Tuesday, October 26, 2021

The Vampire's Assistant (Cirque du Freak #2) by Darren Shan


I read and reviewed Cirque du Freak: A Living Nightmare (Cirque du Freak #1) by Darren Shan last month. I totally enjoyed this children's book and decided to continue the Cirque du Freak series for the Fright Fall Readathon during the month of October... And what better way to celebrate the upcoming Halloween holiday than by reading a spooky novel with vampires, the wolf man, and other nonhuman creatures?

I listened to the unabridged audio version of The Vampire's Assistant (Cirque du Freak #2) by Darren Shan and narrated by Ralph Lister.

Once again, Ralph Lister's narration proved to be superb. Ralph Lister narrated the previous novel in the Cirque du Freak series as well. 

The writing for The Vampire's Assistant is wonderfully delightful! I can see why it has been a popular series for children over the years. The characters are fun and well developed. I liked the storyline very much for The Vampire's Assistant.

The main character, Darren Shan (half vampire), is very lonely traveling alone with Mr. Crepsley (a full vampire) from place to place. So Mr. Crepsley decides to return to the Cirque du Freak with Darren so that Darren may make friends with children his own age at the circus. Of course, many adventures and misadventures ensue along the way, which make for great fun to read about.

Below is the summary for The Vampire's Assistant (Cirque du Freak #2) by Darren Shan from Audible:

The nightmare continues for the new vampire's assistant in the second installment of the New York Times best-selling Saga of Darren Shan.

Darren Shan was just an ordinary schoolboy until his visit to the Cirque du Freak. Now, as he struggles with his new life as a vampire's assistant, he tries desperately to resist the one temptation that sickens him, the one thing that can keep him alive. But destiny is calling. The Wolf Man is waiting.

I am giving The Vampire's Assistant (Cirque du Freak #2) by Darren Shan a rating of 5 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Monday, October 25, 2021

California Book Club Presents Maxine Hong Kingston Discussing Her Legendary Memoir, 'The Woman Warrior'

 

I admit that I have yet  to read The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston. But her memoir is currently on my reading wishlist.

On Thursday, October 21, 2021, I enjoyed attending another wonderful virtual author event hosted by the California Book Club.

After hearing Maxine Hong Kingston discuss her memoir, The Woman Warrior, which was published in 1976, I want to read it more than ever. It sounds so unique in terms of how a memoir is normally written.

Have you read The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston? If so, what did you think of it?

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Dolly: A Ghost Story by Susan Hill


Once again, I've chosen another horror themed audiobook to listen to during the month of October in honor of Halloween. This time it is a "ghost themed" audiobook titled, Dolly: A Ghost Story by Susan Hill and narrated by Cameron Stewart.

Dolly: A Ghost Story by Susan Hill is a short story and listening time is 3 hours, 16 minutes. This audiobook started out slowly, but soon picked up rather quickly and grabbed my attention. The story itself is told through Edward's point of view as he recounts his life pertaining to part of his youth spent with his aunt and young cousin, Lenora, and how this time period effected events his life and Lenora's as well. 

I didn't like the two main characters, Edward or Lenora, very much. Although, I did have a lot of sympathy for Edward's character. Anyway, I wasn't keen on many of the characters in Dolly, mainly because most of them didn't have much depth to them or they were too one dimensional. 

The ending for Dolly: A Ghost Story by Susan Hill was intriguing, but  not what I was expecting. This is the second short story I've read and reviewed by Susan Hill. I think I'll pass on anything else written by her in the future.

Below is the plot summary for Dolly: A Ghost Story by Susan Hill from Audible:
A chilling ghost story from the author of The Woman in Black, set in a crumbling English house...

The remoter parts of the English Fens are forlorn, lost, and damp even in the height of summer. At Iyot Lock, a large decaying house, two young cousins, Leonora and Edward, are parked for the summer with their aging spinster aunt and her cruel housekeeper. At first the unpleasantness and petty meanness appear simply spiteful, calculated to destroy Edward's equanimity. But when the spoiled Leonora is not given the birthday present of a specific dolly that she wants, affairs inexorably take a much darker turn with terrifying, life-destroying consequences for everyone.
I am giving Dolly: A Ghost Story by Susan Hill a rating of 3 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

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!!