Friday, October 31, 2014

October #SpookyReads

     This year, I decided that I would try to get myself in the mood for Halloween by only reading "spooky" books during the month of October. I figured I would read some Halloween-themed reads by searching out the ones on my shelves (or in the library) that had ghosts, murderers, vampires, or witches and go from there. I tried to go for the creepy stuff. Some of the time I succeeded and some of the time I didn't.
     Anyway, I figured I would compile a list here of the books I read this month. Maybe you'll even want to pick one up to read tonight, now that Halloween is upon us. I tweeted about them all month using the hashtag #SpookyReads, but twitter only gives you so much space to give reviews and I miss doing this, so here we are.

#SpookyReads 1: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
     Beautiful Creatures was actually a reread for me and kind of what inspired me to do #SpookyReads. I read it for Halloween two (maybe three?) years ago and it had been so long that I knew I couldn't read the sequels without first reading this one. Plus, I had seen the movie adaptation since then and I knew it had strayed pretty far from the book, so I wanted to get my facts straight before continuing.
     A story about Casters (as in spell casters), true love, beating the odds, southern prejudices, superstitions, and Dark vs. Light; Beautiful Creatures was just as good the second time around. I love the story and I devoured it again, even knowing where it was going. It's a thick book, but definitely worth taking your time to read.

#SpookyReads 2: Misery by Stephen King
     Misery happens to be my very first Stephen King book. I've heard about the man and his proficiency with the horror genre since I was a kid, but wasn't allowed to read him while growing up. To be fair, I was a pretty big scaredy cat as a child, so I don't blame my parents. The downside of an overactive imagination happens to be panicking at even the slightest suggestion of danger.
     I have to say, I quite liked my first run-in with Mr. King. Misery was even better than I expected, drawing the reader in from the very get-go and holding you in suspense from beginning to end. The antagonist is terrifying enough to have given me a nightmare or two and one particularly scary scene may or may not have made me yell "No!" while reading it in a crowded airport.
     I can definitely see why Stephen King has the great writing reputation he has carried for years now and I am definitely looking forward to reading more of his work in the future.

#SpookyReads 3: Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
     Next up is Beautiful Darkness, the second book in the Caster Chronicles. This one was a bit more angsty than the first and for pretty good reason (though to tell you why would be a major spoiler, so I'll keep my lips sealed). For this reason, it was a tad harder to read than the first. Still, the adventure and the characters manage to draw you in, even through the sadness, and I definitely found myself dying to read what would happen next. This sequel keeps all the sarcasm and charm of the first book while layering it with the aftermath of everything that went down between Lena, Ethan, and their families in the last book.

#SpookyReads 4: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
     This was my least favorite "spooky read." Before that  causes you to mark it off your reading list or skip the rest of this review, though, I should clarify that I am not a fan of vampire books. Vampires have always grossed me out and I don't see the appeal at all. I can do gore, but the ingesting of any human blood or flesh makes me queasy at the first glimpse of the idea, so I tend to stay away from this kind of book.
     That being said, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown was pretty good for my one and only vampire read. I've never read a vampire book or sat through a vampire movie (besides the second-to-last Twilight movie at LeakyCon 2012, which was heavily commentated by Maureen Johnson and other various funny ladies). I always enjoy Holly Black's writing. I love that she doesn't shy away from the gritty stuff and I love that she manages to create a world in this book that romanticizes vampires while not realizing the true horror of it. And I love that she uses it to explore the human condition in a world that is both fascinated and terrified by these monsters.
     If I had to read a vampire book, I'm glad it was this one. Holly Black's world building is thoroughly believable and can pull in even the most hesitant of readers.

#SpookyReads 5: Jack the Ripper: The Whitechapel Murders Re-Examined by Paul Roland
     For my final spooky read, I decided to mix it up by throwing some non-fiction into the mix. So I chose this book about Jack the Ripper that has been sitting on my shelf for a while now. I bought it not long after I read Maureen Johnson's The Name of the Star, which had some Jack the Ripper themes and made me want to find out more about the real history of the notorious murders.
     This book wasn't an amazing overview, but it did it's job in making me familiar with the murders and common theories surrounding the myth of the Ripper. I liked that it had photos and sketches I could refer to in seeing the suspects and certain aspects of the murder, but I couldn't help being a bit disappointed by the end of it. The author has a hard time helping the reader keep the names straight, and I found the lack of a bibliography at the end particularly irritating. How am I supposed to take this man's word if he can't tell me his sources? This book got three stars from me for that. It did it's job in giving me the gist of the matter, but I certainly don't feel as informed as I had hoped to be by the end of the book.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

I'm Back!

Bring on the blame. I know I suck for disappearing on y'all.

     I'm back, guys! I have returned to this lovely blog, where I once posted reviews of nearly every book I read. And one day I just dropped it. No explanation, no nothing. I know I suck, guys. But I'm not here to offer excuses or any of that shit. I honestly don't remember why I stopped, though it seemed it was around the time I moved to Seattle, so I'm guessing it just kind of fell by the wayside. I missed doing this, though. I missed writing reviews of the lovely books I came across. I missed bringing attention to the authors that truly deserve it. And though I did give Booktube a shot, I realized that I'm much better at writing my thoughts than I am at trying to look presentable in front of a camera. (Though you can see the few video reviews I did at the bottom of this post. I will embed them for your viewing pleasure . . . or displeasure.) 

     Anyway, I'm back now and ready to write some reviews. The first set of mini-reviews will be out tomorrow (I read only Halloween-themed books in October and tweeted about it under the hashtag #SpookyReads). I don't know if I'll set up a schedule for reviews or just post them as I write them or what, but I look forward to being back and weighing in on my passion (books) at every opportunity.

     Just wanted to write a short post to prepare y'all. Hopefully you'll be seeing a lot more of me on this blog soon!