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Let's Talk About Books

An out of practice reader discussing the books I get around to reading. 

Currently reading

File M for Murder
Miranda James
Evil Under The Sun
Agatha Christie
Progress: 30/213 pages

Bingo Update

So, 'staches = read, aviators=called. I'm counting The Ritual as a square even though I started reading it in late August because at the rate I read it's not going to help me get a bingo anyway. More for pride than anything else. 

 

SPOILER ALERT!

Into the Woods

The Ritual - Adam Nevill

FYI this is really fun to read while sitting outside and hearing a deer stomp around in the bushes by my apartment. 

 

The Ritual follows a group of four friends as they holiday in the Swedish wilderness. They brake the first rule of all horror movies and decide to take a short cut, leaving the path and going deeper in to the forest. As you might expect, things get all Blair Witch as they stumble across a spooky cabin used for ancient, pagan rituals and it leads to something unnatural following them through the woods. 

 

I really loved this book. It sucked me in from the beginning and kept me going with very few breaks in between. It was exactly what I wanted in a creepy forest story, what with them being lost and hunted by Moder. And once Moder and her family got to them...Well it was amazingly horrifying. 

 

The way Neville built up the tensions was incredible. It was so hard to stop reading because you knew something incredible was waiting on the next page. I think part of that has to do with him ending most chapters on cliffhangers. He was really terrific at this and it made the book a super compelling read.

 

One drawback of the book is I felt the two halves didn't mesh very well together. In one half you had lost in the woods, Blair Witch chasing after them, and in the next part it was Deliverance. The two did mesh together in the end, and did so fantastically, but there was a really awkward, disjointed period for a while. I definitely enjoyed the first part of the book better 'cause Deliverance just wasn't quite what I expected. 

 

Final rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars. Everything I love in creepy forest stories wrapped into a fun package. 

The Good Nurse

The Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness, and Murder - Charles Graeber

This was a good true crime read. Solid narrative, interesting investigation, and a really interesting case. I had never heard of him before so it was fascinating to learn about him. The writing style was a little too fiction-like for my tastes. Like, it read more like a mystery than an actual true crime book at points. Overall though it was a really good read for those interested in serial killers, especially of the killer nurse variety.

 

I might expand on this review more tomorrow but I'm beat and my head is killing me. So that's all for now.

Reading progress update: I've read 30 out of 294 pages.

Murder Past Due - Miranda James

This one's been on my shelf for a while now. Thank god staff get longer checkout dates. It's a perk. I saw the cat on the cover, knew a character was a Maine Coon and couldn't resist. So far it's a lot of fun. Nobody is dead yet but yet is just the key word. Planning on using this for my cozy mystery square. 

Reading progress update: I've read 196 out of 418 pages.

The Ritual - Adam Nevill

Of course I get to a super creepy and intense part RIGHT when my big dog decides to snuffle. Super creepy at 12:30 am. Want to keep reading but I'll never sleep if I do. This book is so good. 

Reading progress update: I've read 41 out of 418 pages.

The Ritual - Adam Nevill

This one is SO good already. I could read it all night. Alas, I gotta stop somewhere and really savor this one, especially if I'm gonna use it for my Forest square. It's just so good!

SPOILER ALERT!

Hex

Hex - Thomas Olde Heuvelt

Welp, it's finished. Don't really have too many strong opinions. We'll see how this goes. 

 

Hex takes place in Black Spring, a town cursed by Katherine Van Allen. She doesn't seem to actually do anything to you, but she can make you want to do pretty horrible thing. The town quarantines themselves in a Puritanical attempt at Apple Pie America and hopes that so long as the witch's eyes and mouth remain sewn shut, things might be okay. But the more progressive youth of Black Spring have other plans and things quickly spiral out of control. 

 

Yeah, I'm pretty lukewarm about this one. The book is getting pretty decent reviews, and the premise was awesome. It was an interesting story and I enjoyed many parts of it. It had some really creepy parts, like the details of Fletcher's death and some pretty chilling Crucible-like scenes. It just didn't mesh together well for me and I was left feeling eh when it was all said and done. 

 

Part of the issue was the writing style. There was something about the way Olde Heuvelt writes that made it really confusing for me to understand what was going on. Like, I understood the individual words, but the way they were strung together in the sentence didn't comprehend. A lot of parts just felt cluttered, which made it kinda tedious to read. The beginning was honestly kind of boring up until they actually explained who the witch was and the nature of the curse. Until then it was just day in the life of this weird town.

 

One big thing that left me particularly unsatisfied was there were a lot of unanswered questions at the end. I don't mind some things remaining a mystery at the end of horror novels, but it felt almost careless, like Olde Heuvelt threw out these plot points and never bothered to follow them up. For example, why did the recording hurt Tyler but not Burak or the Outsider kid? Seemed inconsistent. Why did Fletcher hang himself? Who put the recorder on Tyler's pillow? Why did Katherine's mumblings convince people to kill themselves when at the end we learn she didn't want more death and destruction? Really, the list goes on and on and it ends with a really disjointed story.

 

So I don't know. I didn't NOT enjoy the book, it just didn't satisfy the way a good horror novel should. Read if you want something creepy but don't care too much about whether Points A and B fit together. 

 

Final rating: 3 out of 5 stars. This would have been a terrific story if the writing had just been a little more solid. 

The List So Far

Starting to plan for bingo. Here's the list I have so far. Suggestions are more than welcome! I'm excited to get going.

 

 

Country house mystery

Murder most foul: The Snowman - Jo Nesbo 

Amateur sleuth: Murder Past Due - Dean James

Romantic suspense: The Hunting Grounds - Katee Robert 

Serial/spree killer: Over Your Dead Body - Dan Wells

Cozy mystery: 

American horror story: Mr. Shivers - Robert Jackson Bennett

Genre: horror: Disappearance at Devil’s Rock - Paul Tremblay

Modern Masters of Horror: N0S4A2 - Joe Hill

Supernatural: My Best Friend’s Exorcism - Grady Hendrix

Ghost: Heart Shaped Box - Joe Hill

Haunted houses

Vampires: 

Werewolves: Hemlock Grove - Brian McGreevy

Witches: Vassa in the Night - Sarah Porter

Demons: The Boy Who Killed Demons - Dave Zeltserman

Classic horror: The Haunting of Hill House - Shirley Jackson

Chilling children: One Was Lost - Natalie D Richards

Monsters: Monster - Frank Peretti

80's horror

In the dark, dark woods: The Ritual - Adam Nevill

Terror in a small town: Those Across the River - Christopher Buehlman

Terrifying women: And the Devil Crept In - Ania Ahlborn

Diverse voices

Halloween Bingo

Got my Bingo card! So pumped to start! Also, do you know what this means?

 

...

 

THE MUSTACHES ARE BACK!

 

 

 

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 16 out of 276 pages.

The Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness, and Murder - Charles Graeber

A lovely true crime read for my lunch break. It's okay so far, curious to see when the crimes start. This guy definitely reads like a serial killer. 

New Roommate

This is my new roommate, Daisy. I like to call her Daisy Duke or Babe. She belongs to my other roommate who is also very nice. She definitely loves me though.

 

SPOILER ALERT!

Mommie Dearest

My Sweet Angel: The True Story of Lacey Spears, the Seemingly Perfect Mother Who Murdered Her Son in Cold Blood - John Glatt

Finished it and just in time 'cause it was due back yesterday. Also, forgive the eating metaphors. Not doing it because of the subject matter but just how I describe reading. 

 

My Sweet Angel is the true crime account of Lacey Spears, one of those Mommy Bloggers that goes on and on about their kid. You know the type. I happen to be related to one. But unlike your typical overbearing Mommy Blogger, Lacey was up to something a lot more insidious. In January 2014, Lacey delivered a fatal dose of salt into her son's stomach via his G-Tube, causing the 5 year old Garnett to suffer a horrible, painful death. She was brought to trial and convicted in 2015 but the question remains, why? Going back to the beginning of Lacey's life and following her actions until that faithful January day, John Glatt paints an incredible yet horrifying picture of a woman considered by some to be a textbook case of Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy. 

 

This book is an incredible read but so incredibly gut-wrenching. True crime is often rough by this one shook me in a way the genre hasn't shook me before. Glatt spares no detail in his depiction of all the medical procedures Garnett was forced to endure and his mother's bizarre behavior. At the same time, it was all necessary to help us understand what exactly happened and why the jury found Lacey guilty in the end.

 

My favorite part of this book was the third part, which detailed the description of the investigation and the trial. It was incredible to see just how the detectives worked in compiling evidence and just how much evidence they really had. I read a lot but didn't feel like I was swallowing a lot. I understood it all for the most part and was impressed with their diligence. For example, the detective's work in reading all of Lacey's texts, internet history and social media posts. It totaled about 1800 pages and they went through all of it. Really, just astounding police work and what I consider to be a great example of why True Crime is such an awesome genre. 

 

In my opinion, the biggest weakness in the book is it starts out with you knowing she was found guilty or had Munchausen's, which took away the ability to be unbiased. The writing itself also seemed to indicate that Glatt is convinced of her guilt and I wish it wasn't quite so heavy handed to make the reader able to form a more impartial opinion. That said, Lacey didn't exactly help portray herself as innocent in the actions described in the book. There's a lot of evidence against her and I was shocked to see her defense team didn't seem to think there was any. I actually think her attorneys kinda failed her but that's a discussion for another time I think. 

 

Final rating: 4.5 out of 5. Incredible but difficult read. Read for the police work for sure. It's incredible. 

 

Final thought: Glatt has a book on the three women who were abducted in Cleaveland. I think I'm gonna have to read that one too. 

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 151 out of 432 pages.

My Sweet Angel: The True Story of Lacey Spears, the Seemingly Perfect Mother Who Murdered Her Son in Cold Blood - John Glatt

It's amazing how hot the lit fire of "This book is due in 5 days" is. Super motivating. The goal is to chew out at least 50 pages a day, which so far I've been keeping to. It's hard though. This case makes my stomach turn. 

My Sweet Angel

So, I'm having trouble finding it on here, but I've started reading My Sweet Angel by John Glatt. It's true crime and details the case of Lacey Spears, a young woman who ended up killing her son as a result of her Munchausen syndrome by proxy. The disorder is very controversial in the world of Psychology so I'm always fascinated by cases involving them, disturbing as they are. 

 

Honestly, I'm only 50 pages in and this book is more horrific than any of the horror novels I've read this year, The Troop included. Very excited to finish (In part 'cause it's due back on Monday, hooray procrastination!) but it's gonna hurt and I know it. 

 

Separate note: I've finally moved out of my mom's house! I found an awesome place really close to my work, affordable rent, and my new roommate has a dog! Daisy is a West Highland Terrier and I have not been able to assess her reading buddy compatibility yet. So we shall see. It's weird being independent again after almost a year of living at home but it'll be nice. I just wish I could have taken one of the kittens with me. Particularly He-Man, though he went back to the shelter on Friday with She-Ra. So if you're in Western Colorado and need a cat...

SPOILER ALERT!

Spooky Scary Skeletons

Ararat: A Novel - Christopher Golden

All right. Home and I have a nice glass of Yellowtail Wine so let's get going!

 

In Ararat, an earthquake reveals the Turkish mountain to be the resting place of Noah's Ark. Of course the archeological world is fascinated and chomping at the bit to study it. As they investigate, though, they find a sarcophagus with a decidedly not human corpse inside. Paranoia and fear start to spread like a virus. Then the murders start...

 

As I mentioned earlier, I really liked this book. I find biblical history fascinating and this take on the Great Flood was ridiculously interesting to me. It's an original concept that I haven't seen done before, investigating why Noah's Ark may have been remained hidden, what the flood was really meant to wash away, etc. Great premise and for the most part, great investigation. The elements of fear were lovely and I had a lot of fun reading it. 

 

One thing I particularly liked was the way this book is similar to The Thing. Spoilers, the demon can body hop and it's very similar to The Thing, right down to body horror-esque face ripping. The John Carpenter classic is one of my favorites so it did help me enjoy the book a lot more than I may have otherwise. I do wish Golden had played on the themes of paranoia and Man v Nature more, the story still embodied those themes enough for it to be enjoyable. 

 

Also, the ending. Amazing. The last line in particular is one of my favorites in a book ever. It wasn't super poetic or anything, it just had a punch to it that I loved. 

 

There are three reasons why I gave this 4 stars instead of 5: the pacing, the characters, and a lack of originality. Let's start with the middle one . Overall, I found the characters kinda meh. There were too many, in my opinion, so I wasn't able to really form a connection to any. That said, I did really like Walker's squad and Adam. Still, in horror I think it's really important that you make at least one really loveable character for the reader, or else it won't be as scary. 

 

In regards to the pacing, there was something just kind of off about it. I would never say the book was boring, but there were many places where that wasn't a ton actually happening, mainly characters reflecting on their lives/relationships or archeology work. Then things got super actiony super fast and it had an odd beat about it. It wasn't enough to keep me from continuing to read, but I could definitely feel the off pace. 

 

Lastly, it felt like Golden took the easy way out. This book is original in it's concept. I stand by that. But, the concept in action became kinda standard demon horror. I was expecting the demon to be like manipulating the people into worshipping/sacrificing it, or that they'd flee deeper into the cave where things go even worse. Instead the demon just wanted to brutally mass murder them all, which is kind of demons are portrayed as doing traditionally. I feel like Golden missed an opportunity to follow up on an incredible set up and settled instead for standard survival plot. It went from The Thing to Predator and, while both are good, the latter is kinda the standard angle. So it was a little disappointing on that front. 

 

Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars. Definitely recommend and would read again. Just a little underwhelming. 

 

Final thought: After reading the part about the nail gouges in the door, the kittens started clawing at the door and spooked me. 

Ararat: A Novel - Christopher Golden

At work so no full length review until I get home. Overall though I liked it. Wasn't amazed by it but I liked it. Excited to discuss it once my shift ends. 24 minutes left to go.