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?

Boy’s Life- A Review

thBoy’s Life, by Robert McCammon, is not a book I would have picked up on my own.  It was another book club pick.

I’m going to start off by saying that it took me almost a month to get through.  It was a pretty long book, but also I read two other books while I was reading that one.  For whatever reason, this wasn’t an easy book for me to get through, but I never wanted to stop reading; it just took me longer than most books do.  It really was a beautifully written book and pretty much sums up what childhood feels like: magical, scary, and difficult to understand sometimes.

Boy’s Life takes us through a year in the life of Cory, an 11 year old boy in 1950’s Zephyr, Alabama.  Cory’s father is a milkman, and one morning, while helping him on the route, they see a car plunge into the lake.  His dad jumps in to try to save the man, and finds a man handcuffed to the steering wheel who had been choked by a length of piano wire.

This isn’t a normal book about childhood, murder, or coming of age.  All this is against a backdrop of the normal concerns of an 11 year old in a small town.  There’s a lot of paranormal thrown in, like the monster who lives in the river, a magic bike, and flying through the forest on the first day of summer.  It made me remember how anything can be magical.  And when you’re a kid, even though you know you’re making it up, you still believe it.  An older Cory narrates the story and talks about how the magic of childhood, once lost, can never be quite recaptured.

All in all, I recommend this book.  It was a good book, and worth reading, though I’d recommend getting the book from the library.  Like I said, it took me a month to get through.  I (and other members of my book club) thought the book was a little too long.  I’ll be interested to see what else Robert McCammon has written.

Salacious “Reality” TV

imagesby The TV Guy

The Investigation Discovery (ID) Network, a member of the Discovery Channel, family brings us such shows as Wicked Attraction, Deadly Women, Surviving Evil and Deadly Affairs, among others. These shows are based on real life murders; usually the spouse is the murderer or the murdered. The shows draw the viewer in with a dark premise of an unsolved murder and the process of solving the murder.

South Park did a spoof on these shows, referring to it as murder porn. I had not thought of it as such until then. It really is addictive, and viewers find themselves watching one after the other out of a twisted desire to see what will happen next. It is very similar to slowing down to view a car accident.

With all that said, I enjoy this genre of “reality” television. They make it look like news, and while it is loosely based on a real event, they twist the stories into a salacious and glamorized form for our entertainment.

Calculated in Death- A Review

imagesCalculated in Death (2013) is #45 in JD Robb’s In Death series, featuring my hero, Eve Dallas.

Dallas is everything a heroine should be: sharp, acerbic, vulnerable, interesting, fierce, and loyal.  I could go on with the adjectives, but you get the picture.

Yes, the books are predictable.  Dallas is a homicide lieutenant for New York Police Department in the year 2059.  She gets the toughest cases, and she’s always going to catch the killer… it goes without saying.  However, as I’m fond of saying… “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey,” and these books always have a great journey.

There’s romance, there’s action, there’s friendship.  The books have good, strong characters.  Dallas isn’t afraid to bed the rules sometimes, but she struggles every time she does, which is one of the things I like about her character.

If you’ve never read any of the books, I’d highly advise starting at the beginning, though you can really start with this one and catch on pretty fast.

An accountant is killed in what appears to be a botched mugging, but Dallas isn’t fooled, and suspects there’s a reason she was killed.  When she starts digging into the accountant’s work, she starts to put together a picture of fraud and money laundering.

It’s a super fast read, and lots of fun.  Happy reading!

M is for Murder and Mayhem

DSCN3326These are two of my favorite things to write about.  I love the twisted and bizarre, and I’m not sure where that comes from.

When I was a teenager, I enjoyed murder mysteries much more than I do today.  Back then, I liked figuring out the whodunit.  Now, I prefer my murder more of the horror variety.  I’m not all about the gore, which I find to be amateurish, most of the time.  I prefer psychological thrillers with murder and mayhem.  Gore has its place, but I think that at times, it takes the place of good writing, in both stories and movies.  There aren’t many of either that are really good.

Often, my horror stories are inspired by something out of life.  Not that I’ve ever killed anyone, or really even wanted to, but that something popped into my head because I was irritated with someone.  I start to think, “well, that would be a good way to kill someone.”  I had a friend who once told me it was a great stress relief to “kill off” someone they were mad at in the Sims game.  I tried it, thinking it was a perfect outlet for me, and I felt bad for the Sims!  I couldn’t starve them or deny them bathroom privileges.

I guess it’s a good thing I only kill people in stories.

The Traveler- Movie Review

The Traveler, released in 2010, starring Val Kilmer, was a pretty good horror movie.  It goes into my “worth watching once” category.  The premise is that a man walks into a police station on Christmas Eve and confesses to murder.  The stranger is a bit creepy, and starts by freaking out everyone in the police station.

Halfway through the movie, the plot hinted to a twist in the story that I thought was going to be pretty awesome.  That promise wasn’t fulfilled, which disappointed me, and is what put it in the worth watching once category.

The story doesn’t offer anything terribly new, but it’s entertaining.  It’s available on Netflix (which is how we found it).  The season for horror movies is approaching!  Happy watching.