M is for (Books About) Murder #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.

If you’ve been to my blog even once, you probably saw this coming. What can I say? I like horror, books about serial killers, crime dramas… honestly, most of my favorite things have someone ending up dead. (In books, not real life, obvs.)

The list of books I loved about murder could probably be a mile long, but I’ve limited myself to three. You’re welcome. (That doesn’t mean we can’t discuss others in the comments.)

The Cuckoo’s Calling, by Robert Galbraith (pseudonym of JK Rowling) (mystery): I wasn’t sure what to expect. I loved Harry Potter, of course, but after abandoning A Casual Vacancy in the middle of a sentence because I just couldn’t deal with it one more word, I was apprehensive. The Cuckoo’s Calling was a solid mystery, complete with an interesting private investigator and his plucky secretary. The characters were fresh and fun, making up for a lack of blood. Body count: 1

Slasher Girls and Monster Boys, edited by April Genevive Tucholke (YA horror anthology): I always keep notes on my favorite stories in anthologies, and I actually had to limit myself to only five because there were so many good ones. All of the stories were retellings of something else. There’s a fantastic story with the white rabbit and a different kind of tea party, a story with a girl who hunts serial killers, a Hades/ Persephone retelling, and many others. Sometimes the main character was the “victim,” sometimes the killer. This is a must-read for fans of YA horror. Body count: too many to keep track of

We Have Always Lived in the Castle, by Shirley Jackson (horror): I’ve loved Shirley Jackson ever since I read her short story, The Lottery, in high school. For some reason, I didn’t read this book until earlier this year. It’s a weird book, told in a dream-like way. It took me most of the book to make sense of what was happening, but it was worth the journey. Shirley Jackson is a master of horror. Body count: 4

What’s your favorite book about murder?

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B is for (Books About) Blood

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.

If you’re like me and love horror, eventually, blood is going to show up. Vampires, zombies, murderers… they’re all out for blood. (Well, technically zombies are out for flesh, but it makes blood, so…)

Anna Dressed In Blood, by Kendare Blake (YA horror): This one is so bloody, it’s even in the title. Cas hunts bad ghosts and kills them all the way. When he hears the legend about Anna, he goes looking for her. She kills everyone who walks into her house, but for some reason, doesn’t kill Cas, and he doesn’t want to kill her either. Romance + horror = a fun read.

Guilty Pleasures, by Laurell K. Hamilton (fantasy): For me, this is one of the best vampire series of all time (the first 10 or so). Anita Blake’s “day job” is as a necromancer, reanimating the dead to pay the bills. As a side gig, she’s a vampire hunter who knows the dark underbelly of St. Louis and gets way too cozy with the monsters around her. There’s romance, politics, adventure, mystery, along with an interesting and kick-ass main character.

The Coldest Girl In Coldtown, by Holly Black (YA horror): Tana wakes up from a party to find just about everyone slaughtered by vampires. It’s not supposed to happen because vampires live in Coldtowns, away from everyone, so it should be safe. Only her boyfriend and a strange vampire seem to be around, so she takes them both away before they’re slaughtered by the bad vampires lurking in the basement. I love Holly Black, but this book is my favorite of hers.

Carrie, by Stephen King (horror): It’s an old book, but still one of the best horror novels out there. I loved both the 1976 and 2013 versions of this movie, but the book is still the best. Carrie is an unpopular teen with a crazy mother. When Carrie develops powers, her high school will never be the same.

What are your favorite bloody books?

First Kisses

I’m writing a special Thursday post because Miss Snark’s First Victim is featuring 15 first kisses from unpublished manuscripts to be critiqued. You can find them here. I’m #12 with an excerpt from my young adult novel, Not Dead Enough.

I don’t know about you, but I prefer at least some romance in books I read. To me, love is part of what makes life so grand, and it’s wonderful to read about people falling in love, even against the backdrop of things going horribly wrong. (Romance + horror = happy me)

The 15 excerpts are a maximum of 250 words, so they’re all quick reads. Stop by and read one or two and leave a comment. At least 15 unpublished authors would love the encouragement and/or constructive criticism!

2018 Book Challenges- Week 3

I’ve not made much progress on reading this week. It’s not a secret that I’m somewhat disorganized and a lousy housekeeper.

We moved into this house three years ago and still weren’t completely unpacked. My sister-in-law and her husband arrived on Saturday night, and I decided to clean up. Like for real. Finally get it all done.

I’ve tried other methods in the past, scheduling time to tackle it a little at a time, things like that. But it doesn’t seem to be how I work. I’m better at starting a task and staying on it single-mindedly. So… that’s why the poor progress on reading.

But to be honest, I always forget how much I love things to be clean and organized. Maybe they’ll actually stay this way!

Popsugar Challenge

(4/50) No progress

While I Was Reading Challenge

(0/12) No progress

The Unread Shelf

Total: 1

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We Have Always Lived in the Castle, by Shirley Jackson– I cannot believe I’ve never read this. I’ve loved her short story, The Lottery, ever since I read it in high school. I’m not sure what I expected with this book, but it wasn’t what I got. It was an interesting psychological study. Jackson’s grasp on the worst in humanity is what makes her frightening.

5 Classic Books

(0/5) No progress

Miscellaneous Reading

None

2018 Running Total: 7

Have you made any progress on your TBR or book challenges?

October Reading Wrap-Up

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In October, I read a bunch of new books.  I’ve recently gotten back into the Longmire series of books, and am trying to read them all.  I love being the annoying person who points out the differences between books and movies (or, in this case, TV). I actually enjoyed everything I read last month, which is always a nice surprise.

  1.  For Women Only, by Shaunti Feldhahn.  This was a really good self-help type book for insight into the male mind.  I picked it up because it was recommended reading on how to write men in stories better, but I see that it also applies to the men I know.
  2. I Was Here, by Gayle Forman.  I loved If I Stay, and the follow up, Where She Went, so I have no idea why I hadn’t read another book by her before this.  I went looking for fiction to read on suicide, and this was a good one.  It drew me in from the start, and did a decent job of showing the devastating effects on family and friends.
  3. You, by Caroline Kepnes.  This one was recommended by my book club.  Funny story: because of who sent it to me, and the title, I thought it was a self-help book, or something like that.  Yeah, it’s definitely not.  It’s actually a thriller about a stalker and his victim.  Brutal, fascinating, and disturbing, it’s pretty much everything I want in a book.
  4. The Shining, by Stephen King.  When I read You, I found out that The Shining has a sequel: Doctor Sleep.  Apparently I’ve been living under a rock, because I had no idea.  None.  It’s been years since I read The Shining, and since it’s one of my favorite King books, I wanted to reread it and be fresh from it when I read the sequel.  It’s still one of the best horror novels I’ve ever read.
  5. Doctor Sleep, by Stephen King.  I was really skeptical that a sequel could be as good as The Shining, but this one was definitely worthy.  I’m sure it could work as a standalone book, but I was glad I had just re-read The Shining, as there were a lot of references to it.
  6. Death Without Company (Longmire #2) & Kindness Goes Unpunished (Longmire #3) & Another Man’s Moccasins (Longmire #4), by Craig Johnson.  I’m a fan of crime novels, and I love the Longmire shows on Netflix.  These are quite different from the TV show, but they’re good in their own way.  Walt is a pretty similar character in both the books and the show.  I actually like Henry a bit more in the books.  He’s a more active character, and frequently involved in Walt’s escapades.
  7. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, by Holly Black.  This is a vampire book, but not a typical one.  It’s what would happen if vampires were shown to be real, in the modern age.  One girl wakes up to a massacre that happened at a party, and it begins with her saving her ex-boyfriend (who’s been bitten), and saving a vampire who helps her.  I like books where vampires aren’t portrayed as sexy teddy bears who just happen to like blood.
  8. The Liar, by Nora Roberts.  I’m a sucker for Nora Roberts books, mostly because I know that she usually mixes romance with other things, like suspense.  This one has it all: a great love story, murder, secrets, conspiracy, and an underdog who comes out ahead.

I liked every book I read this month, and I can’t always say that.  I got most of them on my Kindle, through the library.

What did you read this month?

10 Books to Read If You Need a Break From Politics

img_7024My social media feeds are still full of politics and politician bashing from both sides. The election is over, and I need a break. If you do too, here’s my list of recommendations to take you away from it all for awhile.

  1. If you like horror… Bazaar of Bad Dreams, by Stephen King. It was an anthology of short horror stories. They were little bite-sized pieces of madness.
  2. If you like short science fiction… Six Days, Three Months by Charlie Jane Anders. This was such an interesting premise, about a couple who both see the future and the end of their relationship, but date anyway.
  3. If you like YA… Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon. When I read this, I was vacationing with a friend, and I couldn’t put it down. It’s about a girl who’s allergic to literally everything, and she has little contact with the outside world. Until a boy moves in next door, and she starts straining against her boundaries.
  4. If you like urban fantasy… The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern. This was an original idea with lots of great imagery. My only caution is to read the book version. I originally read it on my Kindle, and because the story isn’t told in a linear way, I got frustrated that it was hard to skip around and refresh myself on what happened when.
  5. If you like books with a paranormal element… Graveminder by Melissa Marr. After the death of her grandmother, Rebekkah Barrow returns to her hometown and learns that in order for the dead to stay put, a Barrow woman must tend to the graves. It was a fun, immersive read.
  6. If you like characters struggling with mental health issues… The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick. I read this because I saw the movie, and it’s somewhat different. I liked both, but in a different way.
  7. If you like memoirs… Traveling to Infinity: My Life With Stephen Hawking by Jane Hawking. I’ve always been interested in Stephen Hawking and his life. When the movie came out, I went looking for a book on his life. This was a fascinating read.
  8. If you like books that will make you a little crazy trying to figure them out… John Dies at The End by David Wong. Yes, there was a movie. No, it didn’t do the book justice. Read the book. It was better.
  9. If you like serial killers… Dexter by Jeff Lindsey. Again, it’s only somewhat like the TV series, and the series didn’t do justice to my favorite part of the books, Dexter’s Dark Passenger. The books are full of dark comedy.
  10. If you’re feeling nostalgic… Remember Me by Christopher Pike. This is still one of my favorite YA books ever.

What are you reading to avoid getting too caught up in reality?

O is for On Writing

Unknown-2On Writing, by Stephen King, is probably one of the best books on writing that any writer can read.

It doesn’t matter if you like Stephen King’s books; what he has to say about writing applies to everyone.

The book is part memoir, part writing instructions.  I like much of what Stephen King writes (I’m a horror fan, after all), but I think that this book would appeal to people who aren’t fans of horror.  He talks, at times, about where different ideas for his books came from, which is interesting.

Some of what he talks about is basic (like avoiding adverbs) and some is more advanced, but all of it is a good reminder of how to write better.

This was the first writing book I read.  I was doing a lot of reading online, trying to find advice on how to improve my writing.  There’s so much writing, and while a lot of the advice is repetitive (like avoiding adverbs), some of it ends up being contradictory.  No one can deny that Stephen King is a successful author, so he must know something about what he’s talking about.

I think what struck me most about it was how simple some of the advice was, but what a huge impact it made on me.  Not only was it a good book about writing, but it was also entertaining and encouraging.

“Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid or making friends. Writing is magic, as much as the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink.”

– Stephen King