Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Audio Review: The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
Publication Date: April 7th 2020 by Quirk Books
Pages: 400
Audio Length: 13 hrs 49 min
Narrator: Bahni Turpin
Source: Library Lend
Rating: ½ 
Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible | Goodreads

About the book:

Fried Green Tomatoes and "Steel Magnolias" meet Dracula in this Southern-flavored supernatural thriller set in the '90s about a women's book club that must protect its suburban community from a mysterious and handsome stranger who turns out to be a blood-sucking fiend.

Patricia Campbell had always planned for a big life, but after giving up her career as a nurse to marry an ambitious doctor and become a mother, Patricia's life has never felt smaller. The days are long, her kids are ungrateful, her husband is distant, and her to-do list is never really done. The one thing she has to look forward to is her book club, a group of Charleston mothers united only by their love for true-crime and suspenseful fiction. In these meetings, they're more likely to discuss the FBI's recent siege of Waco as much as the ups and downs of marriage and motherhood.

But when an artistic and sensitive stranger moves into the neighborhood, the book club's meetings turn into speculation about the newcomer. Patricia is initially attracted to him, but when some local children go missing, she starts to suspect the newcomer is involved. She begins her own investigation, assuming that he's a Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy. What she uncovers is far more terrifying, and soon she--and her book club--are the only people standing between the monster they've invited into their homes and their unsuspecting community.

My Thoughts:
The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires wasn't your usual vampire book with the "nice" romantic versions.  It was downright scary and gory in parts, but also had me laughing out loud.

Set in South in the early 90’s Patricia is a married housewife with two children in a very conservative type of family. The husband goes to work, the wife stays home and cares for the house and children: Husband is head of the house and his word goes. The only place Patricia feels independent is in her book club, where they read and discuss lots of real crime novels and wonder how they’d react in similar situations. Enter the handsome stranger, James, who moves into their idyllic neighborhood, and things get interesting and dangerous! Patricia is at first intrigued by James, but then little things niggle at her. She starts to get suspicious when people go missing and clues point to James.

I have to say I don’t remember the 1990s being like the 1950s where women were so subservient to men. I was newly married back then, and I don’t remember things being anything like what’s depicted here, but I live in Southern California so maybe the South was more traditional? It rankled especially when none of Patricia’s claims were taken seriously and her husband made her look like an idiot! I seriously wanted to strangle that man!  There were also a few times I wanted to shake the women in Patricia’s book club, too!  Wow, how much more can’t facts be staring you in the face and you choose to ignore them?!  I will say these women rallied together when it counted most, though.

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Vampire Slaying was compared to Steel Magnolias meets Dracula, but it felt more like Desperate Housewives meets Dracula to me. It was an original mix of funny, odd, and frightening.

3.5 Suns

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Sunday Post #79

The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated reviewer book blog, and is a post to recap my bookish and non-bookish things from the last week. 

So we finished our update on the bookshelves. Here's the before (natural stain) and the after (white paint). I think it brightened up the room.  I cut down on a few book so it's not as crowded and I'm happy with the results. Probably should do another clean out of books, but I'll put that off for now, lol. 



(Click on cover for Goodreads link:)

All really good except for The Girl From Widow Hills which was a disappointment for me. Of course, Fire Touched was my favorite. Hard to beat Mercy Thompson (my 3rd time through).

Received/Purchased/Library Lend:
(Click on title for Goodreads link:)


And I'm still watching Heartland...

How was your week?

Friday, June 26, 2020

Audio Book Challenge Mid-Year Check-In

Hot Listens and Caffeinated Reviewer are hosting the 8th annual Audiobook Challenge for 2020 and I'm posting my Mid-Year Check-in.

I pledged the 100 Club Audio Elite, and I guess I'm a little behind since I'm only at 39 books right now.  Must step up my game!

Click here for a link to my 2020 Challenge on Goodreads.

Here are some of my favorites of the year so far:

I'm including all the Mercy Thompson books, but Moon Called is the first one. I'm currently working my way through the series for the 3rd time and I've just finished book nine. Alone in the Wild is one that I both read traditionally and then listened to the audio. The audio was fantastic with Therese Plummer narrating. Loving the Ellery Hathaway series! All the Best Lies was so good! The Lady Darby series is one I've blown through by audio. Heather Wilds' performance is wonderful! 

What about you? Did you join the challenge this year? Let me know how you're doing!

Audio Review: Devolution by Max Brooks

Devolution by Max Brooks
Publication Date: June 16th 2020 by Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
Audio Book Length: 9 hrs 49 min
Narrators: Max Brooks, Jeff Daniels, Nathan Fillion, Mira Furlan, Terry Gross, Kimberly Guerrero, Kate Mulgrew, Steven Weber, Kai Ryssdal & Judy Greer
Source: Publisher & Libro.fm
Pages: 304

About the book:

The #1 bestselling author of World War Z takes on the Bigfoot legend with a tale that blurs the lines between human and beast—and asks what we are capable of in the face of the unimaginable.

As the ash and chaos from Mount Rainier’s eruption swirled and finally settled, the story of the Greenloop massacre has passed unnoticed, unexamined . . . until now.

But the journals of resident Kate Holland, recovered from the town’s bloody wreckage, capture a tale too harrowing—and too earth-shattering in its implications—to be forgotten.

In these pages, Max Brooks brings Kate’s extraordinary account to light for the first time, faithfully reproducing her words alongside his own extensive investigations into the massacre and the legendary beasts behind it.

Kate’s is a tale of unexpected strength and resilience, of humanity’s defiance in the face of a terrible predator’s gaze, and inevitably, of savagery and death.

Yet it is also far more than that.

Because if what Kate Holland saw in those days is real, then we must accept the impossible. We must accept that the creature known as Bigfoot walks among us—and that it is a beast of terrible strength and ferocity.
Part survival narrative, part bloody horror tale, part scientific journey into the boundaries between truth and fiction, this is a Bigfoot story as only Max Brooks could chronicle it—and like none you’ve ever read before.

My Thoughts:
World War Z is one of my favorite movies. I’ve watched it several times, but I didn’t realize it was a book before it was adapted to film until much later.  Since then I’ve had plans to read *listen* to the book, so when Devolution was up for grabs and I found out it was written by Max Brooks, of course I snatched up a copy.  I love a big-crisis/end-of-the-world type of scenario I always wonder what I would do post-crisis, if I would be smart (or lucky) enough to survive.  Add in the possibility of Sasquatch, and I was really excited!

Devolution is told in an original and captivating way: as an investigation into a tragic event detailed through interviews, journal entries, and excerpts from books “related” to the event and relayed in this investigative report. Max Brooks, the author, narrates as the researcher/reporter and his voice fit the bill perfectly!  The journal entries of Kate are where the heart of the story lays; where she chronicles her experience at Greenloop, in a journal written as part of therapy (?). Here we get her firsthand account of life in Greenloop, an advanced planned, remote community, ninety miles outside of Seattle, but connected in every way through technology to life in the city. In this way residents are supposed to have the best of both worlds, but things don’t go as planned when Mount Rainier has a massive eruption and the community is cut off from civilization and sort of forgotten.  What happens next left me on the edge of my seat…

I felt like Kate was talking to me, like a friend telling me her experience as it happens and so in that way I felt very connected to Kate and invested in what happened to her. The Greenloop community was a small one, only nine households. The dynamic between these people was interesting as things unfold and the situation becomes more and more serious.

The audio was fantastic! An all-star cast of characters, but Judy Greer and Max Brooks performed most of the story. Ms. Greer’s performance was a little overly excited at the beginning and I was wondering if I could take that ultra-peppy tone through the whole book, but I think that was on purpose to show how excited she was about her move. She tones it way down quickly, and I really enjoyed her performance.  I also really enjoyed Kimberly Guerrero’s performance as the lead Park Ranger sent in to investigate after the eruption.

My husband and I listened to this on one of our many road trips back and forth to Northern California and we ended up getting home before the book finished so we put in on again after walking in the door because we had to find out how it all ended!

4 Suns

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

WWW Wednesday #2

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words.  The three W's are: 

What are you currently reading? 
What did you recently finish reading?
What will you be reading next?

It's been over a week since I posted anything because I've been crazy busy! We did a kind of last minute trip to Montana and the preparations as well as the activities while there has left me super tired. As if that wasn't enough, I've been really busy at work.

Anyhow, that's why I've barely been on the computer and MIA. I'm slowly catching up and making the rounds visiting everyone.

What are you currently reading? 

I just started the audio, read by Richard Armitage and I'm enjoying it. 

What did you recently finish reading?

I loved the movie World War Z so when Devolution was offered to me as an audio I decided to give it a go. It was a unique horror story, told in part in a documentary type style. I enjoyed it with one niggle. Now I'd like to go back and listen to the audio of World War Z. The Girl From Widow Hills was a disappointment.  The Sun Down Motel was enjoyable even though it lagged for me in parts. I'm still working my way through my re-read (3rd time through) of the Mercy Thompson series, just finished Fire Touched. It's hard not to jump into the next one, but I have a few other audios I have to get through before I can pick it back up. 

What will you be reading next?

I need to read all of these books. Two because they're ARCs (The Kristan Higgins & Maisey Yates) that are due, and two because my library lend is going to expire soon (Kate Meader & Darynda Jones).  Anyone read these already? Recommendations for what to start next?

Monday, June 15, 2020

Review: Beach Read by Emily Henry

Beach Read by Emily Henry
Publication Date: May 19th 2020 by Berkley
Pages: 384
Source: Publisher

About the book:

A romance writer who no longer believes in love and a literary writer stuck in a rut engage in a summer-long challenge that may just upend everything they believe about happily ever afters.

Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.

They're polar opposites.

In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they're living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer's block.

Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She'll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he'll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.

My Thoughts:
Hearing the title “Beach Read “ I think of a light, funny romance, and Beach Read was funny. Laugh-out-loud funny; parts that made me smile and giggle, but it was a lot more than that. Beach Read had depth and made me think. Made me think about relationships, how complex they are. How they can bring on such a range of emotions, good and bad, highs and sometimes intense lows, yet you’d bear all of that for someone you love.

January, a popular romance writer, is suffering from writer’s block and she needs to finish a book promised to her publisher by the end of the Summer. But she’s been dealt a hard blow. A disillusioned view of romance and happily-ever-afters don’t mix well with her deadline. So out of money and options January retreats to her father’s lake cottage to hunker down and write. Little does she know that she’s moved next door to Augustus Everette, her college nemesis, now an acclaimed literary author working on his own novel.  Their writing is polar opposite, and yet Gus share’s January’s problem: writer’s block. So, they strike a bet to help get out of the funk: he’ll write a rom-com, and she’ll write depressing but literary fiction without her signature HEA.

This was so much fun and yet full of soul-searching, longing, and lusty encounters! Gus and January have a shared history and yet they knew little of what actually made each other tick back in college. Both held some pre-conceived notions that were off the mark, and I loved it as they discovered the actual truth of both the past and present.  Both had some past hurts to get through, and as they do that together they grow closer and closer.  January’s afraid to lose her heart to dark, sexy, broody, Gus, and I was a little afraid for her, too! She didn’t need more heartbreak.

Oh, I just loved this story sooo much! The small-town setting of North Bear Shores, Michigan was magical! Just the kind of place I’d love to summer in, and I could picture the quaint cottages (like January and Gus’) lining the shores. There were quirky side characters that made me laugh and want to visit.  The writing was gorgeous without being pretentious or slowing the plot down and gave me all the feels!

Beach Read is a total recommend, one of my favorites of the year; one that’ll leave an impression! I’m still thinking of Gus and January’s story.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

The Sunday Post #78

The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated reviewer book blog, and is a post to recap my bookish and non-bookish things from the last week. 

It's been a busy week for me. My hours were back to normal and I was dead tired after work every day. 
We're painting my bedroom bookshelves this weekend. They were medium wood color and now will be white and I'm excited for the update. I might show before and after pictures next Sunday. 

Click on cover for Goodreads link:

So yeah, not much got done in the way of reading this last week. We've been binge watching Heartland and so my reading suffered.  I did absolutely love The Guest List, though!

Received/Purchased/Library Lend:
Click on cover for Goodreads link:

Looking forward to both audio books.


Still binge watching Heartland. The hubby and I are addicted.We can't help ourselves! 

How was your week?

Friday, June 12, 2020

Audio Review: The Guest List by Lucy Foley

The Guest List by Lucy Foley
Publication Date: June 2nd 2020 by Harper Audio
Audio Book Length: 9 hrs 53 min 
Narrators: Jot Davies, Chloe Massie, Olivia Dowd, Aoife McMahon, Sarah Ovens & Rich Keeble
Source: Libro.fm & Publisher
Pages: 320

About the book:

A wedding celebration turns dark and deadly in this deliciously wicked and atmospheric thriller reminiscent of Agatha Christie from the author of The Hunting Party.

The bride ‧ The plus one ‧ The best man ‧ The wedding planner ‧ The bridesmaid ‧ The body

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.

But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.

And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?

My Thoughts:
As the story begins, you’re propelled into the present day: The Wedding Night, as a storm rages with the feeling of impending doom. Quickly we’re taken back to the day before, getting to know the pertinent characters and their backstory, and I found it all riveting!

Aoife: The Wedding Planner
Hannah: The Plus One
Jules: The Bride
Jono: The Best Man
Olivia: The Bridesmaid

The Guest List was an addictive mystery enhanced by a stark, isolated setting, lending an eerie, almost haunting quality to the story. In the description it’s compared to an Agatha Christie mystery, and I agree there are similarities: multiple POVs, most with a motive for murder, an atmospheric, beautiful setting, and a sense of justice (mostly) served by the end.  However, in the majority of Christie’s mysteries the murder happens early and the rest of the story is spent figuring out motive, interviewing suspects, getting down to what really happened and why.

Here in The Guest List we have a present day narrative, The Wedding Day, where something is about to go very wrong and someone is murdered, and then we flash back to the day before where the wedding party arrive to the island to join Will (the groom) and Jules as they prepare for the next day. It’s apparent from the beginning that there are darker undercurrents and things are not as perfect and beautiful as the couple seem. 

Oh, there are some very unlikable people here, ones you wouldn’t mind killing yourself!  I did have a few favorites, though, but there was no shortage of possible murderers, because plenty had a motive for murder. As the story goes on it becomes ever clearer who is at the center of motives, but still I wasn’t sure who would be killed.

I won’t say who I liked or hated because that alone could give away so much. I sort of knew the whys, which I think is important with a mystery like this. A reader needs to feel like they’re engaging in the solution, figuring it out along with the characters, and feel good about being right about their suspicions.  Still, I was surprised by a couple of twists and how it all played out. As I said, I was riveted until the end, wanting to see how it all turned out!

I listened to the audio version and I think it greatly enhanced an already fantastic story! There were multiple narrators, giving each character their own distinctive voice and unique perspective. Loved the accents! The multiple performers made it so I was never guessing who was telling the story as we switched back and forth between POVs, which is completely helpful with an audio. Ms. Foley aided with this, too, by labeling each change in narration. I highly recommend going the audio version route!

Lucy Foley is a new to me author, but not anymore! I’m looking forward to whatever she comes up with next!

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Review: Alpha Night by Nalini Singh

Alpha Night (Psy-Changeling Trinity #4) by Nalini Singh
Publication Date: June 9th 2020 by Berkley
Pages: 400
Source: Publisher

About the book:

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh returns to her breathtaking Psy-Changeling Trinity series with a mating that shouldn’t exist…

Alpha wolf Selenka Durev’s devotion to her pack is equaled only by her anger at anyone who would harm those under her care. That currently includes the empaths who’ve flowed into her city for a symposium that is a security nightmare, a powder keg just waiting for a match.

Ethan Night is an Arrow who isn’t an Arrow. Numb and disengaged from the world, he’s loyal only to himself. Assigned as part of the security force at a world-first symposium, he carries a dark agenda tied to the power-hungry and murderous Consortium. Then violence erupts and Ethan finds himself crashing into the heart and soul of an alpha wolf.

Mating at first sight is a myth, a fairytale. Yet Selenka’s wolf is resolute: Ethan Night, broken Arrow and a man capable of obsessive devotion, is the mate it has chosen. Even if the mating bond is full of static and not quite as it should be. Because Selenka’s new mate has a terrible secret, his mind surging with a power that is a creature of madness and death…

My Thoughts:
Since the old constructs of Silence have crumbled and the divisions between the Psy, Changelings and humans have become less solid, everything is in flux. There is a secret faction that would like to ruin all the progress made toward unity and a desire to rule all three species.  This is the overreaching story arc at play in the series, but at the heart of each installment is a romance and is sort of a standalone story.  I do think a reader would benefit from reading in order to understand the continuing story behind all the attacks and dangers these groups face.

Alpha Night offers up an unlikely pair: Ethan, an Arrow and and Selenka, the Alpha of the Black Edge Wolf Pack. They’re thrown together after an attack on a joint symposium has them crossing paths and discovering they’re Mates. As in mating-at-first-sight…

The intense bond they share by mating, however, is shadowed by a force within Ethan that he keeps carefully reigned in; its forces ready to explode out at every turn. Being in a mating bond makes it difficult to keep this a secret, thank goodness, because Ethan needs help and Selenka is just the person to fight for her mate.

Loved the concept of a mating-at-first-sight, and with such an unlikely pair! Ethan’s a cold, efficient, deadly Arrow, and Selenka is a passionate fiery wolf-shifter. Both a strong power on their own.  Sounds like an odd match, but I do love me an intense opposites-attract romance! I! was so fun watching them navigate the complexities of a mating while trying to get to know each other; admiring each other, their strength and conviction, more and more as they do.  Ethan’s past broke my heart and I was happy he had Selenka in his corner. He needed unconditional devotion and love after what he went through. His devotion to Selenka and her Pack was also touching. He naturally fit in, despite coming from the cold, emotionless Silence protocol.

Selenka and Ethan were passionate and protective with each other. I’m happy that Selenka’s dominant nature didn’t scare Ethan or make him cower. He was a man confident enough to let his mate shine and take point when needed. He didn’t need to assert his own will or diminish Selenka in any way to feel more of a man, and it was lovely!

Nalini Singh has been nailing it with the Psy-Changeling Trinity series! I read a couple of the original series and enjoyed them, but there’s something about this new series I just love!

4 Suns

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Sunday Post #77

The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated reviewer book blog, and is a post to recap my bookish and non-bookish things from the last week. 

It's been a busy weekend (which is why this is late). I went up to our place in Central California with family.  Cooked, babysat and did a six mile hike (pictures below).  
I had a large gopher/rattlesnake in my path.  Didn't want to get close enough to check! The weather was unusually cool for this time of year which was amazing for hiking.

Click on cover for Goodreads link:

The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires wasn't your usual vampire book with the "nice" romantic versions.  Loved Alpha Night. Nalini Singh's spinoff from Psy-Changeling series has been a hit for me. This is my third time through Night Broken.  I don't know why I'm compelled to listen to Mercy while hiking, but I started it on my hike this weekend and finished it today. Still think Mercy deserves a medal for not strangling Christy!

Received/Purchased/Library Lend:
Click on cover for Goodreads link:

I requested the audio at my library and it finally came through. Lovewrecked is an enemies to lovers romance and it sounds so good. It was up on Kindle Unlimited.


Other than kids movies this weekend I continued binge-watching Heartland. I'm addicted!

How was your week?