Thoughts on books, family, and life in one impressive package.

Gimme Some Sugar by Molly Harper

The sixth book in the Southern Eclectic series made me happy and hungry with all its talk of bakery goodies. Seriously, people. If you have not taken my advice and read anything by Molly Harper by now, then I don’t know what else I can do to convince you to do so as soon as possible.

Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

Emily Duncan, you had me at monsters, magic, and murder set in an eastern European-esque land. Then you threw in a Joan of Arc type character, political machinations, and an entire book made up of gray area, and I was completely lost. Dark and disturbing, Wicked Saints is not for the faint of heart, but for those who love brutal but well-told Gothic stories, you need to put it on your radar.

The Last by Hanna Jameson
Having grown up at the end of the Cold War, the question of what would happen at the end of the world is one that fascinates me. (Today’s youth might fear the future and have a morbid sense of humor because of the doom and gloom in which they are growing up, but they have never had to experience nuclear holocaust drills. Gallows humor doesn’t begin to cover what that does to a child.) While Hanna Jameson creates a perfectly reasonable situation in which an isolated group of hotel guests and employees find themselves in a real-life end-of-world situation, the story leaves a bit to be desired. This is a kinder, gentler end of the world. Jameson shields the reader from anything truly horrifying, and all unpleasant situations remain at a minimum. I find this lack of drama boring, to the point where four months after reading it, I have to read the synopsis to refresh my memory. Besides, the title and the cover scream British thriller to me and is in no way indicative that the story occurs in the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust. It was not the best book I read in April by any means.

A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by C. A. Fletcher
A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World is a proper end-of-the-world story, as it has everything you want in such stories. Plus, the entire story revolves around a boy’s attempt to get back his dog. That type of loyalty goes a long way towards overcoming any of the story’s pitfalls. Thankfully, there are few to none. C. A. Fletcher provides a history so that we can understand Griz’ world and why the sight of other people fills one with fear and not excitement. The world into which Griz ventures is harsh and dangerous but not without its beauty as well. Griz’ journey is exciting and refuses to follow any pattern, meaning it never becomes predictable or mundane. It is the type of story that engages your imagination while Griz’ struggles engage your sympathies. It is the type of book I had hoped more people would read because it is engrossing and provides a plethora of discussion topics. Have you read it? What did you think?

Little Darlings by Melanie Golding
To be honest, I still don’t know what to think of Little Darlings. I want to like it because it deals with the fae, in its own way. Yet, I am not a fan of books that are so open-ended, that leave the entire story to the reader. I never did enjoy the Choose Your Own Adventure series; I am certainly not going to enjoy them now. Yet that is what I think of when I think of Melanie Golding’s novel. The story has no right or wrong answer, so you are free to choose to think what you will of Lauren’s conviction that her babies are not hers. For my own peace of mind, I choose the more poetic side, not because I love fae stories – which I do – but because the prosaic side is too depressing. That being said, any reader easily upset by missing children or triggered by mental trauma should avoid this one.

The Invited by Jennifer McMahon
Jennifer McMahon never fails to thrill and delight me as a reader. She embraces the idea of ghosts as fact and luxuriates in the darkness of men as only an author can. Her latest novel is a thrilling adventure of wrongs made right, racism, witchcraft, and strong women. It is a ghost story with the “are there or aren’t there” drama stripped away from its plot; in Helen’s new world, ghosts very much exist. Ms. McMahon never ventures near the unreliable narrator trope either, so even though no one seems to believe Helen as she works to understand the ghostly warnings, there is so much more happening in her new sleepy town than we initially understand. This is where the darkness of men comes to the fore, and what follows is a twisty tale of the truth and the lies we tell each other to avoid the truth. Also, did I mention strong, independent women? I believe The Invited is one of Ms. McMahon’s strongest novels to date, so if you have not yet had the pleasure of experiencing one of her novels, this is a good place to start.

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