My Top 19 of 2019

I have to say, this year was an amazing book year for me.  Not only did I pass my Goodreads reading goal (as of today, December 30th,  I have read 224  books!!), but I only had one 1-star read and more 4- and 5-star reads than ever!!

Since there were so many great books this year, I decided to simply share my favorites of 2019.  No fancy graphics or pictures, just a list of the books that made a lasting impression and all of which I would highly recommend.  So, in no particular order, here we go!

–Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

–Mapping the Interior by Stephen Graham Jones

–NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

–We Live Inside Your Eyes by Kealan Patrick Burke

–The Line That Held Us by David Joy

–Grind Your Bones to Dust by Nicholas Day

–Dracul by Dacre Stoker

–Scythe by Neal Shusterman

–The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

–On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

–The Nameless Dark by T. E. Grau

–The Ritual by Adam Nevill

–The Passage by Justin Cronin

–Stirring the Sheets by Chad Lutzke

–One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

–I’ll Be Gone in the Dark:  One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara  (nonfiction)

–Death’s Acre by William M. Bass (nonfiction)

–In Search of Hope:  The Global Diaries of Mariane Pearl by Mariane Pearl   (nonfiction)

–Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher by Timothy Egan (nonfiction)

This was also a year of discovering some authors who taught me the meaning of fangirling!  😀  I’ve been obsessively reading everything I can get my grubby little hands on by these awesome and talented authors, and I look forward to all of their future work!  In no particular order:

David Joy

Chad Lutzke

Kealan Patrick Burke

Stephen Graham Jones

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So that pretty sums up all the good stuff for 2019.  Now on to all the great books and authors yet to be discovered in 2020!

Happy Reading!

Monday Mash-Up #051 And a Happy New Year!

That’s right, it’s almost time to break out the champagne and get into party mode!

At least, in theory it is!  Our household keeps it pretty low-key for the new year.  Hey, I’m happy if I manage to stay awake until midnight, haha!  And while I don’t really make any hardcore resolutions that I know I will break by noon on January 1st, I do find myself reorganizing and reassessing….dusting off the cobwebs if you will.

I’ve been trying to finish up my current reads so I can start with a clean slate on the 1st.  I’m not sure I’ll finish the last two books I’m reading, but I’m going to give it my best shot!

The Week in Books

Where the Dead Go to Die by Aaron Dries and Mark Allan Gunnells — 4.5 out of 5 stars!

Zombie story that makes you think.  This novel takes a different look at a zombie outbreak—what would happen if we were able to put those infected into secure hospices, where they would be treated as humans until the disease won out?  And then what to do with the newly “dead”?  At turns creepy and heartbreaking, this is by far one of my favorite zombie books.

Highway Speed:  Stories by Stephen Roger Powers — 4 out  of 5 stars!

I received this ebook through a Goodreads giveaway, and I have to say I really don’t know how to describe it!!  Powers takes the reader on a roadtrip through his mind, with stops featuring heartache, heartbreak, and floating lips (yes, you read that correctly!).  There is a surreal, almost mythical, quality to some of the stories, and the powerful writing helps navigate the reader through all of the twists and turns.  As with most story collections, I found favorites (One More Time For Donny Deadborne, Bad Manners Are Better Than No Manners at All, and Snake Wine are definitely my top three) as well as a couple that just didn’t work for me, but overall this anthology is entertaining and, for me, a great introduction to Stephen Roger Powers.

Car Heroin Train by Virginia Austin — 3 out of 5 stars

The story is pretty simple (the title pretty much gives everything away!) and overall not bad.  I just couldn’t connect with any of the characters, and the sudden ending didn’t work for me.

The Missing Italian Girl by Barbara Corrado Pope — 2.5/3 out of 5 stars

I went into this one not knowing it was the third in a series, something I should have checked into as I think I would have benefited from reading the first two….or maybe not.  The attention to the details of the time period and the city (Paris in the 1890″s) was quite good and definitely helped, but the plot just didn’t seem to come together for me.  If I come across the first book I will give it a try, but I think this was just a case of “It’s not you, it’s me.”


I want to wish all of you a very Happy, Healthy New Year!  And, as always, Happy Reading!

My 20 For 2020

It’s that time of year to start making resolutions for 2020.  While looking through my book hoard last month, I asked myself what reading goals I wanted to accomplish:  Should I read more classics?  Focus on historical events or biographies?  Catch up on recent best-sellers?

In the end, I decided to let the books do the talking, and these were the ones that called to me.

For nonfiction:

I love a good biography or memoir, and these just screamed to be chosen.  The Bedford Boys doesn’t fall under those categories, but it’s one I’ve wanted to read for some time now.

For fiction:

Really a little bit of everything.  While I have Murakami’s 1Q84 in my hoard, I thought I’d start with Kafka on the Shore.  Drowning Ruth, Do Androids Dream…, and All the King’s Men have been on my shelves for some time, and I really want to finally find out if the hype is real behind Little Fires Everywhere, Dark Matter, and Olive Kitteridge.  And check out that dragon on the cover of Eon, that alone is what drew me to this book (plus it sounds pretty darn good).

I also have plans to announce monthly themes the first of each month with my personal choices, as well as share updates from some of my Goodreads groups and their monthly reading selections.

What are your reading goals for 2020?  Feel free to share, I always love seeing what everyone is reading!

Here’s to a wonderful 2020, and until next time, Happy Reading!!

Monday Mash-Up #050 Merry Christmas!

It a couple of days early but I wanted to wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

Do you have any books you’re wishing for this holiday?  Santa delivered mine a little early this year, and I can’t wait to share them with you!

The Week in Books

Out Behind the Barn by Chad Lutzke and John Boden — 5 out of 5 stars!

My review from Goodreads:   I’ve read a few of Chad Lutzke’s works, but this was my first foray into the mind of John Boden….and I absolutely loved it!! I will not give any spoilers, but I will say this: I tend to stay away from collaborations simply because of past reading experiences where it was obvious who wrote what. Not in this case. The story is seamless, and the characters embedded themselves into my reading soul. Plus, any book that brings a couple of tears to my cynical, seen-it-all eyes gets the full 5 star treatment. I can’t wait to read more from both authors.

Hark!  The Herald Angels Scream by Various Authors — 4 out of 5 stars!

How about a little bit of horror for the holidays?  This collection offers 18 twisted holiday tales from horror greats like Joe Lansdale, Jeff Strand, Josh Malerman, Kelley Armstrong, and several more.  Some were creepy, some were surprisingly sad (the post-apocalyptic Santa hurt my heart a little)…..and I’m pretty sure I’m going to hell for laughing while reading Strand’s Good Deeds, but I just couldn’t help it!  Great variety and an overall strong collection.

The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles — 4 out of 5 stars!

A relatively modern classic, and one that I think will continue to stand the test of time.  There are some elements of adventure, but the main focus is character development, and what a cast of characters!  For the most part I really liked this, but I’m still not sure how I feel about part three, which puts the focus on Kit (maybe since I didn’t care for her is the reason I didn’t care for this part of the novel).  If you’re looking for a classic that is accessible, offers beautiful descriptions, some good vs. evil, and a bit of adventure, give this one a try.

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Enjoy the week, and Happy Reading!

Monday Mash-Up #049

This pretty much sums up how I spent my birthday on Saturday….

Two great books, and talk about polar opposites!

It’s hard to believe Christmas is only a week away.  I need to get my behind in gear and start my holiday baking, I always think I’ll get a head start but always seem to wind up doing it all in a rush a couple of days before Christmas!   😀

The Week in Books—

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey — 4.5 out of 5 stars!

A story where fairy tales meet the real world, set in the wilderness of 1920’s Alaska.  A mix of love and loss, joy and sorrow, written in simple and beautiful prose that had me staying up until 2 a.m. to finish it.  A great story for the holiday season, highly recommend.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened:  A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson —  4 out of 5 stars!

Blogger Jenny Lawson takes us on a journey not soon to be forgotten.  From her truly strange childhood to her marriage to a very patient man, Lawson shares some laugh-out-loud stories, as well as some more serious content involving miscarriages and mental illness.  My biggest complaint:  Lawson  incorporating “vagina” into seemingly every conversation and scenario got a bit tedious after the third or fourth time.  Otherwise, a very entertaining read.

Death by Rum Balls by Colleen Mooney — 3 out of 5 stars

A fun cozy mystery with a Christmas twist.  The characters and plot lines may seem like other cozies out there, but I enjoyed the author’s writing style and the funny “handyman,” Frank.  I’ll definitely be reading more of this series.

Too Many Cooks:  Kitchen Adventures with 1 Mom, 4 Kids, and 102 Recipes by Emily Franklin — 3 out of 5 stars

A wealthy suburban housewife/supermom shares her culinary adventures with her precociously perfect young children, all while documenting every time she breast-feeds her infant.  Every.  Fucking.  Time.  Three stars because some of the recipes sound pretty good.

Squat by Taylor Field — 1 1/2 stars out of 5

The Holiday spirit overtook my inner bitchiness and I rounded up to 2 stars on Goodreads.  I don’t know if it was terrible editing or what, but at times the story rambled and would switch from one time frame then back for no discernible reason.    And one word:  pronouns.  Don’t be afraid to use them!!  Overall, a potentially decent story turned hot mess.


Be sure to watch for some upcoming posts, including my 20 books I want to read in 2020 as well as my annual The Good, The Bad, and The Bizarre for 2019!  Until next time, Happy Reading!

Monday Mash-Up #048 It’s Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas!

There’s nothing like getting your Christmas tree all decorated, then finding it splat on the floor the next morning!!  :/  The hubby and I got it upright  and I finished the decorating (again!) earlier today….

Now that this drama has passed, time to get back into the Christmas spirit!  Plus I’ve been trying to figure out if I want to do anything special for my birthday weekend this coming weekend or just relax at home.  Of course, I do have plans to treat myself to a trip to a couple of bookstores (where else?!  😀  ).

The Week in Books—

Now That We’re Alone by Nicholas Day — 4.5 out of 5 stars!

This short story collection really does have it all, from killer turtles to vampiric revenge…..even serial killer John Wayne Gacy makes an appearance as a heavenly angel (yes, you read that right!!).  A great collection, and one I would recommend for anyone new to Day’s work.

Jimmy the Freak by Charles Colyott and Mark Steensland — 4.5 out of 5 stars!

A little novella with a lot of heart…as well as telepathy and some really bad guys.  I kept thinking of one of my favorite stories, Of Mice and Men, while reading this, as Jimmy and Mike reminded me so much of Lennie and George.  Be sure to check this one out.

Waiting Out Winter by Kelli Owen — 4.5 out of 5 stars!

Flies.  Disease-carrying flies.  That pretty much sums up this novella.  I enjoyed Owen’s take on an apocalyptic future, focusing on an ordinary family trying to survive in an altered world with an unknown future.  Added bonus–The sequel will focus on spiders!  Yep, I need to read that one as well!!

The Institute by Stephen King — 4 out of 5 stars!

I agree with many other reviewers that this latest King novel has some heavy shades of Firestarter.  I thought it started out pretty slow, but King is a master at keeping you turning the pages, even during the slow parts.  King’s style has also changed over the years, and while this definitely falls under horror it has more of a subdued horror feel and not the “in your face” extremes like some of his older works.  Another great story from the master.

Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh — 2 out of 5 stars

For me, this has not been a good year for books named after the main character (most notably  Gretchen and Zuleikha ).  Add Eileen to the list.  There was some potential and a good twist I really didn’t see coming, but after constant references to laxative-induced bowel movements and menstrual odors (among other bodily functions) I just couldn’t find that potential (or care about it) anymore.


Now to pull out my Christmas dvds and revisit some favorite movies.  Do you have any favorite holiday books or movies?  Are they traditional classics or something more recent?

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

The Latest From @Night_Worms — Winter White, Winter Fright!

It’s that time again, where I sit and wait patiently for the mail to arrive (my husband is always surprised that I just don’t stand out by the mailbox after I receive the shipping confirmation!!).

And what a delivery!   Not just one picture’s worth of goodies….

….but two!!!!

Coffee, candies, stickers…..

And check out this totally amazing wooden bookmark from The Bookish Den!!

I would have posted this on Thursday, but I’ve been too busy reading two of the books, Jimmy the Freak and Waiting Out Winter, both getting 4.5 stars from me (I’ll include summary reviews in my next Monday Mash-Up).  I can’t wait to dive into the other books!

Happy Anniversary to Night Worms, here’s to another great year and many more to come!  Happy Holidays and Happy Reading!

Monday Mash-Up #047 December!

It’s December!!

Along with all the holiday cheer, this month also rings in another birthday for me…..no, I won’t share how old I’ll be turning, so no need to ask!  😀

I’ve been working on some new blog ideas for 2020, including monthly themes and more in-depth reviews.  I am also narrowing down my “finalists” for this year’s edition of The Good, The Bad, and The Bizarre, which I will unveil after Christmas.

Even with the Thanksgiving holiday last week, I was still able to sneak in some reading time…….

The Week in Books

Lost in Hardyland by Shannon Heuston — 3.5/4 out of 5 stars

Although I found this listed under adult fiction, it read more like a middle grade or early YA so I based my rating on that.  The narrator, a super-smart 12/13 year old, loses her mother and goes to live with the father she never knew.  Of course, dad is the total opposite of the solid, intellectual deceased mom so there is a giant learning curve with the characters.  Overall I liked it, but by the end the characters were starting to get on my nerves.

Near Death in the Mountains:  True Stories of Disaster and Survival  edited by Cecil Kuhne — 3 out of 5 stars

All the stories are excerpts from longer works, and because of that there are times when the narrative starts in the middle of a scene and the reader is left wondering how things got to this point.  I recommend skipping this one and reading the original versions, especially Touching the Void by Joe Simpson and Miracle in the Andes: 72 Days on the Mountain and My Long Trek Home by Nando Parrado.

I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley — 3 out of 5 stars

Precocious Flavia de Luce is back, this time for a Christmas-themed murder mystery.  Not a bad, quick little read, but really, how does Flavia get away with so much crime scene tampering?!?

The Country of Ice Cream Star by Sandra Newman — 2.5 out of 5 stars

Because I am stubborn and I hate giving up on books, I finally made it to the end after nearly four months.  Am I glad I did?  No.  While I give Newman credit for creating a new dialect for this post-apocalyptic story, I felt this dragged down my reading experience.  Instead of getting caught up in the action, I felt bogged down by the translation.  And the ending was one of the most unsatisfying ones I’ve read in a long time.  Don’t feel bad if you skip this one, I kind of wish I had.


Enjoy your week, and Happy Reading!!

Nonfiction—Gold Rush Dogs

Gold Rush Dogs by Claire Rudolf Murphy and Jane G. Haigh

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Dog lovers and history buffs will delight in this collection celebrating the beloved canines that offered companionship, protection, and hard work to their masters in the Far North.

I came across this little coffee table-style book at the library book sale and the dog-lover in me knew I just had to have it.  And it did not disappoint!

These are the stories of some of Alaska’s more well-known dogs from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.  There’s Stickeen, the small but brave Tahltan bear dog who accompanied naturalist John Muir on many of his Alaskan adventures;  Patsy Ann, the homeless bull terrier who greeted the incoming ships at the Juneau seaports until her death in 1942; Togo and Balto, both having their parts in the famous serum run of 1925; Nero, the loyal Saint Bernard devoted to his mistress; and several others.  The stories are short but well-focused on the faithfulness and tenacity of these amazing canines.

There are side stories about some of the historical figures like John Muir, Soapy Smith, and Scotty Allan, as well as  historical notes and breed information.

And the photographs!!  These by far are the best thing about the book!!

At only 119 pages, this is a quick glimpse into some of Alaska’s lesser-known history, a great little read for a cold winter afternoon.  Highly recommend.

“Any man can make friends with any dog…but it takes a long time and mutual trust and mutual forbearance and mutual appreciation to make a partnership.”   From Gold Rush Dogs, page 46

5 out of 5 stars!