Hey there, book buddy!
Welcome to Issue #1 of the Goodwin Reads bookstack—an email newsletter. Yes, that’s right, the premier issue has arrived. 😊
For the past couple of months, I’ve been working hard putting this all together. Planning, researching, and growing a pair to publish this! 😂
I’ve learned many new skills, such as public speaking, video editing, and photography. I also learned how to use new platforms, such as Instagram and Substack.
It’s been a challenging, but fun ride. Goodwin Reads now has over 400 followers on Instagram. Also, you and 40 others have subscribed to this bookstack. These staggering numbers are beyond my imagination.
I want to take a moment to pause and tell you something. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. ❤️
You chose to support me by subscribing when you didn’t have to. I can’t express how much that small gesture means to me.
As my way of showing gratitude, I want to give you a special gift. No strings attached. I’m comping you a lifetime premium subscription.
You may wonder about the benefits of a premium subscription. I can’t tell you right now. That part of the bookstack is still in the works. What I can tell you is that you are going to love it.
As you read, please keep in mind what you like and what you don’t like. I want to tailor this bookstack to you. Your feedback is crucial.
Previous. I finished Kingdom of the Wicked. OMG! It was awesome. I cannot wait to tell you all about it next month in my November Wrap-up. The book before KOTW was Song of Achilles—another five-star. I’m two five-star books in a row. Life is good. 😁
Current. My current read is These Violent Delights, a refreshing take on Romeo and Juliet in 1926 Shanghai.
Next. My next read has yet to be determined. Let’s take a vote. The contenders are The Guest List and The Night Swim.
The Guest List is a fun, fast-paced, guessing game of a read, and The Night Swim is an emotional and unsettling psychological thriller about a rape trial in a small town.
Leave a comment and tell me which one you think I should read.
2021 October Wrap-up
I read some spooky books in October. While none of my reads blew me away, I have to say that October was a great reading month.
The month started with me finishing the sci-fi phenomenon, Dune. My daughter Kylie bought me this book for my birthday back in June. It was her first time to buy me something of value with her own money. I was so proud of her. She also got me a candle and a fancy card.
I had to get Dune read as I wanted to finish before the movie came out on HBO Max. I succeeded. While I still haven’t watched the movie, I’m prepared to do so. I’ve heard nothing but great reviews of it.
After Dune, I switched gears and got into the spooky season. October is one of my favorite times of the year. I revel in the dark arts.
I’ve read thirty books for the year. I’m disappointed that I’m most likely going to fall short of my fifty-two book goal. I will achieve that goal next year. Writing this bookstack will help me get there. 😢
I read four books this month. These four were all excellent, but nothing extraordinary. 😕
My average rating was three and three-quarters stars. Which is a whole star improvement over last month, which averaged only two and three-quarters stars. 🤗
I read three different genres: one sci-fi, two horror/thrillers, and one witchy romantic comedy. The horror/thrillers were my favorite.
Book of the Month
I want to take a quick moment to tell you about Book of the Month. Every month, you get one hardback book of your choice delivered to your home. Not only is the price phenomenal for a hardback, you get to enjoy reading a book that many others around the world are also reading.
The book will be a special edition hardback. You can addon two hardbacks for the unheard-of price of $10.99 each. Book of the Month is something I have subscribed to for years.
Every member I know loves the service. Don’t miss out. Get your first hardback book for only $9.99 when you use my link. 🎉
Dune by Frank Herbert
Dune is about a duke’s son named Paul. Paul’s father dies and loses his lands—well, an entire planet. The newly minted and exiled duke is determined to reclaim his rightful inheritance.
His father’s killer, a Barron, takes over the planet Dune. He has a massive army and a considerable force. With the emperor’s support, the Barron is a force to be reckoned with.
It was refreshing to have a common name for our hero. One of my struggles with fantasy and sci-fi are all the made-up names. I feel like authors want to make the names as hard to remember as possible. However, the name Paul seems a bit understated for our galactic hero. I think the author could have found a happy medium.
Paul hooks up with a resistance group called the Freemen. Among them, he attempts to raise an army out of rebels. Will they follow Paul? Will Paul reclaim his birthright?
This book has some Star Wars and Game of Thrones vibes. If you like either of those franchises, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy Dune. This book will work for you if you’re a sci-fi or fantasy fan. And if you’re a diehard fan of these genres, I’m sure you’ve already read Dune since it is a classic written decades ago.
To me, Dune fell short of the five-star mark. Although I know, many fans would happily rate it as such. This book is a slow build. I just wasn’t gripped.
A lot of this had to do with the writing and the outdated technology. Since it was written so long ago, the technology described seems old-fashioned. For this reason, sci-fi doesn’t tend to age well. I remember my dad telling the original Star Trek used rotating numbers—think old car odometers—because digital hadn’t occurred to them. I’m sure today’s digital numbers will seem entirely obsolete for future generations.
I wasn’t in love with Frank Herbert’s writing style. His prose wasn’t anything to admire. I found myself working through tedious passages and required coffee to keep from falling asleep during the boring parts.
If this was the 1960’s, I definitely could see the great appeal of this book’s technology. I also did end up enjoying the book.
My final award to Dune is four stars. I usually am when it comes to sci-fi and fantasy. Learning the ins and outs of the world and multiple characters usually overwhelms me. But once I settled in, the book became fast-paced and enjoyable.
Survive the Night by Riley Sager
Survive the Night is about Charlie, a college student, traveling across a few states lines with Josh, a stranger. The year is 1991, and the Internet isn’t really in everyday use, and iPhones are just short of twenty years out. In this day in age, there is a pinboard on campus called a ride board. Here students can post where they are headed and arrange company, or at least people who can chip in for gas.
Recently, a serial killer murdered Charlies’ best friend. She’s having difficulties processing her emotions, so she decides to take a sabbatical and return home to Ohio.
When you are stuck in a car for hours upon hours, you start to chat with your trip companion. Charlie is getting to know Josh, but something seems off. His story isn’t adding up. She starts to wonder, is Josh a serial killer? Charlie needs to get out of this situation, but how?
Survive the Night is written in the classic Riley Sager style. So, if you’re already a fan of Sager, I see no reason why you won’t enjoy Survive the Night. Now, if you haven’t read any other of Sager’s books, I wouldn’t start with this one. I would instead begin with The Last Time I Lied or Lock Every Door. All his books are stand-alone.
Sager gives off some Dean Koontz vibes. However, he doesn’t really add in the paranormal twists that Koontz is known for. But he does match the easy, not-to-intense style of Koontz, as compared to the detailed and intense style of Stephen King.
For me, Survive the Night was four-stars. I enjoyed the ride the entire time. I would have gone in a different direction for the ending, but it wasn’t horrid. I enjoyed the suspense and getting to know the characters. The “movies” were a little weird, but you’ll see that when you get there.
I cared about Charlie and her welfare as she’s a sympathetic character; however, Josh is pretty two-dimensional. Nothing particular stands out about him. Sager could have done a little more in Josh’s character development.
Survive the Night wasn’t impressive or satisfying. However, it was enjoyable for the most part. I’m glad I read it, as I’m a fan of Sager; however, I would suspect if this is your first Sager book, you might not be too thrilled to read his back catalog.
The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson
The Year of the Witching is about an ostracized teenage girl named Immanuelle coming into her own. The setting is an 18th century Salem type of environment. A polygamous religious sect runs the town of Bethel. The city is walled-in, there are strict religious rules. The whole place is an authoritarian nightmare.
One border of the town is a witch-infested haunted woods known as the Darkwoods. No one dares to enter. But when Immanuelle’s ram runs off into the Darkwoods, she gives chase and gets lost. There she meets some demon-possessed witches.
Soon after, a plague is running rampant through Bethel. Everyone is afraid. Only Immanuelle knows what happened in the Darkwoods. She is the only one that can save Bethel. To do that, she must learn and confront her family’s past. Will she save the town where no one likes her?
Horror/thriller fans will love The Year of The Witching. It has all the elements for a great read, and it gives off Stephen King vibes. The town and its history are well developed, along with Immanuelle’s backstory. The Year of the Witching has ghosts, witches, and a thrilling plot. You won’t be bored because there is so much action.
The Year of the Witching is a solid four stars. This book had it all. Horror with the demon witches. Action with the crazy polygamous sect leaders. There were several backstories.
I do have two complaints. It would have been five stars from me had the love aspect been more fleshed out, as it was pretty stale. Also, the ending went by quickly. There wasn’t much to it. We built up so much to the end, and then poof, it was over.
The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling
The Ex Hex is about a college student who places a hex on her affluent ex-lover and then discovers the hex has corrupted the entire town.
Vivi is a young girl in love. When the college’s namesake, Rhys, shows interest in her, she’s in love by the end of the summer. Unfortunately, this affluent young man is betrothed to another. Upon discovering this, Vivi is pissed, and rightfully so. Vivi and her cousin Gwyn play around and put a hex on Vivi’s jilted lover. However, there’s one caveat I failed to mention, Vivi, Gwyn, and Rhys are all witches.
Fast forward nine years, Vivi and Rhys have thought about each other but haven’t been in contact. Rhys never got married. When he returns to recharge magic in the college town, the hex kicks in, and everything goes haywire.
Now it’s up to Vivi and Rhys to fix the screwup before innocent people get hurt. Will they be able to work together? Will they fall in love? Will they save the town? With so many questions, this book is an exciting read.
If you’re a fan of Hocus Pocus or romantic comedies in general, you’ll love this book. It’s a quick and easy read. Nothing too serious. Not a lot of spice, if you’re shy. You’ll love this book and smile the whole time.
I awarded The Ex Hex three stars, as I wasn’t all that impressed. I’m not the biggest romantic comedy fan. The Ex Hex was a light read, and I got through the book. I smiled a little but never really had a big laugh. The antics were childish at best. The romance was so-so. Nothing to get me hot and bothered. Nothing to get me all that interested. Altogether the whole thing was pretty cheesy. The magic was corny, and the love story just wasn’t written well. My attention kept falling in and out. I didn’t hate it, but I’d never pick it up and reread it.
That’s a Wrap
That’s all, friend. I hope you enjoyed the first issue of the Goodwin Reads bookstack.
It was a pleasure writing it, albeit a tad bit stressful. I hope my prose lives up to the hype. 😂
Your feedback is essential to the future of Goodwin Reads.
Take care and have a wonderful day! I’ll send you another email next Tuesday.