A Bookaholic, Pro-life, Pro-Family, Pro-Oxford Comma, Catholic (with Asperger's) who reads and writes as her obsession. I've been reading over 400 books a year lately. These are my ramblings on the books I read.

I sometimes go through stages of "genre love", I'm addicted to
mystery thrillers, memoirs, 20th century Chinese historical fiction, Victorian fiction and nonfiction, Catholic theology and short story anthologies; but you'll find I read an even wider variety of books than that. I have a teensy fascination with macabre non-fiction books about death and anything about insane asylums.

I also tend to post a lot of reviews of
juvenile/teen books.

I also blog about
graphic novels and manga on a separate BLOG.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Dark Screams: Volume Three edited by Brian James Freeman

Dark Screams: Volume Three edited by Brian James Freeman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Kindle Edition, 96 pages
Published May 12th 2015 by Hydra

Dark Screams (3)

I love this little horror anthology series from Hydra and this is my favourite volume to date. Just one reprint, and it is only a few years old. The rest are new for this collection. All the authors presented are accomplished writers in their fields, no newbies here. I had only read two authors previously: Straub and Ketchum, of course. But my top favourite stories came from the two female authors included.

1. The Collected Short Stories of Freddie Prothero: Introduction by Torless Magnussen, Ph.D. by Peter Straub (2013) - This is a fictional collection of weird creepy stories written by a boy from age 5 to almost-9 when he was found mysteriously dead in a field. The stories are prefaced by a follower of Prothero's work giving some insight into what has been thought to be mystical, and genius literature. It's all pretty creepy and several ideas went through my mind as to what may have been behind all this. (4/5)

2. Group of Thirty by Jack Ketchum (2015) - Vey good! I thought I knew where this was going from the start but was only half right, well really only in a general way. Ketchum took it into a different direction and the tension builds until the end where the main character, an anti-hero in his own way, gives a big "gotcha". Kind of funny too. (4/5)

3. Nancy by Darynda Jones (2015) - Longer than the previous two. This is a ghost story and a mystery. Can't say anything else. Excellent! (5/5)

4. I Love You, Charlie Pearson by Jacquelyn Frank (2015) - Whoa! Creepy, freaky! Teenage, weirdo stalker guy is obsessed with the gorgeous cheerleader and devotes himself to knowing her and planning for the day he brings her home. When he finally does ... wow ... things take a horrific twist. (5/5)

5. The Lone One and Level Sands Stretch Far Away by Brian Hodge (2015) - I found this one totally fascinating because of the themes. A young city-dwelling couple has a strange woman perhaps five years older than they move in upstairs. She is obsessed with the-end-of-the-world, introduces the husband to Parkour and urban exploring, which the wife eventually joins in also. Just an interesting, well-written story till near the end when it turns way-out weird and creepy! (4/5)

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Identity Crisis: The Murder, the Mystery, and the Missing DNA by Jefferson Bass

Identity Crisis: The Murder, the Mystery, and the Missing DNA by Jefferson Bass
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

ebook, 112 pages
Published April 28th 2015 by Witness Impulse

A novella, or the nonfiction equivalent, in which Bill Bass ,mostly, of the Jefferson Bass duo, describes a case the two worked on in the early 2000s in which a family asked to have the remains of a long buried relative identified with DNA to quell a constant family rumour that it may not actually be her buried in the family plot. In this case, the author tells how what he assumed would be a simple DNA profile turned into a puzzling two-year search to positively identify the remains. Not exactly a riveting case, but one that shows DNA is not the be all and end all it is often portrayed to be on TV. In this case, the DNA came back with more questions than they had started with and Bass details the various technology used to identify the remains as well as the repeated attempts at different methods of DNA sampling.

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg - Spies or Scapegoats? You Make the Call! by Joe Bruno

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg - Spies or Scapegoats? You Make the Call!
by Joe Bruno
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kindle Edition, 80 pages
Published August 31st 2014 by Knickerbocker Publishing Company

Short but good book giving the entire story of the Rosenbergs. The author starts with the foreknowledge of what we know today and with an attitude that Julius is a "creep" so we know how things will turn out and are aware of the author's opinion from the get go. I haven't studied this case but am aware of it and the change in public opinion over the years and the knowledge that has come to light in more recent years. While the author tells the story giving us knowledge that wasn't known publicly at the time he does leave some surprises for when then were revealed many years later. Although public opinion often swayed towards claiming this husband & wife had been martyred by the anti-red cause, the author's take and the general opinion today is that Julius was justly accused and sentenced. On the other hand, while the author may be a bit heavy-handed against Ethel, popular opinion is generally still open to debate on the extent, if any, of her involvement but it's generally agreed, with the author also being sympathetic to, her punishment being unjustly harsh. I learned quite a bit of information about more recent events that I hadn't known and found the book easy to read. I would have preferred if the author had released details chronologically as they unfolded though to make the story more interesting rather than journalistic.

Winemaker Detective Series #4: Deadly Tasting by Jean-Pierre Alaux & Noël Balen

Deadly Tasting by Jean-Pierre Alaux & Noël Balen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Paperback, 140 pages
Published October 17th 2014 by Le French Book
First Published: 2005 in French

Winemaker Detective Series: #4

I have been reading this series and quite enjoying it but have to say I was quite disappointed in this one. First, I did like the mystery. It was a neat serial killer puzzler which was described as gruesome but still kept a cozy as no details were given. The problem was there was way too much history packed into this tiny novel that the story suffered from it. I'm already fond of Benjamin and Virgile, but the book didn't allow for their lovable characteristics to come forward. I read a lot of WWII history so know about Vichy France, yet it felt like the book went into history teacher mode; this has been translated into English so I'm sure this information would have been elementary to the original audience and was just tedious for me. I kept wanting the lesson to end and them to get back to the mystery and comradery between Benjamin and Virgile. One thing that is established with this volume though is that the Inspector calls Benjamin in to work on the case as an expert and his prowess as an amateur detective is acknowledged. I think this will set him up nicely for continuing to keep poking his nose into police affairs for the rest of the series. I do not recommend anyone start with this as your first introduction to the series though. Hoping the next one gets me back in the mood for Cooker and his wine, cigars, and vintage cars.

Friday, April 24, 2015

At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen

At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 368 pages
Published March 31st 2015 by Bond Street Books

This is the first book I've read by the author, although I've wanted to read the others. I can't believe I waited this long! I just loved this! It had a little bit of everything I enjoy: historical fiction, quirky characters, and suspense. Although I'm not a romance reader, I found the love story just beautiful. Mostly I enjoyed the suspense as the secrets were revealed throughout and the dramatic ending. I also enjoyed all the characters; the Scottish ones were adorable. Maddie was an engaging, believable character and I enjoyed the personal journey and awakening she went through during the story. Hank and Ellis, on the other hand, are not likable, nor are they meant to be; Ellis, I found to be the weakest written character being somewhat unbelievable and over-the-top while I had wished Hank had been developed more. I found myself wanting to know more about his point of view, what he knew and didn't know and his thoughts/feelings on the situation, something the reader is never made privy to. It felt as if his character was important in a way that never fully materialized. In all, it was a riveting story that took me two sittings to read, both lasting until the wee hours of the night.

Everything I Need To Know I Learned From a Little Golden Book by Diane Muldrow

Everything I Need To Know I Learned From a Little Golden Book by Diane Muldrow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 96 pages
Published September 24th 2013 by Golden Books

Little Golden Books
Everything I Need To Know I Learned From a Little Golden Book (1)

I've read and own the other books in this series and, of course, loved this first one that started it all. An inspirational pick-me-up on how to live and enjoy your life to the fullest using illustrations and values from the early 1940s-1960s Little Golden Books. This is not a children's book; it contains original text written for adults though this one, unlike the others, would be fitting for children also. This is a cheery little ditty with a positive, uplifting message, but it is the illustrations that will delight the LGB fans for the nostalgia effect. All the famous illustrators are here: Tibor Gergely, Garth Williams, Feodor Rojankovsky, Richard Scarry, Eloise Wilkin, and many more. A wonderful book for an inspirational pick-me-up or for Little Golden Book fans and collectors. Since I've read the others and can compare this to them I will say I liked Love and Christmas the most, maybe because they had a theme.

I would buy more if the series were to continue but I will be passing on the next one (July, 2015) because it is Disney-themed and my like of Disney only stretches to 1977 when the involvement of the Disney family ended. The summary of the Disney book lists mostly modern movies so I'll wait and see if there is another book.

Have You Been Saved?: A Catholic Perspective by Rev. John Dowling

Have You Been Saved?: A Catholic Perspective by Rev. John Dowling
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Paperback, 24 pages
Published June 1st 1995 by Liguori Publications

A small pamphlet (booklet) which explains to Catholics what evangelicals and fundamentalists mean when they ask "have you been saved?" The book is written to the cradle Catholic to whom this question may be baffling and not know how to respond. Then gives a 10-step thorough, excellent understanding of what salvation actually means and the Catholic view, supported by Scripture, of this ongoing process. I am a convert and having been on both sides of the coin certainly understand the saved question but found this an excellent, concise source of the information one should be armed with tackling the topic with non-Catholics.