Friday, July 31, 2020

Another Romance - Don't Worry, I'm Gearing Up For Lots of Horror Soon!

TITLE: Beach Read
AUTHOR: Emily Henry


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.  

Man did I love this book!  The only thing which would have made it more perfect was if there had been a dog.  By the way, Ms. Henry, why wasn't there a dog?

So I easily devoured Beach Read in two days, or to be more precise, probably closer to a 24-hour period in a two day span.  But I need to say, this was no "cute" rom com.  Henry tackles some pretty heavy topics including infidelity, trust and self esteem.  There are even some hints of child neglect which are subtly interspersed and used to develop Gus's character to the point that even though he was rather frustrating most of the time, I still wanted to give him a big hug.

January (and can I stress how much I love that name) is having trouble writing her next romance novel and fresh from a break-up and falling on financial struggles, she decides to spend the summer in a beach house her father left her when he died.  A home she didn't know existed and which he shared with his lover.  She arrives and soon discovers her neighbor is another famous author who just happened to be one of her biggest rivals in college.  Enter the hate to love trope which I enjoy tremendously.

I loved the banter and disdain between the two main characters.  I also loved seeing their relationship grow to that of a friendship before they even considered taking it any further.  January has a lot of emotional baggage to unpack and Gus clearly has kept himself closed off for years.  In fact, some of the residents of the small beach town are actually related to Gus and it takes forever for the pieces to fall into place.

Henry has written a spot-on book which just happens to feature romance.  I honestly don't feel it should be looked at as romance driven because there are so many other themes which to me were much more important.  Very rarely do I give a book of this genre a 5/5 rating, unless of course there is a cute dog, so you know my rating speaks volumes.  If you have ever even remotely considered picking this book up, do it!  I doubt you'll be sorry.


Thursday, July 30, 2020

2 Bloggers 1 Series - Blameless

So in July Stormi and I are continuing on with our buddy read of the Parasol Protectorate series.  I have to admit this one is going to be a tad hard to review because a major plot point in the book is also a massive spoiler.  However, I'll do my best.  So read on for my thoughts and then make sure you visit Stormi @ Books, Movies, Reviews! Oh My!

TITLE: Blameless (Parasol Protectorate #3)
AUTHOR: Gail Carriger
PUBLISHING DATE: September 1, 2010


Quitting her husband's house and moving back in with her horrible family, Lady Maccon becomes the scandal of the London season in the third book of the NYT bestselling Parasol Protectorate series. 

Queen Victoria dismisses her from the Shadow Council, and the only person who can explain anything, Lord Akeldama, unexpectedly leaves town. To top it all off, Alexia is attacked by homicidal mechanical ladybugs, indicating, as only ladybugs can, the fact that all of London's vampires are now very much interested in seeing Alexia quite thoroughly dead. 

While Lord Maccon elects to get progressively more inebriated and Professor Lyall desperately tries to hold the Woolsey werewolf pack together, Alexia flees England for Italy in search of the mysterious Templars. Only they know enough about the preternatural to explain her increasingly inconvenient condition, but they may be worse than the vampires -- and they're armed with pesto.

If I'm honest, this has been my least favorite of the series so far.  That's not to say I didn't like it, I just had a hard time picking it up and at times felt I was struggling to read it when I read the previous two so darn quickly.

So something has happened which has caused quite a riff between Alexia and Lord Maccon.  Because of this, most of the book they spend apart.  And unfortunately, part of the appeal to me of this series is the constant banter and wit between the two.  Which is probably why I found it more lacking.  In addition, the majority of this book is Alexia being on the run because numerous people are trying to kill her - like every single time she turns around.  By the time I was two-thirds through the book, this trope was getting really old.

Now I will say that I enjoyed getting to know a tad bit more about Alexia's deceased father and it was also nice to see her old butler, Floote, step up his game and take a more important role.  Even Ivy, whom in the past I've found annoying, played an important part and I'm beginning to think her air-headedness is actually just an act.

So while this book does play an important part in the series (can't give too much away), I'm hoping that it sets up a bang of a finish for books 4 and 5.  And I'm also hoping I get to see more interaction between our two main characters.



TITLE: Meat Cute: The Hedgehog Incident (Parasol Protectorate #.75)
AUTHOR: Gail Carriger
PUBLISHING DATE: February 2020


From the comedic mind of New York Times bestseller Gail Carriger comes the much requested prequel short story to Soulless. 

Alexia Tarabotti attends what appears to be a very dull London party, until the new werewolf Alpha turns up, is unconscionably rude to her, and sits on a hedgehog. 

Don’t miss this charming novelette featuring the very first encounter between the Parasolverse’s most popular power couple, preternatural Alexia and supernatural Lord Conall Maccon. 

Look out for cheeky appearances from other much beloved characters, not to mention the strategic application of a certain wicker chicken. 

A Note On Chronology 
Set in the spring of 1872 this story occurs just prior to events chronicled in The Parasol Protectorate series (featuring Alexia and Conall) and after those in Defy or Defend. Alexia also appears briefly in Romancing the Inventor, and Conall and England’s most scandalous wolf pack is referenced in The Finishing School series. Want more hot gruff werewolf gentlemen and practical tough ladies? Try How to Marry a Werewolf. 

This is a quick read at 9000 words (about 15 printed pages) available in print only as part of Fan Service (collected Supernatural Society omnibus). It is best read if you are already familiar with Gail Carriger’s gaslight universe and comedy of manners style, as it was written specifically with her fans in mind. 

So many times in the first and second books the infamous hedgehog incident is referenced.  In fact, I'm kind of surprised to see this wasn't published until 2020 because it tells a very important, and quite hilarious tale, about how Alexia and Lord Maccon initially meet.

The tale is very short and I was able to grab it from Overdrive which is good because I think Amazon has it priced way too high for something that was easily read in under a half hour.  However, I am glad I read it because it was extremely cute and yes, it involved hedgehogs!


Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Can't Wait Wednesday (282)

Can't Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings to spotlight highly anticipated books.  It is based on the Waiting on Wednesday meme which used to be hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.


Eleanor has not seen or spoken with her family in years, not since they sent her away to Saint Brigid's boarding school. She knows them only as vague memories: her grandfather's tremendous fanged snout, the barrel full of water her mother always soaked in, and strange hunting trips in a dark wood with her sister and cousins. And she remembers the way they looked at her, like she was the freak.

When Eleanor finally finds the courage to confront her family and return to their ancestral home on the rainy coast of Maine, she finds them already gathered in wait, seemingly ready to welcome her back with open arms. "I read this in the cards," her grandmother tells her. However, Grandma Persephone doesn't see all, for just as Eleanor is beginning to readjust to the life she always longed for, a strange and sudden death rocks the family, leaving Eleanor to manage this difficult new dynamic without help.

In order to keep the family that abandoned her from falling apart, Eleanor calls upon her mysterious other grandmother, Grandmere, from across the sea. Grandmere brings order to the chaotic household, but that order soon turns to tyranny. If any of them are to survive, Eleanor must embrace her strange family and join forces with the ghost of Grandma Persephone to confront the monstrousness lurking deep within her Grandmere-and herself. 

WHY I CAN'T WAIT:  I won't lie, I was pretty much sold just on the cover alone.  But then I saw a comparison to the Addams family and a mention of a monstrous family and I was all in.\


FROM GOODREADS: As the town of Greenwich, Connecticut, counts down to a spooky celebration on October 31st, a horrifying murder leaves Melanie Travis pawing for clues in a hair-raising game of trick-or-treat . . .

With just a few days left before Halloween, everyone at Howard Academy is anticipating the guaranteed sugar high they'll experience from gorging on Harriet Bloom's famous marshmallow puffs. The private school's annual costume party revolves around the headmaster's assistant and her seemingly supernatural batches of gooey goodies. So, it's a shock when Harriet's elderly neighbor is suddenly found dead with the beloved dessert in his hand. In a snap, police start questioning whether Harriet modified her top-secret recipe to include a hefty dose of lethal poison . . .

Melanie knows her tenured colleague would never intentionally serve cyanide-laced puffs to a defenseless old man. But as explosive neighborhood gossip reveals a potential culprit, it also brings her closer to sealing her own doom. Because on an evening ruled by masked revelers, bizarre getups, and hidden identities, Halloween might just be the perfect opportunity for a cold-hearted killer to get away with murder once again--this time sending a nosy, unsuspecting sleuth to an early grave! 

WHY CASS CAN'T WAIT:  This is the 26th book in a mystery series that features dogs and I can't believe Mom hasn't read any of them!  I think this cover is too adorable and it already has me thinking what I should dress Apollo up as this Halloween.  It will be his first after all.  Any suggestions guys???


Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Ladies of Horror Award Winners!

I'm thrilled today to share the winners for the Ladies of Horror Fiction Awards.  These ladies have all done a great job so make sure you add some of them to your TBRs.

The Ladies of Horror Fiction team would like to congratulate all of the inaugural 2019 Ladies of Horror Fiction Award recipients. Please join us in celebrating these amazing women and their outstanding works of horror fiction.

Best Collection
Winner: Little Paranoias, Sonora Taylor
Also nominated:
Collision: Stories, J.S. Breukelaar
Ghosts of You, Cathy Ulrich
Out of Water, Sarah Read

Best Debut
Winner: The Luminous Dead, Caitlin Starling
Also nominated:
The Bone Weaver’s Orchard, Sarah Read
Little Darlings, Melanie Golding
Theme Music, T. Marie Vandelly

Best Poetry Collection
Winner: Choking Back the Devil, Donna Lynch
Also nominated:
Mary Shelley Makes a Monster, Octavia Cade
The Apocalyptic Mannequin, Stephanie M. Wytovich

Best Novel
Winners: Bunny, Mona Awad and Without Condition, Sonora Taylor
Also nominated:
Ninth House, Leigh Bardugo
River of Souls, T.L. Bodine
The Twisted Ones, T. Kingfisher
Best Novella
Winner: To Be Devoured, Sara Tantlinger
Also nominated:
Dear Laura, Gemma Amor
The Ladderman, Angela Archer
The Festering Ones, S.H. Cooper
Halloween Fiend, C.V. Hunt
Best Young Adult
Winner: Wilder Girls, Rory Power
Also nominated:
Five Midnights, Ann Dávila Cardinal
House of Salt and Sorrows, Erin A. Craig
Rules for Vanishing, Kate Alice Marshall
Short Fiction
Honorable Mentions:
'Till Death Do Us Part, Peggy Christie (Dark Doorways)
A Song for Wounded Mouths, Kristi DeMeester (PseudoPod 641: Artemis Rising 5)
Jack-O-Lantern, Gabrielle Faust (#ScaryStories)
Sun Dogs, Laura Mauro (Sing Your Sadness Deep)
What Throat, Annie Neugebauer (PseudoPod 640: Artemis Rising 5)
Butterflies, Samanta Schweblin (Mouthful of Birds)
The Woman Next Door, Ha Seong-nan (Flowers of Mold)
Quadrapocalypse, Sonora Taylor (Little Paranoias)
Weary Bones, Sonora Taylor (Little Paranoias)

For more information regarding these authors and their work, please visit the Ladies of Horror Fiction website

Top Ten Tuesday - Latest Library Holds

The top 10 weekly meme used to be hosted by The Broke and the Bookish they  handed over the reins to ThatArtsyReaderGirl who can be found HERE.  Each week she will focus on lists which cover various topics related to books and reading.

This week is a freebie topic and since the I'm looking for the US to shut down again soon and I figure I'll only be able to access my library through Overdrive or if I'm lucky, curbside pick-up again, I'll share what books I have on hold.  It was a fun topic last time and let's face it, it's easy and I'm all for easy right now. 

This one kind of scares me since I didn't care for The Cabin at the End of World.  But hey I'll give it a shot.

I didn't read this author's first book but I know lots of people loved it so I'm anxious to try this one.

Dragons - yes please.  I need some dragons in my life right now.

Seeing book 2 is coming out reminded me I wanted to read book 1.  Also, I know Stormi really enjoyed this one.

Not sure why I requested this one.  Has anyone read it?

I've been reading more Romance/Women's Fiction lately and I adore this author so I really want to pick this one up.

I've heard good things and this one is kind of giving me IT vibes and I could use some fictional horror to get my mind of the real-life horror.

I'm up for any retelling of Little Women.

Horror...enough said.

I thought this was MG horror, but I see now it's YA horror.  Oh well, it's horror.

So there you have it.  Can you recommend any of these?  

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Book Discussion - I'll Take Antlers For the Win...

Well once again it's time for another book discussion here at Booker T's Farm.  And once again, I'm visiting the topic of good old Booksnake.  See, Booksnake is still alive, well and slithering all over coers near and far.  And just when I think it can get no worse, I see this!

If my language offends anyone ahead of time I apologize but WHAT THE HELL???  I can't even count the Booksnake offsprings!  My snake fearing soul did not need to see this on a Facebook group one morning.  No matter how good the book might sound, there is no way I could hold a physical copy for long.  (I'm assuming it's a Medusa retelling.  I mean, how could it not be?)

So those who missed the original Booksnake discussion, here the LINK.

So now I pose another question.  It seems like the majority of Booksnake appearances on on YA books. I read anything that interests me so by no means am I bashing YA.  But what about YA requires Booksnake?  Do teens have a snake obsession of which I am not aware?  I can't imagine it but I suppose it could be.  And are there actual snakes in a lot of Booksnake books or are authors and cover artists using him/her to symbolize something else.  

So just when I thought Booksnake was dead, seems like I was wrong.  Which brings me to a new trend I've noticed.  I tend to have noticed a few books with antlers on the covers including a recent fave I read last month.  

I could totally get on the antler trend if it means Booksnake is slithering away from good!

So tell me your thoughts and opinions.  I can't wait!

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Can't Wait Wednesday (281)

Can't Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings to spotlight highly anticipated books.  It is based on the Waiting on Wednesday meme which used to be hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

SYNOPSIS: From the authors of the bestselling Awakened trilogy.

Megan Forrester has barely survived the unthinkable. Six months ago, she witnessed a horrific accident that killed her husband and son, and lives with the guilt of knowing she could have done more to save them. Now, Megan hopes to mend the pieces of her broken spirit by attending a local church group's annual camping trip. But the church group members-riddled with dark secrets of their own-make a catastrophic navigational mistake, leaving them stranded in an untouched canyon in the West Virginian national forest.

Isolated from any chance of help or rescue, Megan and the others quickly realize why this side of the canyon has never been surveyed by mankind: it's home to a terrifying prehistoric arachnid that patiently stalks its prey through even the slightest movement or vibration in the forest. And it's desperate for a meal.

Grief-stricken and haunted by her tragic loss, Megan now faces her ultimate test of endurance. Can she outwit a bloodthirsty creature hellbent on ensuring that no one gets out of alive? When a single wrong turn can mean death, she only has one option: DON'T MOVE.

WHY I CAN'T WAIT:  So although I've not read the Awakened trilogy yet, I stand by the fact that Murray is my favorite Impractical Joker so that makes me want to love his books.  This one is straight out horror and a prehistoric arachnid - YES!  Perfect for October and the spooky season.


FROM GOODREADS:  When a deadly Fly Flu sweeps the globe, it leaves a shell of the world that once was. Among the survivors are eighteen-year-old Nico and her dog, on a voyage devised by Nico's father to find a mythical portal; a young artist named Kit, raised in an old abandoned cinema; and the enigmatic Deliverer, who lives Life after Life in an attempt to put the world back together. 

As swarms of infected Flies roam the earth, these few survivors navigate the woods of post-apocalyptic New England, meeting others along the way, each on their own quest to find life and light in a world gone dark.

 The Electric Kingdom is a sweeping exploration of love, art, storytelling, eternal life, and above all, a testament to the notion that even in an exterminated world, one person might find beauty in another.

WHY CASSIUS CAN'T WAIT:  First of all I love that Nico is traveling with her dog because all travelers need a loyal companion.  Secondly, I'm starting to think I'm living in an apocalyptic world and I could use all the pointers I can get!


Monday, July 20, 2020

I Wish I Had Ended It!

TITLE: I'm Thinking of Ending Things
AUTHOR: Iain Reid
PUBLISHER:  Gallery/Scout Books
PUBLISHING DATE: June 14, 2016


I’m thinking of ending things. Once this thought arrives, it stays. It sticks. It lingers. It’s always there. Always. 

Jake once said, “Sometimes a thought is closer to truth, to reality, than an action. You can say anything, you can do anything, but you can’t fake a thought.” 

And here’s what I’m thinking: I don’t want to be here. 

In this deeply suspenseful and irresistibly unnerving debut novel, a man and his girlfriend are on their way to a secluded farm. When the two take an unexpected detour, she is left stranded in a deserted high school, wondering if there is any escape at all. What follows is a twisted unraveling that will haunt you long after the last page is turned.

I've had my eyes on this book for several years so when I saw it at my library, I knew the time had come to finally pick it up.  So many people seem to love this book and I've heard more than a few people comment on how horrifying it is.  Well guess what?  My opinion totally differs and luckily it was a short book or I may not have finished it.  And yes, several times even I was thinking of ending things - reading it that is!

Jake and his unnamed girlfriend are on the way to have dinner with his parents.  It will be her fist time meeting them and she is thinking to herself on the way that she is thinking of ending the relationship.  Of course, this is despite the fact that she mentions several times all the things she likes about Jake and how attracted she is to him.  In addition, ever since the two of them met in a college bar on trivia night, she has been getting strange phone calls from someone she only refers to as "caller."  She can't figure out the calls and why she didn't just block the number I'll never understand. Oh yea, the calls show up from her own phone.  That's why.

So she meets his parents who are odd and slightly disturbed yet they seem to love her.  She sees some dead frozen sheep, hears a totally disgusting story about two pigs, chokes down a dinner she hates and then they set off for a return home in a snowstorm.  Now you guys know I love a great snowy setting but in this novel, it seems like a deliberate addition to only ramp up anxiety and tension and it didn't really work for me.

So I'm not going to give anything away.  Many reviews I've read now (after the fact) talk about the great twist at the end and how the ending really packs a punch.  Again, I didn't feel that way.  Of course, maybe I was just glad it ended.  I do think I fully understood the ending despite seeing several people mention that after you get to the end, you should read it again because it will make so much more sense and be that much more enjoyable.  What?  I barely made it through once.

Now I have to add, I have nothing against the writer and his book flowed quite well.  I think he probably has a wonderful imagination and would not hesitate to read something from him again in the future.  I don't feel like I could really recommend this book which isn't really needed because tons of people have read it already.  At least now I know what all the hype was about, I just don't feel the same.


Sunday, July 19, 2020

Random Things Tours - Spirited

TITLE: Spirited
AUTHOR: Julie Cohen
PUBLISHER: Orion Publishing


A moving and gripping story about three women who keep unspeakable truths, from the Richard & Judy recommended bestselling author Julie Cohen. 

Viola has an impossible talent. Searching for meaning in her grief, she uses her photography to feel closer to her late father, taking solace from the skills he taught her - and to keep her distance from her husband. But her pictures seem to capture things invisible to the eye . . . 

Henriette is a celebrated spirit medium, carrying nothing but her secrets with her as she travels the country. When she meets Viola, a powerful connection is sparked between them - but Victorian society is no place for reckless women. 

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, invisible threads join Viola and Henriette to another woman who lives in secrecy, hiding her dangerous act of rebellion in plain sight. 

Faith. Courage. Love. What will they risk for freedom?

Until about three years ago, I never really considered historical fiction a genre I enjoyed.  However, even though I still don't read a lot of it, I do find it to be a kind of comfort read.  When I was presented with the opportunity to read Spirited, I had no idea how much I would need a comfort read during the month of July.  Some might call it fate right?

When the book opens, Viola is in the process of marrying Jonah, a man she loved who recently returned for spending a few years in India.  Upon learning Viola's father has died, Jonah returns and speeds up the marriage, feeling it is his duty to take care of Viola.  Viola goes ahead and marries Jonah, despite being lost in grief and questioning her true feelings.  So begins a marriage that perhaps should have never taken place, but which was dictated by the time period. 

While Spirited is in fact a slow burn of a read, the pacing gradually pulled me in and enveloped me in a tale of grief, love, class and societal expectations.  Viola turns to her father's photography and uses it as a way to escape her unhappiness.  She also meets a medium, Henriette who is quite a bold contrast to the mild and often meek Viola.  I enjoyed reading about both of these woman and loved watching them maneuver a historical world dominated by men and their sexist views. 

Told in multiple POVs and set in England and India, Spirited leads the reader on a haunting journey.  I've not read any other books by this author but plan on researching to determine what else I might want to read.  The novel also features some newspaper clippings and other documents which bith add interest and serve to move the story along.  And finally,  I must say a small word about the cover, because in all honesty, it grabbed my attention even before reading the synopsis.  If you enjoy historical fiction and find yourself fascinated with the concept of spirit photography, then look no further, Spirited is the book for you!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Julie Cohen grew up in the western mountains of Maine. Her house was just up the hill from the library and she spent many hours walking back and forth, her nose in a book. She studied English Literature at Brown University and Cambridge University and is a popular speaker and teacher of creative writing, including classes for the Guardian and Literature Wales. Her books have been translated into fifteen languages and have sold over a million copies; DEAR THING and TOGETHER were Richard and Judy Book Club picks. Her most recent novel is the critically acclaimed LOUIS & LOUISE. Julie lives in Berkshire with her husband, son and a terrier of dubious origin.

Friday, July 17, 2020

June Down For the Count!

I apologize for the very late monthly wrap up but let's just say July sucks so it's been hard to get things done. My Grandfather is still in the hospital, new COVID-19 cases are blowing up everywhere and I'm just waiting for the Governor to close the state down again.  But on to more positive things.

So overall I'm once again thrilled with the amount of books I was able to read in June.  I guess if there's one advantage to COVID-19, it's that I have plenty of time to read. On to the books!

The Bone Jar: SW Kane (5/5)
This Is Not a Love Story: Mary Hargreaves (4/5)
The Stranger in the Lake: Kimberly Belle (4/5)
Safe: SK Barnett (4/5)
The Girl From Widow Hills: Megan Miranda (4/5)
The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon: Stephen King (3/5)
The Only Good Indians: Stephen Graham Jones (4/5)
Changeless (Parasol Protectorate #2): Gail Carriger (4/5)
A Good Girl's Guide to Murder:Holly Jackson (5/5)
Pine: Francine Toon (2/5)
Starving Ghosts in Every Thread: Eric LaRocca (4/5)
The Silent Wife: Karin Slaughter (4/5)

Of the 12 books I read, I have to say my least favorite was Pine.  I still am unsure about that one and really can't recommend it to anyone although some really love it.  My favorites were definitely A Good Girl's Guide to Murder and The Only Good Indians.

So have you read any of these?  And what was your favorite read during June?