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SheriC

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

Kill Creek
Scott Thomas, Bernard Setaro Clark
Progress: 19 %
The Shadow of Polperro
Frances Cowan
Progress: 20/235 pages
A Little Princess (Audio)
Frances Hodgson Burnett, Virginia Leishman
Progress: 24 %
The Return of the King
J.R.R. Tolkien, Rob Inglis
Progress: 68 %

Kill Creek - 19%

Kill Creek - Scott Thomas, Bernard Setaro Clark

Well, this is interesting so far. It's a new take on the old "manipulative weirdo invites 5 random people to spend the night in a haunted house" story. Except it's 4 people who are all writers of horror fiction and the manipulative weirdo's assistant. The characters are interesting, too. They seem like caricatures - they are each a Type, but somehow the author has written them so they are a little more than that. 

PM's Halloween Bingo Update #7: FOURTH BINGO!

1st Bingo: Row 3 across: Suspense, Classic Horror, Free Read, Relics & Curiosities, Supernatural.

2nd Bingo: Diagonal B5-O1: Ghost Stories, Terrifying Women, Free Read, Cozy Mystery, Doomsday.

3rd Bingo: Column O down: Doomsday, New Release, Supernatural, Darkest London, Southern Gothic

4th Bingo: Row 4 across: Genre Horror, Terrifying Women, Murder Most Foul, Creepy Carnivals, Darkest London

 

 

The Shadow of Polperro - 20/235pg

The Shadow of Polperro - Frances Cowan

I've never encountered a book so badly written and edited. The grammar and punctuation are insane. I keep having to re-read paragraphs to make sense of them.

 

     "Why not? But I'd be careful if I were you."

     "Careful?"

     Her monosyllabic question was answered by another. "Do you believe in psychic phenomena?"

 

* * * * * * * *

 

     "Yes, though I'm the world's worst driver."

     He cleared his throat again, realising that her present financial situation did not run to cars. 

     He held out his hand: "Now remember, come to me for any advice you need. You have enough money for the present?"

     Again the glimmer of wry mischief: "For the present. Thank you, Mr. Deoring"

 

* * * * * * * * * 

 

     Not immediately though; she decided to spend the rest of the week looking for a job. 

     Her lack of experience gave her little choice. Could she type? No. Shorthand? No. Was she good at figures? Most certainly no. She was offered , somewhat doubtfully, the post of matron at a boys' prep school, a job in an office dark and dingy, where she would have been little more than a tea-girl. She refused both and studied the "Wanted ads" in the papers. There were a great many, so many that she found herself in a kind of mental vortex, for none were suitable. Work in London, life in London, in a small bed-sitting room? The thought gave her claustrophobia. 

 

The Wolf Road - 61% PAUSE

The Wolf Road: A Novel - Beth Irwin Lewis

I've really been struggling with this book. Frankly, I'm a little bored with it, and had I tried to read it in text format rather than on audio I would have DNF'd it early on, because an entire 150 page book told from the first person perspective of an ignorant, nearly feral, teenaged protagonist, using hillbilly vernacular, is incredibly tiresome. On audio, Amy McFadden is almost able to rescue it with her fantastic performance, but she can't cover for the fact that her character really doesn't have anything interesting to say or that this post-apocalyptic world really doesn't make much sense. 

 

I'm over half-way through the book, so I hate to DNF it outright at this point, but since I keep turning it off to listen to something more interesting, I think I'll have to put this on pause and think about coming back to it later. 

 

I was listening to this for the Modern Masters of Horror square, but I'm switching over to Kill Creek - Scott Thomas,Bernard Setaro Clark, which I've seen several good reviews for. 

The Shadow of Polperro - Gothic

The Shadow of Polperro - Frances Cowan

I was debating using the audio of Dracula for gothic, but in the spirit of cheesy vintage gothic paperbacks, I decided to use this one instead. I got this as one of a mystery bundle at Half Price Books, where they tie up 4 paperbacks in a ribbon for $3 and you get whatever is in there. 

PM's Halloween Bingo Update #6: THIRD BINGO!

1st Bingo: Row 3 across: Suspense, Classic Horror, Free Read, Relics & Curiosities, Supernatural.

2nd Bingo: Diagonal B5-O1: Ghost Stories, Terrifying Women, Free Read, Cozy Mystery, Doomsday.

3rd Bingo: Column O down: Doomsday, New Release, Supernatural, Darkest London, Southern Gothic

 

 

A Darker Shade of Magic ★★★★☆

A Darker Shade of Magic - V.E. Schwab

I approached this with some wariness, as I saw other readers had tagged it as YA and my experiences in that genre has led me to expect tiresome teenaged angst and even more tiresome love triangles, but this was a pleasant surprise. The only connection with that genre I saw was the age of the primary female character. What I found instead was a good adventure fantasy with a well-developed world and rules of magic. The characters were fun, the world was fun, and the action was suitably violent and gory, even if the Antari trait of self-healing did rob some of the danger of its impact. I would have liked to see more well-developed villains, though. They were fairly two-dimensionally evil, simple baddies to be knocked down. We did get a little more depth to the opposing Antari, at least, so there was some investment in that character. The book is obviously the start of the series, but there is a satisfactory (enough) resolution to the books to events to allow this one to serve as a stand-alone.

 

I read this for the 2018 Halloween Bingo square Darkest London: any mystery, suspense, horror or supernatural book set in London. This book is set in several Londons in adjacent worlds, with one (not visited) literally called “Black London”.

October: A Novel ★★★★☆

October - Michael Rowe

This novella was a quick wild ride, once it got going. I think it could have benefitted from a longer and more thorough treatment, to give us a more nuanced view of our main characters, but as I understand this was originally a short story, perhaps this is really all the author had to say about his characters. But I felt for Mikey and Wroxy. I had a small, very small, taste of being bullied as a child, and I remember other children who were the constant targets of harassment, likely much worse than was done publicly. The ending… is the logical conclusion of Mikey’s choices, but not the one I hoped for. Sometimes, though, the ending that we, as readers want, is not the ending that is right. It was still satisfying.

 

Audiobook, via Audible. Joel Froomkin was the perfect voice for Mikey, although he reminded me irresistibly of George McFly.

 

 

I read this for the 2018 Halloween Bingo square New release: mystery, suspense, horror or supernatural that was published after 10/31/17. Although it was based on a short story written in the late 1980’s, this novella was just published in February 2018.

A Darker Shade of Magic - 70%

A Darker Shade of Magic - V.E. Schwab

Well, this took off about the 25% mark and I've had a hard time putting it down. 

A Darker Shade of Magic - 15%

A Darker Shade of Magic - V.E. Schwab

A little too slow to start, with a lot of exposition, but it's starting to pick up now and get more interesting. 

October - 88%

October - Michael Rowe

Well, this was not unexpected, but curious as to what Mikey is going to do here. Too bad I have to go to work now. :(

PM's Halloween Bingo Update #5: SECOND BINGO!

I just noticed that I got a second bingo when I finished 20th Century Ghosts for the Ghost Stories square, so: 

1st Bingo: Row 3 across: Suspense, Classic Horror, Free Read, Relics & Curiosities, Supernatural.

2nd Bingo: Diagonal B5-O1: Ghost Stories, Terrifying Women, Free Read, Cozy Mystery, Doomsday.

 

 

 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (illustrated edition) ★★★★★

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: The Illustrated Edition - J.K. Rowling, Jim Kay

I don’t have anything to add about this book – the story, the characters, the complex world that JK Rowling created – that I didn’t say on my last re-read. I love it as much now as I did when I first picked up the audiocassettes from a bargain bin, skeptical but figuring that I ought to see what the fuss was about.

 

Instead, I’m going to review this specific edition, an oversized “deluxe format” hardcover illustrated by Jim Kay. It added another dimension of pleasure to my eleventy-billionth re-read, for the heavy weight of it, the tactile sense of turning the thick, almost card stock quality pages, and the visual texture on every page. Even those pages with no illustrations have a sort of inkspotted parchment look.

 

But the illustrations! I love Jim Kay’s interpretation of the scenes and characters. Some pages are just decorated with little elements from the stories.

 

Every chapter has an illustrated header.

 

Some pages are text superimposed over an illustration.

 

But there are also several full page, standalone illustrations.

 

This edition was horrifically expensive. But so very worth it. I’ll be buying all seven books for my collection.

 

I read this for the 2018 Halloween Bingo square Baker Street Irregulars: mystery that involves children/teens in crime solving. In this book, 11 year old Harry and friends try to solve the mystery of what Fluffy is guarding and to prevent the theft of the Sorcerer’s Stone.

20th Century Ghosts ★★★☆☆

20th Century Ghosts - Joe Hill, Christopher Golden

This was, for me, a wildly uneven collection of short stories. I truly enjoyed a little over half of the 15 stories, with several 5 stars among them. The remaining ones didn’t connect for me at all. Pop Art was probably the best, one of those stories that will stick with you long after finishing it. My other favorites: 20th Century Ghost; You Will Hear the Locust Sing; Better Than Home; Bobby Conroy Comes Back from the Dead; and Voluntary Committal.

 

Hardcover version that has been sitting on my shelf for four years, waiting to be read.

 

I read this for the 2018 Halloween Bingo square Ghost Stories: any story involving ghosts or hauntings, including haunted houses, buildings, graveyards, etc

October - 8%

October - Michael Rowe

I'm not making much progress here. There's a lot of exposition so far. I stopped listening for a while and caught up on my podcasts instead and now I'm picking it up again. 

The Bad Beginning ★☆☆☆☆

A Series of Unfortunate Events 1: The Bad Beginning - Lemony Snicket

I have no idea why this book/series is so popular. I can see, sort of, why children may love it. Many of the books I loved as a kid were no better, and this has brave, clever orphans (boy AND girl), a cute baby sister, mean ugly villains, disbelieving adults, and a horrible house. The only thing it’s missing is a dog.

 

But this just doesn’t seem well-written to me. The characters are just caricatures. There’s nothing especially clever about the setup or the world the characters are placed in. There are none of the clever observations about human nature or winking humor or enjoyably silly word games that made Rowling’s books so appealing. I suppose some might find the little asides (by the way, that word means _______) funny and were obviously meant in jest, but I found them annoying. And the forced marriage device plot involving a 14 year old child, with the adult characters’ innuendos about how pretty she is and about the marriage night, was just plain disturbing, not to mention the implication that marriage, once committed to, even under duress, is a lifetime trap.

 

Hardcover version, picked up at a church rummage sale. I ought to put it in the library donation box, but I'm honestly considering dropping it in the recycle bin instead. 

 

 

I read this for the 2018 Halloween Bingo square Thirteen: any book that relates to bad luck, superstitions, including (but not limited to) black cats, ravens or crows, or the unlucky number 13, either in the title, series, book cover or page count.