WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday October 24, 2018

WWW

It’s time! Make sure and check Taking on a World of Words to see all of the other participants in this weekly meme which answers the questions:

What did you just finish reading?

What are you currently reading?

What do you plan to read next?


What did I just finish reading?

I have had an excellent past two weeks of reading. I finished Scythe by Neal Shusterman which I have owned and shelved for at least two years. This first book in a series introduces the reader to a world without pain, hunger or death. The overpopulation issue is handled by Scythes, individuals with the power of death. Two young people have been chosen as Scythe apprentices and their lives are forever altered by the entrance of death into their existence. I had no intention of enjoying this book and it won me over completely. For a more comprehensive review, check here.

I also found this adorable non fiction book, Black Cats and Evil Eyes, a Book of Old Fashioned Superstition by Chloe Rhodes. This slender book holds the history for phrases and actions that are based on superstition. Some are absolutely weird (drinking out of an animal skull will cure epilepsy) and some I do all of the time (see a penny, pick it up!). This book is perfect for stocking your brain full of fun tidbits and my review is here.

My last book has probably been read by everyone save me, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. Another book that I have owned for years but hadn’t read, this book is wondrous. I loved the story of Bod, the boy growing up in the graveyard, and the circumstances surrounding his unusual life. This book is a five star, 100% huggable book and I cannot stop talking about it. My review is here if you are interested.

I also consumed all 8 issues of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. If you have run out of Riverdale episodes or are wanting to get a jump on Sabrina related works before the show debuts on Netflix, this are fantastic. They are NOT the Sabrina the Teenage Witch of my childhood. These are horror comics and they are dark. But, since I am consumed this month by Frighteningly Good Reads they were utterly perfect reading.


What am I Currently Reading?

I am nearly half way through the sequel to Hocus Pocus. It is a very light read which does not keep my attention very long but is still fun for an end-of-October middle grade book. I am obsessed with The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco. This book tells the story of a magical girl who can raise the dead. She discovers her powers when she accidentally brings her brother back from the grave and the action doesn’t stop there. I only have 100 pages remaining.


What do I plan to read next?

huntingdracula

The only book I have left for Frightening Good Reads is Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerry Maniscalco. I did not realize that it was a sequel to Stalking Jack the Ripper and so the conundrum is: do I read this book or save it until after I read the first in the series? If anyone is familiar with the books I would love some advice!


Tell me, please!

What is on your WWW list?


not a review

Dewey’s Readathon October 2018

Dewey’s 24 hour Readathon was this past weekend. It happens twice a year. I was so excited to participate again this time (my second) because I learned about it far enough in advance to plan my reading and food and schedule. Ahh, the best laid plans and intentions…

From 8 a.m. until noon I was reading steadily. I started with The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco and the pace of this book was gratifyingly adventurous. In about three and a half hours I had more than half of the book read but I found that I couldn’t sit still anymore. I had consumed my maximum level of coffee and done some serious snacking and so I knew that I needed a break. I really wanted to enjoy this book and perhaps start a new one today so I had to keep going!

I tried everything but I couldn’t sit still anymore. Eventually I managed to enjoy Andre the Giant, a decent graphic novel about the larger than man that Andre was, but I couldn’t return to The Bone Witch.

As this was my second Readathon I thought I had a better handle on what to expect and how to be successful. But, as readers we are always growing and changing. And now I know that sitting down to consume a book in entirety has never really been something that I could force. After four hours I started to feel like I had a test approaching and instead of enjoying my reading time it because very stressful.

Dewey’s Readathons also provide a plethora of social media platforms in which to participate and socialize. While I loved reading through other people’s process I found trying to keep up with Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter and Instagram overwhelming.

The next Readathon is April 6, 2019. Now I know I need a variety of books to read and audiobooks to keep my momentum going. I should probably also cut back on the snacks…they caused a massive nap. Finally I plan to pick one or two social platforms instead of trying to follow along with every single one.

Read and learn I guess!


Tell me, please!

Have you participated in a readathon? What are your tips?

Fantasy · fiction · FrighteninglyGoodRead · YA

FGR #8: Scythe by Neal Shusterman

I am going to confess something. I didn’t want to read this book. I believe that I purchased it two years ago and started it only to quit three chapters in and shelf the book. If not for a combination of Frighteningly Good Reads and my 2018 Resolutions I probably would never have forced myself to read what turned out to be a phenomenal story.

scythe
A figure in a hooded red cape holds a scythe looking like a futuristic grim reaper.

Scythe by Neal Shusterman takes place in a world without hunger, disease, general misery or even death. Unfortunately, without natural death the world’s population must be controlled. Scythes are the only ones with the ability to take a life and Citra and Rowan have just been selected as apprentice Scythes. Now, only one can rise to the rank of a full Scythe. Citra and Rowan must master the “art” of death. As they do so they learn that living in a perfect world comes with a price.

Initially, I didn’t really find any of the main characters appealing. Which is why I put the book away for so long. However, as the story unfolded I began to comprehend the apathy to which these people must be acclimated in a world where there is no reason to worry, no purpose in hard work and the ability to die only to be whisked off to a revival center and brought back to life. If there is no threat of old age then do you lose the thirst and hunger of youth? Certainly when Citra and Rowan are faced with a permanent cessation of their lives their personalities change dramatically into characters that I grew to love and genuinely cared about.

And there in lies the magic of this story. At first glance I believed this was another annoying futuristic tale and the cautionary story of a world without death. Instead, I became slowly aware along with the characters of the importance of death in giving life value and purpose. As I watched Citra and Rowan struggle with that realization and the lengths they would go to in order to continue to live, even if that meant taking lives, I found myself completed immersed in the story. And now, as so frequently happens, a book I thought I would enjoy has become a series I cannot wait to continue!


Tell me, please!

Have you ever started a series determined to hate it only to be won over?

FrighteninglyGoodRead · series · Sunday Morning Comics

Sunday Morning Comics – FGR#7

I remember watching Sabrina the Teenage Witch on Friday night television as a kid. Sabrina was a delightful teenager, her cat Salem was scheming and snarky and her Aunts were wacky but well intended. In The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Sabrina is still a teenager but the rest of the story is as dark and different as Riverdale is to the Archie Comics of my childhood. I mean, helllloooo Betty!

This series, written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Robert Hack with artwork by Robert Hack is dark, scary and thematically grown up. Currently there are 8 issues of this horror sub-print. The 9th issue set to debut sometime this year.

Volume 1 (Issues 1-5), The Crucible, is the factual basis for all Sabrina-related stories. It introduces Sabrina’s parents, her childhood in the 1950’s and 1960’s and brings us up to Sabrina’s 16th birthday where she must choose between becoming a full witch or a mortal.

Volume 1 had me riveted. Everything in this volume is, as promised, chilling. Even though I was mildly shocked by the material (I really had the wholesome Sabrina deep in my psyche) I could not stop my speedy consumption of the storyline. As I am featuring Frighteningly Good Reads this month, this version of Sabrina was an ideal comic book series. But I was not mentally prepared for how dark this series was going to go!  I have so many story line questions but I would never spoil it for future readers. But, I am dying to know if anyone else see Zac Efron as the basis for Harvey Kinkle. Below is not the best example but it is the only one that doesn’t disclose plot points.

harvey
Volume II (Issues 6-10), Witch War, only has two issues out right now. Issue 7 and 8 focus on Sabrina’s witch father, Edward Spellman and his banishment and mysterious return to the land of the living. I was happily tearing through Issue 8 and I cannot even form the words to describe my disappointment when I realized I was going to have to wait for the next issues!

If you are looking for a dark and horror-filled version of the (formerly sweet) Sabrina look no further than The Chilling Tales of Sabrina. Just be warned, this is absolutely not TGIF Sabrina!


Tell me, please!

Are you into the whole Riverdale / dark turn on this old comics?

Fantasy · fiction · FrighteninglyGoodRead · Middle Grade

FGR #6: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

This book came into my hands highly recommended and I only wish I could, in turn, place it directly into your hands. The characters alone have me cuddling the book tightly in my arms as I type. But the story…this story. Sigh. Well, there is a reason this book won both the Newberry Medal and the Carnegie Medal.

graveyard
A blue cover with gold writing featuring an antique headstone and a golden Newberry sticker.

The Graveyard Book gives us the story of Nobody Owens and, much The Jungle Book, Nobody Owens is as unique as Mogli because his home is unique. He is being raised by ghosts, taunted by ghouls, and protected by magical beings. Bod, to his friends and family, has the blessings of the graveyard and many of the unusual gifts of his long dead family and friends. In short, Bod is the very coolest of characters.

It is why he is in the graveyard that matters. He doesn’t belong there but he is only safe while he remains inside. But safe from what? Or who? And for how long?

Neil Gaiman is a prolific and talented writer. I have enjoyed several of his other books. But I doubt that any other story of his will remain with me the way The Graveyard Book is sure to from this day onward. I loved it like so many others before me. It is, without a doubt, a perfect Frighteningly Good Read.


Tell me, please!

Have you read this book or others by Neil Gaiman? Which is your favorite?

FrighteninglyGoodRead · nonfiction

FGR #5: Black Cats & Evil Eyes, A Book of Old-Fashioned Superstitions by Chloe Rhodes

I love to be obnoxiously in the know regarding little tidbits of information. I’ll never be smart enough to win a game of Jeopardy and I frequently miss major news headlines but I delight in sprinkling conversations with little know facts. And, since I also adore Halloween, a book that focuses on old-fashioned superstitions is perfect for me!

blackcats
A large black cat sits in the middle of a red and white book with other silhouettes of a ram and a crow.

Black Cats & Evil Eyes, A Book of Old-Fashioned Superstitions by Chloe Rhodes is a slender book stuffed full of superstitions and the history and basis for the belief. Each superstition is covered quickly – perhaps two or three pages – but so completely as to allow me to sound knowledgable about the subject. Perfection!

I immediately gravitated to superstitions that I actually practice. For example, picking up pennies. I have heard a lot of reasons to pick up or leave a fallen penny by now but the most prevalent one is certainly, “Find a penny, pick it up; all day long you’ll have good luck.” However, the saying was originally, “See a pin and pick it up, all day long you’ll have good luck. See a pin and let it lie, you’ll feel want before you die.” Whether this saying originates with the encouragement to take pride in small tasks or the idea that pins are used in witchcraft remains a debate. But just think how much fun I will have throwing this little bit of information into everyday conversation!

Black Cats & Evil Eyes is the perfect book to read if you have always wondered why we believe things like; covering your mouth when you yawn is polite, putting shoes on the table is rude, burning cheeks means someone is talking about you, and (my favorite) the gift of a purse or a wallet should always include money. There are some really fascinating superstitions in this book and only a handful were unfamiliar to me.

Chloe Rhodes has written a book that makes me truly happy when I flip through it page by page. It is the perfect delightful mix of fascinating non-fiction information with a healthy heaping of Halloween feeling. An ideal Non-Fiction Friday Frightening Good Read!


Tell me, please!

What is a superstition that you hear frequently?

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday October 10, 2018

WWW

Today is the day we see whether I have been reading a lot or binging on-demand television too much. It’s WWW Wednesday! Brought to you by Sam at Taking on a World of Words we will cover the books you just finished, the ones you are currently reading and what you plan to read next.


What did I just finish reading?

I whipped through The House With a Clock in Its Walls by John Bellairs and loved it. I saw the movie this weekend and it was a lot scarier than the book but still within the parameters of family fun. I continue to wish that they cast a child that looked like the book version Lewis (who was mocked for being overweight) because I think it would have brought a unique perspective to the movie. My full review is here.

I finished The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood as well. It is now haunting me. I cannot stop thinking about it. If you haven’t read it I highly recommend it but, beware, it is terrifying. My full review is here.

I also started on the new comic book series, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and the first one was fantastic. I hope to finish the series and post a review for my Sunday Morning Comics.


What am I currently reading?

Heap House is very weird. I am only about 30-40 pages in and it hasn’t grabbed me yet but I carry on because of the level of weirdness.

I am working through the Hercule Poirot Puzzle Collection. It was supposed to be fun but it is making me feel like an idiot.

Scythe has long been on my to be read shelf and it seemed thematically perfect for a Frighteningly Good Read. I am tearing through it much more quickly than Heap House.

And, I have the second Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. So dark, I love it!


What do I plan to read next?

Here be Monsters remains in my “next” pile this week. I have also added The Hound of the Baskervilles because I don’t think I have ever read it.


Tell me, please!

WWW are you reading this week?


FrighteninglyGoodRead

FGR #4: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

handmaids
Two women in red dresses with huge white bonnets are walking by a brick wall carrying baskets.

I cannot imagine that there is a book that I will read this month that terrified me as much as The Handmaid’s Tale. Perfectly paced and elegant in the unfolding action, Margaret Atwood’s modern classic is precisely the type of book I would store in a locked box.

The Handmaid’s Tale has a clear before and after. We learn through a haphazard timeline that our narrator was married and had a child before The Republic of Gilead. She had a job, her own money, an education, and the ability to purchase cigarettes. She could read and socialize as she saw fit. But after, after everything changes. She doesn’t even have her own name. She is now Offred, a handmaid who has been assigned to a Commander. She is allowed to walk with a paired handmaid to the market everyday with tokens to buy food that is labelled with pictures because women cannot be alone, they cannot carry money and they are prohibited from reading. Once a month she and the Commander engage in a ritual to make her pregnant because she is valued only for her ability to conceive. In a world with plummeting birth rates women have been boiled down to this one ability.

Well written fictional characters are fantastic in inspiring real feelings. A great deal can be said about the main character, Offred, and her ability to inspire sympathy, anger, and sadness. She embodies so many women’s greatest fears – that they will be valued only for the ability to procreate. Still, I found myself completely fixated on Aunt Lydia and the out Aunts, the wives, the docile handmaids, the Marthas, even Moira and Offred’s own mother. I hated Aunt Lydia on a level I thought was reserved for Dolores Umbridge and Nurse Ratchet. The other women were all, in their own way, part of the problem. What frightened me was that I could see myself making some of their same decisions.

And that is what makes this tale so horrifying. It is not as simple as saying, “I would never do this or that.” The lack of choices for so many of the characters, that feeling of being stuck in a situation forever, was so well conceived and written by Ms. Atwood that it is haunting me.

I don’t have a locked box in which to keep this book. Instead, I will store it on my shelf backwards so that I don’t visually trip over the spine and accidentally find myself back in Gilead. This is certainly put the Frighteningly back in Good Read!


Tell me, please!

Have you read this book? If so, which character affected you the most?

all ages · FrighteninglyGoodRead

FGR #3 The House With a Clock in Its Walls by John Bellairs

housewithclocks
An orange and black cover featuring a tomb with two boys entering. Over the tomb is an orange cloud in the shape of a skull. A sticker reads, “Soon to be a Major Motion Picture.”

Lewis Barnavelt features in almost a dozen of John Bellairs mystery books and he is, without a doubt, my favorite thing about The House With a Clock in Its Walls. Orphaned at age 10, Lewis must relocate to New Zebedee to live with his Uncle Jonathan. This popular trick of orphaning the main character gives Lewis the usual freedom of an unsupervised child. And, while Lewis does make the mistakes any ten year old would without the guidance of an adult, it is how he copes that opened my heart to him.

Lewis is a big kid. Not in height but in girth. The story, set in 1948, has little to do with that but because of his shape Lewis is ridiculed and mocked. And, of course, the one friend he does make manages to get him into supernatural trouble.  Still, Lewis does not become mean or spiteful. Instead, he takes comfort in good books and hot cocoa. And he recognizes when the one friend he has is not worthy of his time. Ah… to be so wise at ten.

Perhaps this is I loved this book. It wasn’t scary or even spooky. Instead it was more like any other well written children’s book – a story about one thing with an important life lesson deftly nestled inside of it. Because of this I would absolutely recommend this to an all-ages audience. And, it has enough magic and ghosts to be a light Frighteningly Good Read.

I am headed to see the film tomorrow and I can predict with a near certainty that I will love Jack Black as Uncle Jonathan. But I am already disappointed that Lewis is a slender and standard looking child actor. I would have loved to see Hollywood tackle this angle.


Tell me, please!

Have you read any other John Bellairs?


WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday: October 3, 2018

WWW

It has been far too long since I have participated in my favorite of social blogging opportunities – the WWW Wednesday! Hosted (as always) by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Make sure and check out her post from today and as many of the other participants as your time or to be read shelf allows!


What Did I Just Finish Reading?

I am deep into my Frighteningly Good Reads for 2018 and so I have just finished two fantastic spooky stories to kick off October. The first was Ten Dead Comedians by Fred Van Lente and the second was the middle grade spooky tale, City of Ghosts by the fantastic Victoria Schwab. You can see my full reviews in the links but I am having a blast reading my scary and spooky books as I gear up for my favorite of all holidays – Halloween!


What am I Currently Reading?

I am mere pages from finishing The House with a Clock in Its Walls by John Bellairs and it is a sweet spooky tale. I plan on seeing the new film featuring Jack Black on Friday and I am looking forward to comparing the book and the movie. I am also finally reading The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and it is horrifying.


What do I Plan to Read Next?

As I continue reading books through October sometimes the frightening takes backseat to the weird and only tangentially related to the season but I feel like Heap House has a very Victorian haunted house feel. Poirot is almost always Halloween related to me because of that glorious mustache. And Here be Monsters (the basis for the movie Boxtrolls) seems like a perfect read.

But, it is a long month so…


Tell me, please!

Do you have and spooky, scary, frightening or fun reads to recommend?