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SheriC

Portable Mistletoe

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

Being Texan: Celebrating a State of Mind
Jeff Carroll
Hogfather
Terry Pratchett, Nigel Planer
Progress: 25 %
Lady in the Lake
Laura Lippman
Progress: 100 %
Lies Sleeping
Ben Aaronovitch
Progress: 100 %
The Color Purple
Alice Walker
Progress: 100 %
Leading Change
John P. Kotter
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

Lord of the Flies - Dia de los Muertos

Lord of the Flies - William Golding

I haven't read this book in years, but I remember it as a fascinating (and horrifying) story. William Golding passed away in 1993.

 

Dia de los Muertos - Book: Reread a favorite book by a deceased author or from a finished series, or read a book set in Mexico or a book that either has a primarily black and white cover or all the colors (ROYGBIV) on the cover, or a book featuring zombies.

The Color Purple - Kwanzaa

The Color Purple - Alice Walker

I'm reading this for the Kwanzaa holiday, which has only been partially revealed with the book task. 

 

Book:  Read a book set in Africa or the Caribbean, by an African, Caribbean, or African-American author, with a green, red, or black cover, or with crops of the earth or a native African animal on the cover (lion, giraffe, cheetah, etc.).

 

The Gilly Salt Sisters ★★★☆☆

The Gilly Salt Sisters - Tiffany Baker

Stories of intricate family relationships and secrets are usually very interesting to me, but the pacing dragged so much at times that my attention frequently lagged. Overall, a pretty good story, with fairly complex personalities and an interesting setting. The male characters were the main weakness - the author mostly dwelled on the female characters, so the guys were mostly in place as two dimensional plot drivers. 

 

Audiobook, borrowed from my public library via Overdrive. Angela Brazil's narration was serviceable, but her tendency to care-full-y e-nun-ci-ate her words was distracting. 

PM's Día de los Muertos Task 4

 

Día de los Muertos Task 4: Do you have any traditions or mementos of happy memories of a loved one that you feel like sharing?

I lost Bonnie seven years ago. She was the sweetest, most even tempered dog I’ve ever been blessed with. Her name is actually short for “Rain Bonnet” because I found her in a flooded street in the middle of a rainstorm in San Antonio. She captured my heart immediately and I could not leave her with animal control, so she ended up coming home with me. I don’t know how long she had been a stray or what kind of terrible mistreatment she had suffered, but it took her a long time to come out of her shell and learn to play fetch rather than cowering from a tossed ball, or to not urinate in fear at raised voices.

 

But once she got used to regular meals and became confident she was loved, she became a beloved playmate of all the neighborhood kids. They’d literally knock on my door and ask if Bonnie could come out to play. They were delighted at her repertoire of tricks – she’d do anything for a snack!  Halloween was her favorite time of year, because she loved greeting the trick or treaters at the door, in her own costume. She fancied herself a vicious squirrel master, but was so slow and clumsy that the squirrels ran rings around her. I was continuously fussing at her because she’d find pecans dropped by the trees in the backyard and bring them in through the doggie door to gnaw them to splinters on my living room rug.

 

She passed away at the ripe old age of 15, and I was able to be with her and hold her and tell her what a good dog she was at the end. I’ve loved all my rescues, but Bonnie was the best of them all.

 

PM's Día de los Muertos Task 3

 

Día de los Muertos Task 3: Write an epitaph for the book you most disliked this year.

 

This was my first attempt at the American Horror Story for Halloween Bingo this year, and it was easily the most awful book I've laid eyes on in a while. While I do prefer my vampires to be of the non-sparkly variety, I did *not* need to be subjected to graphic decayed monster porn. Ewwwwwwwwww. 

 

I'm generally against burning or trashing books, but this one went straight into the recycling bin. I'd never give it away to a charitable organization.

 

<vomits quietly in the corner>

 

The House of Small Shadows ★★★☆☆

The House of Small Shadows - Adam Nevill

After spending so much time in online book communities and getting recommendations from people I trust, I almost never take a risk on a book I know nothing about. But it's good to step out of your comfort zone once in a while, and how risky can a book be that's been labeled "British Fantasy Award Winner for Best Horror Novel of the Year"?

 

Well. Hmm. On the one hand, this book is hilariously awful. I'm not sure when I've last seen such intrusively awkward writing. On the other, though, the story was so interesting and inventive that I just kept reading in spite of it. I was even able to forget to be annoyed by the writing style, for brief periods of time. 

 

The writing features frequently incomplete sentences, commas missing or randomly inserted, and seemingly premature periods. I sometimes had to stop and re-read sentences to understand them. For example: 

 

Catherine glanced again at the doorway. And realized Edith's silhouette was no longer looking in her direction, but to the side of the unlit room, opposite the door. From which direction there now issued a scraping. Sharp metal against masonry, but faint. And then a flap of cloth. She would have screamed if her air wasn't sealed inside her petrified lungs. 

 

I get that he's describing sounds that Catherine is hearing, but my first thought was still, "what about the flap of cloth?" before realizing the author meant she was hearing the sound of cloth flapping, not describing an object. 

 

I suppose it's possible that the writing style represents some kind of local speech pattern that I'm just not familiar with, as little attempt has been made to "Americanize" the word choices, etc. for the US edition. The author does demonstrate standard sentence structure and punctuation in the acknowledgements, so it's clearly a choice of writing style on his part. 

 

As for the story, I'm evidently not the only one who finds both puppets and taxidermy super creepy. And that awful doll in Trilogy of Terror. Now just combine them all into a single concept and be prepared to sleep with the lights on.

 

Hardcover edition, picked up on a whim from a Halloween display at my public library. 

PM's Halloween Bingo Final Update - Blackout!

First, thanks so much to Moonlight and Obsidian for hosting my favorite book bingo! I know it's a tremendous commitment, even if is a labor of love.

 

I was able to complete all my squares this year for a blackout. I'll post in the discussion board thread in a moment. My completed card: 

 

My original card: 

 

My book and review list: 

 

Book

Read

Review

Square

Format

Rated

Thinner; Bachman, Richard

08/30/19-09/02/19

9/8/2019

Paint it black

Hardcover

3 stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bunnicula meets Edgar Allan Crow; Howe, James

08/31/19-09/01/19

9/1/2019

Thirteen

Audio

3 stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dreams Underfoot (Newford, #1); de Lint, Charles

08/31/19-09/06/19

9/7/2019

Cryptozoologist

Audio

3 stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit; Douglas, John Edward

09/02/19 -09/09/19

9/9/2019

Serial/Spree Killer

Paperback

4 stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beloved; Morrison, Toni

09/02/19-09/06/19

9/7/2019

Ghost Stories and Haunted Houses

Hardcover

5 stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rotters; Kraus, Daniel

09/07/19-09/07/19

9/7/2019

Fear Street (not used)

Audio

DNF
2 stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mysterious Affair at Styles; Christie, Agatha

09/07/19-09/09/19

9/9/2019

Locked Room Mystery

eBook

5 stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deliverance; Dickey, James

09/08/19-09/10/19

9/15/2019

In the Dark, Dark Woods

Audio

4 stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Rats; Herbert, James

09/09/19-09/11/19

9/11/2019

Creepy Crawlies

Paperback

4 stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dusk; Dee, Ron

09/11/19-09/11/19

9/11/2019

American Horror Story (not used)

Paperback

DNF
1 star

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Innocence Game; Harvey, Michael

09/11/19-09/13/19

9/14/2019

Amateur Sleuth (not used)

Audio

DNF
2 stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Girl With Glass Feet; Shaw, Ali

09/11/19-09/17/19

9/17/2019

Stone Cold Horror

Paperback

3 stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bunny; Awad, Mona

09/13/19-09/15/19

9/15/2019

Dark academia

Audio

5 stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

Silence of the Lambs; Harris, Thomas

09/15/19-9/18/18

9/18/2019

American Horror Story

Audio

5 stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book of Lost Things; Connolly, John

09/17/19-09/19/19

9/20/2019

Relics & Curiosities (Transfig Fear Street)

Hardcover

3 stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Alienist; Carr, Caleb

09/18/19-09/19/19

9/19/2019

Amateur Sleuth (not used)

Audio

DNF
2 stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

Secondhand Spirits; Blackwell, Juliet

09/19/19-09/21/19

9/24/2019

Amateur Sleuth

Audio

3 stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

Subb; MacApp, CC

09/20/19-09/21/19

9/21/2019

Aliens  (not used)

Paperback

2 stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deal Breaker; Coben, Harlan

09/21/19-09/21/19

 

Genre: Mystery (not used)

Audio

DNF
not rated

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wizard of Oz; Baum, Frank L

09/21/19-09/22/19

9/23/2019

Spellbound

Hardcover

4 stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sign of Four; Doyle, Arthur Conan

09/22/19-09/23/19

9/24/2019

Genre: Mystery

Audio

3 stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ubo; Tem, Steve Rasnic

09/22/19-09/23/19

9/28/2019

Stranger Things

Paperback

5 stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Looking-Glass Portrait; Hilton, Linda

09/23/19-09/28/19

9/28/2019

Gothic

Audio

4 stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dracula; Stoker, Bram

09/24/19-09/28/19

9/29/2019

Darkest London

Audio

4 stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

White Trash Zombie Apocalypse; Rowland, Diana

09/28/19-10/01/19

10/1/2019

Deadlands

Audio

4 stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Cast-Off Coven; Blackwell, Juliet

09/29/19-10/06/19

10/6/2019

Murder Most Foul

Paperback

3 stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Testaments; Atwood, Margaret

10/01/19-10/04/19

10/6/2019

Drowning Deep (transfig Dystopian Hellscape)

Audio

5 stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carrion Comfort; Simmons, Dan

10/05/19-10/07/19

10/7/2019

Vampires (not used)

Audio

DNF
not rated

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pyramids; Pratchett, Terry

10/06/19-10/14/19

11/2/2019

Free Space

Paperback

3 stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

They Thirst; McCammon, Robert

10/07/19-10/16/19

10/18/2019

Vampires

Audio

3 stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Hellbound Heart; Barker, Clive

10/12/19-10/14/19

10/21/2019

Read by candlelight or flashlight

Paperback

4 stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Institute; King, Stephen

10/19/19-10/27/19

11/2/2019

Modern Masters of Horror

Audio

4 stars

 

The Institute ★★★★☆

The Institute - Stephen King, Santino Fontana

When do the ends justify the means? At what point is the cost – to ourselves, to our society, to our collective moral compass - of saving the world too high?

 

There are only human monsters in this story, but they are all too real, too recognizable from real life. People who so believe in the ultimate rightness of their goals that they are willing to destroy innocent individuals to benefit all of mankind. And having committed to it, refuse to honestly question its necessity or explore possible alternatives. In reducing individuals to the status of tools, they make it possible to dehumanize them, removing any checks on people with an appetite for cruelty and thirst for power. Does it matter that these human tools are only children?

 

Uncle Steve once again tells a great story. His main protagonists are easy to identify with, to root for, to invest in. He peoples it with minor characters that captured me for whatever time they were on stage. It’s an interesting ride that carried me along to the end, and more unusually for King, the ending was a satisfying one. It’s not a HEA, but it is hopeful. It allows us to believe in the best of ourselves, even after acknowledging the worst.

 

What it fails to do is give us much insight into the villains. In the best of Uncle Steve’s stories, his villains are given equal voice, where we can see inside their psyches, understand their decisions, and sometimes even have some empathy for what they are. Here, they only tell us why, and the experience is less satisfying for it.

 

Audiobook via Audible. I’d heard raves about Santino Fontana’s narration in Carolyn Kepnes’s You, but this was the first opportunity I’ve had to hear him, and his performance was outstanding.

 

 

I read this book for the Booklikes Halloween Bingo 2019, for the square Modern Masters of Horror: Horror published in or after 2000.

 

 

Pyramids ★★★☆☆

Pyramids - Terry Pratchett

This is the first book in Discworld’s “ancient civilizations” subseries, and I already miss Granny Weatherwax and Greebo and the Luggage. Like nearly all the DW books so far, it is endlessly quotable, pokes fun at both dearly held beliefs and silly tropes, and frequently provoked a giggle from me when I least expected it. But the pacing was off – it really dragged in places – and the characters were not nearly as engaging as in the other subseries. Overall, it’s a worthwhile read, but not one of Pratchett’s best.

 

 

I read this book for the Booklikes Halloween Bingo 2019, for the square Poe/Raven: Free Space.

 

Prior Updates:

Oct07 8/352pg

Oct12 60/352pg

Oct12 79/352pg

Oct12 189/352pg

Oct14 250/352pg

 

Review dump coming but I have kitty pictures to compensate!

 

Thank goodness it's the weekend and I can finally take a deep breath and get caught up on my posts here! Which means I have a ton of reviews and Bingo updates coming. I'm still in my pajamas and working on my second cup of coffee and I don't have anywhere else to be until dinner time. 

 

Meanwhile, here are the kitty pictures I promised! I told y'all about my sister's cats when I was helping her to pack and move last week. I did manage to get pictures, but they aren't very good.

 

The first picture is Mr. Silly, who is a very handsome, friendly, and playful kitty. He had fun teasing my Annabelle by placing himself near enough for her to investigate, then arching his back and hissing at her after giving her just enough time for a few sniffs. Then a few minutes later, it would start all over again. I wasn't able to get a good photo of his amazing tail, which seems extraordinarily long, stands straight up in the air, and curls into a curlicue at the end. In this picture, he's perched atop a chest of drawers and giving us the Evil Eye for taking his bedroom apart and packing it into boxes. 

 

The second picture is Ringo (inaptly named for the bold outlaw Johnny Ringo), in the only place I could find him where he wasn't a blurred streak of orange fur racing past to a new hiding place. As you can tell by the state of the box springs, my sister's cats and the hoardes of kittens that she regularly fosters spend a lot of time under her bed and use it liberally for claw-sharpening. 

 

World Series update: Well, it was an unexpected upset as the underdog Nationals took the series in 7 games from the Astros. I'm bummed for my family, who are all rabid Astros fans, and sad for the players, almost all of whom I like, but pleased that the organization itself is not rewarded for their "ends justifies the means" approach to winning. Also pleased that the domestic abuser Roberto Osuna's unreliable postseason performance was instrumental in that loss. 

 

Stubbs and Annabelle also had strong feelings about the world series, but it was mostly about where my attention was rather than team loyalties. 

 

 

OK, I'm all set to start writing and posting my Bingo wrapups and to get started on planning for the Festive Tasks game!

Still here, sort of

Happy Tuesday, fellow Booklikers! The last few weeks have been crazy for me, and with all the travelling back and forth to Houston, helping my sister pack and move, and the World Series, and trying to catch up at work, I've had almost no time for reading or staying up with everyone's posts. But I'm still here! and there's a light at the end of the tunnel! 

 

I've been able to complete my reading for all my Halloween Bingo squares, so as soon as I catch up on posting the reviews, I'll have a reading blackout. I need to catch up on the calls, too, so I'm not sure how many bingos I have already. Also, I have pictures of my sister's cats, Mr. Silly and Ringo, to show you!

 

I hope you are all doing well, and will catch up with you all soon. Happy Reading!

Domestic Violence, Baseball, and Family

This is not about books. It's just something personal that has been weighing on me.

 

I love baseball. The Houston Astros are the team of my childhood, and I learned to love baseball going to their games with my mother. The Texas Rangers are the team of my adulthood, and I rediscovered my love for baseball going to their games with my best friend. 

 

I have a special and rare opportunity this week to experience watching the Astros play in the World Series with my family, who all still live in the Houston area and are still rabid fans of the team. I've been looking forward to sharing their excitement and joy in the game, especially as they've suffered through some long years of really bad teams. They are not new bandwagon fans. 

 

But... that's been spoiled and I'm not sure how to deal with it. I won't go into the whole backstory here, but the Astros organization has once again demonstrated that winning games is more important than basic human morals and ethics, and they really don't care how you feel about it

 

I was pretty horrified when the Astros traded for Osuna last year, but since they aren't (thank god) my primary team, I compromised by cheering for the players I like and hoping Osuna would get hammered every time he came into a game to pitch. Now, though, even though this is not the fault of any of the other players, I'm having a hard time cheering for the non-Osuna players, because team wins just validate the organizational strategy from the human garbage at the top. 

 

And my family. I'm not entirely sure how they feel about the whole thing, and I'm frankly afraid to ask. I know we don't always hold the same values on social issues, and I'm afraid that, like many fans, their loyalty to their team leads them to dismiss any concerns about how the organization is run. I know they feel conflicted about Osuna, but the fact that his DV arrest occurred with another team and the charges were dropped makes it easier. 

 

I love my family. I don't want to spoil their fun. I feel bad enough that my own pleasure in their fun and in getting to share it with them has been spoiled. I don't know what else to do except to be supportive of the people I love, cheer for the players I like, and secretly hope the other team wins.

 

But it feels bad. 

 

The Hellbound Heart ★★★★☆

The Hellbound Heart - Clive Barker 

This has to be among the most bizarre books I’ve read in a while. I’ve never seen the Hellraiser movies, so I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, either. I have to give it credit for being inventive, at least. And entertaining, even if only in a wtf kind of way. And the ending had a satisfying roundness, where

Kirsty is entrusted with the puzzle box by the Cenobites, so that she gets to hand it over with vague promises of unearthly sexual experiences to the next “deserving” soul who comes looking for it.

(show spoiler)

 

I read this book for the Booklikes Halloween Bingo 2019, for the square Read by Candlelight or Flashlight: Any mystery, suspense, supernatural or horror book - the trick here is to spend an hour or so reading by flashlight or candlelight. We finally got a “cold” front, where the temps dropped enough for me to light a fire without roasting myself, and Annabelle and I cuddled up under my Nancy Drew quilt by the fire and a Halloween candle and a nice glass of merlot for a good scary read. Sorry she's a little blurry, she doesn't like sitting still. 

Happy Monday, Booklikers!

Happy Monday, y'all. Sorry I've been largely absent for a while, I've been helping my sister pack and move to her new place. She got a nasty surprise when her landlords sold her current place and gave her a 30 day notice to vacate, and the way real estate is going in that area, she is very lucky to have found something affordable on such short notice. I'm working remotely this week from my mother's house so I can pitch in. 

 

Plus, the Astros are going back to the World Series! Although I'm a Rangers fan, I grew up cheering for the Astros and it's been fun watching the playoffs with my Astros fan family.

 

I am very lucky, too. It's storm season in North Texas again and the tornado decided to move east instead of northeast, so my house is intact, as far as I know. 

 

Also, I'm going to have a bunch of bingos to report! As soon as I write and post my reviews for Pyramids and The Hellbound Heart, and I will have a reading blackout as soon as I finish listening to The Institute and post a review for it. 

 

And I started a new library book that is fascinatingly awful. I really need to get caught up. 

 

See ya soon!

They Thirst ★★★☆☆

They Thirst - Rowena Morrill, Robert R. McCammon

I’m not sure what to make of McCammon’s vampires. They do all the fun things and play by the same rules as classic vampires, so there’s plenty of neck biting, fangs flashing, mesmerizing/seducing, eyes glowing, coffin sleeping, and bat transforming. McCammon also gives us all the best vampire hunting scenes, too, with the crosses and the holy water and the stakes and the sunlight burning.

 

But I’m just not sold on the Grand Plan. It doesn’t make sense. I mean,

if vampires intend to take over the whole world by turning all the humans into vampires, at some point there’s going to be a severe supply/demand imbalance. But nowhere is this addressed, in spite of all the evil vampiric dwelling on the Grand Plan that he treats us to. Also, the big boss vampire can’t be unaware that plain old seawater will kill them just like holy water – he had to cross the ocean to get to California – yet he chooses Los Angeles – a coastal city! – to launch his first big urban takeover?

(show spoiler)

Maybe it’s just me, but these kind of things bug me.

 

I also had some trouble really connecting with all the characters. I’m not sure if he just tried to cram too many into one book so that I ended up with character exhaustion, or if he just hadn’t yet fully developed his character development skills at the time this book was written.

 

Still, I did enjoy this one very much. There was plenty of engaging action, satisfying evilness, and unlikely heroing. And the audiobook was read by Ray Porter, who gives an absolutely outstanding performance.

 

 

I read this book for the Booklikes Halloween Bingo 2019, for the square Vampires: Vampires, preferably non-sparkly, in all of their glorious fictional permutations.

 

Prior Updates:

Oct09 – 6%

Oct11 – 27%

Oct12 – 44%

Oct12 – 50%

Pyramid - 250/352 pg

Pyramids - Terry Pratchett

Dios sat on the steps of the throne and stared gloomily at the floor. The gods didn't listen. He knew that. He knew that, of all people. But it had never mattered before. You just went through the motions and came up with an answer. It was the ritual that was important, not the gods. The gods were there to do the duties of the megaphone, because who else would people listen to?