was getting annoyed, and by page 350 I was wondering how the hell this could go on for yet another 100+ pages!  Not recommended.

Bitter Bronx by Jerome Charyn—  2 out of 5 stars.  A collection of short stories based in the Bronx, New York City.  The last couple of stories were pretty good but the rest just didn’t work for me (lack of substance being the main reason).

Tallgrass by Sandra Dallas—  3 out of 5 stars.  I went into this one thinking is was about Japanese internment camps during WWII, but this is more about the various characters in a small town that just happens to have one of these camps.  Not bad but pretty slow going.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller—  3 1/2 out of 5 stars.  I enjoyed this one more than I thought I would, even needed a tissue or two towards the end.  Miller has a gift for prose but at times it just seemed overdone, leading to me putting it aside for a day or two.

Among the Lost by Emiliano Monge—   4 out of 5 stars!  A full review is coming soon for my latest giveaway win.

And since the snow is starting up again, I will say goodbye for now before the internet goes out.  Have a great week and Happy Reading!

Monday Mash-Up #004

Well, it took awhile, but we finally got our first snow here in my little corner of the Pacific Northwest.  And what better way to spend a snowy afternoon than curled up with a mug of tea and a great book!

This past week’s reading was a bit of a mixed bag:

The Battlemage by Taran Matharu— 4 out of 5 stars.  A great finish to a great trilogy!

Animals in Translation by Temple Grandin— 4 out of 5 stars.  The author’s own autism gives her a unique perspective on how animals perceive things.

Buddha Baby by Kim Wing Keltner—  2 out of 5 stars.  There are reasons why I don’t read a lot of “chick lit” and this book reminded me of all of them.  It wasn’t completely terrible, just not my thing.

The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko by Scott Stambach—  2 out of 5 stars.  This had the potential to be a good story, but the non-stop bantering about peeing, vomiting, and the narrator’s twice-daily masturbation habit quickly turned annoying as hell.  I just about quit reading when Ivan was more upset about not feeling like masturbating than he was about his “girlfriend’s” terminal illness.  There were enough good moments to keep this from being a 1 star read but not enough for me to recommend it to anyone.

A Stark and Wormy Knight by Tad Williams—  3 out of 5 stars.  A mixed bag of short stories with some falling flat and some worthwhile reads.  I think Williams is much better with full-length novels and I’ll stick to those in the future.

In Search of Hope by Mariane Pearl—  5 out of 5 stars!!!  Mariane Pearl’s husband, journalist Daniel Pearl, was brutally murdered by Islamic extremists in 2002.  Instead of retreating from the world, she set out to find hope in some of the most tragic and hostile conditions.  This is a beautiful book with pictures from her travels around the globe, meeting with seemingly ordinary women who have found the strength and courage to fight against impossible odds.  Highly recommend!!

 

The snow is still falling and the wind is picking up; time for me to brew that tea and decide what world I want to escape to.

Happy Reading!