10 Best Books for Fall

Today is the first day of fall. And let me tell you… I’m ready for it.

Fall is my favorite season. After the unrelenting heat of summer, it’s nice to go outside and not instantly be sweaty and overheated. (I’d rather be cold than hot.)

Fall is such a pretty time of year too, with the leaves turning colors and the smell of woodsmoke in the air. Plus, fall has Halloween, which is the best holiday ever.

I used to look forward to the return of the Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks, but since I’ve started eating healthier, all I taste is chemicals. ūüė¶ I’ve tried a few recipes at home, and some other coffee shops, but I haven’t found anything I like as much as I remember. (If you have an awesome recipe for PSL, please let me know… I will be forever in your debt.)

I always hear about summer beach reads. I think autumn hammock reads and autumn forest reads should be a thing. My list is largely horror, but I did throw in a couple that aren’t. Think camping, falling leaves, colder days, ghosts, vampires, and monsters.

  1. And the Trees Crept In, by Dawn Kurtagich This is a wonderfully creepy YA book. Silla and Nori flee an abusive situation and go live with their aunt. But the house their aunt lives in is haunted. And the trees get closer every day. This would be a fantastic one to sit and read in the woods. And then wonder if that whispering through the tree branches is actually them getting… a… little… closer.
  2. Dracula, by Bram Stoker¬†Count Dracula is evil; no sparkles here. If you’ve never read it, there’s no time like the present.
  3. ‘Salem’s Lot, by Stephen King This is an underrated book of King’s, not one that gets talked about often. It’s the story of what happens when bad vampires take over a town.
  4. Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein This is a 5 book series. Of course, Mary Shelley’s original is wonderful, and everyone should read it. But this series is interesting, starting in modern day. Detectives Carson O’Connor and Michael Maddison begin investigating a series of strange murders. In the course of their investigation, they find that Victor Frankenstein didn’t learn anything the first time around, and that his monster has become more human than the man. Like most Dean Koontz books, they’ve got it all: fantasy, science fiction, horror, romance, exploration of the nature of what it means to be human.
  5. The Night Circus, by Erin Morganstern When I think of fall, I think of camping, haunted hayrides, music festivals– basically anything involving woodsmoke, apples, marshmallows, and that special crisp scent in the air. The Night Circus evokes those feelings. Bonus points if you actually read it while sitting outside by the campfire.
  6. Anna Dressed in Blood, by Kendare Blake Cas Lowood kills the dead. For him, it’s not that big of a deal. But when he comes against Anna, it all gets more complicated. Because Anna’s ghost is not ready to stop killing. This is a two book YA series, with Girl of Nightmares following the first.
  7. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, by Holly Black Vampires are real and confined to Coldtowns so they don’t infect humans. Still, humans don’t go out at night, because vampires don’t always follow rules. When Tana wakes up one morning after a party, she finds that all her friends have been slaughtered, and her ex-boyfriend has been bitten. A delirious vampire is chained up next to him. The vampires who did it are in the basement, asleep. For reasons even Tana doesn’t understand, she takes them both out of the house, intending to drive them both to the closest Coldtown.
  8. House of Leaves, by Mark Danielewski This book is long and complicated, and so worth it. It puts a spin on the idea of a haunted house. Johnny works in a tattoo parlor, and finds a book in the apartment of a dead man. It’s called “The Navidson Record,” and it details the story of a family who bought a house that grows and shrinks, with hallways going places they shouldn’t, and creatures living in the dark. Though it’s presented as fact, Johnny can’t find any evidence that the Navidson Record is real. His obsession with the record drives him crazy. The book is told in an experimental fashion, with pages you have to turn sideways (or upside down) to read, notes scrawled in the margins, sketches, different colored text, and different languages.
  9. A Long Fatal Love Chase, by Louisa May Alcott Rosamond lives with her bitter old grandfather and wants more from life. She declares, “I often feel that I’d sell my soul to Satan for a year of freedom.” Not long after, a mysterious man (Phillip Tempest) arrives and romances her. She agrees to go away with him, if he marries her. He does, and they have a year of happiness. But when she finds out they were never really married, she flees, and Phillip pursues her, vowing never to let her go.
  10. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Cheryl Strayed Following a divorce and the death of her mother, with no real camping or hiking experience, Cheryl Strayed impulsively decided to hike 1000 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail alone. She traveled from California, through Oregon, into Washington, meeting new people and learning about herself. I have no idea if the movie did it justice, but this was a fantastic memoir about one woman’s journey to self-discovery.

Are there any on my list you agree or disagree with? Any fall reads you’d add?

Tales from Jerome

This past weekend, my mom and I went to Jerome. ¬†I knew she’d love it because I did, and we tend to have the same kind of taste when it comes to that stuff.

Sunrise view from our hotel; Photo credit: Doree Weller

Sunrise view from our hotel; Photo credit: Doree Weller

I was there a year and a half ago with my husband, and I loved it then too. ¬†But I “see” different things depending on who I’m with.

The Grand Hotel, high on the hill; Photo Credit Doree Weller

The Grand Hotel, high on the hill; Photo Credit Doree Weller

My mom and I stayed at the Grand Hotel.  It sits high on the hill above the town and is supposed to be one of the most haunted places in Jerome.  We did a ghost tour, and went from boiler room to 4th floor and heard tales of suicides and a potential murder.

See, Jerome was a mining town from the 1900s, and the Grand Hotel was the United Verde Hospital, built in 1926.  They had an emergency room, a psych ward, and later, a maternity ward.  The hospital was shut down for years, until it was purchased and renovated into a hotel.  They tried to keep it quiet that there were ghosts, but people kept asking, so in 1998, they went public and started giving tours.

During the tour, Chris, the owner’s nephew, gave out EMFs, laser thermometers, and digital cameras. ¬†I had a camera and got a few orbs, but nothing terribly exciting. ¬†Something banged in the boiler room at a dramatic point in the story, but it could have just been coincidence. ¬†It probably was… right?

So what do you think?  Orb?  Speck of dust?

So what do you think? Orb? Speck of dust?

After the tour, my mom was determined to encounter a ghost, so she talked to them and kept prompting them to talk to her. ¬†Chris said people could borrow the equipment for the night, so we borrowed an EMF and thermometer. ¬†But still… nothing.

After my mom fell asleep, I started to hear an odd rattling. ¬†We had already been there the night before, and I hadn’t heard anything like that. ¬†It wasn’t like a cell-phone-on-vibrate-rattle (and besides, neither of us missed any calls). ¬†I bought a book, Arizona Ghost Stories, by Antonio R. Garcez from the gift shop. ¬†In the book, someone mentioned hearing a squeaking noise, as if from an old hospital cart being pushed down the hall. ¬†Yeah… I heard that. ¬†It also felt like something nudged the bed, hard, about three or four times. ¬†So, I’m pretty sure I had a run in with a ghost, and it felt playful rather than malicious, as if they were joking around with me since my mom had been so eager to make contact.

In my opinion, no trip to Jerome is complete without a stop to Nellie Bly, the kaleidoscope shop.  So we did that and I bought myself a new and fun kaleidoscope (or three) and then came home to my ghost free environment.

Have you ever encountered a ghost?