Weekly Mash-Up #98 Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s a couple of days early, but to everyone celebrating Thanksgiving (SAFELY!!!!) on the 26th, I say to you, that no matter what…

Sure, it’s going to be different this year for many of us, but what’s one Thanksgiving compared to the ongoing health of your loved ones??  Is Aunt Shirley’s root vegetable cheesecake and Uncle Earl’s drunken rants about the latest conspiracy theories really worth risking your health?  Of course, I can’t answer that for you, and I can’t hand out common sense.  But I truly hope everyone celebrating will stay safe…and thanks to zoom, you can still listen to your drunken uncle’s rants (and your stomach will thank you for not having to sample the questionable cheesecake).

Even though 2020 has been “a giant dumpster fire” (thanks to Tosh.O for the perfect synopsis!), I have still found things to be thankful for.  Family and good friends of course.  The love and companionship of my dogs and cats.  The knowledge that I still have the strength to find good hidden in a giant crap pile of bad.  Homemade raspberry jam.

But I think I’m most thankful for the bookish community.   To my fellow bookdragons, those I’ve known for years and those I’ve only just met, whether you are a fan of romance or horror, whether you review or write or just simply share with me your love of reading, you’ve helped me to keep my focus and my sanity this year, and for that I want to say thank you and much love to you all.

The Week in Books

Wormwood by Chad Lutzke and Tim Meyer — 4.5 out of 5 stars

Rounded up to 5 stars on Goodreads.    As you all know, I love me some Lutzke, so when I heard this new story was going to be a part of my November NightWorms package, I was beyond excited!  This is one of those stories that I could feel the vibes from the two authors (Lutzke does more emotional horror while Meyer is known for his pretty graphic scary stuff), but that doesn’t take away from the story…and if I didn’t just spoil that for you, you probably never would have known…sorry!!!  A coming of age story where who you pick as your friend really does have consequences.  Not for everyone but I highly recommend.

The Things That Last Forever by Peter W.J. Hayes — 4.5 out of 5 stars

Rounded up to 5 for Goodreads.

Vic Lenoski is a cop with a gravely injured partner, a missing daughter, a marriage on the rocks, and a need to find answers.  Taking matters into his own hands, he follows some leads to North Dakota, where he will face the blurred lines between right and wrong.

This novel has everything I love about a good thriller/mystery, from solid characters to head-spinning twists.  Although I hadn’t read the first two books in the series, the author provided enough back-story to inform me without bogging down the narrative. I really have no complaints about this one; highly recommend.

Trial By Fire:  A Devastating Tragedy, 100 Lives Lost, and a 15-Year Search For the Truth by Scott James — 4 out of 5 stars

I will be writing a review of this and a similar book, Killer Show by John Barylick, in February 2021, the morbid anniversary of the deadliest rock show in American history.   I will say this now though:  if you read true crime or have an interest in how screwed up certain laws are, or just want to read some truly amazing survivor stories, you can’t go wrong with Trial By Fire.


Respect your fellow humans…wear a fucking mask!!

Until next time, Happy Reading!

Weekly Mash-Up #97 Has It Been Two Years Already?!?!

Yes, believe it or not, this week (the 18th to be precise) marks my 2 year blog-aversary!!!

I wish I could tell you I’ll be hosting zoom interviews with favorite authors, or giving away books but, well, yeah, that’s not going to happen anytime soon.

However, I look forward to continuing to share my love of books, no matter the genre, and letting you know exactly how I feel about every book I read.  And most importantly, I look forward to talking to YOU!!  Please feel free to share your thoughts on whatever books I profile, or just stop by to say hi!!  I truly look forward to hearing from you!!

The Week in Books

Jedi Summer With the Magnetic Kid by John Boden — 4.5 out of 5 stars

Part of my November NightWorms package, this little novella truly hit a few of my usually numb nerves.  John Boden is quickly becoming one of my go-to fan grrrrl authors as he knows how to create characters and scenarios that not only resonate with those of us of a certain age but also for those too young to know why White Snake’s video was the hottest thing ever made.  This is one of those heart-breaking coming of age stories that also incorporates some supernatural aspects, and I loved all of it.  Highly recommend.

Mrs. Claus and the Santaland Slayings by Liz Ireland — 4 out of 5 stars

I love cozies that take a different direction, and this one certainly fits the bill!  April finds herself living a fantasy life at the North Pole (well, Santaland to be precise) as Mrs. Claus after a whirlwind romance with Nick Claus.  However, all the sugar plums and spiked eggnog can’t hide the dark side: a murdered elf and a melted snowman, all in the few days before Christmas!  And with Detective Jake Frost (for Pete’s sake don’t call him Jack!!)  on the case, things should get sorted out in quick order, right??   This was a fun, sugary-sweet read that I really needed right now.  If you’re looking for a pun-filled good time to usher in the holidays, I recommend checking this one out.  And I’m looking forward to reading more in this series!    Thanks to Kensington Books and Goodreads for sending me an ecopy for review.


I’m participating in a read-a-thon this week, I can already tell you I’m excited to share the books I’ve already finished and will be completing by Sunday night!

Keep reading to keep your sanity!!  Stay safe, wear a mask, and until next time, Happy Reading!

Weekly Mash-Up #96

What a crazy, headache-inducing week…

But for the first time in a long time, some positivity is coming to the surface, and in this hell year of 2020, we should grab every little bit that comes our way.

Surprisingly, I was able to concentrate on reading…at least for short spurts here and there!

The Week in Books

Miami Noir: The Classics — 4.5 out of 5 stars

I’ve had the pleasure of reading 30+ books in the Akashic Noir series, and this one is definitely in my top 5!!  Classic is the name of the game, with stories from 1925 up to 2006.  The variety is great, from gumshoe-type tales to spousal revenge.  And let’s not forget the amazing lineup of authors including Edna Buchanan, Elmore Leonard, Zora Neale Hurston, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Vicki Hendricks, John Dufresne…..you get the idea.  Whether you’ve read other titles in the series or this is your first one, I highly recommend it!

Handling the Undead by John Ajvide Lindqvist — 4 out of 5 stars

Lindqvist brings us the human side of zombies in this novel, raising the question, “What would you do if your cherished loved one came back from the dead?”  Not really an easy one to answer.  The story does meander at times, but offers a different take on the zombie trope…and a strange twist that ties it all together.  There are some icky moments, but if you’re looking for a milder form of zombie story, give this one a try.

Old School by Tobias Wolff — 3.5 out of 5 stars

This is what I consider a “quiet” novel, and something that I embraced after the stress of the past week.  It’s a well written tale of a teen trying to fit in at a prestigious boarding school, with the main focus on trying to win a coveted spot with a favorite author who will be visiting the school and picking a winning story from the students.  I’m a fan of Wolff’s writing, and while I don’t rank this one among my favorites of his (probably because I’m  still in a reading funk since March!!   🙂   ), I do recommend it, especially if you are new to his works.


Stay safe and sane, and Happy Reading!

Weekly Mash-Up #95

Another Halloween in the books, and I can say this literally, haha!  I managed to meet my personal goal of reading 31 Halloween-inspired books (see my #31 below) and enjoyed a quiet weekend watching movies and reading.

Then there’s tomorrow.

I am posting this on the eve of the November 3 US Presidential elections.  I vowed to keep my blog politic-free when I started it, but I have to tell you all, for the first time with such an election I am truly scared.  No matter the outcome, there will be fallout for months, if not years.  I’m going to try to stay off of social media and avoid news channels tomorrow, watch some of my favorite sitcoms I have on DVD, and only come out of my self-imposed shelter when I have to.  **Deep breath**

But enough about the bad, lets focus on some good!!!

The Week in Books

The Dark Game by Jonathan Janz — 4 out of 5 stars

Book 31 of my Halloween challenge, I finished this around noon on Halloween!  One thing I love about Jonathan Janz is seeing him grow as an author.  While I didn’t really care for The Sorrows, one of his earlier works involving a bunch of people staying at a haunted castle on a remote island, The Dark Game (which has a bunch of people on a writer’s retreat/contest at a remote castle-like mansion in the woods) is so much better in so many ways.  Sure, there are the usual stereotypes, what horror story doesn’t have those, but they weren’t as cartoony (for lack of a better word) and the evil aspect was much more interesting.  Great read for Halloween!

Purple People by Kate Bulpitt — 3.5/4 out of 5 stars

3.5 stars, rounding up.  The UK government is turning criminals who engage in anti-social behavior purple, and Eve Baxter, a journalist with a tabloid-like news agency in the States, returns to her hometown to figure out the how and why behind the purpling.      There was a lot I enjoyed about this book, from the wit, the satire, and the prose.  What brought it down for me (and this is all personal opinion and nothing to do with the author’s writing) was the random focus on lost love opportunities.  It seemed like every time I came across a two page paragraph focusing on this, my mind would shut down and I would put the story away for several days.  Other than my own personal tics with the storyline, I thought this was well-written, entertaining, and great at social commentary without shoving it down the reader’s throat.  Recommend.

A Sick Gray Laugh by Nicole Cushing — 3 out of 5 stars

Not since Mark Danielewski’s House of Leaves have I been so utterly confused, yet strangely fascinated, with a book.  I can’t begin to explain this book, other than there are three distinct parts, and you’re basically reading a story as told by a mentally ill person spiraling into psychosis.  If you like a challenge, you might want to try this one.

Short Stories, Novellas, and Anthologies

Halloween is a great day to find horror freebies, and while it’s been hit or miss in the past, I managed to find some diamonds in the rough…

The Dark Side of the Room by Tyler Jones — 4 out of 5 stars

First, I want to thank BookDad Andrew for promoting this free novella on Halloween, I am now looking for anything written by this author!!  It’s a story about the descent into madness, or is it?  What’s real and what’s part of the dark corner??  I can’t describe this one in the way it deserves so I’ll just say read it and let me know what you think!!

Dollhouse by JC Bratton — 4 out of 5 stars

A man buys an antique dollhouse, complete with three dolls and a handwritten journal telling their eerie tales.  Only 25 pages long, this short story intrigued me and has me hoping Bratton will be writing longer stories in the future.  I saw a lot of potential in these tales and wished they were a bit longer to really create the creepy doll feel.

Sour Milk:  A Short, Sharp Horror Shock by Morgan Delaney — 4 out of 5 stars

An orphanage/school run by a sadistic woman and “Mr. Leonard.”  There’s a definite Psycho vibe going on, and trigger warning for child abuse.  But overall, it was a strange, horrific read and I would recommend it as long as you  make sure to read the author’s notes at the end of the book!!!


Please stay safe, stay healthy, and I will continue to say Happy Reading!!!

November — No Theme But Great Reads

At the end of July, I had my son pick out some books for my August theme, which I then postponed due to, well, shit hitting the fan around here.  Since I didn’t really have a theme set up for November, I thought I’d use my son’s picks for November…

After nearly two months of focusing on horror for my personal Halloween challenge, I have to say I’m really looking forward to these titles!  Ghost Girl and The Red Door are crime fiction/mysteries, both dealing with old crimes brought back to light.  Old School sounds like a nice quiet literary fiction choice, focusing on an out-of-place student at an exclusive prep school and a writing contest.    I asked my son how he decided on these three, the answer was simply “The titles.”  Can’t argue with that!

I’ll also be focusing on some recent giveaway wins, including the anthology Miami Noir: The Classics and Mrs. Claus and the Santaland Slayings (doesn’t that sound like a fun one?!?!)

Goodreads Group Reads

My groups have some great reading choices for November.

These three are ones I’ve read in the past, currently featured in different groups, and I recommend them all.  Fair warning though, The Vegetarian is a bit odd, no, just downright strange, but well worth the read.

Some other titles featured for November that I have put on my personal want-to-read list include:

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig — I really enjoyed Haig’s The Humans, so I can’t wait to read this fantasy about the universal library that holds all of our stories, even those not chosen, and raises the question “Would you be willing to change/redo your life?”

In My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg — If my local library hold on this wasn’t months long I would read this tomorrow.  And this coming from me, a person who avoids political-based memoirs as often as possible.  But I think this may be a book that, in this day and age, really needs to be read by everyone.


So what will you be reading in November?  Do you have a list or are you just taking it day by day?  Feel free to drop me a line and let me know, I love seeing what everyone is reading!  Until next time, stay safe, stay healthy, and for my American friends with the upcoming presidential election, please stay sane and get out there and vote!!!!

Happy Reading!