Beyond The Gate

Beyond the Gate (A Kathy Ryan Novel Book 3)

Beyond the Gate by Mary SanGiovanni

This was my first Kathy Ryan book & it was a trip. Kathy Ryan is an occult investigator that is hired to investigate the disappearance of a team of scientists. But this team didn’t disappear under mysterious circumstances here on Earth, but in another freaking dimension. This alternate dimension is discovered in a lab run by the Paragon Corporation, a super shady government research organization. When the Green Team scientists first venture into this dimension, the world appears to be abandoned & void of any sentient life. However, as the team has disappeared, the question becomes whether or not this dimension is as truly empty as they thought.

I was a little worried as this is the third book in the series that I would be missing out on a huge back story, but I think it held up pretty well as a stand alone book. It also makes me want to go back & read the first two books in the series.

Thank you to the author, Mary SanGiovanni, for the free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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A Thousand Splendid Suns

A Thousand Splendid Suns

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Historical fiction has not been a genre I have read a lot of over the years. This book was highly recommended to me by a co-worker, so I gave it a go. And OMG…. am I glad I did. One of the best novels I have read over the course of my 35+ years of reading. This novel made me straight up ugly cry. I can think of only one other novel that made me cry like this that didn’t involve the death of a pet & that was Les Miserables.

The story takes place over the course of thirty years in Afghanistan, a history of which I was not familiar, covering from the Soviet invasion to post-Taliban rebuilding. We follow the lives of two women & their experiences during these volatile times. Not only do we follow the jarring aspects of survival in a war torn country, but survival as women with no choices & no control over their lives.

It is a heartbreaking story & one I highly recommend reading.


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Different Seasons

Different Seasons

Different Seasons by Stephen King

This was my third read of Different Seasons. I have embarked on the journey of reading all of King’s works in chronological order, even though I have read this twice before. I will probably read it again a fourth or fifth time even.
If you are not familiar, this collection contains some of King’s best stories, but also those made into the best well known adaptations of King’s works. The Body, aka as Stand by Me. Apt Pupil, aka, well, Apt Pupil. And of course, Rita Hayworth & the Shawshank Redemption. If you have not seen this movie, see it now. Actually, read Different Seasons first. Because if you see the movie before you read, you will have the same problem I did on my reread this time. Morgan Freeman narrating in my head…which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

The collection is broken up into four themes or “seasons.”
Hope Springs Eternal contains the Shawshank Redemption novella. The story is told from the perspective of Red, an inmate at Shawshank prison, where everyone is “innocent.” Until one man arrives that actually is. My favorite story in this collection & one of my all time favorite movies ever.
Summer of Corruption is the Apt Pupil novella. I had forgotten how disturbing this story truly is. It is a tale of teen who befriends an old man & the boy uncovers the old man’s sordid past as a Nazi soldier.
Fall from Innocence is the novella, The Body. It is the tale of four young boys that set out on an adventure in the woods to find the body of a missing boy. My second favorite story in this collection.
A Winter’s Tale is the novella, The Breathing Method. My least favorite in this collection, but is still a good story & wraps up the collection nicely. The novella is a story within a story. It is about a unique club where folks gather & tell tales, in this case, the tale of a woman that is determined to give birth, no matter what.
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Books & Brews Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

I have to be honest….Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children took me a little longer to read then usual for me. It wasn’t because I didn’t enjoy it. It was because the novel was different from anything I’ve read in a long time. I wanted to enjoy every minute.  It has the elements of horror and fantasy all rolled into one throughly entertaining read, and it brought me back to my childhood. I’m well past my young adult days of Fear Street and Christopher Pike, but I found Ransom Riggs’ novel a fun read no matter what your age.

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When I first discovered the novel on Goodreads, I thought the photos throughout the book might come across as juvenile. I enjoy imagining the people and places within a story myself, which is why I always try to read the book before seeing the movie.  I thought the photos might take away from that a little. However, the integration of the photos are a great addition to the book as the plot stems from those very photographs. The photographs also add a certain creepiness to the story that I don’t think would be present without them.

The story begins with the typical awkward teenage boy, with no friends, save for the one that he essentially hires to be his friend through tutoring. Jacob, has a very close relationship with his Grandpa Portman, who had a panache for telling tall tales. The stories Grandpa Portman told of his escape from Poland during the war to an orphanage intrigued Jacob. The orphanage was home to children that were quite different. An invisible boy. A girl that floats. A boy with bees in his stomach. A girl with a second mouth in the back of her head. And Grandpa Portman had pictures of them all and more. But as Jacob grew older, he began to doubt the truth behind the tales and the photographs.

Without spoiling too much, Jacob winds up on an adventure on a remote island off the coast of Wales to trying to track down the orphanage and its occupants. The story that follows is fantastical and entertaining, and much better than the movie. If you’ve seen the movie, you know most of the story. The movie does follow the book quite closely as the story goes, but the certain characters are switched around and the ending, well, not the same at all. It is a fun read for both adults and kids.

Short’s Brewing Company is based out of Bellaire, Michigan. I tried on of their seasonal brews, Double Magician, a double London-style Red Ale. It is a medium bodied brew, but I found it a bit on the heavier side and a little bitter. The description of the brew mentions flavors of toffee and raisins. Maybe my palette is as refined as it once was, but I didn’t get any of those flavors. It’s also on the higher APV at 8.1%, so a sipping brew for sure. If you enjoy ales and a hoppier beer, I would recommend. Myself, I wouldn’t get this one again, but I will definitely try out their “regular” Magician.

Books & Brews Review: The Devil Crept In

I came up with the idea of pairing two of the things I enjoy most in this world, books & beer, for my Instagram account to have more pictures to post during the week. I’ve decided to begin a Books & Brews series in addition to my monthly hobby as well. Every book I read I’ll feature a beer and post a review of both once I’ve finished reading the book. The first review will be of Ania Ahlborn’s latest novel, The Devil Crept In & the featured brew is Roak Brewing Company’s Devil Dog Oatmeal Stout.

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Books & Brews are consumed on separate occasions

I received a copy of this book in The Nocturnal Readers box, which is a really awesome monthly book subscription box for lovers of horror, sci-fi & fantasy novels.  This was the first box I received & it is worth the $30 a month. Evil Husband said I could try out 1 month &  to cancel if it sucked, but it doesn’t. So I’m keeping it until Evil Husband cuts me off.

I hadn’t heard of the author, Ania Ahlborn, before getting her book in my subscription box. The Devil Crept In is her most recent novel, and she has several other horror novels to her name that all have decent ratings & reviews on Goodreads. I’ve added a few of her other novels to my “to read” list as I was equally entertained and creeped out by The Devil Crept In.

The novel is set in Deer Valley, Oregon, a small town filled with mangy stray cats, and oddly, no one town seems to own a dog. Stevie Clark is a 10-year-old boy with a speech impediment,  and has no friends other than his cousin and “best friend” Jude. Stevie calls Jude his best friend, but it doesn’t seem like Jude is all that nice to Stevie. Neither is Stevie’s abusive step-dad or older brother. The two boys hang out in the Oregon woods in their fort, but after Stevie returns home, he later learns that Jude has gone missing. Police believe Jude ran away, but Stevie knows better. He begs to help out with the search party & is rebuffed. Stevie’s mom makes him stay inside for fear he could go missing too. Stevie does what any other 10-year-old boy would do: he sneaks out and investigates on his own. He learns of the strange things that have happened in Deer Valley over the years and the other boy who also went missing a few years back.

As the novel progresses through Stevie’s eyes, we also are privy to a sort of flash-back, side story that fills in the gaps of Stevie’s “story.” There are times when I thought the story could have picked up the pace a bit, but the times when I thought I had figured out what was going on, she throws in twist that kept me entertained from beginning to end. Any horror fan should definitely add this to their “to read” list.

Devil Dog Oatmeal Stout is from a local brewery, Roak Brewing Company in Royal Oak, Michigan. This is actually the first beer I’ve had from this particular brewery, & it was decent. If you’re a fan of dark beers, oatmeal stouts are fantastic. This brew in particular has hints of chocolate, coffee & toasted oats, but I didn’t realize the ABV on this bad boy when I bought it. At 8.5%, it was definitely a one and done beer. I realized this half way through number 2.

I am a big fan of supporting local businesses and craft beer. Some of the brews I feature will be local to me, but I will also mix it up with more widespread national brews as well. If you’re interested in finding a great oatmeal stout near you, here’s a list of the top rated oatmeal stouts by Beer Advocate.