Nonfiction — Gettin’ Scary!

My attempts to find some new-to-me nonfiction regarding the supernatural to coincide with Halloween wound up being a bust……Why in the world did I not just go to my personal library to begin with?!?!¬† ūüėÄ

It’s not a secret that I love Halloween.¬† It’s not for the candy or the overpriced decor.¬† There has always been something about the darker side that intrigues me.¬† Yes, I do believe in ghosts and spirits, and I believe in a lot of things that can’t be explained away with a scientific experiment.¬† Those are the main reasons that the following books still capture my attention (and imagination) to this day, especially during this haunting time of year……..

Leslie Rule and her mother, the late true-crime author Ann Rule, always talked about living in haunted houses throughout their lives.  Leslie takes these experiences to another level by seeking out other haunted places and trying to figure out the who and why behind the hauntings.

These books do not go in-depth into ghost hunting, but Leslie does offer her own personal experiences at various places throughout the United States, as well as lists of other places that have similar hauntings.  She talks to people who have experienced the unexplained as well as giving some of the legitimate backgrounds, not just the rumors, surrounding certain places.  And even though the photos throughout both books are questionable at best, they add to the overall creepiness and authenticity.

 

Haunted Heartland¬† by Beth Scott and Michael Norman reads more like an anthology of urban legends than true paranormal stories.¬† However, who’s to say what is really true when it comes to ghostly encounters?¬† These stories focus on Middle America, from Minnesota to Missouri.¬† One of the reasons I peg this more as “legend” is the lack of personal accounts from the authors.¬† But hey, some of these tales still creep me out to this day.

 

Whether you believe in the paranormal or not, if you want to curl up on a dark, stormy autumn day and feel the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, then I recommend checking out any of these books.

Do you have a favorite ghost story, “real” or not, you’d like to share?¬† Feel free to comment, I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time, Happy Reading!

Monday Mash-Up #041 Are you scared yet?!?

The Week in General—-

The days are shorter and darker, the leaves are falling from the trees, even the coyotes seem to be howling more than usual.¬† With the recent stormy weather, it’s been a perfect week to curl up with mugs of hot cider or tea and get into a good book!

 

The Week In Books—–

Hex Life:¬† Wicked New Tales of Witchery — 4 out of 5 stars!!

What a great selection of stories from some of today’s top women horror writers!¬† The witch-inspired stories covered a lot of ground, from modern day horrors to glimpses into the past.¬†¬†Widow’s Walk¬†by Angela Slatter offers a great explanation as to how witches get all of those cats;¬†Bless Your Heart¬†by Hillary Monahan will make you think twice about the other parents at the PTA meetings;¬†And if you want to find out what happened to Snow White after her marriage to Prince Charming and her descent into middle age, be sure to check out¬†How to Become a Witch-Queen¬†by Theodora Goss!!

Highly recommend!

Dead Leaves:¬† 9 Tales From the Witching Season by Kealan Patrick Burke — 4 out of 5 stars!

Time for some fangirling—-I love me some KPB!¬† This short story collection offered a bit of everything.¬†¬†Someone to Carve the Pumpkins¬†had a sad but eerie feel along the lines of the movie¬†The Others;¬†¬†The Toll¬†showcases some sadistic revenge.¬† My favorite was¬†The One Night of the Year,¬†which was creepy yet somehow poignant at the same time.¬† A must-read for the Halloween season.

Creature by Hunter Shea — 4 out of 5 stars!

Is the real creature the unknown thing that goes bump in the night or the known disease ravaging the human body?¬† A bit different from the other creature features of Shea’s that I recently read, and the one I liked the best.

The Jersey Devil by Hunter Shea — 3.5 out of 5 stars

This was definitely an old-school slasher type of horror story, complete with lots of decapitations and naked chicks covered in blood,  one that I could totally see as a straight-to-video (or cable television) kind of movie.  Overall I liked it, it was what I was expecting from all the hype behind the author.

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena — 3 out of 5 stars

The other night I couldn’t sleep so I grabbed this chick-lit thriller, dusted it off, and dove in (hey, it worked for my insomnia, after 40 pages I was out like a light!).¬† However, the next day when I decided to keep going with it, I was pleasantly surprised that I kind of liked it.¬† Yes, it still offered all of the usual cliches I’ve come to expect from this genre:¬† the unreliable main character, the unlikable cast of supporting characters, the somewhat bumbling detective who will stop at nothing to find out the truth……you know the drill.¬† But the fast pace and decent writing kept me hooked.¬† I didn’t even roll my eyes once!!¬† If you like the genre give this one a go (added bonus:¬† works better than chamomile tea for those sleepless nights!).

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This week looks to be a good week to finally get to the Pumpkin Patch for some fall fun, as well as hunkering down and enjoying some classic horror movies from my collection.¬† Plus one of my current reads involves ghosts and haunted highways—-if that doesn’t put me in Halloween mood, nothing will!¬† ūüėÄ

Enjoy your week, and until next time, Happy Reading!

 

Monday Mash-Up #040

The Week in General—

Yep, that about sums it up!!¬† ūüėÄ

The Week in Books—

Last Train From Perdition by Robert McCammon — 4 out of 5 stars!

Supernatural creatures terrorizing the Wild West of the 1800’s?¬† Sign me up please!¬† We have our somewhat good guy vampire, Trevor Lawson,¬† an adventurer for hire who longs to become human again, and a slew of not so nice bloodsuckers wrecking havoc wherever they go.¬† Last Train¬†is the 2nd in a short series, one that makes me hope that the late McCammon left some notes somewhere to continue on with the story.

Tortures of the Damned by Hunter Shea — 3 out of 5 stars

Hunter Shea is known for his “creature feature” horror novels so I was expecting a lot from this apocalyptic thriller.¬† Yes, there were rats, bats, cats, dogs, horses, and even hawks and seagulls that kept the horror coming (note to Mr. Shea:¬† I would have enjoyed more of the flesh-eating raccoons and skunks, nobody ever thinks of skunks!!).¬† But what took this book down a full star was the ending, the last 10 or so pages that just made me wonder why the hell I had bothered with the first 430+.¬† Not cool.

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury — 3 out of 5 stars

This was a reread for me, and while I was hoping to like it more I still found it to be the same as I remembered:  some genius mixed with some over-written prose.  One of the few times I will admit that I prefer the movie over the book.


Short and sweet this week.¬† I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that the rain doesn’t wash out our plans to visit the Pumpkin Patch and the Rutelidge Corn Maze in the coming days!¬† Until next time, Happy Reading!

 

Night Worms #03 Hex Education!

It’s that time for the latest package from Night Worms!¬† This month’s theme, Hex Education, involved all things witchy, perfect for Halloween!

Among the goodies:¬† some amazing scented tealight candles from Get Fictional, “Witch’s Brew” herbal berry tea, candy, artwork and special offers from a variety of artists, and the books!!¬†¬†Hex Life¬†is a collection of short stories (about witches, of course!!) by some of the best female horror authors out there today.¬† I couldn’t wait and already started it…..I love¬†Widow’s Walk¬†by Angela Slatter, can’t wait to get farther along tomorrow!

And check out the cover for¬†Blood Sugar¬†by Daniel Kraus!¬† Now that’s a witch!¬† ūüėÄ

Thanks to the gals at Night Worms for putting together another great month!

Monday Mash-Up #039

Not that I didn’t have enough scary books to choose from in my personal hoard….

I stopped by the library on Saturday to pick up my latest hold collection.¬† I’ve heard a lot about Hunter Shea’s “creature feature” horror novels so I really wanted to check these out.¬† And I am a big fan of Robert McCammon so I couldn’t pass these two up.¬† I’m already thinking that I may go ahead and buy¬†Speaks the Nightbird,¬†it sounds amazing and is the first in a series I’ve looked into before.

The Week in Books—

Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin — 4 out of 5 stars

Yes, it’s true, I’ve never seen the movie and this is my first time reading the book.¬† I have to say, it was much better than I expected and definitely makes me want to continue on with¬†Son of Rosemary.

The Sound of Broken Ribs by Edward Lorn — 4 out of 5 stars

This is one of those stories that defies description.¬† At its core is a solid thriller involving revenge, with some crazy supernatural stuff thrown into the mix.¬† I love Lorn’s humor in his book reviews, and this also comes through at times in the story.

The Guilt We Carry by Samuel Gailey — 4 out of 5 stars

Another great thriller featuring a young woman living with guilt over her young brother’s accidental death.¬† After living a runaway life and falling into alcoholism, she winds up involved with some stolen drug money.¬† I’m still not sure if I really liked the ending, it seemed a little rushed, but overall a great read.

Encounter With Hell by Alexis McQuillan — 2 out of 5 stars

Well, my search for a good nonfiction book to go with the Halloween season has not been very successful so far.¬† If the writing hadn’t been so painfully bad, this might have been a three or even low four star.¬† Out of 190 pages, only about 5 or 6 really dealt with the “demon” that supposedly followed McQuillan for five years.¬† A few good passages dealing with the old mansion and it’s ghosts kept this from being a one star.


Autumn is in full swing now, with the colorful leaves and the colder days.  I even baked my first pumpkin pie of the season the other day!

And I just realized that I am a month away from my first blog-aversary!!  Time to start planning a new year of fun!

Until next time, Happy Reading!

I Was Bad………

I’ve been trying to be good with my book-buying habit, telling myself to save up for my annual Birthday Book Binge in December.¬† But December seems so far away, especially when it’s BOGO at my favorite thrift store!!

It all started when I found¬†The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook,¬†one that’s been on my wish list for a couple of years now.¬† And hey,¬† since it’s buy one get one free, I had to keep looking!

I know, I’m known for my hatred of chick-lit and my vows to avoid anything by Jane Austen.¬† Yeah, well…….

One of my 2020 reading goals is to try out genres that I’ve disliked or avoided in the past.¬† While I couldn’t get past page 5 of¬†Austen’s¬†Pride and Prejudice,¬†I’ve heard¬†Emma¬†is much better so I figured what the hell, I’ll give it a shot.¬† And as for¬†The Devil Wears Prada?¬† I remember liking the movie well enough, so the book is always better, right?!¬† Of course, I’d had a few adult beverages while watching the movie so my memory of this one may be a bit skewed.

As for the others, Shreve and Coehlo have been on my to-read list for some time, and I can never pass up a Carl Hiaasen!!

The rest of my haul, truly a little bit of everything!!¬† All told, I spent a little under $10.¬† Not bad at all.¬† ūüôā

Have you bought some great books lately?¬† Feel free to share, I love seeing what you’re reading!¬† And until next time, Happy Reading!

Monday Mash-Up #038

Yes, it’s that time of year…..

…when even cute little frogs become bloodthirsty vampires!¬† ūüėÄ

Welcome October, my favorite month!  From the colorful fall leaves to drinking hot cider while reading a scary story, there is so much to love about this month.

The past week was a bit slow in the reading department as I kept busy with cleaning and storing a bunch of stuff to make room for Halloween decor.  However, I did get to finish two I picked for Halloween, with mixed results, lol!!

The Week in Books—

Wolf Land by Jonathan Janz — 4 out of 5 stars!

My Goodreads review—

Fair warning—this book is not for the squeamish. There are scenes that make Rob Zombie movies look like Sesame Street. More than once I found myself praying for some sort of brain scrubber to erase the imagery that will probably haunt me for some time.
And I liked it!!
Aside from the blood and gore, there is a good storyline and characters I actually cared about. There are no big surprises or life-affirming revelations; what you do get is a fast-paced, entertaining-in-a -sick-way read that is perfect for the Halloween season.
This was my first book by Jonathan Janz (no baby steps for me, haha!) and definitely won’t be the last.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson — 3.5 out of 5 stars

I first read this when I was 11 or 12 and I don’t remember it impressing me much.¬† One of my Goodreads groups chose this for their September read and I’m glad I dug out my old copy and reread this classic.¬† I definitely appreciated it more as an adult than I did at a young age.¬† Granted, not my favorite classic of all time, but an entertaining read.

Gretchen by Shannon Kirk — 1 out of 5 stars

And the award for my first one star review of 2019 goes to……..

Holy crap, this book was terrible.¬† Now, I can put up with crappy dialogue.¬† I can deal with anti-climatic plot twists.¬† I will even tolerate a normal mom who turns into a female Rambo, complete with full-on Survivor skills and encyclopedic knowledge of birds.¬† But dear God, not all in the same book!¬† Plus the added bonus of one of the most asinine endings I’ve ever read makes¬†Gretchen¬†the winner of my first one star rating of the year.¬† Um, congrats??


And on we go into another week.¬† Added bonus will be picking up a copy of¬†Rosemary’s Baby¬†I have on hold at the library.¬† I don’t know why I’ve never read this horror classic and I’m looking forward to it.

Do you have a favorite scary story?  Do you prefer full-on horror or twisted psychological thrillers?  Let me know your favs!

And as always, until next time, Happy Reading!

Monday Mash-Up #037 Happy Autumn!!

Today is officially the first day of autumn, my favorite time of year!¬† And yes, this pretty much sums up how I was as a kid raking the leaves…..

It’s the time of year for hot cider, pumpkin patches…. and going through my Halloween to read list.¬† With the exception of one nonfiction (and another one I’m currently reading), I am now in full-on scary story mode.¬† Let’s bring it on!!

The Week in Books—

The Toll by Cherie Priest — 4 out of 5 stars

This was one of those “fun” horror stories that¬† I couldn’t put down, and I probably shouldn’t have liked as much as I did.¬† Granted, I highly doubt the author intentionally wrote this like a made for TV movie that we’ve all seen on the SyFy channel, and I don’t think I was supposed to giggle at certain scenes, but I couldn’t help it.¬† For the love of God, I want to see the visual of the final “battle” scene, complete with crappy special effects! ūüėĬ† ¬†I started this book by taking it seriously, which by page 60 or so started pissing me off.¬† When I started reading this as a fun weird horror, that’s when I started to enjoy it.¬† My apologies to the author if it was meant to be some heavy serious novel, but I found it more fun than frightening.

A Little Sorrowed Talk by Brian Keene — 3.5 to 4 stars out of 5

This short story collection was one of those collections that when it was good, it was very, very good, and when it wasn’t it was meh.¬† A very eclectic collection, ranging from light horror to “weird fantasy” (the author’s words, not mine, but very true!).¬† This was my introduction to Keene’s work, and while I liked it I would not recommend it for a first-time read.

The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay — 3.5 out of 5 stars

I don’t want to say this but I may have to give up on reading Tremblay’s stuff, or at least the books I’ve heard too much about.¬† I have heard nothing but praise for his works but I was disappointed by my last read,¬†A Head Full of Ghosts,¬†and while this one was a bit better, it still didn’t measure up to my preconceived notions of this author’s work.¬† ¬†I will say it was an interesting take on the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, but there were just too many times I found myself counting the pages until the next chapter break so I could put it down.

Contamination Book 1:¬† The Onset by T. W. Piperbrook — 3 out of 5 stars

This novella is the first in a 6 part series about a zombie apocalypse.¬† Not a lot of new material, you have your outbreak situation and the typical cast of survivor characters.¬† But one thing I liked about this intro to the series is that it’s fast-paced and does add a bit of a different twist to the zombie genre.¬† I am interested in reading more but I’m not going to go out of my way at this time to track down the next volumes (maybe for next year).

Dark World by Zak Bagans — 3 out of 5 stars

If you’ve watched the show¬†Ghost Adventures¬†then you are familiar with Zak Bagans.¬† I don’t know why I picked this one up at the library as Bagans tends to annoy me on his show, and he wound up annoying me in this book.¬† But, there are some interesting moments and observations.¬† Don’t expect any of his personal stories, at least not in depth.¬† He talks about some of his experiences but he offers no new details from what was aired on his show.¬† Not bad if you want to get in the Halloween spirit, but not something I would recommend going out of your way to read.

Remarkable Reads by J. Peder Zane — 3 out of 5 stars

A mixed bag of essays from a wide variety of authors, each picking a book that somehow changed or affected them.¬† The best essays detailed the reading experience and the connection to the author’s life.¬† Sadly, many were just chapters out of the author’s biography with a brief nod to some book they just happened to read at the time.


Until next time, Happy Reading!!!

Monday Mash-Up #036

The Week in General —

Autumn is definitely in the air now.¬† The mornings are a bit chillier, the days shorter.¬† But with autumn comes my favorite month of October and Halloween!!¬† I’ve already started putting things away to make room for my decorating binge at the end of the month….it’s never too early!¬† ūüėĬ† Another bonus with the shorter, cooler days is that I don’t feel guilty curling up with a good book…….but I should vacuum sometime soon, haha!

The Week in Books —

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill — 5 out of 5 stars!

By far the best Hill novel to date, at least of the ones I’ve read.¬† I could see glimmers of Hill’s dad, Stephen King, coming through.¬† Whether this was intentional or some subliminal Oedipal complex thing coming out, it worked and worked really well.¬† And I will never think of Christmas the same way again!

We Live Inside Your Eyes by Keanan Patrick Burke — 5 out of 5 stars!!

Very rarely do I give a full five stars to a short story collection, but Burke’s twisted tales are well deserving.¬† Burke knows how to write horrific fiction by tapping into the everyday stuff and making it horrific.¬† There was also a fantasy horror story that worked really well, a bit of a surprise in the middle of the chaos.¬† If you haven’t read any of Burke’s works, I would recommend starting with this one as it shows his range and is just damn good.

Bumps in the Road:¬† A Horror Anthology by various authors — 4 out of 5 stars

I enjoy reading short story collections because I often discover authors whose voices I wouldn’t normally find on my own.¬† This anthology, edited by one of my new favorites Chad Lutzke,¬† is a collection of authors I haven’t had the chance to read before and for the most part I was left truly impressed.¬† There were a couple that just didn’t work for me though, nothing personal to those authors, it’s not you, it’s me.¬† Overall, I would recommend this, especially for some quick Halloween reading.

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong — 4 out of 5 stars

Wow, what a beautifully written book!!¬† I devoured this in an afternoon, and I can’t wait to read more from this author.¬† This is a letter to the narrator’s mother, something she will never read but needs to be said.¬† It reaches back to the Vietnam War, exposing the ghosts that still haunt the survivors, up through the narrator’s teen and young adult years and his struggles not only with his haunted mother and grandmother but his own life questions of his sexuality and place in the world.¬† Not a full five stars due to some passages that just didn’t seem to fit with the rest of the story, but overall one I would highly recommend.

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton — 4 out of 5 stars

This was more of a 3 to 3.5 for most of the book, but the ending twist was not something I saw coming so I rounded up.  While the storyline is definitely unique, kind of like Clue meets Groundhog Day, I found myself getting pretty bored about half-way through.  Maybe if it had been shaved down by 50 or 100 pages I would have it enjoyed it more.

A Massacre in Mexico:¬† The True Story Behind the Missing Forty-Three Students by Anabel Hernandez — 3 out of 5 stars

An interesting story that deserves to be told, but I was overwhelmed with the data-overload.¬† At times, it read almost like a checklist of names, times, and evidence (was is necessary to tell me about every single bullet shell?), pretty much a dossier of the events rather than a narrative.¬† It did get better but only when the author was recounting the survivors’ statements.¬† Not something I would recommend for a casual reader.

The Valley by Steve Hawke — 3 out of 5 stars

I really wanted to like this book more, but there were a few irritating things that brought it down.¬† First was the time changes.¬† I’m fine with stories going back and forth in time to tell the back stories, but when I’m reading about Two Bob cooking stew in the today and in the same paragraph we are suddenly taken back 50 years, it just annoys the hell out of me and leaves me a bit disoriented.¬† The other big problem—every character had three different names.¬† Yes, you read that right.¬† One chapter I’m reading about Two Bob and his twin brother Bob, next time they are referred to by their native names, then their father refers to them as Othello and Hamlet.¬† And that’s just two of the many characters!!¬† There was never any real reason why everyone had to change names so many times, which led to a lot of frustration on my part.¬† However, Hawke’s writing is beautiful and his descriptions of the various Australian locales kept me going.¬† Quick note:¬† about 2/3 through the book, the story gets much easier to follow and the ending was quite good.¬† Just wish the rest wasn’t so headache-inducing.

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Next week will be the official start of my full-on Halloween mode…..do you have a favorite scary story for this time of year?¬† Feel free to comment, and until next time, Happy Reading!

Nonfiction–What’s Cookin’ #02 — The ABC’s of Fun Family Cooking

September heralds a lot of firsts, including the first day of autumn and the first day of school.¬† Since back-to-school is a big theme for this month, I decided to pick some of my cookbooks that represent the ABC’s of September:¬† A for the autumn apples coming into season (and don’t forget an apple for the teacher!), B and C for the kids starting school as well as for the kid in all of us.

 

Apple Cookbook by Olwen Woodier

Who doesn’t love a fresh crisp apple?¬† A steaming mug of spiced apple cider on a chilly autumn day? I grew up with Gravenstein apple trees in the backyard, and to this day I will drive miles out of my way to get a box or two of this heirloom variety that has always been my favorite for sauces and pies.¬† ¬†Woodier touches on some of the heirloom varieties as well as new hybrids, and offers great advice on choosing the right apple for any recipe (there’s even a handy chart at the back of the book to make it even easier).¬† The recipes offer traditional items like crisps, pies, and sauces, as well as canning and preserving instructions.¬† But the recipes that go beyond the basics are the ones that intrigue me the most.¬† Sausage and apple omelettes, apple eggnog, even two recipes for meatloaf that incorporates apples!¬† This collection of sweet and savory dishes is a must-have for any apple enthusiast.

 

B is for Baking and C is for Cooking by Susan McQuillan

I grew up on Sesame Street, as did my son, so when I found these I knew I had to add them to my collection.¬† Quillan offers a wide variety of tasty treats while also focusing on healthy eating options, aimed at kids but great for adults as well.¬† Every recipe is written simply, with a list of equipment needed and tips from different Sesame Street characters.¬† The baking book not only offers some great dessert and bread recipes (I’ve made the strawberry muffins on many occasions), but also some main dish ideas like Cookie Monster’s Veggie Turnovers (Yes!!¬† Cookie Monster does eat veggies!!¬† ūüėĬ† ) and Elmo’s Chicken Pot Pie.¬† The cooking volume covers a little bit of everything:¬† drinks, sides, dinners, soups.¬† One of the main reasons I love these books, other than the variety of quick and delicious recipes, is that the author, a nutritionist, incorporates healthy foods in a way that even picky kids (and adults) will enjoy.¬† If you have kids, or are just a kid at heart, I highly recommend these fun-to-use cookbooks.

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The holidays are fast approaching and I look forward to sharing more of my favorite cookbooks with you!  Until next time, Happy Reading!