Monday Mash-Up #024

Well, the good news is….it’s summer!!

And the bad news…..it’s been rainier and colder than it was a couple of months ago!

But all has not been lost.  My son and I went to a local library program (make sure to check out my blog post, Summer Library Programs), I finally finished watching The Passage (great show!!  I really need to read the trilogy!), and finished up a great selection of books!

 

Natchez Burning by Greg Iles — 4.5 out of 5 stars!

An awesome start to the trilogy!  I will admit the first third seemed pretty slow, but once it got going, I couldn’t put it down.  Even though this is labeled as #4 in the Penn Cage series, you really don’t have to read the earlier books to fully appreciate or enjoy this one.

Dead of Winter by Kealan Patrick Burke — 4 out of 5 stars!

If you’ve ever felt like the Grinch around Christmas, finding the sound of carols beyond annoying or thinking the neighbor’s light display needs to go, you may need to check out Dead of Winter!  This Christmas-themed short story collection is definitely not something that will put you in a festive holiday mood!!  They are dark, edgy, and at times horrific.  If you are a horror fan like me, you need to put this on your holiday to-read list.

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros — 4 out of 5 stars!

This isn’t really a novel or novella, more a collection of random thoughts and events happening over a period of years to a young girl (presumably based on the author’s life).  I really liked the voice that came through, and the writing was lyrical at times.  This may not be for everyone, but I recommend giving this little book a shot.

Little Heaven by Nick Cutter — 3 out of 5 stars

Finished this morning, and I’m still debating on how much I really liked it.  There were two distinct parts to the story, one set in the ’60’s and the other in 1980.  I’m okay with that, especially since each part was clearly titled as such, but it just didn’t seem to flow well.  It almost felt like the 1980 chapters were added on to lengthen the story.  Things really didn’t start happening until page 200 or so, then it took off in typical Cutter gore and action.  And believe me, there was plenty of gore!!  But overall, it just didn’t come together like some of Cutter’s other works.

The Last Kind Words Saloon by Larry McMurtry — 2 out of 5 stars

I went into this one expecting another great McMurtry read, akin to Lonesome Dove, or Terms of Endearment.  Instead, I found a mediocre at best narrative that really goes nowhere.  There were a few scenes that rose about the rest, but overall something that I wouldn’t recommend even to McMurtry’s biggest fans.


With the rainy forecast it looks like a potentially good week for finishing up some more great books.  So until next time, Happy Reading!

Summer Library Programs!!!

I love our local library.  The Timberland Regional Library System covers three counties in southwest Washington state, offering services and programs not only to the larger cities but to smaller, rural areas as well.  Each summer, the libraries host a variety of activities for young and old alike.  My son and I have enjoyed many of these free programs, from the storytimes and scavenger hunts when he was younger, to the yearly visit from The Reptile Man and his various snakes, lizards, and tarantulas.

Today was the newest addition to the summer programs:  a local owl sanctuary called For Heaven’s Sake brought some of their rescued owls to the Salkum, WA library and gave a wonderful presentation!

I have always loved owls.  From Owl in the Winnie the Pooh stories to the ones that used to hang out in our barn, I have a great fondness for these beautiful birds and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing them up close.

    

All of the owls were found injured in the wild and brought to the sanctuary for care.  They do their best to heal and rehabilitate each one so they may be returned to the wild, but these six were severely injured so they will be living out their years under the loving care of the For Heaven’s Sake owners and volunteers.

And this is just the beginning of the summer programs my son and I are looking forward to!!

Does your local library offer fun programs that you enjoy?  Feel free to leave a comment and let me know!

Monday Mash-Up #023

First, I want to give a huge shout-out to all the great Dads out there—Happy belated Father’s Day!!

Second, I’m just wondering where the heck Monday went?!  Now that my son is out of school for the summer, the days seem to melt together, making it easy for me to lose track of what day it is.  Shake it off, Glenda!  😀

While this past week was pretty quiet around here, it did provide some extra reading time for me.  And boy, did I find some winners this week!  On Saturday, I received my order of three novellas by Chad Lutzke, who I will admit I am now obsessed with.  No, I’m not turning into the narrator of You, but I am wondering where this author has been all my life (or at least the past few years since he started writing)!  I give a full five stars to the following novellas, all of which I read Saturday afternoon:

Stirring the Sheets

Of Foster Homes and Flies

Wallflower

Lutzke’s stories are listed as horror, but these three I would lean more towards very dark fiction.  And they are addictive!!  His writing style is straight-forward but emotionally powerful and pulls the reader in from the beginning.  I am hooked!!!  If you like your stories on the darker side, be sure to check this author out!!

Where All Light Tends to Go by David Joy — 5 out of 5 stars!!

Another new-to-me author who I am now obsessed with reading more of his stuff (I already have two more of his books on hold at the library).  This one tells the story of Jacob, an 18-ish year old with a drug dealing daddy and a crack whore mom, living in small town North Carolina.  The story is dark and brutal, but with glimmers of light and hope that made me love the characters and story even more.  Highly recommend!!

Our Story Begins by Tobias Wolff — 4 out of 5 stars!

Wolff is probably best known for his memoir, This Boy’s Life, but this collection of short stories shows his range and writing skills.  These are definitely not feel good stories, but still worth checking out.

Strange Weather by Joe Hill — 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Hill’s collection of four novellas is, well, different.  I was expecting horror and instead got sci-fi and a statement piece on gun control.  They were good, just not what I was looking for.

Killing Eve:  No Tomorrow — 3 out of 5 stars

Why do I keep reading this series when I clearly love the television show more?  *sigh*  I went into this one with lower expectations, and I don’t know if that made the difference but I did find this installment a bit better than the first book.  And, of course, it ends on a major cliffhanger which will have me reading the third book when it comes out in 2020 and lamenting the fact that it is still not as good as the tv show.


The official first day of summer is this Friday!  While we have no major vacation plans, we will be enjoying local day trips, outdoor living, and family programs at the library.

And, of course, a good book or two!!

Until next time, Happy Reading!!

Monday Mash-Up #022 Summer is Around the Corner!

This past week has kept me busy, mainly with gardening duties.  I’ve been helping out at a local nursery, potting plants for summer growing season.  Our crew this year kicked ass (great job Karen and Heather!!) and we wrapped up almost everything today, just some odds and ends to finish.

I’ve also been bringing home more plants for my porch and yard:  several heather and lupine starts, scented iris, aronia berry plants, even a small papaya tree start for the house!

This week will also mark the last day of school for my son.  Time for me to start thinking of some good outdoor activities for us to do!

Needless to say, I didn’t get a lot of reading done.  I finished one book, Hunting Annabelle by Wendy Heard, which was a disappointing 2 stars.  It was one of those books that started out not bad, quickly became boring, then ended with a lot of eye rolling and urges to throw it against the wall (since it was a library book I refrained from the throwing, though).

Tomorrow is supposed to be quite warm.  I plan on sitting outside, in the shade of our big maple tree, with a large glass of iced tea and a good book.

What will you be reading this week?

Until next time, Happy Reading!!

Monday Mash-Up #021

You know it’s June when the local strawberries start hitting the market!  I was very happy when my husband brought home these delicious beauties.  Our friend, Pedro, started his berry farm a few years ago and we always look forward to getting our supply from him!  Tonight we had some over ice cream; tomorrow I will be making some freezer jam for the winter.

Yum!!

This past week has been a bit busier than usual.  I’ve been helping out at the local fruit tree nursery up the road, mostly with potting plants.  When I get home, I’ve been pretty wiped out and haven’t had the energy at times to do much reading.  I was able to finish these three:

The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner — 4 out of 5 stars!

I just finished this about an hour ago and it is still sitting heavily with me.  Depressing and haunting are the two words that keep popping into my head, especially the last few paragraphs.  The flow of the story is a bit disjointed and there were side stories that just didn’t seem to fit in or go anywhere, but I could not put this one down.

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan — 3 out of 5 stars

Dynasty meets Mean Girls, with a bit of Kardashian-esque family dynamics—that pretty much sums up this one!  It was a fun, mindless read, but a bit long-winded at times (I think if all of the details about jewelry and designer clothing were omitted, the book would be about 200 pages shorter).  I will probably read the other two  books in the series because I do want to know if Astrid gets a backbone, Eddie gets his ass kicked for being a jerk, and if Nick keeps his inheritance, just not anytime soon.

My Father’s Ghost is Climbing in the Rain by Patricio Pron — 2 1/2 out of 5 stars

The first few chapters sucked me in, then, well, blah.  The middle was repetitive, boring, and just didn’t go anywhere or move the story along.  The last few pages woke me back up, but overall this book just didn’t do anything for me.


Well, I better sign off so I can get some sleep for potting plants and jam making tomorrow!  Until next week, Happy Reading!!