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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Judging Books By Covers

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The first book I picked up because the cover was pretty. The second, because I like the way the vines look.

I have some strong opinions when it comes to books, possibly about many things that other people don’t care about.  That’s okay; I can live with that.

One of the things that drives me crazy is when a movie comes out, and suddenly the book is released with a different version of the cover to reflect the movie.  I get why they do that; it’s to increase sales.  Associating the book with the movie makes good sense from a marketing standpoint.

But I still don’t like it.

In general, I prefer the older covers, and when I go to used book stores, I can spend several minutes choosing which cover I like best.  For example, I accidentally bought two copies of The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.  This was a great book, but I obviously don’t need two copies of it.  However, I can’t decide which one to sell back to Half-Price Books because I like both covers.

People say “don’t judge a book by its cover,” obviously meaning not to judge something’s content by what it looks like on the inside. It’s true, but I confess that sometimes a book cover will catch my eye, and that’s the only reason I read the description on the back of the book.

These things matter. If they didn’t, all books would be in a plain brown cover with simple black writing. A good cover can hint about the contents. When I’m in the mood to read horror, I’m unlikely to pick something with flowers on the cover, no matter what the title says. Well, unless they’re dead flowers. Or blood spattered… you get the idea.

One of the best choices I made, based on the cover, was John Dies at the End. I spotted it while walking through the library, and when I read the back, I had to give it a try. It was a fantastic book. Runners up are the ones pictured above.

Is the book cover important to you?  What are your preferences?