Thursday, October 21, 2021

Shadow on the Sun by Richard Matheson

 

In 2012, I listened to a collection of short stories written by Richard Matheson titled, The Box: Uncanny Stories by Richard Matheson, which was my first experience with Matheson's writing. I enjoyed The Box and have been meaning to read something else written by Richard Matheson ever since. 

I finally decided to give the unabridged audio version of Shadow on the Sun by Richard Matheson a go and loved this western/horror themed novel a lot... I enjoyed it more than I thought I would actually as generally westerns and horror books aren't big draws for me as a genre.

I really liked the setting for Shadow on the Sun. This novel is set in the southwest in the 1800s. It deals with the tense relations between Native Americans and a remote frontier community. A supernatural being begins to cause major trouble shortly after a truce agreement is drawn between the Native Americans and a remote frontier community making the frontier community fear that the Native Americans have decided not to uphold their end of the truce agreement between the two communities. When an unknown stranger arrives at the frontier community looking for a particular individual and acting strangely, the people begin to take notice... especially, when supernatural events start occurring.

I loved how Richard Matheson builds tension and suspense throughout Shadow on the SunShadow on the Sun is a short read, but filled with great writing and storytelling.

Below is the plot summary for Shadow on the Sun by Richard Matheson from Audible:

Southwest Arizona, a century ago: an uneasy truce exists between the remote frontier community of Picture City and the neighboring Apaches. That delicate peace is shredded when the bodies of two white men are found hideously mutilated. The angry townspeople are certain the “savages” have broken the treaty, but Billjohn Finley, the local Indian agent, fears that darker, more unholy forces may be at work. There’s a tall, dark stranger in town, who rode in wearing the dead men’s clothes. A stranger who may not be entirely human.

Originally published as a mass-market Western in 1994, Shadow on the Sun has been largely overlooked by horror fans and general readers. But this tale of supernatural terror is sure to chill the blood of Matheson’s many fans.

I am giving Shadow on the Sun by Richard Matheson a rating of 4.5 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

The Torment of Rachel Ames by Jeff Gunhus

 

The Torment of Rachel Ames by Jeff Gunhus is another audiobook that has been on my radar for a long time now. I finally decided to listen to the unabridged audio version this month as a way too ease into the Halloween spirit.

I think the storyline/plot summary is what initially drew me to The Torment of Rachel Ames by Jeff Gunhus. Overall, I felt this novella missed the mark in terms of how the storyline was executed. Early on, I became disinterested in what was happening to the main character and where the story was headed. To be honest, I almost gave up on this audiobook a couple of times. The last few chapters were the most captivating in my opinion.

Listening time for The Torment of Rachel Ames by Jeff Gunhus is 4 hours, 21 minutes. I did not like Lisa Stathoplos as a narrator, so I will try to avoid audiobooks with her as a narrator in the future.

Below is the summary for The Torment of Rachel Ames by Jeff Gunhus from Audible:

Suffering from writer's block, novelist Rachel Ames escapes to a lake cabin to calm her mind and regain a sense of herself. The location is perfect. Isolated. Beautiful. Inspiring. It even comes with a good-looking landlord who shows an interest in her. But she can't shake the sense that something terrible has followed her to the lake, something just beyond her consciousness, something out on the edge where the sounds of a raging fire and sirens linger whenever she slows down to listen. Determined to make the cabin work, she tries to settle in and give her new life a chance. But when strange things begin to happen around her, she wonders if she's made a terrible mistake. As the darkness that's followed her manifests itself in inexplicable ways, her concept of reality is stretched thin and she realizes nothing at the lake is what it seems. As she fights to survive with her sanity intact, she understands too late that the location she's chosen for herself is far from perfect.

I am giving The Torment of Rachel Ames by Jeff Gunhus a rating of 2 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Fantasticland by Mike Bockoven

 

In an effort to get into the Halloween spirit during the month of October this year, I've chosen to read books that fall into the horror genre and/or books that are scary, spooky, or otherwise have elements of what might be considered fitting as a Halloween read.

With this in mind, I chose to listen to the unabridged audio version of Fantasticland by Mike Bockoven and narrated by Angela Dawe and Luke Daniels.

Fantasticland by Mike Bockoven has been on the periphery in terms of something I may be interested in reading. After rereading the summary for Fantasticland, I decided to give this novel a go as it sounded engaging enough to read based on the storyline itself. Additionally, Fantasticland by Mike Bockoven has high praise from readers on Amazon.

I am glad that I listened to Fantasticland by Mike Bockoven. It's well written and very engaging from start to finish. Fantasticland has been billed as the modern take on Lord of the Flies... I've never read Lord of the Flies before, so I can't do a proper comparison to know if the two novels are anything a like. 

All I can say is that I LOVE the way Fantasticland by Mike Bockoven is formatted... The introduction is of a fictitious author setting up the scene for the way in which the story unfolds for Fantasticland... Each chapter after the introductory chapter is an interview of a person or employee who was either trapped at Fantasticland, a fictitious theme park in Florida, during a major hurricane or associated with the events that happened at Fantasticland in some way, shape, or form. The story each person shares in their interview about the grisly events that happened at the Fantasticland theme park while the employees were trapped onsite during the hurricane are gruesome!

The audio version of Fantasticland by Mike Bockoven is really well performed by both narrators, Angela Dawe and Luke Daniels. The audiobook gives listeners the feeling they are listening to a podcast. 

Below is the summary for Fantasticland by Mike Bockoven from Audible:

Since the 1970s, FantasticLand has been the theme park where "Fun is Guaranteed!" But when a hurricane ravages the Florida coast and isolates the park, the employees find it anything but fun. Five weeks later, the authorities who rescue the survivors encounter a scene of horror. Photos soon emerge online of heads on spikes outside of rides and viscera and human bones littering the gift shops, breaking records for hits, views, likes, clicks, and shares. How could a group of survivors, mostly teenagers, commit such terrible acts?

Presented as a fact-finding investigation and a series of first-person interviews, FantasticLand pieces together the grisly series of events. Park policy was that the mostly college-aged employees surrender their electronic devices to preserve the authenticity of the FantasticLand experience. Cut off from the world and left on their own, the teenagers soon form rival tribes who viciously compete for food, medicine, social dominance, and even human flesh. This new social network divides the ravaged dreamland into territories ruled by the Pirates, the ShopGirls, the Freaks, and the Mole People. If meticulously curated online personas can replace private identities, what takes over when those constructs are lost?

FantasticLand is a modern take on Lord of the Flies meets Battle Royale that probes the consequences of a social civilization built online.

I am giving Fantasticland by Mike Bockoven a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Lori Rader-Day in Conversation with Amy Stewart - Virtual Author Event Hosted by Murder by the Book

 

Murder by the Book Bookstore in Houston, Texas offers some of the best author events!! 

On Thursday, October 14, 2021 @ 5pm PST, I attended a virtual author event hosted by Murder by the Book featuring Lori Rader-Day in Conversation with Amy Stewart. 

I am familiar with Amy Stewart's writing as I've read a few of her books in the past and have seen her in person at three previous in person author events before the pandemic hit... However, Lori Rader-Day is a new to me author and her new novel, Death at Greenway, sounds divine!! If you love historical fiction/mysteries, then this may be the novel for you!! This novel is set in England at Greenway, which was Agatha Christie's home.

I enjoyed listening to both Any Stewart and Lori Rader-Day in conversation.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Wolf Hunt Trilogy by Jeff Strand



Jeff Strand, as a horror author, has been on my radar for quite some time now. I've had several of his novels on my reading wishlist, but haven't read any of his novels until now. 

I finally decided to listen to the unabridged audio version of Jeff Strand's Wolf Hunt Trilogy and narrated by Scott Thomas this month as a way to ease into the Halloween spirit.

I enjoyed this trilogy quite a bit!! The Wolf Hunt trilogy contains nonstop action from start to finish, which never makes for a dull moment... It was always interesting to see what would happen next in the series. 

If you love the idea of werewolves, then the Wolf Hunt trilogy may be right up your alley! But the Wolf Hunt trilogy is more than just werewolves... Meet George and Lou, low level thugs for hire, who's main duty is to transport a werewolf in human form to its final destination in the first installment of Wolf Hunt when things go VERY WRONG for George and Lou early on. George and Lou are great characters! Bad things seem to happen for them routinely. The fun and nonstop action follow George and Lou into the last two novels in the Wolf Hunt trilogy.

Jeff Strand has a wonderful sense of humor and I found myself laughing out lout several times throughout the entire the Wolf Hunt trilogy. The author is also a master for writing dialogue between characters and creating memorable characters.

Additionally, I think I have a new favorite narrator in Scott Thomas!! Kudos to Scott Thomas for bringing the Wolf Hunt trilogy to life. It'll be interesting to learn which other books he narrates.

Lastly, my goal this year was to read five trilogies and I have now completed that reading goal once I finished the Wolf Hunt trilogy!

Below is the summary for Wolf Hunt Trilogy by Jeff Strand from Audible:
All three of the hilariously bloody and action-packed werewolf novels in one collection!

Wolf Hunt - Meet George and Lou, thugs for hire. The kind of intimidating, yet friendly guys who will break your thumbs, but be polite about it. Their latest assignment is to drive across Florida to deliver some precious cargo to a crime lord. The cargo: a man in a cage. Though Ivan seems perfectly human, they’re warned that he is, in fact, a bloodthirsty werewolf.

George and Lou don’t believe in the supernatural, but even if they did, it’s daytime and tonight isn’t the full moon. Their instructions are straightforward: Do not open the cage. Do not reach into the cage. Do not throw anything into the cage. And they don't.

Unfortunately, Ivan doesn’t play by the usual werewolf rules, and the thugs find themselves suddenly responsible for a ferocious escaped beast. One who can transform at will. One who enjoys killing in human form as much as he enjoys killing as a monster.

If George and Lou want to save their careers, dozens of people, and their own lives, they need to recapture him. Because Ivan is in the mood for a murder spree...

Wolf Hunt 2 - George and Lou can't hide out forever, and when they're finally captured, it seems as if George and Lou's ultimate fate will involve being doused in gasoline and set aflame. Instead, they're given a second chance. There's another werewolf out there. This time, it's Ally, a 14-year-old girl.

Of course, this is George and Lou, so there are many, many complications. The worst of which is that they've now enraged three other extremely nasty werewolves...

Wolf Hunt 3 - George and Lou are forced to take a cross-country road trip to kill Asher Anderson, a cloak-wearing lycanthrope who would love to see a war between humans and werewolves.

Does everything go wrong? Of course it does. This is George and Lou, in their weirdest, most deranged adventure yet!
I am giving Wolf Hunt Trilogy by Jeff Strand a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Friday, October 15, 2021

WHY YOU SHOULD SIT ON YOUR LIBRARY BOARD & HOW TO GET INVOLVED

I came a cross a fascinating article online through Book Riot's website titled, WHY YOU SHOULD SIT ON YOUR LIBRARY BOARD by Tirzah Price. In the article, Tirzah Price wrote the following:
Most of us understand that our public libraries in the United States are funded by tax dollars and staffed by trained librarians, who take care of the day-to-day tasks of running a library and planning for the future. But who has a say in library policy, budgeting, and the direction of a public library? That would be your library’s board of trustees, who ideally represent the community that your library serves (also known as stakeholders). Who they are and what they do for the community should be something that all citizens and library users are aware of because, while they might not work in your public library, they can have a big impact on how it is run.

After reading the above mentioned article, I became interested in the library board in my area and discovered that there is a Library Advisory Committee (LAC) through the City of San Ramon.

I also discovered that there was a Library Advisory Committee (LAC) meeting hosted by the city via Zoom held on Thursday, October 14, 2021 at 7pm local time. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend this virtual Library Advisory Committee (LAC) meeting. I look forward to attending future meetings to see what they're all about.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

New to Me Little Free Libraries in Danville, California!!!

721 Via Hermosa - Danville, California 94526

317 Merrilee Place - Danville, California 94526

It's been awhile since I've discovered any new to me Little Free Libraries... Like roughly 2.5 months since I discovered new to me LFLs!

I had seven used books that I'd set aside to drop off at Little Free Libraries... So, last Sunday afternoon, my husband and I decided to do a drive out and enjoy the beautiful, sunny and warm weather. 

I was able to leave books at two new to us Little Free Libraries in the neighboring city of Danville! My favorite one is the one on Via Hermosa Drive as it is such a unique looking Little Free Library and has a bench to sit on during one's visit.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie Buddy-Read/Read-Along Hosted by Let's Read & Words and Peace

 

During the month of November 2021, Marianne @ Let's Read & Emma @ Words and Peace are hosting a Buddy-Read/Read-Along for Salman Rushdie's novel, The Satanic Verses.

I've never read The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie before, but I am quite aware of the controversy that this novel caused shortly after its release/publication in 1988.

I've finally decided to read The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie to discover if it lives up to the hype... Or at least see what all of the fuss is all about surrounding it. At the very least, I'll have other readers to discuss The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie with next month, which should be loads of fun!

Below is the reading schedule set by Marianne @ Let's Read & Emma @ Words and Peace.

1. November 1st: introductory post

2. Between November 8-12: questions + answers on the first 23% of the book (up to end of PART II. Stop before "Ellowen Deeowen")

3. Between Nov 15-19: questions + answers on the second quarter of the book (up to 46%, up to "Not I: another. Who?")

4. Between Nov 22-26: questions + answers on the third quarter of the book (up to 69:, up to "but in the low light of the tent it was impossible to be sure")

5. Between Nov 29-December 3: last quarter of the book and conclusion questions

So grab a copy of The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie and join us for The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie Buddy-Read/Read-Along!

Do you have questions about this Buddy-Read/Read-Along hosted by the ladies from Let's Read & Words and Peace? Then please reach out to either Marianne or Emma by clicking on one of the links above to be taken to either Marianne's blog or Emma's blog.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Virtual Author Event Featuring Kelly Mustian (The Girls in the Stilt House) and Hosted by the Greece Public Library in New York

 

Last month, I listened to and reviewed the unabridged audio version of The Girls in the Stilt House by Kelly Mustian. 

I truly enjoyed listening to The Girls in the Stilt House. So, when I discovered that the author, Kelly Mustian, was going to be virtually speaking at the Greece Public Library in New York on Wednesday, October 6th, I decided to attended the event via Zoom.

I'm so glad I attended this virtual author event. Kelly Mustian gave a short reading from her novel, The Girls in the Stilt House, talked about the novel, discussed her writing, and answered questions. 

Since I enjoyed The Girls in the Stilt House so much, I was eager to learn about what Kelly Mustian was currently writing/working on. She is working on another historical fiction novel that sounds delightful!! I look forward to its publication.

Have you attended any author events recently?

Friday, October 8, 2021

The Seance by John Harwood

 


My first experience reading anything written by John Harwood was back in January 2014 when I listened to his novel, The Asylum, on compact disc. 

Since it is the month of October, I've decided to read more spookier reads this month... And since, I enjoyed The Asylum, I decided to listen to the unabridged audio version of The Seance by John Harwood, which is well narrated by Fiona Hardingham, Simon Vance, and Katherine Kellgren.

I really enjoyed listening to The Seance by John Harwood. If you love Victorian Gothic novels and mysteries, then you'll enjoy this novel! There's a lot going on in The Seance by John Harwood, but the author makes it work and combines the storylines nicely in the end.

Below is the publisher's summary for The Seance by John Harwood from Audible:
A haunting tale of apparitions, a cursed manor house, and two generations of women determined to discover the truth, by the author of The Ghost Writer.

Sell the Hall unseen; burn it to the ground and plow the earth with salt, if you will; but never live there…

Constance Langton grows up in a household marked by death, her father distant, her mother in perpetual mourning for Constance's sister, the child she lost. Desperate to coax her mother back to health, Constance takes her to a séance; perhaps she will find comfort from beyond the grave. But the meeting has tragic consequences. Constance is left alone, her only legacy a mysterious bequest that will blight her life.

So begins this brilliant and gripping novel, a dark mystery set in late-Victorian England. It is a world of apparitions, of disappearances and unnatural phenomena, of betrayal and blackmail and black-hearted villains - and of murder. Constance's bequest comes in two parts: a house and a mystery. Years before, a family disappeared at Wraxford Hall, a decaying mansion in the English countryside with a sinister reputation. Now the Hall belongs to Constance, and she must descend into the darkness at the heart of the Wraxford mystery to find the truth - even at the cost of her life.
I am giving The Seance by John Harwood a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Friday, October 1, 2021

Fright Fall Readathon October 2021

 

I'm in the mood to read some scary themed books during the month of October. I have five to six books that fall into the horror genre that I would like to read this month. So, I decided to sign up and participate in the Fright Fall Readathon October 2021 hosted by Seasons of Reading!

Below is a blurb about the Fright Fall Readathon October 2021:
We start at 12:00 am eastern time on October 1st and end at 11:59 pm eastern time on October 31st. (There is a handy link to a time zone converter in the sidebar menu.) I hope you're ready to get your scary on! Guidelines for the readathon can be found HERE or you can access in the sidebar menu. Any information you need about the readathon can be found there. Please do be sure to check the guidelines to make sure you're following along correctly. There are specific rules regarding sign up and wrap up, especially in regards to the giveaway.

The one main "rule" of FrightFall is that you must read at least ONE scary book (which can be a thriller, mystery, Gothic novel, or similar for those who are faint of heart). I hope you will indulge the scary beyond the one book, but that is entirely up to you. It is all about the reading after all.

I hope you join me in reading a few scary books this month!! And click on the above link if you'd like to join the Fright Fall Readathon October 2021.

Happy reading!! 

Matrix by Lauren Groff

 

I have never read anything by Lauren Groff before, until now... But her previous books have been on my radar for quite a while. When I discovered Lauren Groff had come out with a new novel near the beginning of September and that sounded like a wonderful read, I couldn't resist reading her newest novel, Matrix.

I am so glad that I listened to the unabridged audio version of Matrix by Lauren Groff and narrated by Adjoa Andoh. Matrix falls into the category of medieval fiction and women's religious fiction set in England primarily at an impoverished abbey.

The writing for Matrix by Lauren Groff is very well done and very atmospheric in parts. At times, I felt like I was right in the thick of the action, Groff's writing is that good. 

Matrix is definitely a feminist novel. I also think that the plot summary's description that this novel is a "timely exploration of the raw power of female creativity" is most definitely true as Marie de France is a force of nature to be reckoned with... And her feat at turning the abbey around is something to behold.

As a side note, let me add that I am glad I was never a nun during this time period. What a difficult life they lived!!

Listening time for Matrix by Lauren Groff is 8 hours, 51 minutes.

Below is the plot summary for Matrix by Lauren Groff from Audible:

Cast out of the royal court by Eleanor of Aquitaine, deemed too coarse and rough-hewn for marriage or courtly life, 17-year-old Marie de France is sent to England to be the new prioress of an impoverished abbey, its nuns on the brink of starvation and beset by disease.

At first taken aback by the severity of her new life, Marie finds focus and love in collective life with her singular and mercurial sisters. In this crucible, Marie steadily supplants her desire for family, for her homeland, for the passions of her youth with something new to her: devotion to her sisters, and a conviction in her own divine visions. Marie, born the last in a long line of women warriors and crusaders, is determined to chart a bold new course for the women she now leads and protects. But in a world that is shifting and corroding in frightening ways, one that can never reconcile itself with her existence, will the sheer force of Marie’s vision be bulwark enough?

Equally alive to the sacred and the profane, Matrix gathers currents of violence, sensuality, and religious ecstasy in a mesmerizing portrait of consuming passion, aberrant faith, and a woman that history moves both through and around. Lauren Groff’s new novel, her first since Fates and Furies, is a defiant and timely exploration of the raw power of female creativity in a corrupted world.

I am giving Matrix by Lauren Groff a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Cirque du Freak: A Living Nightmare (Cirque du Freak #1) by Darren Shan

 


Cirque du Freak: A Living Nightmare (Cirque du Freak #1) by Darren Shan is a surprise read for me this year. It's not a book that had been on my radar, but the storyline and reviews of this novel and series reeled me in. I listened to the unabridged audio version of this young adult/fantasy novel, which is the 1st novel in the Cirque du Freak series.

I absolutely enjoyed Cirque du Freak: A Living Nightmare (Cirque du Freak #1) by Darren Shan!! The writing and storytelling is fabulous. Ralph Lister is a magical narrator and made listening to Cirque du Freak come alive.

The story revolves around Darren Shan and his best friend, Steve, attending a performance of Cirque du Freak. They must attend in secret as freak shows are illegal and their parents wouldn't allow them to attend the event most likely even if the shows weren't illegal.

Darren and Steve love the freak show and the various performances within the show... There is even a poisonous spider that performs in the freak show, which Darren loves as he loves spiders. 

However, things go south fast when Steve recognizes a performer, Mr. Crepsley, and that Mr. Crepsley is a vampire. Steve decides to confront Mr. Crepsley after the show and asks him to turn him into a vampire, which Mr. Crepsley flatly declines to do. Steve isn't happy with Mr. Crepsley's answer, period and says things to Mr. Crepsley that don't sit right with Darren. Darren begins social distancing himself from Steve.

Things become more interesting when Darren decides to steal Mr. Crepsley's poisonous spider. Darren must hide/keep the spider secret from his family as they would never let him keep the spider. Darren works with spider in gaining its trust and training it to do tricks. But, of course, Steve stops by for a visit with Darren who now has to explain why he's been avoiding Steve... Darren shows Steve the poisonous spider... And wouldn't you know it, Steve is bitten by the spider and is rushed to the hospital unconscious.

Things turn even more interesting at this point for Darren in order to save Steve and I'll leave it at that to avoid spoiling the ending.

Below is the summary for Cirque du Freak: A Living Nightmare (Cirque du Freak #1) by Darren Shan from Audible:
In the tradition of Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes and Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot, New York Times best-seller Cirque du Freak is the first title in the popular Saga of Darren Shan series.

Darren Shan and his best friend, Steve, get tickets to the Cirque du Freak, a wonderfully gothic freak show featuring weird, frightening half human/half animals who interact terrifyingly with the audience. In the midst of the excitement, true terror raises its head when Steve recognizes that one of the performers - Mr. Crepsley - is a vampire!

Steve confronts the vampire after the show finishes - but his motives are surprising! In the shadows of a crumbling theater, a horrified Darren eavesdrops on his friend and the vampire, and is witness to a monstrous, disturbing plea. As if by destiny, Darren is pulled to Mr. Crepsley and what follows is his horrifying descent into the dark and bloody world of vampires.

This is Darren’s story.
I am giving Cirque du Freak: A Living Nightmare (Cirque du Freak #1) by Darren Shan a rating of 5 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

The Girls in the Stilt House by Kelly Mustian



The Girls in the Stilt House by Kelly Mustian was published earlier this year on April 6, 2021. I first learned about this historical fiction novel set in Mississippi from another book blogger (I have forgotten which book blogger off the top of my head) who loved this novel! 

So, I decided to listen to the unabridged audio version of The Girls in the Stilt House by Kelly Mustian and narrated by Johanna Parker. Listening time for this novel is 9 hours, 56 minutes.

I'm glad I read The Girls in the Stilt House by Kelly Mustian. It's a good read, but I didn't care for the narration of this novel. The southern accent felt off to me, so I wish I'd read the book instead of listened to it.

The Girls in the Stilt House by Kelly Mustian is a debut novel by the author and it is impressive for a first novel. Overall the writing was good. So is the storyline/plot... However, at times I felt like the pace of The Girls in the Stilt House was slow. 

My favorite character from The Girls in the Stilt House is Gertie/“Miss Tuttle", who is an elderly, colored midwife/nurse who is filled with so much wisdom. Gertie/“Miss Tuttle" is a true treasure within the community.

Below is the plot summary for The Girls in the Stilt House by Kelly Mustian from Amazon:

Set in 1920s Mississippi, this debut Southern novel weaves a beautiful and harrowing story of two teenage girls cast in an unlikely partnership through murder—perfect for readers of Where the Crawdads Sing and If the Creek Don't Rise.

Ada promised herself she would never go back to the Trace, to her hard life on the swamp and her harsh father. But now, after running away to Baton Rouge and briefly knowing a different kind of life, she finds herself with nowhere to go but back home. And she knows there will be a price to pay with her father.

Matilda, daughter of a sharecropper, is from the other side of the Trace. Doing what she can to protect her family from the whims and demands of some particularly callous locals is an ongoing struggle. She forms a plan to go north, to pack up the secrets she's holding about her life in the South and hang them on the line for all to see in Ohio.

As the two girls are drawn deeper into a dangerous world of bootleggers and moral corruption, they must come to terms with the complexities of their tenuous bond and a hidden past that links them in ways that could cost them their lives.

I am giving The Girls in the Stilt House by Kelly Mustian a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday - Freebie - My Favorite New To Me Authors of 2021


Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl. Top Ten Tuesday was originally created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

I have come across several new to me authors this year and have read some wonderful books in the process... And by new to me, I mean either I'd never heard or read anything by the author before OR as in the case of Ursula K. Le Guin, I'd heard of the author before, but had never read any of their books until this year.


1. Darcie Wilde



2. Susan Gregg Gilmore


3. Jennifer J. Chow


4. Gary D. Schmidt


5. Lily King


6. Ursula K. Le Guin


7. Xhenet Aliu


8. A. G. Howard




9. Anna Banks




10. Sherri L. Smith


Have you read any books written by any of the above mentioned authors?

Monday, September 27, 2021

Love in the Light (Hearts in Darkness #2) by Laura Kaye

 
I enjoyed reading the Love in the Light (Hearts in Darkness #2) by Laura Kaye, which is the follow-up to Laura Kaye's Hearts in Darkness (Hearts in Darkness Duet Book 1)

I am a sucker for well written contemporary romance and erotica reads and the 'Hearts in Darkness' duology is a winner. I read the first ebook in the series last month and was eager to read the follow up ebook, Love in the Light (Hearts in Darkness #2) by Laura Kaye, this month.

Love in the Light (Hearts in Darkness #2) by Laura Kaye delves into the newly blossomed romance between Makenna and Caden that began in the previous ebook. Their romance skyrockets quickly and soon Makenna brings Caden home to meet her family over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. 

A couple of small bumps over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend become a huge problem for Caden that leave him feeling unworthy of Makenna's love and has his PTSD flaring up big time to the point that his mental and physical health begin to spin out of control. Caden steps back from the relationship without discussing what's going on in any major detail, which leaves Makenna heartbroken and desperate to fix the situation. 

Will Caden and Makenna's young romance survive? Reading their trials and tribulations makes one wonder if it will.

 Overall, I enjoyed reading Love in the Light (Hearts in Darkness #2) by Laura Kaye. It isn't a perfect read by any means, but a fun and engaging read... An easy, breezy escape for the perfect getaway from reality.

Below is a summary for Love in the Light (Hearts in Darkness #2) by Laura Kaye from Amazon:
Two hearts in the darkness…

Makenna James and Caden Grayson have been inseparable since the scorching night they were trapped in a pitch-black elevator. But they're not strangers anymore, and Makenna hopes that night put them on the path to forever. All that stands in the way is introducing her tattooed, pierced, and scarred boyfriend to her father and over-protective brothers.

Must fight for love in the light…

Haunted by a childhood tragedy and the loss of his family, Caden never thought he’d find the kind of red-hot love he shares with Makenna. But the deeper he falls, the more he fears the devastation sure to come when he loses her, too. When secrets are revealed and the past threatens the present, Caden questions whether Makenna deserves more than he can give. Maybe they’re just too different—and he’s far too damaged—after all…
I am giving Love in the Light (Hearts in Darkness #2) by Laura Kaye a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars. 

Until my next post, happy reading!

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Banned Books Week 2021



Banned Books Week is an annual event I love!!
I don't like the idea of books being banned or censored
in any way. So for me, it is important to promote the end of censorship or banning reading material.

Usually, I read at least one (but usually more) books that have been banned or censored in some way, shape, or form each year.
Furthermore, I try to read at least one banned book during 
Banned Books Week itself.
This year, however, I have no plans to read a banned/censored book
during Banned Books Week. 

I have yet to read a banned/censored book this year.
I do plan to read The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
later this year with an online group that is hosting a read-a-long 
and discussion of this novel with others, which should be a fun adventure. I've never read The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie before, but have heard plenty of hubbub about it since its publication in 1988.

Are you doing anything special to celebrate Banned Books Week?

Below is a video from YouTube featuring Jason Reynolds, the honorary chair for Banned Books Week 2021, discussing this year's
Banned Books Week theme.





Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Describe Yourself Book Tag


I found this book tag via Marianne's blog @ Let's read! The idea is to answer the questions with the titles of the books you've read in 2020... Well, not all the book titles I read during 2020 were appropriate enough to answer the following questions. So, I decided to choose books I've read over the years.

If you decide to participate in the 'Describe Yourself Book Tag', leave me a link in the comments section so that I can check out your post.

Here are my answers to the 'Describe Yourself Book Tag' as follows:

Describe yourself: Becoming by Michelle Obama

How do you feel: Asleep by Banana Yoshimoto

Describe where you currently live: Such A Quiet Place by Megan Miranda

If you could go anywhere, where would you go: 
Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate) by Amy Thomas

Your favorite form of transportation: 
The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson

Your best friend is: Pack of Two by Caroline Knapp

You and your friends are: 
The Girls by Lori Lansens

What’s the weather like: Out Came The Sun by Mariel Hemingway

You fear: The Witches by Roald Dahl

What is the best advice you have to give: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Thought for the day: 
Only Time Will Tell by Jeffery Archer

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim

 

I absolutely adore the 1991 film adaptation of the novel, The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim, and have watched the film quite a few times over the years. I've wanted to read The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim ever since watching the film adaptation of this novel, but never did until now for various reasons.

So finally, almost 30 years after watching the film adaptation of The Enchanted April for the first time, I decided to listen to the unabridged audio version of The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim and narrated by Nadia May. 

The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim was first published almost a century ago in 1922. It's a good classic, historical fiction novel. But frankly, I enjoyed the movie adaptation a bit more than I did the novel... There's only been a couple of times where I've enjoyed the movie version more than the novel itself and this was definitely one of those times.

The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim starts off well enough and even ends well enough, but the middle of the novel has its ups and downs for me... On the one hand, I enjoyed reading about what each of the four female main characters was thinking in more detail as they arrive and begin to unwind during their month long vacation/stay at a medieval castle in Italy. 

Each main of the four main character couldn't be more different from the other in terms of age and class... Being female, English, and their shared need to leave the dreary weather of London, England seemed to be their only common thread at the start of the novel. The insights to each woman's inner thoughts gave readers an enlightening perspective to their personal desires/thoughts and a glimpse of what a woman's life was like during this time period. But learning about their inner thoughts became too much after a while. I wish some of it had been pared down a bit quite frankly. 

I enjoyed the interactions between the characters in The Enchanted April and learning about where they were staying the most. Plus, seeing the transformation of each of the main characters by the novel's ending was also an added perk.

Listening time for The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim is 8 hours, 13 minutes. The narration for this novel was decent enough.

Below is the plot summary for The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim from Audible:

Four very diverse women, all seeking revitalization and escape from the dreary February rains of 1920s London, rent the small medieval castle of San Salvatore, nestled high above the bay of Portofino, Italy. Arriving at San Salvatore, they find it awash with the scent of flowers, its olive groves terracing down to the sun-warmed sea.

Mrs. Wilkins and Mrs. Arbuthnot are glad to leave their insipid duties and unresponsive husbands behind; the elderly Mrs. Fisher wishes only to sit in the sun and replay her youthful memories; and the bewitchingly beautiful Lady Caroline Dester desires to have seclusion from all adoring suitors. A month of blissful privacy at San Salvatore promises to be the remedy each of them is looking for. Amid the canopies of fragrant wisteria, in the sweet sunshine and melodious silence, four lives are transformed and resuscitated by the magic of San Salvatore.

I am giving The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Monday, September 20, 2021

First Edition Copy of 'Frankenstein' by Mary Shelley Sells for $1.17 Million Dollars at Auction!!

 Wow, simply wow, at the sheer fact that a first edition copy of Mary Shelley's novel, Frankenstein, sells for $1.17 million dollars at auction.

I learned about the recent auction through an online article from CNN titled, First edition copy of 'Frankenstein' sells for over $1 million at auction by Kaanita Iyer. In the article, Kaanita Iyer wrote the following:

Christie's, which hosted the auction, estimated the book would go for $200,000 to $300,000. But by selling for nearly four to six times as much, the book set a record for the highest price paid for a published work by a woman, according to Fine Books Magazine.

I think it's pretty cool that Frankenstein set the record for the highest price paid for a published work written by a woman.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Lady Killers: Deadly Women Throughout History by Tori Telfer

 

Lady Killers: Deadly Women Throughout History by Tori Telfer is a book that has been on my reading wishlist for quite a while. I listened to the unabridged audio version of Lady Killers: Deadly Women Throughout History by Tori Telfer, which was narrated by Sarah Mollo-Christensen.

I am a fan of true crime and in 2019, I thoroughly enjoyed Whoever Fights Monsters: My Twenty Years Tracking Serial Killers for the FBI by Robert K. Ressler and Tom Shachtman... However, the focus of this nonfiction book was on male serial killers, not women serial killers. In fact, the only female serial killer I knew a little about at the time was Aileen Wuornos.

I am happy that I finally listened to Lady Killers: Deadly Women Throughout History by Tori Telfer as it focuses on several women serial killers (15+) throughout history and from different countries around the world. All of the women serial killers discussed in Lady Killers: Deadly Women Throughout History by Tori Telfer were ones I'd never heard of before. The writing for Lady Killers: Deadly Women Throughout History by Tori Telfer was good and I enjoyed the flow of this book. The narration was decent as well.

Below is the summary for Lady Killers: Deadly Women Throughout History by Tori Telfer from Audible:

When you think of serial killers throughout history, the names that come to mind are likely Jack the Ripper, John Wayne Gacy, and Ted Bundy. But what about Tillie Klimek, Moulay Hassan, and Kate Bender?

The narrative we're comfortable with is one where women are the victims of violent crime - not the perpetrators. In fact, serial killers are thought to be so universally male that, in 1998, FBI profiler Roy Hazelwood infamously declared that there are no female serial killers. Inspired by Telfer's Jezebel column of the same name, Lady Killers disputes that claim and offers 14 gruesome examples as evidence.

Although largely forgotten by history, female serial killers rival their male counterparts in cunning, cruelty, and appetite. Each chapter explores the crimes and history of a different female serial killer and then proceeds to unpack her legacy and her portrayal in the media as well as the stereotypes and sexist clichés that inevitably surround her.

I am giving Lady Killers: Deadly Women Throughout History by Tori Telfer 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Monday, September 13, 2021

Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu

 

I'd put off reading Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu for various reasons... I was mildly concerned that Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu wouldn't live up to the hype because it had won the 2020 National Book Award and also because so many people seemed to be talking about this novel last year.

Curiosity got the better of me though, so I decided to listen to the unabridged audio version of Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu and narrated by Joel de la Fuente earlier this month. 

I enjoyed Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu much more than I expected I would. This novel is written like a screenplay, which made it all the more unique. 

I must also add that listening to Joel de la Fuente narrate Interior Chinatown was a true pleasure... In fact, I may have liked Interior Chinatown just that much more as an audiobook than I would probably have if I had simply read this novel instead.

Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu is a satire that focuses on the stereotypes that befall Asian Americans in a way new and engaging way that makes one think about "race, pop culture, immigration, and assimilation." If you like satire, then this novel is a good one.

Listening time for Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu is 4 hours, 20 minutes.

Below is the plot summary for Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu from Audible:

A 2020 National Book Award Winner

"One of the funniest books of the year...a delicious, ambitious Hollywood satire." (The Washington Post)

From the infinitely inventive author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe comes a deeply personal novel about race, pop culture, immigration, assimilation, and escaping the roles we are forced to play.

Willis Wu doesn’t perceive himself as a protagonist even in his own life: He’s merely Generic Asian man. Sometimes he gets to be Background Oriental Making a Weird Face or even Disgraced Son, but he is always relegated to a prop. Yet every day he leaves his tiny room in a Chinatown SRO and enters the Golden Palace restaurant, where Black and White, a procedural cop show, is in perpetual production. He’s a bit player here, too, but he dreams of being Kung Fu Guy - the most respected role that anyone who looks like him can attain. At least that’s what he has been told, time and time again. Except by one person, his mother. Who says to him: Be more.

Playful but heartfelt, a send-up of Hollywood tropes and Asian stereotypes, Interior Chinatown is Charles Yu’s most moving, daring, and masterly novel yet.

I am giving Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Out Came the Sun: Overcoming the Legacy of Mental Illness, Addiction, and Suicide in My Family by Mariel Hemingway

 

I listened to the unabridged audio version of Out Came the Sun: Overcoming the Legacy of Mental Illness, Addiction, and Suicide in My Family by Mariel Hemingway and the author narrates her memoir. 

Listening time for Out Came the Sun: Overcoming the Legacy of Mental Illness, Addiction, and Suicide in My Family by Mariel Hemingway is 9 hours, 7 minutes.

In general, I enjoy reading or listening to memoirs, and listening to Out Came the Sun: Overcoming the Legacy of Mental Illness, Addiction, and Suicide in My Family by Mariel Hemingway was no exception. 

However, I must admit that I was surprised to find myself listening to Out Came the Sun: Overcoming the Legacy of Mental Illness, Addiction, and Suicide in My Family by Mariel Hemingway this month as I'd never really been that interested in Mariel Hemingway's life in the slightest. I am not even sure I've ever seen any of the movies she has acted in over the course of her life. But for whatever reason the subtitle of Mariel Hemingway's memoir caught my attention and had me intrigued, so decided to give her memoir a go.

Surprisingly, I found Mariel Hemingway's memoir to be excellent overall. I enjoyed learning about most aspects of her life, although some areas of her life were not as interesting as other areas. I think the best take away for me was how well written and organized Mariel Hemingway's memoir was. She also devotes an appendix to resources for drug/alcohol addiction, mental health resources, eating disorders, and lifestyle health at the end of her memoir.

Below is a summary for Out Came the Sun: Overcoming the Legacy of Mental Illness, Addiction, and Suicide in My Family by Mariel Hemingway from Audible:
A moving, compelling memoir about growing up and escaping the tragic legacy of mental illness, suicide, addiction, and depression in one of America's most famous families: the Hemingways.

She opens her eyes. The room is dark. She hears yelling, smashed plates, and wishes it was all a terrible dream. But it isn't. This is what it was like growing up as a Hemingway. In this deeply moving, searingly honest new memoir, actress and mental health icon Mariel Hemingway shares in candid detail the story of her troubled childhood in a famous family haunted by depression, alcoholism, illness, and suicide. Born just a few months after her grandfather, Ernest Hemingway, shot himself, it was Mariel's mission as a girl to escape the desperate cycle of severe mental health issues that had plagued generations of her family. Surrounded by a family tortured by alcoholism (Mariel's parents), depression (her sister, Margaux), suicide (her grandfather and four other members of her family), schizophrenia (her sister, Muffet), and cancer (her mother), it was all the young Mariel could do to keep her head. In a compassionate voice, she reveals her painful struggle to stay sane as the youngest child in her family, coping with the chaos by becoming obsessive about her food, schedule, and organization.

The twisted legacy of her family has never quite let go of Mariel, but in this memoir she opens up about her claustrophobic marriage, her faltering acting career, and her turning to spiritual healers and charlatans for solace. Mariel has ultimately written a story of triumph about learning to overcome her family's demons and developing love and deep compassion for them. At last she can tell the true story of the tragedies and troubles of the Hemingway family, and she delivers an audiobook that beckons comparisons with Mary Karr and Jeanette Walls.

I am giving Out Came the Sun: Overcoming the Legacy of Mental Illness, Addiction, and Suicide in My Family by Mariel Hemingway a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!