The Last Thing You’ll Ever Read

If you knew the world was going to end and you only had time to read five more books, which would you choose?

I found myself pondering this question today while looking at the long expanse of new bookshelves in my bedroom. Filled with so many delicious titles to choose from which of my many books (how many do I have?) would I pull off of the shelf and savor?bookshelf-clip-art-home-ideas-for-bookshelves-for-kids-clipart

 

Here’s my short list:

#1 Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger. I see this book referenced everywhere and no I’ve never read it. Go figure.

#2 To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Another one that is so much a part of our cultural lexicon and that I’ve never taken the time to read, and yet still own.

#3 The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. Supposedly the quintessential horror novel and yet I’ve never read it–partly I think because of what my mind does automatically when I see the title. I turn it into Turn of the Shrew which must come from mixing it up with The Taming of the Shrew by Shakespeare. Either way the word shrew annoyed me away from the title.

#4 The Stand by Stephen King. This one I have read and it holds the number one most favorite book spot in my heart. Also, if the world were going to end this would almost be preparation for it.

Hmmm… #5.  I might leave that one open. Perhaps this one’s not on my shelf yet.

What would you add to the bottom of this list? What would be on yours?

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Mission Fantastical

I’m on a mission. I ran across the 40 Scariest Books of the Last 200 Years, and the 10 Best Horror Books You’ve Never Read and finally the Top 25 Women Horror Writers You Probably Haven’t Heard Of (But Should Know).  Oh, and 9 Underrated Horror Books to Read Next. I browsed the comments section and was pointed to many more books and authors. From these sources I compiled the following list:

The Light at the End by John Skipp and Craig Spector

The Elementals by Michael McDowell

The Damnation Game by Clive Barker

City Infernal by Edward Lee

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn

Enter Night by Michael Rowe

Michael Slade

Rod Williams

Those Across the River  Between Two Fires Christopher Buehlman

Graham Masterton

The Cipher Kathy Koja

Nightmare Abbey, by Thomas Love Peacock (1818)

The Vampyre, by John William Polidori (1819)

The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James (1898)

The Most Dangerous Game, by Richard Connell (1924)

Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier (1938)

Psycho, by Robert Bloch (1959)

In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote (1966)

Rosemary’s Baby, by Ira Levin (1967)

Harvest Home, by Thomas Tryon (1973)

Requiem For a Dream, by Hubert Selby Jr. (1978)

Dawn, by Octavia E. Butler (1987)

American Psycho, by Bret Easton Ellis (1991)

Summer of Night, by Dan Simmons (1991)

The Cipher, by Kathe Koja (1991)

House of Leaves, by Mark Z. Danielewski (2000)

We Need to Talk About Kevin, by Lionel Shriver (2003)

Heart-Shaped Box, by Joe Hill (2007)

Penpal, by Dathan Auerbach (2012)

Broken Monsters, by Lauren Beukes (2014)

Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk

Horror Show by Greg Kihn

Spindrift by Jan Bryant Bartell

The Devil in Gray by Graham Masterton

 Kathe Koja

 Mehitobel Wilson

 Charlee Jacob Dread in the Beast (Necro Publications)

Fran Friel

 Mary Sangiovanni The Hollower

 Sara Gran

 Lisa Tuttle  The Silver Bough (2006).

 Barbara Roden

 Marly Youmans

 Catherynne M. Valente The Labyrinth,

 Margo Lanagan  Tender Morsels.

 Caitlin R. Kiernan

 Melanie Tem In Concert: Tales of the Fantastic, they’re an unstoppable force.

 Kaaron Warren  All You Can Do is Breathe

 Suzy McKee Charnas The Vampire Tapestry

 Kit Reed

 Marjorie Bowen  The Viper of Milan

 Tananarive Due

Nalo Hopkinson

 Sandy DeLuca

 Tina Jens The Blues Ain’t Nothin’

 Tamara Thorne (aka Chris Curry)  Candle Bay and Bad Things.

 Amanda Stevens The Restorer

 Deborah Leblanc  Family Inheritance and Water Witch .

 Nina Kiriki Hoffman  The Thread that Binds the Bones

 Dion Fortune The Demon Lover

 Gemma Files A Book of Tongues.

I absolutely loved George RR martin’s Dangerous Women so I will check out these anthologies too:

If a book or author from those sites didn’t make this list it’s because I have already read it or I was able to find it at my library (of those, I was only lucky enough to find 3-4—boo!)

My mission is this: I’m going to locate, purchase, and read as many of these as I can. Join me?

Half Price bookstore, here I come!

 

Ruby by Cynthia Bond

I read about this book in one of my writing magazines. It was touted as being beautifully written which drew me like a moth to a flame. She’s a black writer so I wanted a comparison novel for The Turner House, which I also read. Also, bonus, both novels contained a haint (ghost).

Well, Ruby delivered. Ruby was everything that I’d hoped The Turner House would be: rich, flawless writing. Characters that lived in my brain and wouldn’t let me sleep at night. A complex plot beautifully weaved with a back and forth flashback flashforward story telling style. This book was at once compelling and cringe-worthy with characters so real they at times made me roll my eyes with their shenanigans, with exasperation, or turned my stomach with the length and breadth of their brutality. These characters live and breathe on the page, they touched my heart, and a few even annoyed me–Celia, I’m looking at you.

Now, that’s talent. I can’t wait to see what Ms. Bond publishes in the future. I will put every last one on my book shelf. 5/5

MZB & Feminism in the 70’s

I’m reading a Marion Zimmer Bradley novel called The Ruins of Isis. The premise is a great one. An ancient planet ruled by women who subjugate and own their men. It was written in 1978 and speaks volumes about that time and about human relations in general. It flips things on its head and shows how ridiculous the whole idea is, for anyone. Male or female.ruins isis

I have always been a feminist. Vehemently so. I can’t/won’t accept a world where I am not considered an equal. I remember telling my husband-to-be that I would NOT stay home and be some kind of brood mare for him. I glared at him as I did so, as if he was suggesting just such a thing (he wasn’t). I had reason to be so forceful. I’d watched my mother being dominated by my stepfather–who had control issues to say the least. She fought the good fight but he wore her down. On the flip side, my father’s mother is the matriarch of our family. She rules, and everyone else follows. My father, as a result, is very gentle, when I flipped his car and nearly killed us at 12 years old he went home and took a shower then went and waxed his truck, very unperturbed. This feels right to me. Not some sort of domination between the sexes but a mutual respect and kindness. Does this mean that some men will have to take a backseat to their dominating nature? Probably. But a good man won’t mind that or even take note of it.

When this book was written equality between the sexes was still a new concept and the subject needed to be addressed, nay it needed to be described in just this beautiful and detailed way– showing how much had been accomplished and how far away we still were from a state of gender balance. This is such a tightwire balancing act so deftly done that I am in awe of MZB’s skills. After all, who was she following after in the Sci Fi field but the likes of Asimov and his tired male centered sexist view of the universe (so bad in fact that I wonder if he ever had a decent relationship with any woman?–If you don’t believe me read ANY of his short stories or novels and count the females who aren’t wives, mothers, or coffee-getters. You’ll find the total to be a very sad, and very telling, zero.) From Asimov’s world to what we enjoy today is yet another world away. We’ve come a long way and I can’t help but think that books like these and other pioneers helped to pave the way. For them, I’m grateful.

As a child of the 80’s and 90’s I benefited greatly from these ‘new’ ideas. My children will benefit even more. What about YOU? Do you take it for granted? Do you think it’s a tired overdone subject? How has feminism affected you?

Oh Yeah, Gonna Buy It

Thug Kitchen: Eat Like You give a F*ckthug kitchen

I have to admit to being a bit of a miser when it comes to buying books. I get them at discount stores, garage sales, thrift stores, Amazon used, you name it. I rarely buy anything new (Stephen King for example, or Harry Potter are my most recent new purchases).

I came across a video on Facebook that made me laugh out loud. (Watch it. Thank me later.) I was astounded to be told that it was a real book. Now anyone who knows me, knows that cooking is NOT on my list of preferred activities. It’s one of those things I do to keep my family alive, out of love. It’s not something I have a burning desire to expand my knowledge of, or expect to ever be good at. Yet–that book trailer piqued my interest. I put a hold on it from my library and picked it up today.

Oh man. I’ve laughed til I’ve cried–seriously I had to wipe my eyes to keep reading. I’m still in the Introduction, folks. This book is comedy gold.

But–I’m learning too. For example in the section entitled Pay.Fucking.Attention I learned that liquid and dry ingredients measure differently. Wuh–what? And in You Do You, they tell me that the recipes are a guide and offer this advice: ‘…we wrote this shit so a stranger could get down on what is being served up, but you know what the fuck you like. Taste while you’re cooking, not right before you are about to serve it when it’s to late to change shit.” Solid advice, and one I never do.

Regarding beans: “The beans are done when at least five of them taste tender and are cooked through. One bean can be a fucking liar so taste a few. Keep simmering until you get there. Simple shit.” I’ve never successfully cooked beans in my life. I’m gonna have a go at it for sure now. And with this kind of advice at my back, “You’re not going to fuck anything up. You got this.” I bet I’ll do just fine.

Other sections so far: Basic Tools for Kitchen Domination, and Staple Ingredients on Lock. This book explodes with personality. And they have a website, and a Facebook, too, in case you were wondering.

So, long story short: I will be buying this book. In fact, I can’t wait to buy it. I must own it. And like Julia Child I plan to go from one end of this book and drag my family along for the culinary ride all the way to the end.

 

 

Book Reviews–Horror/Thriller/Historical Romance???

I tried to make this a top 10 list but either my memory is too dreadful to remember that many books in a row, or I’ve been slouching in my fiction reading this summer. I have read a couple dozen nonfiction so I suppose the second is true. Anyway, I added books from winter time.

last daysapt 16the ritualAdam Nevill’s Last Days and Apartment 16 and The Ritual. This author was a fun find. My library had a display of horror books for Halloween last year and I pretty much grabbed every book that was set out. Then kept them for six months. I’m an awesome library patron! I won’t paraphrase or cut and paste here. Go check out Amazon for more info. Anyway, I read Last Days and really liked it. It’s touted as being much like the Blair Witch project but since I’ve never seen that movie–gasp! true–I can’t speak to that. I did learn a lot about film making, the author is quite detailed on that subject and makes it interesting and relevant. I liked it well enough to request more of his books and so far I have read Apartment 16 and The Ritual as well. I felt like Apt 16 ended abruptly though which was a turn off. The Ritual seemed to struggle with an antagonist but not enough to turn me away. I am a fan and I’ll come back for more at a later date. Check him out if you are unfamiliar. I would give this author a solid 3.5/5.

the birthingkilling ghostChristopher Ransom’s The Birthing House and Killing Ghost. Same situation here, found this author on the Halloween display. I really liked The Birthing House and got Killing Ghost as a follow up. In the Birthing House the characters “attempt to save their marriage by leaving the pressures of the city to start anew in a quiet, rural setting. They buy a Victorian mansion that once served as a haven for unwed mothers, called a birthing house. One day when Joanna is away, the previous owner visits Conrad to bequeath a vital piece of the house’s historic heritage, a photo album that he claims “belongs to the house.” Thumbing through the old, sepia-colored photographs of midwives and fearful, unhappily pregnant girls in their starched, nineteenth-century dresses, Conrad is suddenly chilled to the bone: staring back at him with a countenance of hatred and rage is the image of his own wife.” I wish that the photo album had had more of a role in the story. I wanted to know more! It was removed from the story as if he didn’t quite know what he wanted to do with it, and getting rid of it was the only viable solution. The novel Killing Ghost was…okay. It was a bit disjointed like maybe it needed one more edit after a long break away from the novel so that the author could better see its problems and fix them. With that said, it had some nice twists and turns. I kept reading because the character was obviously inspired by Eminem and I kind of have a thing for him. (The author confirms this in the afterword, by the way.)  I give this author a 2.5/5. I’ll come back for more.

creepersDavid Morrell’s Creepers. I bought this novel totally on accident. I thought that it was a horror novel based on the title. Turns out it is a thriller and it grabs you and shoves you through doorway after doorway both literally in the story and figuratively as a reader.  I couldn’t hardly put it down. Loved it! Will be back for more for sure, sooner rather than later. It’s about urban creepers–people who explore boarded up time capsule real estate for its historic value. In this novel, the antagonist is the key to the whole thing and you don’t know that piece of information until the very end. 4.5/5

 

riverBee Ridgeway’s River of No Return. A Mom and Me book club selection. A historical romance it turns out. I liked it, even though much of the dialogue had a modern rhythm to it. I was frustrated that book two–there must be one, right? was not available. 3.5/5

 

unlikelyJudy Blume’s In the Unlikely Event. This is an author who needs no introduction but maybe you didn’t know that she writes adult novels, too. This is one of them. I read Summer Sisters an age ago and positively loved it. I didn’t like this novel as much but it was still wonderful in its own way. It’s a multi-POV story so be prepared to keep track of a lot of characters. Once you adjust to that, you will enjoy. It’s based around the true facts of several plane crashes that occurred in Elizabeth, New Jersey in the 1950’s. The coming of age scenes are just as titillating as you might expect from the author of Deenie and Are you There, God, Its Me Margaret… 4.5/5

Gillian Flynn‘s Gone Girl, Dark Places, and Sharp Objects. I could go on and on for a long time about this author. She is one of my favorites and I am impatiently awaiting her next book. Like really, really, impatiently waiting. Gone Girls gets 5/5, Dark Places gets 5/5 and Sharp Objects gets 3.5/5 Her kind of sick wacko is my kind of sick wacko, too.

 

Emma Donoghue’s Room. They made a movie out of this one but the book is not to be missed. It is a flawless portrayal of the life of a kidnap victim told through the eyes of her five year old boy and it is SUPERB. I came across this novel walking the stacks at my library. They had three copies on the shelf so I figured that meant it was good and I wasn’t wrong. This is one of best novels that I have ever read. 5/5.room

 

 

Life Through a Horror Lens

resurretion dreamsI just finished Resurrection Dreams by Richard Laymon and I have to give it a 10 for plot and twists. A great twist on the zombie genre. I finished it in my car because while at the doctor’s office I got within 15 pages of the end and I just wanted to finish it unmolested. (You will understand this if you have children.) The day was still new, not too hot, so I sat in my car in  my driveway and enjoyed the last bit with no interruption.

I love the horror genre, find it infinitely satisfying. I have several more Laymon on my shelf but I am going to switch to John Saul’s The Homing which virtually shrieked at me from the back of my double stacked horror bookshelf. I’m already 65 pages into it and I’m liking it.the homing

Thank goodness, I’m a book hoarder. I have hundreds of books just ready to go at any time. This Saul book has been on my shelf for 14 years according to the sticker. Turns out the MC is almost my age. Maybe that’s why now was the perfect time to pluck it of the shelf and read it. I have Stephen King’s latest next to me as well. I’ve had it for two weeks and have felt no particular urge to pick it up. This is unusual to say the least. I guess as he ages I worry about running out of King stories, it makes me reluctant to begin. This is the end of the series so of course I’ll finish it. It just makes me kind of sad to do so. Like I’m approaching the last day of camp, or something.

Who’s your favorite horror writer? Who curls your toes and makes you pant for more?