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Portable Monsters

Reading, for me, is entertainment and an escape from the real world. But it can also inform and stretch the boundaries of the life I live.

Currently reading

The Alienist (Audio)
Caleb Carr, Julie Carr, Edward Herrmann
The Book of Lost Things
John Connolly
Progress: 99/339 pages
Peanuts Classics
Charles M. Schulz
Progress: 66 %
The Bungalow Mystery
Carolyn Keene
Progress: 192/192 pages
The Bungalow Mystery #3
Carolyn Keene
Progress: 192/192 pages
The Bungalow Mystery
P.M. Carlson, Russell H. Tandy, Carolyn Keene
Progress: 204/204 pages

The Book of Lost Things - 99/339 pg

The Book of Lost Things - John Connolly

Well. I thought this was supposed to be a YA book, but I don't believe I've ever seen bestiality - explicit, not implied - in a book intended for young adults. 


The Alienist - 0%

The Alienist (Audio) - Caleb Carr, Julie Carr, Edward Herrmann

I picked this up at an Audible $5 sale, on the strength of some recommendations here. Reading it for the Amateur Sleuth square, as the investigators are a newspaper reporter and a psychologist. 


The Silence of the Lambs ★★★★★

The Silence of the Lambs: 25th Anniversary Edition (Audio) - Thomas Harris

This was just about a perfectly executed thriller. The characters were believable and engaging, except for Dr. Lecter and Buffalo Bill, who were believable and horrifying, and Dr. Chilton, who was believably slimy, the pace was snappy, and the clues were doled out just right - enough to keep me reading, but no info-dumps. Even knowing how the story ends didn't spoil the fun for me. 


This is the first time I've experienced the full book. The abridged audio, read by Kathy Bates, was one of the first audio books I ever bought on Audible, way back in the days when digital subscription audio was a new and unique service and I had to download them on my computer and manually transfer them to my iPod nano, because I didn't see a reason for that newfangled smart phone thing. Kathy Bates did an outstanding job, but abridgments ought to be against the law. 


This time, I used a credit on the full unabridged audio, read by Frank Muller. He was always one of my favorite audio narrators, but I know he's not for everyone. 


I read this book for the Booklikes Halloween Bingo 2019, for the square American Horror Story: Horror set in the United States. This book takes place in Virginia, West Virginia, and Ohio. It would also fit the squares for:

  • Stranger Things – written/set in the 1980’s
  • Slasher Stories – Dr. Lecter could be considered indestructible, and there are multiple victims
  • Murder Most Foul – obviously
  • Film at 11 – One of the best film adaptations
  • Psych – Dr. Lecter in the hospital for the criminally insane
  • Serial/Spree Killer – both Dr. Lecter and Buffalo Bill apply
  • Gothic – Buffalo Bill’s setting absolutely contains gothic elements


Prior Updates:

Sep15 0%

Sep16 30%

The Book of Lost Things - 87/339 pg

The Book of Lost Things - John Connolly

Well, it's certainly interesting so far, and I'm a little amused that the boy's adventure requires him to rescue another boy older than himself, rather than a princess. 



The Book of Lost Things - 0/339 pg

The Book of Lost Things - John Connolly

Another book off my TBR mountain! For this one, I'm using my first Transfiguration spell on the Fear Street square to change it into the Relics and Curiosities square. I'm not sure yet how this book fits, if it's the books or magical objects in the fairytale part of the story, but it's on the Booklikes Relics reading list, so that's good enough for me!

The Girl with Glass Feet ★★★☆☆

The Girl with Glass Feet: A Novel - Ali Shaw

Two characters minor/supporting characters in this book seem capable of simple and unselfish love. The others are all awkward, grasping, angry, or selfish and have lives filled with dysfunctional relationships. I suppose that we’re supposed to be touched by the transformation that Midas goes through, by navigating love and loss with Ida and his anger with his parents, but I never could connect with his character enough to really care.


In the fictional arctic chain of islands of St. Hauda’s Land, some people catch a strange condition where their bodies gradually turn to glass. Why this happens or how the process works is never really explained. Like a fairy tale, it just is. It is a painful and horrifying process that can take years to develop or may proceed in a matter of minutes. Again, what influences the speed of the change is never explained. I suppose it’s just there to serve the story. For our main character Ida, it begins in her toes and works its way up, as opposed to other characters where it begins in the vital organs. This is convenient for the story because Ida gets plenty of time to hobble around, otherwise unaffected, and impact everyone around her as her vitality is gradually turned immobility.


Obviously, this is not my kind of story. The romance is a little too cloying and I genuinely don’t understand why either of these characters falls in love with the other. The magic is nonsensical, and is really just representational of ideas and emotions, and it’s peopled by unlikeable and neurotic characters. BUT. The prose is really lovely. The author creates a sense of place with texture and emotion and vivid imagery that I really enjoyed. So it was worth the time spent on reading it, but I will be putting it in my donation pile, despite the gorgeous cover art.


Hardcover edition that has been sitting on my shelf since 2013.



I read this book for the Booklikes Halloween Bingo 2019, for the square Stone Cold Horror: Horror that takes place primarily in a winter/cold/snow type setting. The book fits this square because it takes place entirely in the winter, with the snow, ice, and cold all a principle feature of the story.


Prior Updates:

Sep16 152/292pg

Sep15 143/292pg

Sep11 0/292pg


The Girl with Glass Feet - 153/292 pg

The Girl with Glass Feet: A Novel - Ali Shaw

One of the characters described the islands as "incestuous", and that could describe all the various story threads, too. This is a short book, but the different characters and families and stories and time periods are so entangled, I'm having trouble keeping them all straight. 


One other thought - so as a person's feet transform to glass, they lose sensation in and function of those feet. But if a person's heart is transformed to glass, it somehow continues its biological function, but causes them chest pain and causes them to lose their ability to feel emotions? I'm really enjoying the language and characters and imagery, but the logic is confusing the hell out of me. 


The Silence of the Lambs - 30%

The Silence of the Lambs: 25th Anniversary Edition (Audio) - Thomas Harris

This is good. So good I hardly even noticed my commute to work this morning while listening to it. 

The Girl with Glass Feet - 143/292 pg

The Girl with Glass Feet: A Novel - Ali Shaw

The sleet could turn direction at will, one moment lashing the car from the left, then spearing sharply from the right. He could see the despairing look on a young woman's face as she swung her umbrella this way and that like a shield. 

The Silence of the Lambs - 0%

The Silence of the Lambs: 25th Anniversary Edition (Audio) - Thomas Harris

Bunny ★★★★★

Bunny - Mona Awad

I’m honestly not sure what I just read. I think it made sense, in a way, sort of, by the end. What I do know is that it was funny, and sad, and nightmarish. It was batshit insane, and I could not stop listening to it until the story was over. Warning: buckets o’ blood. And mini-cupcakes, with sprinkles.


Audiobook, via Audible. Sophie Amoss did a terrific job, for the most part. Her Bunnies were wonderfully horrific, but her accent for a Scotsman sounded just like I would sound, trying to imitate a Scotsman.




I read this book for the Booklikes Halloween Bingo 2019, for the square Dark Academia: Any mystery, suspense, supernatural or horror that takes place at a school - high school, college, boarding school, etc. This story takes place at a college in New England, with the main characters all graduate students.


Prior Updates:

Sep13 0%

Sep13 23%

PM's Halloween Bingo Update #3

The card is still looking very scattered, but I'm making progress! Eight squares read, of which two have been called, and four more squares that have been called but have not been read. Not even close to my first bingo yet. Three DNFs. 


Deliverance ★★★★☆

Deliverance - James Dickey, Will Patton

If you can persevere through the first third of this book, it will reward you with an excellent vintage thriller. But it was a challenge to get there. I don’t know what it was about the early to mid 1970’s that had the American adult population so invested in interminable navel-gazing, but it seems that every book I’ve read from that time frame is determined to investigate every fiber of belly-button lint it can find. This particular book is about The Domesticated Suburban Man who has lost touch with his Manly Man self, and whether he can get back in touch with it once civilization has been stripped away and he must fight for his survival, and Who Is He after such an experience.


I’m sorry if I made this sound horrible. It’s actually a very enjoyable ride (eventually), and well worth the time spent on it.


Audiobook, via Audible. Will Patton provides an outstanding performance as narrator.



I read this book for the Booklikes Halloween Bingo 2019, for the square In the Dark, Dark Woods: a mystery, suspense, horror or supernatural book in which the forest/woods plays a significant role, or which has a forest/woods on the cover. This book is set in the Georgia wilderness, with critical action taking place both on the river and in the surrounding woods.


Prior Updates:

Sept08 0%

Sep09 13%

Sep09 24%

Bunny - 23%

Bunny - Mona Awad

I have no idea what's going on in this book, but it's a fun ride so far. I do suspect that

Samantha's friend Ava is not an actual person, but something like an alter ego or imaginary friend.

(show spoiler)

I mean, it's a little hard to tell what's real and not real, or if it's all real, or if the MC just has one hell of an imagination.


The Innocence Game (DNF) ★★☆☆☆

The Innocence Game - Michael  Harvey

Sometimes, I try something new. I’ll pick up an author I haven’t read before, without recommendations from trusted friends, on the strength of the synopsis and a scan of reviews from total strangers. It’s worth the gamble of my precious reading time, because I’ve occasionally found new authors and their whole back catalogs and future work to enjoy. This time, the gamble did not pay off. The characters were all too annoying, the suspension of disbelief required to accept some of these characters and events too great, and the mystery not compelling enough to keep me reading. DNF at 36%.


Audiobook, borrowed from my public library via Overdrive.



I attempted to read this book for the Booklikes Halloween Bingo 2019, for the square Amateur Sleuth: This mystery will have a main character who is not a member of law enforcement. I have another audiobook in mind as a substitute for this square.


Prior Updates:

Sep11 17%


Bunny - 0%

Bunny - Mona Awad

I picked this one up all because of Bark's fantastic review. I'm reading it for the Dark Academia square.