U is for (Books About) the Underworld #atozchallenge

For A to Z 2018, my theme is Books About ____. If you’re stopping by from your own A to Z blog, feel free to leave a link. If you need help with how to do that, you can look here.

If you’re someone looking to read a lot of great blogs, here’s the link for the A to Z challenge.

As some of you may have noticed, I like books about dark topics. What can I say? Horror has always kind of been my thing, and I like books about death.

Graveminder, by Melissa Marr (horror/ romance): Rebekka’s adopted grandmother, Maylene always had odd rituals about the dead. When Maylene dies suddenly, Rebekka comes home and finds out that Maylene’s “odd rituals” were actually about keeping the dead in their graves. Rebekka must visit the underworld to find out what she has to do to make sure the dead stay dead. This was one of those odd books that I found by chance at a used book sale, and once I read it, I loved it. It has a unique and fun interpretation of the underworld.

What Dreams May Come, by Richard Matheson (horror/ romance): Although I enjoyed the movie (I pretty much love anything with Robin Williams), the book is very different. Chris is married to the love of his life, Ann. When he gets into a car accident and dies, he ascends to a place called “Summerland,” where everything is beautiful. Haunted by worries about Ann, he finds out that she committed suicide and is in a dark place of her own making. Propelled by his love for her, Chris braves hell to get to Ann so that she won’t have to be alone. This book is moving, beautiful, and terrifying, all at the same time. Matheson is one of my favorite horror authors because his stories are subtle and multilayered. If you liked the movie, read the book.

Remember Me, by Christopher Pike (YA horror): Since I first read this book as a kid, it’s been one of my all-time favorite books, and I’ve probably read it more than a dozen times. When Shari dies, she visits the scene of her death and learns that people think she jumped. She’s sure someone murdered her, and she follows the detective assigned to her case. Shari isn’t willing to move on until her murderer is captured. Considering the book is about murder, it’s a light and fun book.

The Face, by Dean Koontz (horror): Saying this book is about the underworld might be stretching the truth a bit, but I’m comfortable with it. It’s told from the point of view of Ethan, a former cop who’s now the bodyguard of a famous actor, Dunny, Ethan’s former best friend, career criminal, and dead man who just walked out of the morgue, Frick, the bodyguard’s son, and several others. Most of the characters are alive, but Dunny isn’t, though he’s still walking around. Why he’s still around isn’t clear until the exciting ending.

What are your favorite stories featuring the underworld?

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L is for (Books About) Love #atozchallenge

For A to Z 2018, my theme is Books About ____. If you’re stopping by from your own A to Z blog, feel free to leave a link. If you need help with how to do that, you can look here.

If you’re someone looking to read a lot of great blogs, here’s the link for the A to Z challenge.

A lot of people might be surprised by this admission, but I’m actually a romantic. While romance isn’t my preferred genre, I do prefer that there be some sort of romance happening in any book I read. I enjoy watching love unfold during the course of a story. I have many books I love that could fit this category, so here are just a few.

The Host, by Stephanie Meyer (science fiction): I know lots of people who hated this book, even separately from the fact that this is also the author of Twilight. But I stand by it. Wanderer is an alien who inhabits the body of Melanie, but Melanie doesn’t go away like she’s supposed to. Instead, Wanderer and Melanie share Melanie’s body, and they eventually develop a friendship. Through Melanie’s memories, Wanderer grows to love Melanie’s brother and fall for her boyfriend. This is a fascinating book that explores the nature of love.

Six Months, Three Days, by Charlie Jane Anders (science fiction novelette): Doug and Judy can both see the future. She sees every possible future and he sees only one. They’re both right, every time, and they agree that in six months, three days, their relationship will end. They date and fall in love anyway. It’s a powerful book about how much we enjoy the process of being in love, so much so that even if we’re guaranteed heartache, we do it anyway.

Frankenstein, by Dean Koontz (Book 1: Prodigal Son) (science fiction/ fantasy/ horror): This series of five books continues the Frankenstein legend many years later. Only Deucalion, formerly Frankenstein’s monster, is now one of the good guys trying to help two cops stop Dr. Frankenstein from continuing his work. Carson and Michael are partners who work together but don’t want to admit their feelings. Over the course of five books, their feelings for one another deepen and grow while fighting off bad guys. A misunderstood monster, love, and genetic engineering… that’s pretty much a guaranteed win in my book.

What are your favorite books about love?

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E is for (Books About) Evil #atozchallenge

For A to Z 2018, my theme is Books About ____. If you’re stopping by from your own A to Z blog, feel free to leave a link. If you need help with how to do that, you can look here.

If you’re someone looking to read a lot of great blogs, here’s the link for the A to Z challenge.

This is the last grim topic for a while. The next few days will be much more positive and uplifting!

Evil is one of those timeless topics, as we all like to see good triumph over evil. Good doesn’t always win in horror novels though. For many of us, there’s something exciting and interesting about exploring our darkest fears. After all, what’s worse than evil?

Pet Sematary, by Stephen King (horror): This book starts with a simple premise, a local graveyard, where if you bury something, it comes back (though not the same as before). Locals have used this for pets, to ease the transition for their children. But when the Creeds’ son dies, Louis buries him there and isn’t prepared for what returns. Horror, at its finest, takes a simple, familiar idea and makes it terrifying. This book is one of my favorite Stephen King books, and one of the few books that actually scared me sleepless. (I was a teenager at the time… but it still counts.)

House of Leaves, by Mark Danielewski (horror): Johnny falls into possession of a book that claims to be an academic study of a documentary, The Navidson Record, though he can’t find any documentary by that name. The book draws him in, sending him spiraling further and further into an obsession. Both what happens to Johnny and what happens inside the house in The Navidson record are terrifying. It’s a fresh and awful spin on the haunted house trope.

A Head Full of Ghosts, by Paul Tremblay (horror): Merry’s older sister claims to be possessed by an evil demon, and no one is sure if that’s true or if she’s mentally ill. She does terrible things. The family is broke, and to fund her mental health treatment, they allow a documentary crew to come in and film her possession and exorcism. The ending of this book is unforgettable.

Hideaway, by Dean Koontz (science fiction, fantasy, horror, romance, etc.): When Hatch Harrison dies and is revived, he becomes psychically connected to a serial killer who believes he’s doing Satan’s bidding. As the book goes on, it gets weirder and weirder, blending religion with science fiction, fantasy, and horror. There’s also a love story and the adoption of a sassy and interesting child. Koontz books are never just one thing.

What are your recommendations for books about evil?

C is for (Books About) Children

For A to Z 2018, my theme is Books About ____. If you’re stopping by from your own A to Z blog, feel free to leave a link. If you need help with how to do that, you can look here.

If you’re someone looking to read a lot of great blogs, here’s the link for the A to Z challenge.

My list only contains books about kids for adults. Younger children as main characters add a whole different dimension to books for adults.

Me & Emma, by Elizabeth Flock (literary): This book was so unexpectedly good! It was one of those that someone gave me, and I had no idea what to expect. The narrator is 8-year-old Carrie, who lives in a bad situation and just wants to protect her younger sister, Emma. They decide to run away from home, which doesn’t go as plan. This book has a huge twist at the end that’s disturbing but makes for wonderful reading. You’ve been warned.

Firestarter, by Stephen King (horror): This has been one of my favorite books forever. The experiments that Charlie’s parents participated in, giving them psychic powers, seem like something that could have happened. Charlie has pyrokinesis, so of course, the government wants her. Stephen King is a master of horror, and in my mind, this is his masterpiece.

Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens (literary): I didn’t know what to expect before reading this, but it’s really good. I learned some things about Victorian London and got to read an entertaining story at the same time. Oliver is a great protagonist, and I enjoyed following him and seeing the events that happened through his eyes.

Lightning, by Dean Koontz (horror? thriller? romance? really, I never know how to classify Koontz books): I read that Koontz had a hard time selling this book, as the first section is the main character, Laura, as a child. The whole book isn’t like that; she grows up and we follow her from there. If you’re someone who likes books that don’t just do one thing, this one may be for you.

What’s your favorite non-children’s book about a child?

I Am Not A Fan

I’m always amazed when people know minutiae about their favorite recording artists, actors, and writers. I love the Beatles, and I know Ringo wasn’t their first drummer, but that’s about it. I don’t feel that need some people have to find out everything, including what Paul McCartney had for dinner the night he met John Lennon. (I just made that up. I don’t know if that’s a thing.)

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The Paul McCartney concert in 2005 was amazing.

I get the emails from Goodreads, alerting me to news about authors and books and such. Normally, I ignore it, as I do most of my emails. But two days ago, I saw something about JoJo Moyes and another sequel to Me Before You, so I clicked the link.

It turns out that a third book in the series, Still Me, was released yesterday. I held out for all of 24 hours before I bought it on Kindle.

I love everything I’ve read of Jojo Moyes, but I haven’t sought out all her books. I used to read everything Dean Koontz ever wrote, but now I’m behind by a few years. I’m only going to a Taylor Swift concert because a friend mentioned how excited she was to go.

Remember a few weeks ago, when I talked about the X-files expo? The only reason I went to that is because my boyfriend at the time found out about it and arranged the whole thing.

There’s something about fandom that I find fascinating, even while I don’t have the bug. I’m not sure if it’s because I have too many scattered interests, or if it’s because I spend too much time immersed in whatever book I’m reading. Maybe it’s something else entirely.

It’s like when I posted awhile back about how I don’t have favorites anymore. On a given day, I could be listening to Taylor Swift, the Rolling Stones, Queen, Eve 6, Barenaked Ladies, or Death Cab For Cutie. I might pick up a romance novel, followed by literary fiction, followed by science fiction, followed by self-help or psychology.

I guess it’s like that old saying, “Jack of all trades, master of none.” I know a little bit about everything, but don’t know a lot about any one thing. Is that a bad thing or a good thing? Or is it just what it is?

I think it’s just that I’m interested in so many different things. It’s the same reason I love buffets; I want to try a little of everything. I just don’t have favorites. I like new and different. I like adventures, and I’m okay with hating something if that means that I tried it.

I’m glad I accidentally came across Still Me now instead of hearing about it six months (or a year) from now. While I’d love to catch up on my favorite authors, I have a towering TBR list that’s waiting for me. It might be nice to catch up on every Dean Koontz book I miss, or read everything that Bryn Greenwood has ever written, but reading widely has benefits too.

At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

Are you a fan of anything?

5 Reasons I Don’t Like Hardbacks (And One Reason I Do)

IMG_9156When I used to work in mobile crisis, we periodically had downtime. One day, when my partner was out for the day, I worked with an older guy. When he asked if I wanted to go to a bookstore, I couldn’t say “yes!” loud enough.

We ended up in this dim, narrow bookstore which mostly had hardback books. It smelled the way old bookstores should: book glue, dust, and leather. This guy explained that he liked this store because they had so many hardbacks, and he could get them “wrapped.” As in, wrapped in some kind of plastic to preserve the cover.

I was perplexed. This might be a naive thing to say, but I didn’t think people voluntarily bought hard backed books. I thought people only bought hardbacks when they couldn’t wait for the paperback. And in the Kindle age, even that’s not necessary.

Another friend of mine prefers hardbacks because she likes to keep things neat and new-looking, and hardbacks are easier to do that with. I suppose I should be a good supporter of other authors and buy the hardbacks, but I’m just not into them. Even if I find a cheap copy of something I want at Goodwill, if it’s in hardback, I’ll probably pass.

  1. They take up too much room on my bookshelf. I only have a limited amount of space, and I want to maximize the number of books they can house.
  2. They’re too big/ bulky/ heavy. Hardbacks are heavy! I have to hold them two-handed, which is annoying, since I like to read when I eat, am in the bathtub, sometimes when I’m outside playing with the dogs. Plus, hardbacks weigh down my purse and make it feel like I’m carrying bricks.
  3. The paper cover! Do I leave it on and let it get raggedy? (I’m really hard on books) Or do I take it off, likely put it in a safe place (so safe I can’t find it) and then lose it?
  4. I have to wait. Or buy it twice. I wanted to buy Our Dark Duet when it was released back in July, but I have This Savage Song (the first in the series) in paperback. Since I prefer series to match, when possible, I knew that no matter how I bought it, I was going to have to re-buy it in paperback. The library wouldn’t get it quickly enough to suit me. So… I went with Kindle. It doesn’t take up any room on my shelves, and I won’t have to get rid of it when I buy it in paperback.
  5. They’re not recyclable. This isn’t a huge issue for me because the idea is that I’ll keep my books. But I know, from reading bookstore blogs, that sometimes they throw out books because there are just too many of them. The DaVinci Code and Twilight come to mind. (I’m not hating on either of these books; I just remember the article identified these two as ones they get too many of.)

A caveat:

Hardbacks are more durable. They’re normally made from better paper, and the binding is put together better. So, if I owned my collection in hardback, I wouldn’t have tape holding together my copies of Watership Down and Lightning (by Dean Koontz). I actually own Harry Potter and most Dean Koontz books in both hardback and paperback for that reason.

Are you Team Hardback or Team Paperback?

E is for Einstein

Hello, and welcome to Blogging A to Z 2017! Thanks for stopping by.

My theme this month is 26 of the Best Characters in Fiction.

FullSizeRender.jpg-1In Watchers, by Dean Koontz, Travis Cornell isn’t sure he has anything to live for. When he goes to the woods to recapture a feeling of life being meaningful, he doesn’t expect much. While there, he runs into Einstein, a remarkable dog who saves him from what he believes is a wild animal.

Einstein is actually a lab experiment who escaped, a super intelligent dog. When he escaped, another creature escaped, one that wants to track Einstein down and kill him. As Einstein starts to trust Travis, he reveals his intelligence and gives Travis clues as to his past. They go on the run to avoid the other creature and the government, who will do anything to recapture him for further experiments.

The title comes from a passage in the book where one of the characters talks about how people are meant to watch over one another, and we all watch over those we love. It’s a wonderful novel about family and hope, and how people can change. Einstein is a catalyst for the two main characters changing.

Einstein is bright and amazing, but he’s still a dog, which is possibly one of the best things about him. The author doesn’t make him a human trapped in a dog’s body. His humor and wit is what I would imagine an intelligent dog would have. This was the first Dean Koontz book I read, back in the late 80’s, but it’s the one that’s had the most lasting effect on me.

When I was a kid, I wished I had an intelligent dog. Now I don’t wish that. I’m happy for my dogs to be uncomplicated. But I still love to visit with Einstein.