The Good, The Bad and the Ugly otherwise known as the February Wrap-up

I am going to call this feature The Good, The Bad and The Ugly from now on. There were some amazing reads this month and not so amazing reads. Here is the obligatory disclaimer…this is my experience with each one of these books. Someone else may enjoy them more then I did..this is in no way anything to do with my feelings about the author. With that out of the way lets get started shall we:

The Good: 3-5 stars (Books that I thought were good – books I thought were amaze balls)

– Starlings by Jo Walton – 5

– Fire in the Ocean by K.D. Keenan – 4

– Everything That’s Underneath by Kristi DeMeester – 5

– Hell Hound by Ken Greenhall – 5

– The Sisters Mederos by Patrice Smith – 4

– Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman – 5

– The Crossing by Jason Mott – 4.5

– Beneath by Kristi DeMeester – 5

– The Book Collector by Alice Thompson – 5

– The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo – 5

The Bad: 1-2 stars

– Futura by Jordan Philips

The Ugly: Books that I DNFed

– Fayroll More Than A Game by A. Vasilyev: Now here is why I DNFed this book. It was basically Elder Scrolls in book form. It was not what I expected…From the synopsis I thought it was going to be more like Ready Player One. Sorry…Just couldn’t finish it.

I don’t like to DNF books. I really give it the old college try. I give them about 100 pages and if I am not hooked or I find that I am not enjoying the book it does not get rated I just put it in The Ugly pile. Books that aren’t pictured are locked in my kindle.

The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

I am a absolute sucker for fairytales. The darker and sadder the better. There is so much history that is wrapped around fairytales. During the years they have been changed and watered down to less gruesome and scary tales.  I do love a good retelling…So with that in mind I bought The Language of Thorns and I was not disappointed.

Summary: Short fairytales and folklore based in the Grishaverse.

What I liked: Bardugo didn’t spare the darkness in her folk and fairytales and I loved it. My favorite story was The Witch of Duva. It was dark and haunting. I liked that it stood alone, you didn’t have to read Grisha trilogy. The writing is beautiful and HOLY illustrations. The book is just beautiful there are no other words to say it. The dust jacket it beautiful…the book is beautiful naked and I won’t even go into the illustrations on the pages.

What I didn’t like: I wasn’t partial to the retelling of The Nutcracker and The Little Knife was a bit slow. That wasn’t down to Bardugo’s writing but just my own preferences and reading style.

Star Rating: 5

My thoughts: I truly enjoyed this book. I’ve not read anything else by Bardugo but I will be picking up some more of her writing. This is one of those books that you hug after you finish reading it.

Different places through time….

As I was driving to Krispy Kreme this morning (don’t judge). I was thinking about how international reading is. I was looking at my bookshelves thinking: Norway, Russia, France, Ancient Greece, England, America, Italy and Japan. All these books were written in different countries and many at different periods in human history.

The oldest book in this stack is The Republic by Plato written in Ancient Greece and then translated countless times over the centuries. In it’s pages you get to learn about Plato’s society. So in essence you are traveling back in time, without the use of a tardis or a wobbly wobbly timey wimey thing. (Yeah I love Dr. Who). Or just in that stack of books you can travel to feudal Norway with Kristin Lavrandatter. The book was written much later but you still get a understanding what Norway and the social structure was like in the 1620s. Or take for instance Madame Bovary I got a very small glimpse into the life of a very unhappy women in France during the 1850s. I’ve been privileged enough to be all these different people.

I love each of these books for that reason. I got to time travel and travel outside of my own country and in my head experience so many different lives. Even at the ripe ole age of 41 I still find books amazing. They can take you wherever and whenever you want to go.

The Book Collector by Alice Thompson

Spooky dark houses with secrets and perfect people who don’t necessarily seem quite right are my favorite stories. Add a touch of mayhem and madness, I am totally in. A story I read in college The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman was a story that started out with something mundane and and it became madding. Granted the protagonist in The Yellow Wallpaper was suffering from postpartum depression. The Book Collector reminded me of The Yellow Wallpaper, something mundane being used as a touchstone to madness.

Summary: Edwardian England a seemingly perfect marriage descends into madness when the wife becomes fixated on a particular book.

What I liked: I have no idea how Thompson did it but the atmosphere in this book is amazing! Sunny with the hint of creepy underneath it. I read this book in one sitting and was absolutely creeped out the entire time. The main characters descent into madness was amazingly written. I loved this book. The ending was brilliant and I found I was cheering the main character.

What I didn’t like: I would have liked a firmer ending to the horrors that her husband was committing. I was a little deflated when it was all just spelled out in a couple of pages. But this did not take away from my enjoyment of the story.

Star Rating: 5

My Thoughts: Thompson’s writing was beautiful and truly conveys the horror of the household. The loss of the characters self and the madness in which she finds herself was everything that I remembered from Gilman’s work as well. I am going to be purchasing more of Thompson’s books.

Beneath by Kristi DeMeester

My grandfather was involved with evangelicals at some point; he was one of those people that tried every religion and read deeply on a wide variety of subjects. He was a deeply spiritual man not necessarily religious but spiritual. One of our family antic-dotes regarding my grandfather was the time he a theology student out of returning to the seminary. I have no idea how he did this just that he did it. While living in North Carolina I saw a few tent revivals but I never stopped to have a conversation with any of the people that attended the services. Maybe, I should have, I might have learned something.

Summary: A reporter with a dark secret is sent to investigate a snake handling cult in North Carolina.

What I liked: This book was incredible. Beneath starts with a very banal story. Which then twists and turns to a more dark and sinister place. The more the story progresses the more twists and turns there are. Even though this is a horror story DeMeester’s writing is beautiful. It is full and well rounded. The characters are well fleshed out and have likable and dislikable characteristics. There are many sections of the story which basically read like a nightmare.

What I didn’t like: The only thing I didn’t necessarily like was Michael’s ending. With that being said it did not take away from my enjoyment of the story.

Star Rating: 5

My thoughts: I love DeMeester’s writing style. It fits the story she is telling perfectly. The scene that she sets is so dark and atmospheric it is like you are walking through it yourself. Her characters are fleshed out and well rounded. She is quickly becoming my favorite female horror writer.

The Crossing by Jason Mott

I am a big fan of dystopian books. The stories don’t tend to be deep and are normally fast paced. But The Crossing really surprised me. I didn’t know what I was expecting…maybe the ruins of humanity type situation but this book was so much more. The Crossing was more about interpersonal relationships set in the background of what amounts to the apocalypse. I don’t want to give away too much but this was so much more then a dystopian novel.

Summary: A brother and sister try to get to Florida to see a probe launch while war and disease rage around them.

What I liked: I like that this was a different type of dystopian novel. The story line wasn’t about survival but about relationships. Mott interwove smaller stories throughout the main storyline that I felt set the overall atmosphere in the book. I enjoyed Mott’s writing style and the overall pacing of the novel.

What I didn’t like: There was plotline dealing with the brother when he got to Florida that I didn’t really understand. I felt that it was slightly unnecessary and didn’t really help the story along. For me it felt like the story stalled there and picked back up after. But it was a few fair pages. Even though I enjoyed how fleshed out the characters where the Sister character for me was a bit flat toward the end of the book. The last few pages kinda reminded me of the way Alexa or Siri would deliver a monologue, very computerish.

Star Rating: 4.5

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this novel. I liked that this was a dystopian novel that dealt with interpersonal relationships instead of just survival. I felt like the apocalyptic side was not really used as a plot device but rather background to the sister and brother. The Crossing was an overall enjoyable read. I will have to check out more of Mott’s books.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Harlequin Books for my advanced reader’s copy in exchange for a honest review.

Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman

There isn’t much I am afraid of. However; Josh Malerman seemed to be able to bring up both of my darkest fears in one book. This book isn’t scary per se. The idea of being buried alive and actually knowing what is happening around you is horrifying. The Victorians were so frightened by this idea they had special caskets made so if you woke up in pure darkness you would be able to alert someone. It still creeps me out. But burning alive is another matter and as I sit here in 68 degree warmth still give me chills.

Summary: Carol has a condition which causes her to fall into a coma where her vitals are barely perceptible. There are only two people that understand her condition.

What I liked: I liked the story so much. The characters (even the bad guys/gals) were richly written and fleshed out. There were multiple storylines that Malerman didn’t leave hanging and where finished with an expert flourish. I love the world that Malerman has created and would definitely read more books based in that world. There is a creepy aspect to the world that I can’t really put my finger on.

What I didn’t like: Nothing absolutely nothing. There is no pig-shit in this book.

Star Rating: 5

My thoughts: This is the first book of Malermans that I have read. I really enjoyed it and will be buying it when it is released. It was unique and well paced. Malerman is a great story teller and I see some other book purchases in my future.

Release Date: April 10, 2018

I would like to thank NetGalley and Del Ray and Penguin Random House for sending me a advanced copy for review.

The Sister Mederos By Patrice Sarath

Summary: Two sisters work to turn around the fortunes of their family after a tragedy befalls them 6 years earlier.

What I liked: I liked the premise of the story. The main characters were fleshed out well. The scene descriptions were really well written.

What I didn’t like: The first half of the book was about world and background building. If the book was a epic fantasy that would have been no problem but this isn’t an epic fantasy. We needed the background but a whole half of a book? There was no action until the last half of the book. Then it felt like some of the story lines were added as a after thought. Just my opinion.

Star Rating: 4

My thoughts: I liked the premise of the story and I really wanted to like it more then I did. I just felt like it took too long to get to the action portion of the story. Then when the story really started to progress it felt rushed and was over very quickly. One of the storylines fell a bit flat with me. It was there and then boom that storyline was finished. One of the major storylines was tied up with a finish that I didn’t really like. This storyline took up a good chunk of the book, so the way that it was ended felt flat. I also felt that one of the characters was slightly unnecessary. The author is a very good writer and the book was well written. You can tell she cared about the characters and I like that in an author.

Release Date: April 3rd, 2018

I want to thank Bad Robot publishing and NetGalley for providing me with a review copy.

Hell Hound by Ken Greenhall

I love animals. I have had cats and dogs throughout my life. I have two dogs. I love my dogs and I hope that they love me too. I’ve read lots of animals turned bad type books; Cujo and Jaws are two ,off the top of my head. However, Cujo had rabies and the Great White in Jaws was a wild animal. Baxter the bull terrier in Hell Hound has neither rabies nor was he wild so he really has no excuse. After reading Hell Hound you may not look at your lovable pets the same.

Summary: Baxter the sociopathic bull terrier is looking for the perfect master until he meets his human equivalent.

What I liked: Hell Hound wasn’t all out gory it was just unsettling. Throughout the story there are two POVs that Greenhall writes in. The people that own Baxter and Baxter himself. it was extremely effective. You see the owners side and Baxters side which contrast greatly. The plot line circles back around (not sure how else to explain it) and I was floored at how well it worked.

What I didn’t like: There wasn’t anything that I didn’t like about Hell Hound.

Star Rating: 5

My Thoughts: I truly appreciated the way Hell Hound was written. The ciruclar story line was amazing! The characters were interesting and unsettling. I’ve never read Greenhall before I found the pacing and writing of Hell Hound to be perfect. I am going to be looking in the used bookstores to find more from Greenhall.

I received Hell Hound in my paid subscription Nocturnal Readers box.

Futura A Novella By Jordan Phillips

There aren’t many times that I can say I disliked a book. I can normally find something redeeming; characters, plot, or the writing. But Futura is not one of those books. I am going to try to be as objective and honest as possible so here goes.

Summary: Ruby is obsessed with having a baby in France in 2050.

What I liked: The start was interesting in discussing technological changes and how those changes effected society. The plain black cover was beautiful.

What I didn’t like: I had the same problem with Futura as I had with Girl on a Train; I disliked all the characters in the book. The characters are two dimensional and come across as quite selfish and narcissistic. I can see where the author was trying to get to with the plot but it fell flat for me.

Star Rating: 2

My thoughts:  I tossed and turned about this review last night. I even reached out to another blogger about how to approach this review. This is not a slam against the author but rather a review of the book. The story just didn’t do it for me. But maybe it will be 5 stars for someone else.

Thank you to Smith Publicity for sending me a copy of Futura for review.