Wednesday’s Book Looks: Evil and Sin and One Weary Conference-Goer…

 

I have a confession, fellow bloggers and blog readers.

I have committed a dreadful cardinal sin.

I quit reading a book before I was even through. (Don’t worry, it wasn’t any of yours!)

The sinned-against book was the first volume of a massive two-volume history book set. I was almost to the end of the first volume (page 700 and change) and I just couldn’t continue with it. It’s not as if the book was dated (although it was), because I’ll continue reading since I’m a historian, and will persevere through the most dry, academic, smelly, and, yes, dated book there is.

Point in case: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57659405-picture-history-of-the-u-s-navy.

I rescued the above book from being tossed in a dumpster.

It’s the perfect manifestation of “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” The book’s cover was godawful. I forgot to upload the picture of the book’s cover when I entered the book into Goodreads, but here it is:

51DsqTbwhaL

And it kinda smelled too. The book, not the book’s entry on Goodreads. Not of garbage (I didn’t dig it out of the dumpster) and not even of that old-book smell. But it definitely smelled pretty attic-musty. Or of something else I really don’t want to think about.

But I actually enjoyed reading that book. Some of the captions that went with the pictures were hilarious! I loved when the author(s) did the 1956 version of caption-trolling for some of the naval captains included in the book.

Too funny!

Unfortunately, the Civil War book after the above one was kind of a letdown. The Civil War book even had actual photos (been actively trying to un-see the photos of the horse casualties*)–of Civil War camps, cannons, locations, and participants to liven up the (definitely dated) text and I still couldn’t get into the text portions. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7283408-the-photographic-history-of-the-civil-war-vol-1—the-opening-battles

My focus in grad school was maritime history, and military history often goes hand in hand with that, and I still found the book hard to get into, and so I quit. Maybe it was because the history of the Civil War was written in a glamourizing and glorifying manner, and we all probably know it wasn’t like that at all. Even if we weren’t there.

The photos in the book, at least, don’t “lie”.

Please forgive me for committing such a literary cardinal sin as to not finishing a book! I will atone, I promise.

(And by atoning, I mean taking a nap because I am still tired from attending the absolutely awesome virtual steampunk conference over the weekend. The organisers/hosts must be three times as exhausted as I, a mere attendee, am!)

However, before I do that, I’ll mention another book I read during all this history journeying, which actually had at its core a real cardinal sin, albeit a fictional one. (And, so I don’t commit another literary cardinal sin, possible spoilers ahead.)

But it was no less chilling for all that it was fiction. The circle of friends in S. Gepp’s Sins of the Fathers commit a terrible act in a quest for power and status. (Much like many of the world’s wars, don’t you think?)

As we all can guess, power always comes with a price. And sometimes a twisted sort of redemption.

I enjoyed this novella as released from Grinning Skull Press, and can’t wait experience more of Grinning Skull‘s horror vision.

I think this book was part of the book selection I acquired with my Amazon gift card windfall (Are you tired of hearing about that yet? *laugh*) but aside from being published by Grinning Skull Press (of the Deathlehem submission calls fame), I could not find any information on the author S. Gepp aside from what was listed at the back of the book.

No mention of the author anywhere on social media, and now I want to know the author’s magic secret on that accomplishment as well!

So, no author links here, but if you’d like to check out this book and the other literary offerings (pun intended!) Grinning Skull Press has to offer, visit their website: https://grinningskullpress.wordpress.com/.

Now it’s time for full-on immersion into evil!

I read the Breaking Rules Publishing anthology The Hollow: Where All Things Evil Lie (Vol. 3), and not just because my own story was in it. Because, you know, it’s horror! And I love “all things” horror. (See what I did there?)

Check it out here…they’re selling it for a discounted price of $5: https://www.breakingrulespublishing.com/store/p428/The_Hollow_Anthology_Vol_3.html.

I wish I could talk about it a little more thoroughly but I generally read anthologies a second time to fully immerse myself in the individual stories, and Breaking Rules Publishing really picked some great ones. I can say this–it is definitely going to be worth the second read. Especially now that I’m freed up from reading about real-life Civil War horror…I mean, history.

My only critique of The Hollow 3 is that I wish it had a table of contents.

Yeah, yeah, I know. I’m a traditionalist book nerd as well as a book-sinner-against.

So, now I’m going to do what all evil things do after a day of chaos and destruction! Yep, you guessed it…take a nap!

*No horses were harmed in the creation of this blog post.

 

Where the Wind Takes You…

I don’t know about you, but my focus has been very off this week or two.

Maybe it’s the time change, or the gut-churning clamour of big and little worries, or some combination of those things with the vivid dreams I’ve been having leave me feeling displaced in time and space.

I was sad to see winter go a while back, but this week so far has been lovely and cloudy and rainy and even thundery out.

The wind here in Kansas blows pretty fierce and I usually love wind, but ever since I left Florida, it feels like I’ve forgotten its language.

Or maybe I am hesitant about listening, because I wish it could carry me somewhere else, and yet it’s impossible and therefore silly to get my hopes up.

But in books, nothing is impossible. You can talk to the wind, and the wind answers. And it can even carry you far away; away from danger, away from a static existence, and into a new life full of adventure and unbreakable friendships and where you have a chance to save the prince.

*definite book spoilers ahead*

Or, in Kyla Cren’s case in the book Mistress of the Wind, save the powerful yet short-sighted mage. Kyla Cren has power and magic of her own–she can speak to the wind. She uses her skill at windspeaking to protect the other townspeople from danger from creatures called mindstealers. Usually, the wind merely passes on the location of encroaching mindstealers or the whereabouts of lost livestock. It isn’t until Kyla is forced out of the town she grew up in until she starts to come into her own identity and power, eventually achieving the ability to not only speak to the wind, but to rise it…all the way to another realm. Kyla Cren’s journey isn’t the typical happily ever after of fairy tales, but she discovers not only that her magic is more powerful than she realizes, but that she can also be a fierce warrior, a survivor, and a loyal friend to her newfound travel companions that are equally as loyal in return.

And that, even though she is successful against all odds, Kyla Cren’s adventures are just beginning. Mistress of the Wind is just the first book of eight total in the Arucadi series penned by E. Rose Sabin.

I have been dying to read at least one of E. Rose Sabin’s books ever since I attended a Necronomicon conference in Florida probably too many years ago to even remember when, and she was one of the authors featured at the conference. I finally got a Amazon gift card windfall in 2020 and was able to buy the first book in this series to read. And it did not disappoint. I loved reading a fantasy tale where the main character was a strong female character with agency and determination and she was resourceful and courageous and fiercely protective without falling into the “I’m doing it all for the man I love” sappy motivation trap.

I was a little sad towards the end of the book about one event, but, luckily, it didn’t have the outcome I had feared, at least.

If I had a daughter, I’d be letting her read whatever she wanted, and this book would be one of them, for sure!

I hope that someday I’ll have unlimited money to buy books and I can catch up on the rest of the series!

And I hope you check out the Arucadi series and the other books by E. Rose Sabin. Let me know what you think (but don’t give me any spoilers *laugh*).

Links to E. Rose Sabin:

http://erosesabin.com/

https://erosesabin.wordpress.com/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/347316.E_Rose_Sabin

(P.S. In the comments below, E. Rose Sabin not only visited the blog, but mentioned that Book 9 of the Arucadi series is coming out soon and we can anticipate three more books!)

Willow’s Wednesday Book Look: Phantastical Phantoms!

Okay, yes, that was probably a little cheesy. But I love the cheese!

But you’ll find very little cheese in the pages of “The Phantom Games: Dimensions Unknown 2020“*.

(In the spirit of full disclosure, I have a story in this anthology.)

The book is separated into six parts, and each part has a theme.

When I read Phantom Games just recently, my first thought was how well my story nestled in among the other stories around it. I kinda forgot I was reading my own story.

And how there seemed to be a similar, otherworldly essence that ran through the rest of the stories. I could continue with a whole series of superlatives like “fantastically magical” and “hauntingly poignant” but then if you read the book, and it’s something else to you entirely, you might resent my purple-y descriptors. Reading the collection felt very serendipitous/synchronous.

And, like when I talked about Catton’s Voice of the Sword: Book One (https://willowcroft.blog/2021/01/13/wednesday-in-blue-minor/), everything is just confusing and out-of-sync and I both want a world of magic, and I know that it’s a seemingly impossible want. And yet a little voice of the child I once was still tells me magic has to be real.

That there’s more than all this mess out there.

This read was all wrapped up in crows and birds and feathers and the winter wind suddenly picking up outside the window and, I don’t know, a presence that was both familiar and strange at the same time.

And I was reminded why I love books, in addition to maybe-someday (soon!) magical worlds. They make me feel safe, like I belong–in a world where I’ve never had much of either.

[Speaking of synchronous, I literally just read Paul Genesse’s interview (as well as the other authors’ interviews) on the Exalibur Books’ page, where he mentions that the interview reminded him how much he loves books. It was a coincidence, I swear!]

I can reimagine a world where I was able to get to know Ernie Scribner better (the inspiration for my story). A world where dreams can come true, whether they’re Olympic-sized or the size of a small garden plot.

(*Note: This anthology is a collection of both fictional works and compelling, insightful non-fictional ones.) 

Magical otherworldly links below!

Phantom Games

Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Phantom-Games-Dimensions-2020/dp/B08KQP53X2/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Excalibur Books Home Page:

http://johnpaulcatton.com/

Riding the Carousel ‘Round and ‘Round and ‘Round Again…

I’d forgotten that the Villa Linda Mall (yes, yes, I know, it’s the SANTA FE PLACE mall now) in Santa Fe used to have a carousel–merry-go-round, as I usually call it.

But reading G G Collins’ Reluctant Medium reminded me of that. Because, of course, it’s set in New Mexico. Mostly in Santa Fe. That, and I keep misspelling “Reluctant” even though I rarely misspell anything. Chalk it up to COVID-staring-at-the-same-four-walls-for-too-long fugue.

*possible spoiler alert*

It was strange reading a book with little odd parallels running through it—the book’s main character, Rachel Blackstone, runs from Oklahoma back into New Mexico, chasing a spirit she accidently awoke through a ritual she was conducting.

You know, like in those movies when you’re like “Don’t open the door” and the fool opens the door and he dies? Well, maybe it’s nothing like that, but in any case, Rachel Blackstone has to go back to New Mexico to save her friends and family from the very angry spirit. Because, of course, the spirit is seeking revenge for some wrong inflicted on him. Mainly, death.

Anyway, I ran the other way–from New Mexico into Kansas–though I didn’t awaken any vengeful spirits. This place(s) might have them already, from the “dead bodies found no witness” line on the public police report I acquired. I can handle death in books, but in real life? Not so much. I would say that I can imagine that it was a pair of deceased goldfish that were found, except that makes me just as sad, if not sadder, in a way.

So, real life made reading G G Collins’ Reluctant Medium: A Rachel Blackstone Paranormal Mystery late at night pretty gosh darn spooky, even for this spooky lit lover. And, of course, the wind was howling outside my window. And the snow kept falling, along with the temperature. And I kept hearing bumps in the night (just the cats playing–I think!).

But at least I could indulge in some nice character-envy to take my mind off the unexplained thuds in the night, and within the pages of the book. Rachel Blackstone gets her job back as a journalist, she gets to stay with her friend in a luxe Santa Fe home for a while, she snaps up what sounds like a charming, cozy home, and she gets to eat lots of chile-laden New Mexican cuisine! (I hope my new state proves to be as welcoming!) And, best of all, there’s a cat character, too!

I’ll have to wait until I get some unexpected windfall (or win this year’s HGTV Dream Home) to get the next book(s) in the Rachel Blackstone series, but until then, who wants to meet up at the Sopaipilla Factory with me? http://www.sopaipillafactory.com/ ? (It’s not mentioned in the book, but it just happens to be one of my favourite eateries back in New Mexico, and it’s one of the few things I miss about New Mexico.)

Yearnings for a life, and place, of my own aside, it’s a wonderfully spooky mystery to read on during this winter-storm nightmare out there.

Here’s the links (clickable) to the book and to the author’s website:

Reluctant Medium (Rachel Blackstone #1) by G.G. Collins | Goodreads

Reluctant Medium (bookshop.org)

Author Blog: https://reluctantmediumatlarge.wordpress.com

Stay safe, stay warm, and read lots!

Now, does anyone know how to get off this carousel? It keeps going ’round and ’round and I can never quite seem to get off.

The “Normal” World vs. Otherworldy Ones: A Mash-Up of Book Looks.

And then there’s the world that belongs to writers, who have to straddle both the “real” world, and the “unreal” ones.

Which leads me to the first book I’ll take a looksie at.

I read Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. (Link: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King | Goodreads) I loved the stories he shared. And I wished things were still “old-school” when it came to writing: pen, paper, hard copies, mailed-in submissions, things like that. But I don’t have much to say about the book, overall. Except my takeaway is that writing is private, until the day comes when it can’t be private anymore. And reading books on writing is also a private experience. I can’t share what I was thinking and feeling when I read his book. Maybe some can. There’s a whole bunch of people that have written about it on Goodreads. I think why I struggle in writing reviews sometimes is that my experiences with literature tend to not only be personal, but multilayered and multidimensional and that writing about how I felt when I was reading a book is like sharing that wonderfully vivid dream you had last night that ends up being profound and mystical and discernable only to you.

And I was thinking about the need for a certain level of privacy, either as a writer, or as the person undergoing an intensive deconditioning process to find their real selves. Living in both my past livespace, and my current one, has helped me realize that, as much as I’d like to have the low-maintenance condo-type livespace to own, it’s just not private enough. I feel like I’ve lost an imagined, perhaps never-had, autonomy.

Then I was cleaning out some of my files on my computer, and deleting the blog posts I’d saved back from when I first started blogging. (Ouch!) And I realized that maybe privacy is old-school, but one habit I still like to indulge in, even though everything in today’s world seems to demand otherwise. But I had one thought while scanning through my old blog posts: “This shit belongs in a diary.” So I’m going to try to unearth at least one diary from my unpacked boxes, and have a place for my private thoughts. And for my dreams of a livespace surrounded by wilderness and animals and no neighbours that go bumping around in the daytime.

This talk of privacy is a segue in to my next book look: Normal People by Sally Rooney. (Link: Normal People by Sally Rooney | Goodreads )One of the characters, Marianne, is defined as a private loner in contrast to the other main character,who is one of the more popular kids in school. These two characters have an off-again, on-again relationship, and I wanted to relate to Marianne, but I couldn’t. Maybe just memories, the past, I don’t know. It has nothing to do with the writing or the quality of the book, which was excellent, but I felt so sad and sometimes irked reading about the characters’ fates and life choices. I have a hard time getting into literary fiction these days, despite the fact I loved reading the classics back when I was a kid. But maybe it’s the drama I struggle with. I can’t bear the reality, even as displayed through fictional characters, of their pain, their struggles, their heartbreak, their…drama. I can handle it through other genres but literary fiction is just too…real?…maybe. And Marianne reminded me of an certain friend.  With literary fiction, I come with oversensitivity baggage (I feel every little pinprick of people’s hurt and confusion and moods), and it’s difficult for me to read books, no matter how good they are, that vicariously provide an examination of emotional baggage through their characters and the story. So I’ll just have to leave the literary fiction analysis to more experienced, and, perhaps, more impartial readers. Readers who are okay with life being a little messy in their fiction.

Which is not to say I can’t handle messy loss and emotional upheaval or even messier blood-n-guts in genre literature. It’s different somehow, in genres like speculative fiction.

I read somewhere online that people are really turning to thrillers (Found it! Link: Now, More Than Ever, Is the Time for ‘Escapist Fiction’ ‹ CrimeReads) right now, and I’m coming to terms with the fact that not only do I like “escapist fiction” it’s okay to like it, and it doesn’t make me unintellectual and such (part of my current deconditioning process).

It’s okay not to embrace literary fiction right now, if ever. It has its place among readers, definitely!

So, in the words of the author of the above article, V. M. Burns (Link: VM Burns – Mystery Writer) I much prefer books that  “…create an imaginary world that the reader can escape into rather than focusing on the deeper realities/issues of the characters imaginary existence.”

And two books I recently read were perfect in that role.

Mrs. Perivale and the Blue Fire Crystal and Mrs. Perivale and the Dragon Prince–both by Dash Hoffman. They are the first two books in the series. I think there may  be at least another one coming, but I don’t have too much information on forthcoming books. I do know that I can’t wait to read the other books this author has penned.

The book series opens with seventy-three year-old Mrs. Alice Perivale who feels undervalued in the world, but is about to begin her biggest adventure(s) yet! Even better, she’s accompanied on this fantastical new adventure by her seven cats! Check it out to see if the knitting-needle-wielding Alice Perivale saves the magical village from a dire fate: Got-Moxie Bookshelf (got-moxie.com).

The only problem with escapist literature is that I haven’t yet found the key to a magical world of my own imagination…yet!

But I’ll keep looking…the portal has to be around here, somewhere!

Review-ish of Alex Berenson’s The Power Couple

 

Well, I don’t really understand the whole “I received this book from a Goodreads giveaway with no request for a review” disclaimer.

I’m speaking rhetorically, and I don’t really need it explained to me even if I didn’t understand it. Which I kinda don’t. I really don’t think anybody would send out a free book or an A.R.C. with the adverse intention of saying “Hey, shove my book on your bookshelf without even cracking the spine open. Better yet, don’t even read it. It’s perfect as an absorbent coaster so you don’t mar your antique writing desk by putting your piping hot-ten-thousandth cup of coffee directly on its wood surface!”

I say this, when that’s pretty much what I did. Not using a book as a coaster *gasp*, but setting it aside. Only it was into a banker’s box labeled “Unread”–one of about eleven boxes marked “Unread”–and it was only a follow-up email asking me how I enjoyed The Power Couple that I received a few weeks ago (I received the email on December 10th) that I remembered and then I had to forget about it because I moved to another state and was/am searching for a day job so I don’t have to move back to the land of no internet because it just took me almost three months to catch up on all the things I had to put aside because of three years of non-functional internet (thanks, Comcast and HughesNet!) and another year of limited once or twice a week of internet off-site.

And then I forgot which “Unread” box it was in. And I’m envious of all the other readers here in Goodreads and in the Goodreads groups who not only have time to spend all day on Goodreads and Instagram and Twitter and WordPress and commenting in Goodreads Groups and posting Goodreads reviews but also have the luxury of spending all day curled in a cozy chair by a fireplace, eating bon-bons and reading countless numbers of books.

But I found it, and of course I’m going to review it, especially if it’s a free book. I would feel badly otherwise, despite my lingering feelings of envy. At least I can review The Power Couple even in advance of the release date (February 9th, 2021).

The book link, in case you want to skip the rest of the review and get right to reading: .https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/The-Power-Couple/Alex-Berenson/9781982103699

 

*Here Be Spoiler Monsters*

And if I wasn’t envious enough of all those readers/writers with unlimited time (or who have somehow acquired Hermione’s Time-Turner or Doc’s Delorean), then I get to be envious of the power couple Rebecca and Brian Unsworth who “have it all” despite the book’s attempt to convince me they don’t have it all during a traumatic event that occurs while the family is on a European vacation.

Envy. Greed (wishful thinking as it is). I’m well on the way to ticking boxes on my deadly sins list.

So I had really mixed feelings about this book. I didn’t want to dismiss and belittle the Kira Unsworth’s, the daughter, terrible experience while she was being kidnapped and held for ransom. No matter how fictional it was.

Nor did I want to take away from the proactive strength and resilience of the daughter, and the mother, as these horrible events unfolded. And I was happy with how Rebecca Unsworth, the mother, resolved things at the end. Well, in a way.

“But, but…,” my mind said. What about all the other young women kidnapped not even for ransom, but forced into the sex trade and never to be heard of again, because there is no escape. There’s no mother that holds a government agency position powerful enough to marshal every available resource overseas to find her daughter.

For these young women, and even children of both genders, there is probably no escape from a life in the sex trade or as a modern-day slave worker.

But I love thrillers. I love staying up past my bedtime to read yet another chapter. And I love that the right baddies got their well-deserved comeuppance–and that this book’s author didn’t hold back in meting out justice.

But, although the book is fiction, it’s also real. Real for us women. Kidnapping is a real horror that we have to face every minute of every day. And, again, for many of us, a rescue may never come. For many of us, we won’t even be able to save ourselves.

No matter how hard we fight back.

Still, it’s good to be immersed in a world where that doesn’t have to be completely true. Even if it’s for a little while during the wee hours of the night, immersed in a book where women win.

Throwback Thursday’s Book Review: The Wreck of the Mary Deare by Hammond Innes

Throwback Thursday’s Book Review: The Wreck of the Mary Deare by Hammond Innes (published 1956)

I’ll read just about anything, so I’ll still plow through older books resolutely, even if they are a little more on the archaic side, unless they are so dated (*cough* sexist) that it’s hard to even read, much less finish.

*spoilers ahead*

To my surprise, The Wreck of the Mary Deare was a fantastic read. A little tropish characterization with at least one of the women in the story, but not anywhere close to as bad as my own bias led me to suspect. Probably better than some films and books we have even today.

In general, the author was fairly balanced with his depiction of women for the time in which the book was written. One of the directors of the shipping/trading company was a woman (if I’m remembering my history correctly, not so unusual), and she was called as an “important witness” to give expert testimony in the book’s pivotal court case. Of course, (or, even better!) she was not only knowledgeable and informed, but also devious and corrupt, and was an active agent in the company’s scheme to commit insurance fraud.

The book was just so well put together with its writing style that it holds its appeal even in 2021 (almost seventy years later). It’s exciting, suspenseful, and even spooky at times in its imagery and set-up to the climatic events of the book. It reads like a true-life adventure, but I didn’t realise until after I finished the book as to why–it had to have been based on the real-life events surrounding the Mary Celeste and her mysterious fate. (The Wreck of the Mary Deare was also made into a movie.)

My favourite line from the book? I’m glad you asked!

“He was a seaman. He was used to boats, not to the sea itself as an element in which to exist…”

And the ending is very…satisfactory!

1247535

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1247535.The_Wreck_Of_The_Mary_Deare

Wednesday in Blue Minor…

 

Anybody else out there just want to go curl up in bed and go back to sleep? 

Maybe you’re already well on your way into the deep blue sea of Dreamland.

It’s a deep blue day over here in the Willow realm, and yet not quite blue enough.

We had a record-setting snowfall here in Wichita, but the snow is already all melted, so it’s not the blue-frost day I keep expecting to see when I look out my window.

Being a writer/creative type, I can sometimes feel another world right alongside this one, but I don’t have the magic password or a magic wardrobe to get there. But it’s there all the same, and it’s quite the teaser sometimes. Magical and real, but not magical enough to actually become real. 

But in the book with the blue cover I read last week, the world of magic or just otherworldliness becomes accessible from the “real” world.

Voice of the Sword (Sword, Mirror, Jewel #1)

I’m trying to avoid comparing it to a certain other book that features a young wizard (who, honestly, I might not have liked so much as the books went on if it hadn’t been for his amazing circle of friends), but Voice of the Sword: Book One by John Paul Catton did have a similar sense of magic within its pages.

I’ve read so much in my life—history, world religions, classics, fiction, horror, et al–that I sometimes feel like there’s a “been there, done that” familiarity to everything. 

And there’s a certain comfort to that, because it makes Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry feel like it could be real because of that literary-obtained familiarity.

I didn’t think I was as uninformed about Japanese culture and mythology as I actually (embarrassing as it is to admit!) am.

But, because of that, this book was even more of a novel, exciting read. I had the chance to leave my jaded-reader persona behind and fully immerse myself into the adventurous quest right alongside of the main character Reiko Bergman. And getting schooled about Japanese mythology and culture during the book’s quest was even more of a perk!

So, if you want to escape from this world for a while, you can add it to your “to-read” list here:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/49457586-voice-of-the-sword

 

What books have taken you out of this world lately? Share below…

 

Symbolic Sunday and Rabbits, Rabbits Everywhere (in reviews)…

*book spoiler alert*

I finished reading Jessica McHugh’s Rabbits in the Garden last night. (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10504227-rabbits-in-the-garden)

The last thing I would want to do is spoil this book for other readers.

But I can’t not talk about at least a little fluffy bit of it.

Generally, I run from anything where animals are in agony. I still have this mental image of the poor kitten in one of…Poul Anderson’s?…book, I believe. I read it when I was somewhere between ten and twelve.

But I couldn’t not continue to read this book.

It’s Harry Potter for adult women.

Wonderfully, painfully, heartbreakingly thrilling horror.

It’s amazing.

After I finished Rabbits in the Garden, I wanted fall asleep with it cuddled in my arms. But I’m a book nerd, and I didn’t want the pages to get bent. So I didn’t. But I wish I had. Because I had a non-Rabbits-in-the-Garden-inspired nightmare.

It’s a horror book, but I found so much solace within the pages. Light-in-the-darkness, beacon-of-hope, life-put-right kind of solace. It’s a terrifying read, but so dang beautiful as well.

I took this book to heart, symbolically speaking.

I’ve been downsizing my books, but this one I won’t let go of for a while, if ever. Maybe I’ll even re-read it tonight, and fall asleep with it as my pillow as I bask in the aftermath glow of the book’s ending.

Check out Jessica McHugh’s blog here: https://mchughniverse.wordpress.com/.

Six Degrees of…Neighbours!

A festive winter season to all!

If there’s magic of the season floating about, I hope it finds you!

And me…to be honest.

If I were to make a holiday wish, it would be to live surrounded by nature, with a whole lot trees and flowers and animals and plants and insects for neighbours. And lots and lots of unkempt ‘weeds’ and brambles and thickets.

That was one of the hard things I found about the place where I lived before. When I first moved to New Mexico, I expected it to be the wild and untouched vista you see on TV. It’s the desert, I assumed in my naivety, who landscapes the desert? I thought it was going to be a much-welcomed vacation from leaf blowers and weed whackers and the suburban mania for perfect lawns/landscaping that was characteristic of Florida.

New Mexico wasn’t my ideal locale, but the spot that I lived was quiet and peaceful and there was even a creek close enough to make things a little green to ameliorate the brown upon brown upon brown landscape. And a beautiful meadow full of flowers and lovely waving grasses and even deer. It was like right out of Bambi. But, sadly, it didn’t last long. Soon the meadow fell to the weekly weed whackers and not only was the peace ruined by the drone of leaf blowers but there were pesticides being sprayed to the extent that, one day, a worker in a white hazmat suit with a hose attached to a truck was dousing everything in sight. 

Ugh. 

(Yes, there’s a point to this story. And not just me characteristically kvetching on Christmas Eve. Keep reading!)

And don’t get me started on the snooping around and the internet sabotage and lots of other weirdness going on.

So, when I begun Good Neighbors* by Sarah Langan, I didn’t have any idea what I was getting myself into. That I was going to be immersed in a chilling thriller that was uncomfortably and yet wonderfully-spooky close to home.

Of course, Sarah Langan’s Maple Street suburban community takes things to a horrifying extreme after an equally terrifying and tragic event, but the seeds were there. Tiny little mowed-to-an-inch-of-their-lives seedlings, but still, I would swear the mentality was the same. Or that my creative writer’s imagination decided it was going to believe as I clung to the pages of Langan’s book late at night. (I think this was the week I had a couple of nightmares, mind you.)

As a result, this was one of the creepiest books I’ve read in a while. I was both haunted by never-happened memories of suburbanites coming for me in full lethal force and it made me even more nervous about my move to a perfectly manicured residential complex.**

On top of that, I related so much to the Wilde family in the book, as one misfit to another.

A misfit dreaming of a place where I feel I belong. Where I fit. Where I’m safe and sound and have my happily ever after. Not just me, but for the wildling animals and trees and plants and insects and all other non-human life forms. Because they belonged here first.

That’s my magical winter season wish.

(*I believe I received this book from a Goodreads giveaway, but with all the craziness of the out-of-state move for internet and cell phone service and jobs, I lost track, unfortunately.)

(**The oddest part of all of this, is that within this landscaped, water-hungry, pesticide-reliant area I relocated to, I have not heard ONE leaf blower since I moved in. Or weed whacker, or lawnmower, or even apocalyptic-looking people in white hazmat suits spraying clouds of pesticides over every square inch of the compound. How’s that for irony?)

Oh, here’s the book link for Good Neighbors. Read it, even if you live in suburbia. It’s so good. (Especially if you need a break from all the “goodwill towards men”.) https://bookshop.org/books/good-neighbors-9781982144364/9781982144364

Now I’m going to go keep watch for any creepy, hostile neighbours. (Though I think the recent spate of earthquakes were a little more terrifying than obsessive suburbanites.) Let me know what you think about the book, if you read it!

And for more tragic ‘fun’ in the suburbs, you could always follow up your read with Penelope Spheeris’ Suburbia: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086589/.