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?

Black Cats and Being Superstitious

IMG_5213I’m superstitious. ¬†I throw salt over my shoulder to blind passing witches and will never pick up a penny unless it’s head’s up. ¬†I knock on wood to stun the fairies (they’re mischievous), and I don’t like crossing under ladders.

BUT… I love the number 13, and I love black cats. ¬†Did you know that black cats are the least adopted? ¬†Did you know that October is a dangerous month for these precious animals due to their completely unfair reputation?

I don’t personally have any black cats right now, but I have in the past. ¬†My sister in law has always had black cats, and they’re exactly the same as other cats. ¬†Except, you know… they’re black. ¬†Normally, I like¬†scary stories, but not at the expense of a living thing.

So where did the whole black cats being unlucky thing come from? ¬†Well, it comes from a couple of different places, but it boils down to black cats being evil, and often blamed for being a witch’s familiar. ¬†Because we all know how often “old woman” and “cat” goes in the same sentence, right? ¬†Apparently a witch was just the earliest crazy cat lady. ¬†Here’s a link if you want a more in-depth explanation.

I bring this up because I want you to realize that there are some people who are superstitious out there.  If you have a beloved black kitty, please keep him or her close to home in October especially.  And next time you go to adopt, remember that black kitties need homes too.

What’s your favorite superstition?

L is for Luck (And a Friday Writing Prompt)

Most of us believe in luck, whether it be good luck or bad luck. ¬†My work partner (The TV Guy) makes fun of me because I’m superstitious. ¬†Being superstitious is more about being able to control your luck, and why take chances? ¬†If using a particular pen to address an envelope increases my chances of a writing submission being accepted, why not do it?

Although I don’t really believe I’m blinding passing witches, I still throw spilled salt over my left shoulder. ¬†I know the wood fairies have better things to do than cause me problems, but I still knock on wood to stun them. ¬†I’m quirky, not crazy.

Today is Friday the 13th. ¬†If superstitions had their own holiday, today would be it! ¬†There are a lot of theories as to the origin of the superstition around Friday the 13th, and it’s fun to speculate where it came from, along with where the whole superstition about 13 came from in the first place. ¬†(Incidentally, fear of the number 13 is triskaidekaphobia.) ¬†I know that Wikipedia isn’t exactly a paragon of accuracy, but I’m including this link because they do a decent summary of possible explanations.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friday_the_13th

My grandparents considered Friday the 13th a lucky day, and it certainly seemed to work for them… they got married that day. ¬†I consider 13 one of my lucky numbers, along with 31, since I got married on 10/31.

So, on to today’s writing prompt… Write about your (or your character’s) superstitions? ¬†Do you (or your character) have any superstitions? ¬†Why or why not? ¬†What are they? ¬†Do you (or your character) tell people about them? ¬†Or would you (or your character) prefer to keep them a secret?

Personally, I knock on wood for the entire world to see. ¬†And if whoever I’m with chooses to mock the wood fairies… well, that’s their problem!