Friday, October 30, 2015

Books for Halloween

Thought I would look for some Halloween type books for you. I have read my share of scary books, but I lean toward Casper and Wendy. Truth is, some of them really scare me. Part of me thinks those things could happen.

Scariest movies for me?
The 13 Ghosts - Saw it when was I was about 10. Caused nightmares and sleep walking.  I have watched it since and did not have quite the same effect on me.

The Exorcist: Saw most of it once at a drive in circa 1974-75? Covered my face for much of it. Didn't sleep for a week. Never saw it again.

Poltergeist: Saw it once. That is enough

The Shining: Once was also enough for this movie.

Yes those are "old" movies. I don't go to those type of movies anymore. I like some of the old 50's scary movies though.  They leave more to your imagination, like a good book.

Here is a list of scary books I found for you.

Twice Told Tales“The Minister’s Black Veil” from Twice Told Tales, by Nathaniel Hawthorne 
Though this is not a ghost story, per se, the villagers in this short story by The Scarlet Letter author Nathaniel Hawthorne are traumatized when their minister suddenly appears in town wearing a black veil over his face. His parishioners fear something horrible must have happened to him, and when he refuses to remove the veil under any circumstances, his fiancée leaves him. Many have theorized that the terrifying image must be Hawthorne’s comment on the idea of original sin.

Tales of Mystery and Imagination“The Fall of the House of Usher” from Tales of Mystery and Imagination, by Edgar Allan Poe
Poe is, in many ways, the master of horror, and any one of his ghost stories could be included on this list. We’re particularly fond of “The Fall of the House of Usher,” however, which tells the story of two hypochondriacal siblings, Madeline and Roderick, who believe their house is alive. Things only get worse when Madeline dies and our narrator comments on how rosy her cheeks look as she lowered into the tomb.  (I have watched this movie a few times. Vincent Price was always so good.)

Haunted Looking Glass“The Dream Woman,” by Wilkie Collins from The Haunted Looking Glass, edited by Edward Gorey
One man’s haunting by a young woman with “light gray eyes, a droop in the left eyelid, flaxen hair with a gold-yellow streak in it, white arms, and a little lady’s hand with a reddish look about the fingernails” turns out to be much more of a premonition than he could have ever imagined in this short story by the author of The Woman in White.

Haunting of Hill HouseThe Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson
American horror writer Shirley Jackson takes the idea of a haunted house to the next level in her novel The Haunting of Hill House, published in 1959. A doctor brings three subjects to a supposedly haunted house for a study in the paranormal. One of the subjects, Eleanor, seems to be more effected by the strange events in the house, leading the other people to wonder if the house has some kind of hold over her.
(Read this and saw the movie. Pretty scary)
Turning of the ScrewThe Turn of the Screw, by Henry James
Henry James’ absolutely terrifying 1898 novella tells the story of a governess who comes to care for two children, Miles and Flora, who live in a country estate in England with their uncle. The governess immediately notices the presence of not one, but two ghosts in the house. When she learns their identities, she must struggle to keep the children safe from ghostly threats. (This sounds familiar...Just the cover looks scary.)

ShiningThe Shining, by Stephen King
Though most are familiar with Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation, it’s important go to back to the source material, Stephen King’s 1977 novel. The Shining tells the story of a family who hope to escape their recent hardship by house-sitting a giant hotel over the winter. What they don’t realize is they aren’t alone, and that most of the guests in the hotel have never checked out.
(Very scary movie)
October Country“The Lake” from The October Country, by Ray Bradbury
The stories in this collection by Fahrenheit 451 author Ray Bradbury are all terrifying, especially “The Lake,” which Bradbury wrote when he was only 22. In his introduction he describes the joy he felt when he “knew at long last, after years of dumb obfuscation, I had turned inward, discovered whatever might be original in my head, and caught in on paper.” (Turns out, the contents of said head were pretty disturbing.) “‘The Lake,'” Bradbury writes, “published in Weird Tales some months later, has never been out of print and has been anthologized dozens of times.” (Bradbury also did Star Trek. And he had a t.v. series before - Ray Bradbury Theatre. We have it in DVD. Kind of Twightlight Zone type stories but a little scarier)

Scary Stories in the Dark“Cold as Clay” from Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, by Alvin Schwartz
The stories in Alvin Schwartz’s three-volume Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark are deeply disturbing, and the horrifying illustrations by Stephen Gammell make them even scarier, despite the fact the books are meant for young readers! Based in folklore, the stories collected here may seem vaguely familiar. We love “Cold as Clay,” about a young woman’s visit from her boyfriend, who claims to need to take her to her father. As she climbs on the back of his horse, she exclaims, “You’re cold as clay!” I hope you are not ill.” Oh, brother. (Hmmm I believe this book is in the box of books my kids had. Maybe I will take a look.)

House of LeavesHouse of Leaves, by Mark Z. Danielewski
This cult novel, published in 2000, is filled with winding footnotes, appendices, and terrifying wormholes that mimic the interior of the house at the center of its narrative. Shortly after moving in, the Navidson family finds doors open onto walls, strange rooms appear and disappear, leading to a maze like structure called the anteroom. Danielewski owes much to the strange true story of the Winchester Mystery House and Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House—but ultimately the House of Leaves is also an allegory of the modern, dysfunctional family.
Ghostly“The Pink House” from Ghostly, by Rebecca Curtis
Rebecca Curtis’ short story “The Pink House” begins like many classic horror stories—a woman tells the story of her haunted house to a group of friends on a stormy night. On the day she moves in, she discovers a man’s ring in the bathroom, which she then gives to her boyfriend, who starts acting very strangely. When she learns the history of the house from the local bartender and puts two and two together, the result is terrifying

What ones have you read?

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Texas weather, scavenger hunts and Missing You by Harlan Coben

Had a week off of work, a week ago. Takes a while to recover returning to work. So I also took an extra day off. :) Had a birthday and thinking about what that means....

We also had a lot of rain here in Central Texas. I am a "Texas transplant", from the Midwest, where it gets really, really cold, so I scoff at a lot of the Texas weather sayings. But after 28 years of living here, I will admit, Texas is not for sissies.  We had really bad flooding in May. Many people lost their lives and others their homes. In this day and age. There was nothing anyone could do. Nothing modern technology could do. Then we had the usual hot and dry summer. 100 degrees followed by 101 degrees then 102, and 103. Finally when we have had enough, it rains. We got 11.87 inches of rain in my part of town (official weather station #), between Thursday night and Sunday morning. Thankfully I have not heard of anyone loosing their home or life this time.

Besides finishing Missing You this week, I attempted to participate in a Literary Scavenger Hunt. Saw an invite on Goodreads. It was to be a week of questions posted by authors about their books. Find the answers to the questions, and on the final day, a form will be provided for you to submit your answers. There is also raffles you can enter every day by authors for books and other giveaways. I say attempted because I do not see that I am going to be able to finish it. I think you need a strategy for these things. I thought it would be 5 questions each day, I would collect the questions then answer them in the evening after work. Well...there was 5 questions per 5 authors every day. I kept up for about 3 days, then just didn't have the time to research and it snowballed on me. I did enter some raffles, winners yet to be announced. I will try another but have to have a different method next time.

Our Mystery Book Club (MBC) for the month is Missing You by Harlan Corben.

Kudos to our MBC leader, Kay, for choosing this book and this author. Yet another author I have never read. But he will now be on my list of other books to read.

Kat is a NYPD officer. A friend of hers encourages her to join an online dating website to "get out there". Kat had been engaged to Jeff 18 years ago but he suddenly broke it off and went away. She stumbles across him on the dating website. She debates on reconnecting with him and sends him a message with a video of their song: Missing You by John Waite.

Kat's father was also an NYPD officer and was murdered many, many years ago. The man who was convicted of murdering him is in prison and she has been notified that he is dying. She has never felt sure that he was the man that killed her father and begins investigating on her own to find the truth.

A college student - Brandon- contacts Kat to help him find his mother, Dana. She was conversing with a man on the same dating website that Kat has joined and agreed to meet him on a long weekend trip. Brandon is certain Dana has met with foul play; he has not heard from her as expected and money is missing from her account. Oh, Brandon is a computer whiz and has started some investigating of his own. Looks like Dana went away with Jeff, Kat's ex fiancé.  But did she?
Kat uncovers there are other people missing under the same premise.

Kat goes to a yoga class in the park most days to help with the stress of her job. It is taught by Aqua. Aqua is schizophrenic but an excellent yoga teacher. Jeff was roomates with Aqua many years ago. The three of them were great friends. Aqua seems to have some secrets about Jeff and Kat's dad but in his often confused state, cannot or will not talk to Kat about them.

This book is excellent: well written, very suspenseful, great story. While there is a couple of story lines running parallel, Coben easily keeps them untangled and keeps you interested. One is as important as the other.

Kat uncovers a deadly ring of kidnapping, extortion and murder, while investigating her father's murder.

Lots of secrets are found out in this book... the secrets have secrets, and those secrets have secrets...

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Assiduous Quest of Tobias Hopkins by James Faro

 If you like the history of the late 1600's, explorations into strange new lands, ships, pirates, scallywags and wanton women, this book is for you!

"It is October in the year 1675. New England trader, Tobias Hopkins, arrives in Jamaica to discover the truth about his missing father. It transpires that, not only has the man been dead for six years, but he has left Toby with a half-brother and the clue to an inheritance which promises to change the course of their lives.
Will the cryptic message written by his father lead Toby to a promised fortune, or will it lead him into the hands of those who aim to destroy him? Others lay in wait, watching Toby's every move. Who can he trust? His faithful associate, John, the astute businesswoman Elizabeth, or Magdalena, mother of his half-brother Eduardo? Some of those around him are not what they seem to be, and it soon becomes clear that Toby and those closest to him are in imminent danger.
Toby sails to the Island of Nevis where he is rewarded with the fruits of his quest. However, it is when he sets sail for Virginia that Tobias Hopkins and his crew face the consequences of his actions. "

James Faro offered this book on his blog, with a new chapter each week. I like historical fiction and combine it with a mystery, and I want to read it. 

The history shared in the book is very interesting. It shows how people would have acquired ships and crew to travel to new worlds, the obstacles and dangers they faced. Life in Jamaica and America at that time was very interesting to read about. You will be rooting for Toby as he tries to search for his father and encounters many obstacles and quite an assortment of "characters", some interested in helping and some not so much.

I believe you can read a chapter a week on James Faro's website, but I would recommend going ahead and getting the full book on Amazon. For me, reading one chapter a week was difficult. I would forget some things, or loose the momentum. If you have an interest in sailing, 17th century and exploration, I think you will like it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Quips and Quotes

I was watching "Keeping Up Appearances" - shown on Netflix - and had a very good laugh at this comment by Daisy. She is often, or nearly always shown reading romance novels.


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I thought I would share some other quips and quotes about reading.

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Thursday, October 8, 2015

Mrs. Hudson and the Spirits' Curse

Happy October. I wish I could say we are enjoying fall weather but it is still pretty warm here.

I wanted to share what the Mystery Book Club read for our October meeting, with you.

It was a theme month, which means we all read whatever books we would like, within a theme. This time it was books set in Victorian times such as Sherlock Holmes.

I read Mrs. Hudson and the Spirits' Curse by Martin Davies.

Mrs. Hudson, of course is Sherlock Holmes' housekeeper. The story begins and is told by young teenager, name Flotsam (Flottie) running away from Fogarty, the butler of her employer. Fogarty had picked her up at an orphanage under the premise of training her to be a servant. Well, he was being pretty abusive, so she finally took off and was found by Scraggs, grocer and friend of Mrs. Hudson. He called Mrs. H. who took her in. Mrs . H. answers an ad placed in the newspaper by Holmes for a housekeeper. He and Watson are just setting up in London. Watson in returning from he travels. Mrs. H. has solved mysteries for previous employers and think Sherlock Holmes will be a perfect person for her to work for.

Mrs. H. and Flottie get the job! The first visitor to the house is a mysterious stranger who drops off a note and a dagger asking for Holmes and Watson's help. The stranger and his partners in crime, I mean business, have returned from Sumatra fleeing a curse that the natives have put upon them. Daggers, scorpions, snakes and rats are unfortunate parts of the curse. Many people have died under mysterious circumstances in Sumatra and they fear for their lives. Who is killing all these people and why? Is there really a curse?

Mrs. H. is presented as the person who catches clues, snoops, wears disguises and advises Holmes and Watson in this story. I found the end of the book very interesting. Watson wants to publish stories about his adventures with Holmes and seeks advice from Mrs. H. who suggests that Sherlock be the hero and that she should play lesser of a roll. While they do reside on Baker St., she suggests they need an address other than the real address and suggests 221B Baker St.. She also recommends that he make Flottie a pageboy rather than a girl so as not to draw attention to Flottie since she is so young yet.

It was a good story and an interesting take on the Sherlock Holmes stories.

Here is what other members read:

The Yard by Alex Grecian: Scotland Yard's Murder Squad Book 1
A Curious Beginning by Deanna Rayburn: A Veronica Speedwell Mystery
Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watson by Lyndsay Faye
The Harvest Man by Alex Grecian: Scotland Yard's Murder Squad
Sister Pelagia and the White Bulldog: A Mystery (Mortalis) by Boris Akunin - set in Russia
Mrs. Jeffries Takes a Second Look by Emily Brightwell - cozy
The Counterfeit Heiress: A Lady Emily Mystery by Tasha Alexander
Gaslight Mysteries by Victoria Thompson: several in this series, cozies
Murder at Bertram's Bower by Cynthia Peale
The Alienist: A Novel (Dr. Lazlo Kreizler Book 1) by Caleb Carr (translation - psychologist in 1896)
The White Crow by Cynthia Peale:  spiritualism and séances are used to solve this mystery, which were popular during those times
A Beautiful Blue Death (Charles Lenox Mysteries Book 1)
Inspector of the Dead by David Morrell
The Face of a Stranger by Ann Perry                                                                                                 

All were set in Victorian times. Several showed the beginnings of forensics and police departments. Both forensics and policeman were pretty new concepts and had a rough start. The public did not like or trust the police departments. "Investigators" took no care NOT to disturb the crime scene. Several are books in a series that members have really enjoyed. Many gave a glimpse into life in Victorian times and especially being a woman in those times.  We had a good discussion about the books and the history of the time.

For next month we will be reading Missing You by Harlan Coben. I also have a couple of interesting new books I want to read and post reviews for. I better get busy. :)