Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween Books!

1.  Six of Crows, Leigh Bardugo - I absolutely adored Bardugo's first Grisha trilogy, but there are always some nerves when a writer starts a new series.  Will it live up to the last?  I'm happy to say that the answer is a definite yes.  In fact, Bardugo is now one of my favorite writers!  In Six of Crows she chooses to stay within her Grisha universe, but she moves to focus on a new cast of characters in a completely different country some time after the events of her first trilogy.  This time around we get a band of young misfits and criminals, who are the sort who do really bad things but you can't help but love anyway.  One of my favorite parts of this book is how beautifully Bardugo seamlessly weaves in the backstories of her characters throughout the novel.  It's definitely the first in a new series, so be prepared to be annoyed a tad that you have to wait for what comes next....but at the same time, it's a book that can stand on it's own.  A note:  It got a starred review on Kirkus, which pointed out the diversity of our main cast of characters in ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation.  I hadn't thought about it before, but that is one of the things that makes this book special. 

2.  Born To Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen, Christopher McDougall (audio) - A perfect book to listen to during solo runs!  I'm a sucker for a non-fiction book that reads like fiction, and with the bonus of a reader that really gets into the story it was a lot of fun.  Never in a million years would I ever have suspected that a sports book would be so entertaining!  Gave me a lot to think about as far as the biomechanics of running are concerned - specifically when it comes to how our feet work.  Probably won't be taking up barefoot running anytime soon, but I may be checking out a couple of the books that are recommended to learn better running form. 

3.  Train Like A Mother, Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea - The follow up to Run Like A Mother, which I read last month, this time around the authors focus on specific training plans for races of various lengths.  It was a pretty quick read, in large part because I did skim the training programs.  I *might* actually purchase this one in order to have a copy of the training programs to keep for myself.  They looked pretty good...although, truth be told you can get a million training programs for free online.  Occasionally I get tired of the author's brand of humor and their POV, but I'm willing to say that part of my problem is me overdosing on their books and podcasts.  

4.  Everything, Everything, Nicola Yoon - A brand new YA book that was a BOTNS recommendation.  I was intrigued by the idea of a girl with 'allergies' so bad that she had to live in a completely isolated/sterilized home.  It was a delightful book.  I checked the ebook out from my library's digital services and then devoured it in a single afternoon.  It was absolutely lovely, and the ending did surprise me a bit. 

As you know, for the last several years I've enjoyed a month of "scary" books to celebrate Halloween.  As usual, I took to Facebook to ask for recommendations.  (This is NOT my normal genre, so I need help!)  This year I had the excellent question of what, exactly, was I in the mood for?  My response was that this is an exploratory month for me, and that I care more for quality of writing than I do for actual subgenre.  Makes for a more interesting month!

Unfortunately, the month turned out to be a bit of a bust for me.  I didn't find any new books that truly stand-out, and my generally experimental attitude went up in smoke.  Ultimately I realized I wanted Gothic...and I couldn't find anything new that fit the bill.  (I don't think it's in vogue right now.)  I'm seriously considering rereading some Gothic classics in November instead....

Anyway, here's what I read - or tried to read. 

1.  Through The Woods, Emily Carroll - The friend who recommended this graphic novel said it was so scary that she drove it immediately back to the library because she didn't want it in the house.  Sounds good to me!   It was a super-quick read, and while I didn't find anything new in the stories contained within, I did find them to be beautiful interpretations of familiar old scary stories.  Very nice!

2.  Something Wicked This Way Comes, Ray Bradbury (audio) - First of all, the audio narration is lovely.  I'd never read this book, despite it being considered a classic.  It is wonderfully atmospheric, and it does take advantage of one of the great tropes of the horror universe - the spooky traveling carnival.  Problem is, it's a quasi adventure story about young boys and a dad, and I've never been much of a fan of that type of book. I find it really hard to connect with such boy books, and honestly didn't care about the characters one way or another.  I gave up about half way through.  (Ok, in part the audio was wonderful to listen to because of the melodic reading...which unfortunately didn't have any tension to it and had a tendency to leave me wondering what, exactly, was it that I'd just listened to?  Super hard to focus)

3.  Horrorstor, Grady Hendrix - I'm only sorry that I've never been to an Ikea store - or even seen their catalog - because that would have made this book even more fun.  It's basically a haunted house book that reads like a movie script.  (Oh man, would this be fun on the big screen.)  I loved the humor, and I loved the crazy cast of characters.  The style of the book adds a lot to the fun - with employee reviews and product descriptions sprinkled throughout.  While it wasn't as scary or as haunting as I'd like (although there were some gross moments) it was definitely a great book to read this month.  This was the one clear winner of the month. 

4.  The Hunt, 5. Prey, 6. The Trap Andrew Fukada -  The first book was recommended by a friend, and I wasn't even half way through it when I put the second and third books on hold at the library.  I'm a sucker for a good, original concept, and while the idea of a world that's been overrun by vampires isn't entirely new this spin on it was definitely cool enough to draw me in.  Part Hunger Games, Part Daywalkers (the movie), the first book was amazing.  Unfortunately, Fukada isn't a good enough writer to carry his ideas through an entire trilogy.  The second one was ok, and the third...well, let's just say I think he wrote himself into a corner and then couldn't figure out how to get out of it.  There were also some clear slip ups in the details of his world, and some plot holes so big you could drive a semi through.  So much promise....Oh well.  I wound up listening to them in audio, and as they were short (33 hours all together) and could be listened to at 1.5x speed (bringing it to 22) it went quickly enough.

7.  The Woven Path, Robin Jarvis (unfinished) - I wanted to love this book because of the set-up and because it was recommended by a friend.  I had a really tough time getting into it.  The author suffers from a surfeit of adjectives and adverbs, which comes across as not-so-great, completely overblown writing. 

8.  Salem's Lot, Stephen King (unfinished) - I hate Stephen King.  I think he's a total hack.  I don't know why I bothered trying, except that I thought maybe his older work would be better.

The following I explored because of Random House's Scary Sixteen Bracket.  They were the only books on the list I hadn't read....

9.  Haunted, Chuck Palahniuk (unfinished) -  The set up should be awesome.  A novel told in stories, a group of writers at a secret writing retreat....until I read the first story, which was a total gross-out and that is soooo not my thing. 

10.  The Ruins, Scott Smith (unfinished) - I skimmed it.  I've seen the movie.  It's weird, and eh. 

11.  Infected, Scott Sigler (unfinished) - By this time I had given up.  I skimmed a bit and called it good. 

1 comment:

hlmauera said...

I just listened to an interesting book. It's more Gaslight than Gothic and I thought it might be a little silly but I found it to be riveting. It's definitely not horror but it's on the darker side. It's hard to describe- Victorian era with Vampires (but not the sparkly kind) integrated into society but not always peacefully. It's a political intrigue with Jack the Ripper as the focus. It sounds silly, I know but it's better than the synopsis might suggest. I recommend it- Anno Dracula by Kim Newman.

I think I recall that you sometimes read some YA as well. I just finished Discern by Andrea Pearson and found it to be very interesting as well. It's free as a kindle book right now. It's a little more horror with a magic focus.

I don't know if you will be interested but I have enjoyed several of your recommendations and thought you might enjoy some that I have read. No harm if you don't.