Welcome

A Bookaholic, Pro-life, Pro-Family, Pro-Oxford Comma, Catholic (with Asperger's) who reads and writes as her obsession. I've been reading over 400 books a year lately. These are my ramblings on some of the books I read. To read about all the books I read and comment on, visit me at LibraryThing or Goodreads.

I've been blogging since 2007 and at this point (July 2015) am trying my hand at turning the theme of this blog towards mystery, thriller, and crime, fiction and nonfiction. I have some special interest topics and categories within this broad genre which include (but are not limited to) serial killers, scandi-crime, Victorian history and historicals, history of the criminally insane and asylums, psychopathology, death, funerary practices and burial, corpses, true crime and anything dealing with the real life macabre, or that portrayed in fiction.

I also read a short story a day from various collections, sometimes anthologies othertimes collections of a single author's work. These reviews are also posted here and while they are of mixed genre the mystery, thriller, horror, gothic and macabre often appear within their pages as well.


I also blog about
graphic novels and manga on a separate BLOG.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews

All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Paperback, 336 pages
Published February 24th 2015 by Vintage Canada
first published April 15th 2014
Source: review copy from Random Penguin House Canada


I'm purposely being vague however, this review may contain what some would consider SPOILERS. There are a lot of reviews of this book so I won't say too much and just narrow in on my main points. I enjoyed the read, Toews is an excellent writer and her characters are always wonderful. I think I'll always enjoy any book she writes. This family, with all its extended aunts and cousins, etc, is so strong when it comes together to be a family to endure the sorrows together and I loved them as an example of family. What the (western) world has so much grown away from and lost. I loved Lottie and Yoli, such women full of fortitude, even though Yoli would have us believe she was full of weakness. Elf, the sister described as not wanting to live, I didn't like. We never got inside her head and I understand the point of that. But we were also not told what her problem was, psychiatrically, what was her diagnosis. She refused meds and I became frustrated with the author for not, at least, giving us the information the family would have. Thus, the reader guesses what is wrong with her and I really did not like her at all when she forces her sister, who is against it, to realistically investigate euthanasia on her behalf. The first death was a beautiful one and showed how a well-lived life can end and how those left behind gather strength from it. In the end, I didn't find the book sad at all. I'm glad the book ended the way it did.

Monday, February 8, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? #5


This meme is held over on Book Date's blog and here we talk about what we are Currently Reading, What we read/posted the last week and what we plan on reading next week. I won't be posting what's coming up; you can get an idea by looking in my sidebars. 

What I am Currently Reading


Fiction:

I'll be finished this shocking little crime drama before this blog even posts today but I want to write this before finishing the final chapters.  I have no idea what I'm going to read next. It will be a print book so I'll grab my pile and spend a while choosing.


Non-Fiction
I'm coming into the home stretch with this one. I've hit the 80s where Jimmy Lee's hard-living ways have ended his career and nearly his life, Jimmy Swaggart's career is about to hit the fan, and finally, Mickey will reach superstardom.




















Manga/Graphic Novel






I always have a short story collection going as I read one short story every morning with my cup of coffee. My current collection is:

Tales of Court and Castle by Joan Bodger



What I Finished Reading and/or Posted This Week



Manga/Graphic Novels



Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Moonlit Road and Other Ghost and Horror Stories by Ambrose Bierce

The Moonlit Road and Other Ghost and Horror Stories by Ambrose Bierce
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kindle Edition, 100 pages
Published November 17th 2015 by Dover Publications
first published April 1998
Source: egalley via netgalley


Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914) was a Victorian author of the weird and macabre specialing in ghost stories. Though during his life he was more renowned as a satirist, journalist, and editorialist. Thankfully, we've remembered him for his eerie tales. I've come across his stories in anthologies several times but this is the first author specific collection I've read. I had come across three of these stories before, but they make good re-reading. Bierce is comparable to Poe but easier to read. The stories in this collection have been selected from the 1909-1912 editions of "The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce" and show a mix of his ghost and, as the title calls them, "horror" stories (but I wouldn't necessarily give them that classification, but more general simply "weird tales"). I liked the weird, macabre tales the best and I'd recommend him to your reading list for those interested in Victorian ghost stories or tales of the weird.

1) The Eyes of the Panther - A young woman refuses to marry a man repeatedly and he demands to know why so she tells him she is insane and proceeds to tell him a story. It's a good story but it made me think too much of the original movie "Cat People", perhaps they got the idea from this story. (3/5)

2) The Moonlit Road - I hadn't recognized just by the title but it came to me quickly that I've read this one before. A son is called home from college urgently to discover his mother has been brutally murdered. Shortly afterward his father, while out on a walk with him, takes off and disappears forever. Told in three points of view first from the son, then the father and finally the mother, through the aid of a medium. None of them knows the whole truth, only the reader is able put most of it together, but afterthought still leaves a few questions. A creepy story. (4/5)

3) The Boarded Window - This is a creepy shocker that you have no idea where it is going. It starts off easy going enough and you wonder where it is going by the halfway point; it is quite short. Then it starts getting interesting with the tension mounting and pow! it gets you with the ending. (5/5)

4) The Man and the Snake - Another creepy little story with the shocker ending. This time, it leaves you puzzled wondering if what occurred was real or all in the mind. (5/5)

5) The Secret of Macarger's Gulch - A well-told ghost story! A man stops at an abandoned house in the middle of nowhere. He can't get to sleep because of a feeling of danger, perhaps a bear or a ghost? He does fall asleep, dreams, then wakes up and that is when the adventure begins. Leaves an uneasy feeling. (5/5)

6) The Middle Toe of the Right Foot - Oh I liked this, not very frightening but a bit grizzly to start. A house remains abandoned because of its claim to be haunted but not least likely because the former owner one night slashed the throats of his wife and two children and then absconded into the night. Some time later the house becomes the designated sight of two gentlemen who have called each other out to a duel: a knife fight in a darkened room. (4/5)

7) A Psychological Shipwreck - A man has a vision of an encounter with a young woman on a sinking ship, then rouses to find that he himself has been fine and dandy on another ship all this time. Then ensues an interesting story. A bit "whoo-whoo" for the times but didn't do much for me. (3/5)

8) A Holy Terror - This is just plain creepy. I'm not sure if it is a ghost story or not but a man does meet up with a skeleton and his death while grave digging and that is only a part of the story! A man goes to a ghost town that was once a thriving California Gold Rush town. Now deserted he plots off a stake and decidedly sets out looking for something specific and then we are told his curious history and what follows. This is the longest story in the collection so far. (4/5)

9) John Bartine's Watch: A Story by a Physician - A fairly short story of a man who is troubled by the watch of an ancestor who was taken away as a traitor to the rebel George Washington and never heard from again. Atmospheric, but predictable ending. (3/5)

10) Beyond the Wall - A man visits an old friend he hasn't seen in some time to find him in a dejected state, upon hearing a tapping on his tower wall the friend relates a tale of unremitted love, sorrow, death and ghosts. Again very atmospheric. (4/5)

11) A Watcher by the Dead - Three doctors play a game by betting that a man cannot spend the night in an abandoned house with a corpse in the dark due to some theory they have. Things turn out as we suspect but there is a surprising twist ending and then the author turns to humour to finish off the tale. I didn't like the funny part but the rest was good. (4/5)

12) Moxon's Master - This would have been a chilling tale at its own time. One that deals with whether machine's have intelligence. The first half was a bit boring for me as the philosophy and science is outdated by modern standards but I can imagine the thought it provoked at the time. Then it gets into the story of whether one man, a machinist, has created a thinking machine. It has a creepy ending. I really enjoyed this, though, because it explored an automaton chess player and a few years ago I read a graphic novel on *the* famous Victorian automaton chess player which was very good. (4/5)



Thursday, February 4, 2016

Bonita Faye by Margaret Moseley

Bonita Faye by Margaret Moseley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Kindle Edition, 240 pages
Expected publication: February 23rd 2016 by Brash Books
first published May 1996
Source: egalley from Brash Books


A fantastic surprise! I would say I was hooked by the first chapter but truth be told I was hooked by the first paragraph! Bonita Faye is quite the character and if you are used to reading southern fiction Bonita is up there with the best. This is not a spoiler because I'm going to talk about the very first sentence in the book. Bonita Faye starts her story off by telling us her secret, that she killed her no-good husband Billy Roy and does in such a charming manner I was soon gasping with laughter. Bonita is writing from her golden years and goes back and forth into the past to tell us her story which centres around that defining moment that changed her life when that abusive overbearing man left her life. It's hard to describe the genre here, I wouldn't call it mystery but there are more than the one murder so I'm apt to call it Southern Noir with high doses of humour. Sincerely, the book is more about a young Okie (part Arkie) woman raped by her step-father at 14, married to black-eyed Billy Roy at 17, uneducated who takes her life (and another's) into her own hands one day and sets forth to learn to accept her soul, love herself, and find the true-love of her life, but she finds two. Half the book takes place in Paris, France in the days after the liberation and end of WWII. This is where she has her awakening and education but darkness is here too. It's a gritty story, with the poverty and abuse of Bonita's early life, the Resistance and Nazi-occupied France repercussions still alive in the new French society, her last husband fights in the Korean war and Bonita has lived a hardscrabble life to get where she gets. However, throughout this book, it is first and foremost a Southern Fiction tale of charm and comedy. Humour is the order of the day and I've literally not enjoyed a book simply so much because it made me smile for some time. Bonita is the type of woman you want to have for a friend, a true southern woman, perhaps from the wrong side of the tracks, but she raised herself up and kept the best of both worlds chucking what she had no use for from each. Laugh out loud funny with its hijinx and charm.



Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Cobweb Walking by Sara Banerji

Cobweb Walking by Sara Banerji
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Paperback, 160 pages
Published September 1st 2012 by Bloomsbury
First published 1986
Source: egalley via netgalley


I've read one other book by this author and I feel like I've stumbled upon a hidden gem. There are currently no reviews for this book on either Librarything or Goodreads and only one on Amazon but I haven't read it. I feel intimidated to be putting my paltry so-called review out there alone. This book defies genre but is imbued with magical realism throughout. One cannot offer up a summary as this is a short book, an odd tale that defies summing up without giving away the secrets. While the story is entirely realistic, it is told by a seventeen-year-old female dwarf who lives in a fairy tale world which as just been shattered by a bomb. Her real name is Morgan but her Daddy calls her Fairy. She can walk on cobwebs and leaves no footprints in the snow yet now for the first time ever she is by herself lost in the "city" and people are staring at her, children point and one even asked its mother if she were real. Something terrible has happened, more terrible than the bomb; we need to find out what Morgan's secret is. This is beautifully written and mesmerizing. Such an odd story, yet compelling. I can't say anything else without giving the story away, but, in the end, I was of two minds. One half of me felt sorry for Morgan; that she had been raised too over-protected while the other half was jealous that she was allowed to live in such a special fairytale world before she had to come of age, as we all must eventually.



Monday, February 1, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? #4


This meme is held over on Book Date's blog and here we talk about what we are Currently Reading, What we read/posted the last week and what we plan on reading next week. I won't be posting what's coming up; you can get an idea by looking in my sidebars. 

What I am Currently Reading

Fiction:

I'm just starting this but it will be my third by the author.
 All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews

Non-Fiction:

This is going to take me a while to read but I'm really enjoying it. I've gone from the early thirties to early 50's. Rock n roll is about to hit the scene in the next chapter! Elvis is going to hit the airwaves and Jerry Lee is finally going to get noticed.

Manga/Graphic Novel:






















I always have a short story collection going as I read one short story every morning with my cup of coffee. My current collection continues to be:

The Moonlit Road and Other Ghost and Horror Stories by Ambrose Bierce


What I Finished Reading and/or Posted This Week
Stopping for a Spell: Three Magical Fantasies by Diana Wynne Jones
Harry Lane is Innocent by J. Scaddon
The Skeleton Tree by Iain Lawrence

Manga/Graphic Novels
The Seven Deadly Sins 12 by Nakaba Suzuki
Noragami: Stray God 10 by Adachitoka
Cool Japan Guide: Fun in the Land of Manga, Lucky Cats and Ramen by Abby Denson
Sons of the Devil, Volume 1 by Brian Buccellato
Apollo: The Brilliant One by George O'Connor

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Stopping for a Spell: Three Magical Fantasies by Diana Wynne Jones

Stopping for a Spell: Three Magical Fantasies by Diana Wynne Jones; illus by Chris Mould
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Paperback, 144 pgs
Published July 1st 2004 by HarperCollins Publishers
first published May 27th 1993
Source: thrift store


A collection of three previously published stories by Diana Wynne Jones. The first two were published as individual titles in Great Britain and the third was included in a British anthology. They were then collected together and published for the first time in North America as this combined edition. The stories all follow a theme of the "uninvited guest" and are aimed at the younger reader, perhaps 10 and under. They are hilarious fantasies told with tongue firmly planted in cheek and should please readers of any age who like a bit of wicked fun. Diana's fans will find these short stories to be little gems they may not have come across before and they are sure to delight Wynne Jones' followers. It will remain a keeper for my shelves.

1} Chair Person (1989) - Pure delight! An old chair that's been sat in front of the TV for longer than anyone can remember is losing its stuffing and the family finally decides to replace it. After a spill from a second-hand shop's toy magician's kit brings the chair to life the pretentious chair person moves in, won't leave, embarrasses and bosses them, making them desperate to find a way to get rid of him. Hilarious! (5/5)

2) The Four Grannies (1980) - This one feels a bit Roald Dahl-ish. Erg and Emily's parents go away for four days and call a granny to come look after them for the duration. Due to divorces, the children have four grannies and each is horrible in her own unique way. None can take on the job, but of course, in the end, all of them arrive after the parents leave. Nasty grannies and a magic chopstick-wand make for a wild first day. (4/5)

3) Who Got Rid of Angus Flint? (orig. The Fearsome Friend) (1975) - This is the shortest story and quite silly, but nevertheless quite fun and certainly will entertain its intended young audience of perhaps 7-9. Angus Flint, a friend of Dad Roberts from college days calls upon him out of the blue asking if he can stay for a while since his wife has just left him. Upon his arrival, the family is dismayed to find him a belligerent, self-centered, bossy, ungrateful tyrant who rules their roost. The parents manage by escaping by day leaving the kids with the brunt of Angus's bullish eccentricities and finding a way to make him leave. Fun but no explanation as to where the magic comes from and the story is mostly geared toward younger children. (3/5)