We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

Image result for we have always lived in the castle
Before saying anything about this book, or my thoughts on it, I have to point out the brilliant cover. It’s absolutely perfect! There. I’ve gotten that off my chest. Now to move on to my actual review.

This little book is an eerie delight. It wasn’t at all what I expected, although I really couldn’t say why.  I guess maybe I expected more of a gothic atmosphere. I actually thought the book was more entertaining than creepy.

Mary Katherine lives in the family house with her uncle Julian, and her sister Constance. Everyone else in her family is dead, poisoned during a meal. Because of this, everyone in town understandably views them with suspicion and more than a little fear.

Constance won’t leave the house, and Julian can’t, but a visitor shows up in a see-through attempt to woo Constance and find the fortune everyone thinks is hidden in the house. Things build to a crescendo, which I won’t give away.

Merricat (as Mary Katherine is called) has a hateful, spoiled personality, which makes her a fun narrator. Constance is fearful and Julian is a blast to read. His odd quirks make for fun interactions.

I enjoyed this book. It’s a short one; pick it up if you’ve got a few hours to fill.

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

Image result for the turn of the screw

This is the story of a governess who, upon taking charge of two young children, finds herself worrying that something malevolent is after them. She begins to fear that two deceased former employees are haunting the house.

I’ve read this creepy little story before, but it’s been quite a while, so I figured the time was ripe for a reread. I’m pleased to report that it’s just as eerie the second time around as it was the first.

While the pacing is excellent, building tension slowly, it’s the uncertainty of everything that stands out to me. Are the children really haunted, or is it all the product of the governess’ imagination? I love that it’s up to the reader to decide.

The characters are surprisingly well-developed, considering the shortness of the story. At barely over a hundred pages, this is easily read in a day. It’ll take a lot longer to mull over, though.

I quite enjoyed this spooky tale. If you haven’t read it yet, it’s worth giving a go. Henry James is a fantastic author, and this story is engaging and thought-provoking.

If you’ve read this book, what was your takeaway? Were the hauntings really there? Was the governess hallucinating?

How to Become a Hipster Reader (books to read before they’re on TV)


Admission: whenever possible, I read a book before I watch the show or movie it’s based on. It doesn’t always happen nowadays, what with homeschooling, toddler chasing, and taking college classes, but I do my level best.

In order to join the Book Hipster Collective, read the book first (unless you’re capable of growing a man bun. Then…go for it, I guess). Here are some book suggestions for a jumping off point.

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett: If you haven’t seen the wonderfully done show, you need to get on that. If you haven’t read the book: what on earth, in heaven, or in hell, are you waiting for?

Image result for good omens book

According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (the world’s only completely accurate book of prophecies, written in 1655, before she exploded), the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just before dinner.

So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, Atlantis is rising, frogs are falling, tempers are flaring. Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon—both of whom have lived amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and have grown rather fond of the lifestyle—are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture.

And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist . . .(taken from Amazon)

The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice: According to imdb, a Vampire Chronicles series is in the works. If or when this will actually come to fruition, I really can’t say. However, it’s absolutely worth reading the first few books in the Vampire Chronicles anyway, since they’re bloody (pun intended) brilliant.

Image result for the vampire chronicles books
Follows the three-century life of Lestat, from his boyhood in eighteenth-century France to 1992 Miami where the immortal vampire finds himself alone, yearning to regain his soul and to once again experience the joys and anguish of being human. (taken from Amazon)

Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan (the last few were continued by Brandon Sanderson) : You’ve got some time before the series releases (sometime in 2021), which is great because this is quite the undertaking. However, if you’re a fantasy fan at all, these books need to be on your “to read asap” pile.

Image result for wheel of time book series
The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, an Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

When The Two Rivers is attacked by Trollocs—a savage tribe of half-men, half-beasts— five villagers flee that night into a world they barely imagined, with new dangers waiting in the shadows and in the light. (taken from Amazon)

The Stand by Stephen King: With a new star studded mini-series in the works, make sure to read the book before watching. I think I’ve read this book before but, since I’m not entirely positive, I think I need to read it again before watching the show.

Image result for the stand book

A patient escapes from a biological testing facility, unknowingly carrying a deadly weapon: a mutated strain of super-flu that will wipe out 99 percent of the world’s population within a few weeks. Those who remain are scared, bewildered, and in need of a leader. Two emerge—Mother Abagail, the benevolent 108-year-old woman who urges them to build a peaceful community in Boulder, Colorado; and Randall Flagg, the nefarious “Dark Man,” who delights in chaos and violence. As the dark man and the peaceful woman gather power, the survivors will have to choose between them—and ultimately decide the fate of all humanity. (taken from Amazon)

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss: The first book in an epic fantasy series (only the first two books in the chronicles are out right now), the show actually doesn’t follow the novel, instead focusing on the world. I’m hesitant to watch the show because of that, but The Name of the Wind is excellent. The first paragraph of the book alone is incredible.

Image result for name of the wind tv book

My name is Kvothe.
 
I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.
 
You may have heard of me.
 
So begins a tale unequaled in fantasy literature—the story of a hero told in his own voice. It is a tale of sorrow, a tale of survival, a tale of one man’s search for meaning in his universe, and how that search, and the indomitable will that drove it, gave birth to a legend.  (taken from Amazon)

Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie: Agatha Christie is the preeminent voice in mystery literature. If you haven’t read this book, you definitely need to. The fact that a movie adaptation will be released next year, well…it gives you a bit of a deadline.

Image result for death on the nile book

Beloved detective Hercule Poirot embarks on a journey to Egypt in one of Agatha Christie’s most famous mysteries, Death on the Nile.

The tranquility of a cruise along the Nile was shattered by the discovery that Linnet Ridgeway had been shot through the head. She was young, stylish, and beautiful. A girl who had everything . . . until she lost her life.

Hercule Poirot recalled an earlier outburst by a fellow passenger: “I’d like to put my dear little pistol against her head and just press the trigger.” Yet in this exotic setting nothing is ever quite what it seems. (taken from Amazon)

Are you excited for any of these adaptations? What am I missing? Are you a book hipster like me, or does it depend on the book?

 

Echoes: The Saga Anthology of Ghost Stories edited by Ellen Datlow- ARC Review

Image result for echoes the saga anthology of ghost stories
Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book, in exchange for my honest opinion.

This collection is good, spooky fun! The fact that no one story felt like another is incredibly impressive in and of itself. From feeling like eating s’mores while reading, to getting a shivery feeling, this book has it all. A few stories even came across as Scary Stories to Read in the Dark for adults (Must Be This Tall to Ride by Seanan McGuire comes to mind) , which was awesome.

This book contains so much that I’m going to just mention a few of the stories that stood out to me.

* A Hinterlands Haunting by Richard Kadrey was one of the shorter stories in this collection. It was also one of the most fun ones. Not in the least bit spooky, it was funny and absolutely unique. Maybe funny isn’t the right word to use when discussing things that go bump in the night, but I laughed.

*The Surviving Child by Joyce Carol Oates: Sad and introspective, this was undoubtedly one of the most well-written in the collection. I loved it.

*Must Be This Tall to Ride by Seanan McGuire definitely had a “scary stories around a campfire” vibe to it. Short and fun, this one stood out to me.

*His Haunting by Brian Evenson was the one that felt the most eerie to me. It was something in the way it was told, I think. While none of the stories actually scared me, this one came the closest.

This is a good collection, especially with Halloween in a couple of months. Pick it up and tell me what you think!

Teeth in the Mist by Dawn Kurtagich

Before the birth of time, a monk uncovers the Devil’s Tongue and dares to speak it. The repercussions will be felt for generations…

Sixteen-year-old photography enthusiast Zoey has been fascinated by the haunted, burnt-out ruins of Medwyn Mill House for as long as she can remember–so she and her best friend, Poulton, run away from home to explore them. But are they really alone in the house? And who will know if something goes wrong?

In 1851, seventeen-year-old Roan arrives at the Mill House as a ward–one of three, all with something to hide from their new guardian. When Roan learns that she is connected to an ancient secret, she must escape the house before she is trapped forever.

1583. Hermione, a new young bride, accompanies her husband to the wilds of North Wales where he plans to build the largest water mill and mansion in the area. But rumors of unholy rituals lead to a tragic occurrence and she will need all her strength to defeat it.

Three women, centuries apart, drawn together by one Unholy Pact. A pact made by a man who, more than a thousand years later, may still be watching…(taken from Amazon)

In the interest of full disclosure, I will say: I did not finish this book. However, since I made it over two hundred pages in before calling it, I’ve decided that I’m an expert on the subject of this book. Okay, maybe not, but I’m still about to spew my opinion. You have been warned.

This book reminded me of a less mature version of Penny Dreadful (basically, the author adios-ed the nudity) smashed together with The Blair Witch Project. It did not work for me at all.

First of all, the present day part of the story bored me. I couldn’t find it in me to care one iota about Zoey, or her friend. The whole video diary thing is been there, done that. I’m assuming that if I finished the book, there would be some reveal about who she is and how she’s involved in the hauntings (I’m assuming she’s related to Roan, one of the main characters from the 1851 storyline), but…so what?

The 1851 storyline, involving Roan, was so choppy that there were several occasions where I was convinced I’d skipped pages, only to find out that I hadn’t. There was one part where Roan told a character she needed to speak to him as all the other characters left the room, only for that talk to not happen until much later.

The switches between the different timelines were done in a way that felt very odd to me. Chapters didn’t seem to end naturally, as much as just stop almost mid-thought. Don’t get me wrong, the premise was interesting. I just didn’t enjoy the execution at all.

After I decided that there was no reason for me to continue reading a book that is most definitely not for me, I read the author bio in the back. It turns out that she’s the author of another book that I did read all the way through, and didn’t care for. So, I guess it’s just a matter of her writing style not working for me. And that’s okay. But, seeing as all the reviews I’ve read of this book are raves, I thought I’d post my flip-side thoughts, just to see if anyone else had the same experience.

Have you read this book? Did you think it lived up to the hype?

Image result for teeth in the mist

The Whispered Tales of Graves Grove by J.S. Bailey, Mackenzie Flohr, Elise Manion, D.M. Kilgore, et al- ARC Review

Image result for the whispered tales of grave grove
Graves Grove isn’t your ordinary town…

Nestled within the folds of the Canadian Rockies, Graves Grove probably isn’t the picturesque place you’d like to stay for long. Peculiar things happen here. The citizens seem normal superficially—they function well enough. But each one is deeply disturbed, wrapped in secrets and neuroses which drive them to strange behaviors.

And then there are all the missing children. And why is everyone afraid of that sycamore tree?

The Whispered Tales of Graves Grove is an anthology of stories taking place throughout the history of this mysterious town, from its founding to its future. Read them…if you dare. (taken from Amazon)

                    This book was provided by Netgalley, in exchange for my honest opinion. It will be available on October thirteenth.

If Twin Peaks had a more horror-based neighboring town, Graves Grove would be it. Bizarre and creeptastic, this shiver-inducing collection of short stories is a blast to read. I love reading stories that have a common thread, but still showcase each author’s individual style. That’s what this collection did: while all the tales were part of a larger narrative, each one was individualistic and creative.

There were many stories that I loved, and just a few that were “meh”. A couple of them mentioned fairies which didn’t seem to jive with the rest of the book, but they were still interesting even though they felt a bit disjointed.

I loved Where’s Matheson Lam and The Flash in particular. The both left me with that feeling of what if?, which is so much fun in supernatural and horror books. I also loved that there’s a distinct lack of over-the-top gore.

This book collection was a lot of fun. I highly recommend it.

2019 Mid-year check-in

It’s been a pretty dang good reading year so far. Sure, there have been some less than satisfactory reads, but those have been few and far between. Being a newbie blogger (less than a year old), I’m still getting into my groove, but a mid-year post sounds fun and encouraging. So, without further ado, here goes:

According to the lovely Goodreads page, I’ve finished sixty nine books so far this year. I haven’t been counting books I read to my kids, or anything I’ve read for school, but it’s a pretty accurate count of my “me time” progress.

I’ve seen other posts listing top three books read, or even one favorite, but I don’t think I can possibly pick just one. Instead, I’m listing my top reads below, complete with links to any posts I’ve written. These are not in any particular order.

Duckett and Dyer: Dicks for Hire by Ganesh Nair: blog post forthcoming.

Image result for duckett and dyer dicks for hire

The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep by H.G. Parr: you can find my blog post here.

Image result for the unlikely escape of uriah heep

Two Like Me and You by Chad Alan Gibb: You can read my glowing review here.

Related image

Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan: I waxed enthusiastic about this book. You can read my post here.

Image result for wicked saints

Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky: Read the many wonderful things about this book here.

Image result for imaginary friend by stephen chbosky

For the Love of Books: Stories of Literary Lives, Banned Books, Author Feuds Extraordinary Characters, and More by Graham Tarrant: The only thing I didn’t love about this book is its name. Read my review here.

Image result for for the love of books graham tarrant

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid: This book has shown up on many lists of favorites I’ve seen, for good reason. Here is one more glowing review.

Image result for daisy jones and the six

Changeling (the Oddmire Book 1) by William Ritter: This book is fantastic and I loved every minute of it. Read why here

Image result for oddmire book 1

The Return of King Lillian by Suzie Plakson: The one is wonderful! Its release date is next Tuesday and I highly recommend it. Read my review here.

Image result for the return of king lillian

The Twisted Tree by Rachel Burge: This was a fun, spooky book. Check out my blog post here.

Image result for the twisted tree

There are several other books I’m looking forward to reading this year, not to mention any unexpected treasures that I’m sure to meet. Happy reading!

Needful Things by Stephen King

Image result for needful things

I’ve read a few Stephen King books in the past, but not too many. To be honest, my opinions on the books I had previously read ranged from indifference to dislike, so I was a bit uncertain on how I’d feel about this one. I decided to read Needful Things because I loved the show “Castle Rock”, which is loosely based on Stephen Kings’ works.

Needful Things takes place in Castle Rock, Maine, which is the setting for several of King’s stories. It’s a sleepy little town. At least, it would be if it hadn’t been the site of some seriously bizarre violent happenings over the years. Leland Gaunt, a charming man, comes to town and opens a store called “Needful Things”. It seems to be a curio shop, or an odd antique store. People from the town start coming in and, luckily for them, find the thing they most want.

Leland Gaunt sells things for an intriguing price- what the shopper can pay in cash plus one prank. Just a harmless little prank. Except, it’s Castle Rock, Gaunt isn’t who he seems, and suddenly these pranks have less than harmless consequences.

The idea is fascinating, Not because someone who deals in more than currency is a new idea; it’s not. But someone who uses pranks as currency is very original and the way the story progressed is unique. I’ve never heard any version of the Peddler who deals in that sort of trade. So, right away, I was intrigued.

Stephen King is an incredibly talented writer, no one will deny that. At times, I did feel like there were too many background characters, and there were a few parts that I think could have been condensed (for example, there were multiple Elvis Presley sexual fantasies, which seemed redundant). Overall, though, I really liked it. By the end, the story was barreling along at a breakneck pace and taking me with it.

I especially liked Sally because she had so much to lose. More than anyone else in the book, her “needful thing” was really needed. Leland Gaunt was truly terrifying, while being an incredibly complex character. I loved the way things ended between Gaunt and Pangborn (I won’t say, don’t worry).

There was one scene in particular that was extremely difficult for me to read; I ended up a little sick to my stomach. Be aware that Stephen King never pulls punches. His books are not for the faint of heart.

All in all, I enjoyed it. The snowball effect was fascinating, the ending was unexpected, and I got chills during the epilogue. If you enjoy Stephen King, or horror in general, I’d recommend this book.

Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky- ARC Review

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book, in exchange for my honest opinion. This book will be available to purchase on October first.

As soon as I started this book, I was presented with a problem: Do I read it as quickly as possible to see what happens next? Or do I drag it out as long as I can, enjoying Stephen Chobsky’s fantastic writing? I’m sure you, reader, have been in this position before. Ultimately, the choice was made for me; I couldn’t put this book down.

I’ll start with the characters. They were wonderfully three-dimensional, every one of them. Christopher was such a sweet little boy and I absolutely loved his mom. She was a fighter in every sense of the word. With the many characters this book had, the fact that they were all well developed and had distinct personalities was impressive, to say the least.

In this book, Christopher goes missing for several days. He shows up again, thanks to “the nice man”, whom no-one else has seen. He’s not the same, though. He has a friend that no one else can see. Thanks to this friendship, Christopher learns that he has a very important job that only he can complete. If he doesn’t finish by Christmas, all hell will break loose.

Normally at this point in a horror review, an excellent writer will be called “the next Stephen King”, or some such thing. I can’t do that, though. Chobsky’s writing is so unique that there’s no comparing it to anyone else. His book was very cerebral. To be honest, it got under my skin. He has a knack for knowing exactly what wigs me out. There are layers upon layers in this book, and it kept me fascinated from start to finish.

I won’t give any spoilers, but I will say this: this is a horror book and some people do horrific things. There might be things that would trigger some, so be aware of that as you read. Normally, some of the things touched upon would really bother me, but it was written in a way that I was able to handle.

For those who haven’t recognized the name, Stephen Chbosky is the author of the absolutely incredible The Perks of Being a Wallflower (if you haven’t read it yet, you really need to rectify that problem. I’ll wait). The fact that he is able to write such disparate genres speaks highly of his ability to weave a tale. He also somehow managed to make me tear up at parts, then scare the living daylights out of me a chapter later. He is a master in his craft.

Read this book.

Firefly Book Tag

Image result for firefly ship images

I thought I’d try my hand at a my own book tag, for the first time. Of course it has to be Firefly-related, to make my nerdy heart happy. So… take me out to the black, tell ’em I ain’t coming back!

Malcolm Reynolds- A Book with a Conflicted Character

“Mercy is the mark of a great man.” (stabs defeated opponent) 
“I guess I’m just a good  man” (stabs opponent again)
“Well…I’m alright.”
Related image
The Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman: Tanis is a very conflicted character. He’s often at war with himself, just like Mal. He’s also in a leadership role and feels that weight immensely.

Image result for dragonlance chronicles

Zoe- A Book With a Hardcore Female Character:
Mal: “Well, look at this! Appears we got here just in the nick of time. What does that make us?”
Zoe: “Big damn heroes, sir!”
Mal: “Ain’t we just.”

Related image
Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake: Each of the three queens is strong in her own way, although at the moment Katharine (the poisoner queen) comes to mind.

Image result for three dark crowns

Wash- A Character or Book With a Good Sense of Humor:

“We’re all doomed! Who’s flying this thing?! Oh right, that would be me. Back to work.”

Image result for wash firefly images
Kill the Farm Boy by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne

This book is so stinking funny, and its sequel is even better. I love clever humor and this book has it in spades.

Image result for kill the farm boy

Jayne: A Violent Book or Character
“You know what the chain of command is? It’s the chain I go get and beat you with ’til ya understand who’s in ruttin’ command here.”

Image result for jayne images firefly

Red Rising by Pierce Brown
One of the many things I love about this series is that no character is safe. The body count builds rather quickly. When revenge turns into revolution, things tend to get messy.

Related image

Kaylee- An Optimistic Book or Character:
Mal: “I don’t think there’s a power in the ‘verse that can stop Kaylee from being cheerful. Sometimes you just wanna duct tape her mouth and dump her in the hold for a month.” 
Kaylee:  “I love my captain.”

Related image
The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chobsky:
Okay, hear me out on this one. This book deals with some incredibly heavy subjects. It makes me cry every time (and I reread this one a lot), but it ends on a feeling of hope. I can’t really explain it. If you read it, you’ll get what I mean.

Image result for perks of being a wallflower book

Inara: A Book or Character that’s mysterious:
Mal: “How’s business?”
Inara: “None of yours.”

Image result for firefly inara images

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern: One of the many things I love about this book is the air of mystery and impossibility of the Cirque Des Reves, as well as the characters.

Image result for the night circus book

Shepard Book- A Book or Character involving faith
“You don’t fix faith. Faith fixes you.”

Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman: I don’t read a lot of faith-based books, just my Bible. But this book really resonated with me.

Image result for kyle idleman not a fan images

Simon Tam- A Book or Character that’s highly intelligent:
” I don’t care what you’ve done, I don’t know what you’re planning on doing, but I’m trusting you. I think you should do the same. ‘Cause I don’t see this working any other way.”
Image result for simon tam images

The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford-English Dictionary by Simon Winchester

This book is fascinating, and I definitely learned some things while reading it. Who knew the dictionary had such an interesting beginning?

Related image

River Tam: A Book or Character that’s a bit creepy:
“Also, I can kill you with my brain.”

Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chobsky:
I’m about two thirds of the way through this book, and I can honestly say it’s given me the wiggins. I am loving it so far.

Image result for imaginary friend by stephen chbosky

Well, that’s it for my first attempt at a book tag. If you want to try it with your choices, please be sure to tag me as the creator. I’d love to see what you come up with!