It’s a Chick-lit Christmas!

I hope everyone is in full swing of making Christmas or their own holiday of love and light.  It has not felt very Christmas where I am yet, with no snow and it has been mild.  We had a bonfire on both days of the weekend and were cleaning the yard.

I have taken a significant chunk out of my own holiday duties other than deciding what I am going to bake, other than the chex mix of my childhood.  Not the things in bags with the bagel chips in them.  While bagel chips are good they have no place in the chex mix of my childhood.  Not even since they seem to have crept into the online recipes which is entirely blasphemous.

Christmas is actually getting so close my husband is tempted to get into his new socks before I wrap them.

The love of Christmas reads rolls on.  End of year posts are also looming, but I had some sweet holiday reads for the car trip home to see my friends the weekend after Thanksgiving, a personal tradition I have had since before I had my baby.  Now that I have my baby he decorates for Christmas with his father while I am gone.  Win win.

Also briefly I have noticed that last year I was tackling the classic Christmas stories, reading all of the Dickens and Washington Irving and this year I am like, chick lit Christmas!  Algernon Blackwood has a Christmas tale that I need to read because I really like him but it wouldn’t fit in the parade of light Christmas books.

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Christmas Bliss, Mary Kay Andrews

So my cheapskate behavior around audiobooks has led me to library lends, which leads me to the more popular authors.  And I have been on a streak of the light stuff, so why not use a chance to get to know more of the more popular writers?

This one claims to be #4 in the Weezy and Bebe mysteries, but there was only one tiny mystery and it was not the entirety of Bebe’s plotline. It ended long before her bit of the plot was over with her pregnancy and her fiance.  So if you want a mystery, this is not really it.

But I can see why Bebe and Weezy are ongoing characters because they are both very fun, with antiquing and trying to pick the right man to marry this time.  It is also a humorous look into the South, with its social gatherings and status.  Does not make me want to move there but I can appreciate their love of a cheese ball for celebrations.  And those Christmas cookies sounded exquisite.

There is a piece of this that involves NYC at Christmas, spoiler alert, which puts it in common with my next read, which is all NYC at Christmas.  Low tension, mostly fun, goodreads agrees that it is quick. Won’t take you away from wrapping and keeping the true chex mix recipe alive and well.

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Angels at the Table, Debbie Macomber

The other audiobook of hers from the library is taking FOREVER to be available.  Whoever has it clearly does not know the appropriate speed with which to consume an audiobook.  Another first time experience with a popular author and it was just what I expected.

Angels checking out NYC on New Years accidentally bring together a couple too soon, and, as happens in romance novels, they manage to mess things up between each other with a little ‘help’ from the angels before they have a chance to get their relationship off the ground.  I think if you just want something feel good, low on family dysfunction (Christmas Bliss even had more family dysfunction than this one with an oppressive old school Southern matriarch making women grit their teeth) and not like insurmountable issues that make characters compromise themselves to make the relationship work, then this is it.  None of the romances I have read involve people compromising themselves for others, thankfully.

Angels are tops in my love of supernatural beings, not more so than in my love of witches, but I like the idea of the boundless goodness of angels, even some well-intentioned shenanies, like these angels get up to.  It’s Hallmark Channel Christmas, which I had a grad school roommate first expose me to.  I saw a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie drinking game, and I would so rock that.

The end of the year reading roundup is looming!  I don’t know if I have more Christmas reads to wrestle for posts. You will just have to be left in suspense.

 

Comments/likes/shares!

 

 

 

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Christmas Reads 2017 part 2

Christmas has thrown up in my house and in the world around me.   I worked Black Friday to come home to an erected tree with twinkling lights and ugly ornaments I made with my son as a Thanksgiving craft and lights strung around my porch.  I know my husband just did it because our son loves it and there are only a few magical Christmas years ahead for our little family.  So we will enjoy it, exhausting as it is, while it lasts.

In keeping with this, the two Christmas reads to kick off December are both heavy on the family.  Lots of grown up siblings entangled in the dramas of their own lives.  Perfect and fun if that is your thing.

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The Christmas Wedding, James Patterson

Also, this is my first James Patterson book.  I have mentioned before I am trying to be better about giving a chance to the super popular authors whose work sells in Wal-Marts and in impulse buy lanes and end up in the donated books in the box in the break room.  Trying to reduce my own prolific snobbery. So this one can break the seal on that.

And break the seal it did.  It is about a widow who asks her four grown children to return on Christmas to attend her surprise second wedding with an unknown groom.  There is the usual family drama to keep things interesting, but this is a heavily Christmas-y, heart warming Christmas tale, I think done pretty well with a man writing from the point of view of an older woman who has raised four children.

It was exactly what it promised to be.  The sweet diversion of a book just under five hours with some drive time and walk time in there.  There was enough family drama without it being too nerve wracking and intense. I have to admit I was not completely on edge about who the bride was going to choose because the story was more than that, and I cared about other plotlines just as much as her little story about choosing one of three men who had all asked her and were waiting to be chosen.  And it felt more solidly Christmas related than the Holly Martins that I very much enjoyed that I reviewed last week.  Maybe because this story was more American?  Don’t know, but I am glad the library had it on audio for me to borrow.

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Winter Street, Elin Hilderbrand

I had bought this one last year for the parade of Christmas reads and did not get around to it.  Was apparently reading about too many other wet panties, I guess.

This one was very similar to The Christmas Wedding in that it had to do with a grown up family coming together for a rare adult sibling Christmas.  The drama in this one is actually around a stepmother leaving a father and their son serving in Afghanistan who all the kids are worried about, as well as the ex wife.

Every sibling has their own story, their own love story or professional story, and you get to hear everyone’s piece: about how the family was started and how it changed over time to make the characters in the story giving each other sensible adult gifts and fervently wishing the best for one another.

This is actually the first in a series and I might read more of the series as I go.  I did like it, it was fun without being overdone.  I love the stories of families.  I think it is why I work with them professionally, and I think about how characters in stories become who they are because of how they started off in a family.  Another recommend.  It has some love stories but it’s about all kinds of love.

Next week is more Christmas reads.  I will be attending a Santa breakfast and doing all sorts of holiday related stuff with my son.

Thinking about what my reading in the new year is going to look like and what my goals are for 2018.  Also, I have like a read and a half for Read Harder to make it through.  I swear I am still working on it. The last two categories I am reading might kill me.

 

Christmas Reads: Because Thanksgiving is Over

My best friend is a firm believer that there is no Christmas until Thanksgiving is over.  This is because he is not a parent and he loves Thanksgiving infinitely more than he loves Christmas.

I don’t have the luxury of a statute of limitations.  If I don’t get a head start Christmas is even more exhausting than usual.  I have wrapped gifts downstairs and I have to get to PetSmart because my son asked Santa to be sure he brought things for the dog, so I have to keep the magic alive.

Christmas seems to be a falling in love season.  The first time I fell in love was the fall, but I get why seasonal Christmas reads have been focused around a couple finding love in the holiday of love and light.

And I have to admit the ones I discuss today helped me give romance novels a bit of a break. I want romance novels to end in healthy relationships, and both of these books end in healthy relationships where people are growing together as people.  And while there was sex, it wasn’t erotica.  And no wet panties. I don’t like discussions of wet panties.

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Christmas Under a Starlit Sky, Holly Martin

So both of these Holly Martin books are set at Christmas, but Christmas does not feel as central to the plot as other holiday romances I have read.  Otherwise, though, I like her settings of remote British Isles that are vacay spots.  Vacay spots do increase the festivity rating of a book.

This one had more conflict in it than the other one I am reviewing.  There are two plotlines where the resolutions are drawn out longer.  I looked and it was written later than the other one, which makes sense that there are two distinct plot lines with the conflict heaped on, in contrast to the other.

One couple is trying to make something work after a breakup because the guy moves away to be an actor and another is trying to figure out if they can take a chance on love when it might turn long distance and they are both healing from other failed relationships. Both involve how to manage the long distance thing and I like that it does not always work out that the couple feels that their true place is home.  I get annoyed with authors who end romances with home being where people belong and not on their adventures.

But I liked the characters, I like that the women did not have to be movie star beautiful and they are competent and hard working and feel fulfilled by their work already.

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Christmas at Lilac Cottage, Holly Martin

I could definitely see that this was an earlier novel of hers, but sometimes a little less conflict is a good thing and it’s relaxing.  I like that her books involve family themes and wanting to be part of families.  I like finding Mr. Right instead of Mr. Right now or Mr. Wish FulFilment.  I mean these guys were good looking but they weren’t bad boys at hear and I have never been into bad boys. I like something easy and seasonal and fun.

This was just one plot line about a woman finding her place in a ready made family and the conflict was centered around that more than it was around poor behavior from the guy.

I would recommend both of these for curl up Christmas reads as a break from holiday bustle.  She has a lot of books out for low prices on Kindle, and they are series, so that makes it even easier to binge.

 

Happy kickoff to Christmas!  More holiday reads next week.

 

Comments/likes/shares!

My Other November Feast: Sarah Addison Allen Books

I am writing this post the week before Thanksgiving, so I can’t tell you if books were my only binge this month.  I am planning on spending it with friends, a woman who has lived her dream of having her own farmhouse and renovated the kitchen mostly on her own, and hosting us will be a celebration of a dream achieved.  So much thankfulness.

And the fact that I binged at all after a miniscule break is possibly a sign of addiction.  I did like two weeks of only writing related stuff and then I read two novels in the course of a week without a single page of it being on audio. Not a second was listened to.

But of course they were Sarah Addison Allen.   One of my binge worthy loves.

Sarah came into my awareness via my hunt for magical realism and I have already posted about my previous novels I have read by her, but I saw her on a library shelf on my Wednesday walk break and I missed her.  It was like seeing that an ex is single over FB when you just got over something fierce yourself.  I wanted her Southern world back of family, relationships between women, and magic.  Always, there is magic.

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Garden Spells

This was her first novel, published in 2008 and I wished I found her back then when I was filling my newly found free time with books.  This one had more overt magic in it than the other two I had read, and I always like a dash more magic.

Two sisters united by an absentee mother come back together when one of them is in trouble, and they both work through their prejudices about one another to be the family they both need. Yes, excellent.

I was as usual sucked into her world and her cast of fun, wholesome characters, and the world of the South, which I don’t have the personality to live in myself.  I could tell, though, that it was her first novel because she did not keep most of her secrets until the end.   It was clear why the characters took awhile to connect and bond based on their own personal traumas all the way through.  It was less skilled, and I still loved it, and I am still going to read First Frost, the sequel that just came out, and I hate saying a single negative word about her because she writes magic to which I can only aspire.  And I am assuming this novel got her into publishing…which is hard enough in and of itself.   And it’s the highest rated on Goodreads of all her books, even though they all hover around a rating of 4.

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Lost Lake

This was actually the first one that started the recent binge, but I reviewed Garden Spells first because it was her debut novel.

A widower goes to find an estranged relative in her struggling vacation resort and finds herself again in this one.

Spoiler alert:  everyone gets found.  But if you don’t like that, don’t read this book and see how they all do so.  Sarah is about everyone finding a home in her novels with their best possible relationships.  I liked that there is a significant piece in this one about friendships between women in this one.  There is in the following book I review of hers as well, which did not play as much into Garden Spells which was more about family and love and with more magical realism.  Not as much magic in this one, but the setting of a resort around a lake has it’s own magic and it was enough for me.

This one has a novella prequel.  Maybe I will read it but I didn’t like Kate’s late husband because I am not supposed to like him and I don’t know if I want to hear more of him.

 

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The Peach Keeper

I read this over the summer but waited until I read other books to post.  I had it on audio and I can never keep an unread book of hers on my audio list for long.

This one is heavy on overcoming the family reputations to build friendships.  It is about women who are fighting to get advantages over each other and it letting them blind them to their relationships with each other being the real gift in their lives.  It has been happening since the beginning of time that a man comes along and rends relationships between women, and in this particular story, the characters end up regretting that they allowed that to happen.  And I liked that.  And I liked that women are finding and rescuing each other.  She also ups the effect of setting like this one, as in Lost Lake, with a town that is known for being foggy.

A glance over of the Goodreads reviews indicates that a lot of people liked her other works better and felt they were more magical.  Some had some attitude about it being chick lit, but if you want Alice Hoffman knock off chick lit this is where you need to be and you need to own that this is what you want.  Own your needs.  But this was not as well loved as others in her retinue.

Thinking about Christmas reads in the next few weeks before I get into the year end roundups…really…year end roundups?  And my one reading challenge instead of three this year.

Comments/likes/shares

I am grateful for Stephen King

I’ll admit some mixed feelings about November: it reminds me of how cold I am about to be for months and I have to re-acquaint myself to driving home every night in the dark.

But November is all about gratitude.  Practicing daily gratitude is a neuroscientifically supported practice in creating happiness.  What we think about, and thank about, we bring about.  I won’t expound here upon my layers of white privilege, but I try to remember it’s there in some superstitious hope that I won’t lose anything that I take time out to be thankful for.  Whatever, I can have my illusions.

Stephen King has not exactly made it onto my gratitude lists.  Ever.  Even last year when I did a thirty day gratitude journal with three different things every day for a month after I read Thank and Grow Rich.  I have been more neural toward prolific authors.  Possibly neutral with a dash of contempt.

I am sure Stephen King does not stay awake at night deeply concerned about my estimation of him.

But what turned it around for me was two of his books:  It, which I may have touched upon in a previous post because I read it in 2013, and On Writing, which I just finished on Friday.

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It is a harder sell as far as gratitude, but I am grateful to him in this story because it was my first real experience of horror that crept into my brain, rather than being scary for more gory or base reasons.  I first watched the miniseries when I was nineteen and I first got to experience his specific brand of talented brain twisting. But then when I tackled his book in 2013, I loved the characters and the relationships in in their families and between each other, the life stories intertwined and their varied resulting fears used against them.

I remember my father reading It and then going to the movie and being disappointed that they left his favorite scene out of the movie.  I like memories of my parents being human, and memories that make me feel connected to them as people.

I am also mentioning him again today as a belated shout out to the new It movie, which I have not seen because I need to see it on a night where my husband is home so I can go to sleep after and I am not good at making time for movies, especially ones where I can’t watch with a five year old sponge scampering about.  It scared the crap out of me but here I am, back for more, back for the first scary thrill that he gave me.  You never forget your first time, right?

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Who doesn’t love On Writing?  I have not combed the reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, but it features in the blog posts I have seen about the best books for writers.  And it is true that it has good nuts and bolts of writing and that is important.  Another good nuts and bolts one that I first read when I started reading for writing advice was Francine Prose’s Reading Like a Writer:  A Guide for People Who Love Books and Those Who Want to Write Them.

But other than that, it came at an interesting time for me.  I did a ten day writing challenge on allaboutwriting.com and it was awesome.  Inspiring, fun, encouraging, got my wheels turning and refocused me a bit on writing, which is how many writers spend November.  I would recommend the course to anyone. I want to write more often so I picked it up to read during this ten day jaunt, which came at an otherwise busy time in my life as well.

Both the course and this book showed me I don’t have time right now to do the projects I eventually want to complete in my writing.  I wrote every day for ten days and got a post out, and I have more things to work on, but I had to trade in my exercise time to do this.  I am too vain, and too hooked on exercise, to give it up enough to be able to write as much as I would like to right now.  And I am grateful to Mr. King for validating how hard it is to work on writing when you have a day job that requires a good amount of brain space. He specifically mentioned the difficulty in writing on the side when you have a job that needs your brain.  He writes six hours a day.  I don’t have the time to do that.  But that is all right if I don’t right now.  I can still work on things, I just have to go easy on myself sometimes for not.  I could dial back other hobbies, like compulsive knitting while listening to books to write more. That might be a more appropriate sacrifice.  I mean, I can work out a little less often, but I missed it when I was using that time to write.   I had a few days that were just pure anxiety too in there and probably exercise would have helped that.  I got back to my first real workout in a week this morning and it felt great, even though I’ll be sore tomorrow.

Maybe I just need to stop being hard on myself, get better at reading books for writing more often and not spending all my time on fiction. My self imposed break from fiction definitely ended last night when I finished On Writing and immediately downloaded a book that I trusted would help me lose myself.  I took like 1-2 weeks off from reading fiction and I was gazing longingly at a specific shelf in the public library.  Like I used to look at a guy who broke my heart.  Who doesn’t read this blog.

So, this is my journey, and I am glad other authors are there both to twist my brain, show me new things, even if they make me scared, and to say hey, I get how hard it is to do the work of writing while you are doing the work of the rest of your life.  Thanks, Mr. King.

Comments/ likes/shares!  Next week I have an idea on deck that’s more like my typical posts.

 

They Just Don’t Stay Dead

I am doing a ten day writing challenge the beginning of November, actually paying money for instructor feedback on assigned short exercises.  The closest I have come so far to actually doing NaNo which seemed more attainable when my child did not have homework and a strict school schedule.    It is nice to spend time looking over and crafting responses and then combing through the replies to find instructor feedback.

I am also doing 12 short stories in 12 months, that is a free group, but the instructor mostly posts a prompt and a word count and there is no guarantee that she will look yours over.  I am on ten and I have not seen a comment from her yet.  Probably because my writing is untouchable perfection, right?  But I like having a deadline and having to get the wheels turning.  It is still worth my time.

I knew about Day of the Dead though before I knew about November being for writers.  And I am expanding my seasonal reads for books where siblings on both sides of the veil continue to share a relationship.  Day of the Dead is about resurrection of family and those spirits feeling loved and welcomed, and these books deal with conflicted relationships with semi-lost siblings.

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The Bone Witch, Rin Chupeco

I ended up reading two Rin Chupeco books for this season’s descent into fall reads, unintentionally, but I enjoyed them both.  The Bone Witch starts with the protagonist having enough grief to discover her powers by accidentally raising her recently dead brother from his coffin at his funeral service.

Dark magic fits in a regular class system society and a young girl is finding her powers and her place in the world of powers and a complicated and fierce system, with her loyal unintentionally undead brother at her side.  The book, because I think it is going to be a series, spends a lot of time world building but with chapters of her older and a witch comfortable in her powers looking back and telling the story of her youth while also assembling some sort of undead fighting force, which I don’t think is really a spoiler, so forgive me if it is.  So you know there is more plot coming, some kind of grievance.  The line between dead and alive is a lot thinner with the Bone Witch around, and she risks losing herself when she is using her powers.

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White is for Witching, Helen Oyeyemi

Ms. Oyeyemi is a writer whose works I have bought a few of without actually having read her : Boy Snow Bird, Mr.Fox, What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours.  She’s hoarded and decorated but unexplored.

White is for Witching was good but I don’t know if it should have been my first foray into this writer. It gave me the same feeling that I had when I read Never Let me Go by Kashuo Ishiguro, as in there is something lurking behind the story that is unclear and I can’t decide if it is nefarious or not.  Of course, in Ishiguro’s it really is something dark, whereas the spirits and the passed down pica feel more neutral, less negative in Oyeyemi.  I will be honest that I looked over other reviews before I was willing to post that I felt I was missing something in the story, that there may have been something unclear or something I was not understanding, but I don’t seem to be alone that it needs more than one pass, there are multiple levels at play here, similarly to Ishiguro.

It is included in this post because there are a pair of twins, Miranda and Eliot, and while they have that intimacy of twins that is passed off as unromantic but also kinda is (I loved her description, asking how possibly you couldn’t love someone of the opposite sex who is separate but so intimately a part of you) Eliot cannot save her from the generations of women that come before.  Not from their genetic anomalies nor their still lingering spirits’ design to consume her into the house. I felt there were times in the novel where Miranda was possessed and times where she was herself, times when I thought she would be saved from herself and move on into long term relationships, and then not.  Not being British I don’t completely understand their social patterns and the weird detachment they seem to have from both family and friends.  Eliot cannot hang on to his first love, this familiar but strange woman who slips away.  Creepy, but not Halloween-y, necessarily.

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When I Cast Your Shadow, Sarah Porter

I bought this one brand new full price.  Almost never happens.  I have books I spied as fresh releases and they are resigned to the wish list so I can spy on prices.  Or they go in my library wish list so I can spy availability there.  I don’t tend to look at lists of new releases, even if they come to my Facebook feed or into my email inbox.

Had to have this one.  And you know, I loved it.  This is the type of novel I would love to be able to pull off successfully myself someday.  It has it’s criticisms, like the plot can get a little tangly, and it can, but it’s a complicated plot.   It’s about a dad and his teenage twins left behind by a drug overdose death of the oldest son and abandoned by their mother.  The dead oldest son Dashiell seduces the girl twin Ruby into allowing him to inhabit her body to carry out some business he has to take care of, even though he is dead.  She allows him to because she loves him and is unbearably devoted to him.  Their skeptical and not so blindly adoring brother, Everett, gets co opted into this to save his sister,  on top of dark spirits who would love to have two bodies to be back into, and who have it out for Dashiell besides.

The supernatural element in this book, and we all know I love some magic, spirits and demons, was well crafted.  It was creepy and dark without being overdone, without being gory.  It was deeply unsettling, lots of intersecting goals and complications of the living and the semi living.  It was a creepy, beautifully spun dream, with well crafted and beautifully crafted descriptions.

The complex dynamics between the characters was psychologically astute.  The drug addicted, completely appealing and dangerous older brother’s pain beneath the flash, the twins who will never be as flashy as he is, one who meets him with skepticism and another with blind devotion, the deep grief of a parent who had to set strong limits against a force more powerful than his son. This book described relationships I see in my work as a psychologist on a daily basis.   Loved it loved it loved it.  Because they were so vivid and believable I cared about what happened to them and what was next.

Pushing myself back into regular writing has been an awful rollercoaster for me and this book was a little dangling incentive…”maybe if you work hard enough and push through your issues enough, you could write something like this…”

I’ll forgive Ms. Porter for coming out with a book similar to something I have wanted to write.  She made it up to me with this one.

As this is already one of my longest posts to date (and it’s not getting done weeks ahead of time, like I usually aim for) I will keep the next piece brief.  I am at a standstill with what to do with my reading/writing/blogging next.  I have two and a quarter books to get through before I finish BookRiot’s Read Harder, and I am dreading those last two, but then….I don’t know.  I don’t have holiday reads planned, I would have to get through like ten books in eight weeks to win PopSugar at this point, and I have frequently thought that if I am really going to make a go of writing I need to break up with fiction novels.

Which sometimes feels as devastating as leaving my nutty but comfortable job of the past nine years or changing the locks on my loving husband who is building me a she-shed.

I would blog about whatever I am reading, fiction novels or no.  This is not a threat to the existence of the blog.  But no promises on where this is headed.

Comments/likes/shares! Pleeeeease

Halloween Reads: Mashup

October is closing up in that annual flurry of candy that launches us into the holiday season.

My son is a skeleton T Rex this year, with a soft T Rex skull he pulls over his head.  He has been a lion, a viking, a bat, SpiderMan and now a T-Rex.  The first Halloween of his life he was a raisin strapped into a car seat and taken home by his already exhausted and certainly not out of maternity clothes mother.  I am resisting eating chocolate birthday cake while I am writing this.

The group of books I review for the actual Halloween weekend post don’t hang together as well as the books I posted about on the previous five weeks of these posts, because I read a whole lot like usual thinking I will find the threads as I go and then I ended up with one grouping that is threaded together well, which is actually going to be my post honoring the Day of the Dead halfway through this week, and this post of stragglers.  Books I intended to get to for scary reads last year but I did not make it to.  One that kept cropping up on blog posts about quintessential horror reads that were new this scary season.  So, I’ll write, maybe there will be a thread, maybe not.

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The Curse of Crow Hollow, Billy Coffey

This did not get read last year and was one of the first that I plunged into for this year, especially since I already had the audio and a decent length car trip or two in there.

A mysterious illness overtakes some kids in an isolated Southern town following a night partying that inadvertently incurs the wrath of the town “witch” but unravels into additional layers of secrets and intrigues.

I believe this would count as a Southern Gothic novel: ironic events to reflect on the status and values of the American South, Gothic elements to explore and make social commentary.  The reader cannot determine if the town witch is really the villain or the victim until the end, if there is really illness/supernatural elements among some of the kids but the power of suggestion.  There aren’t the crumbling and scary plantations but the creepy small rural communities.  A little madness, a little despair.  Women who peak in their beauty and power in their teenage years only to have a lifetime of weight gain and raising children with distant husbands ahead of them.

The audio performance really adds to this.  The narrator brings to life the narrative style, with the perfect voice for the story, a male voice sounding exactly like I thought it should.  I will probably look into others of Billy Coffey’s dark, more American Gothic and subtle novels.  I don’t think anything could replace my love of Victorian Gothic novels but I can appreciate a writer who can apply the dark, ironic writing to a different context.

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The Witches of Eastwick, John Updike

I was in love with John Updike as a writer when I was in college.  I found him in The New Yorker to start, along with my love of Oliver Sacks, and one time in the middle of a heavy semester I looked up a book of his short stories in my college library and spent a sliver of precious brain space on that.  Part of his magic to me was not only his beautiful writing, and it is beautiful, but I liked reading about privileged white people around my age living in New England with their bored, short lived marriages.

So I always had The Witches of Eastwick on the TBR. Witches?  Updike? Yes please.  A bunch of white, promiscuous self involved women all vying for the attention of a blowhard genteel poor man?  Ugh.

His gorgeous, poignant, and astute writing is still there, but I had a hard time caring about these disillusioned women and this completely unappealing man who pushes them all off center despite their having “powers” and having been able to escape their marriages before they got too old to enjoy freedom. I guess women can have “powers” and still be brought down and against one another by a useless socialite full of half baked ideas that won’t ever pan out to paying the mortgage.

I didn’t have trouble finishing it but I definitely needed the help of audio, which had been on my wish list forever, and I am glad I tackled it off the TBR.  I don’t think I will be reading the sequel though.  And I am less enthusiastic about his complete collection of short stories of his I bought upon his death, but maybe his magic will return to me more in his shorter works, which is where I fell in love with him in the first place.  But we will see.  His wording and phrases still struck me.  He can still bust out a line that is enchanting to me. Like an old boyfriend meeting you out for a drink, there might be a tiny sparkle just for a moment for me and for Updike’s writing.

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The Girl from the Well, Rin Chupeco

Classic Japanese horror thrown onto the end of a post with a Southern Gothic and some New England witches.  Random sauce, but good sauce all the same.

So if you want a classic horror for Halloween, the most Halloween-y book on this books of Halloween on Halloween weekend post, this would be the one. There is a clear ghost story, the haunting is not random, and in true Japanese style, someone becomes overconfident in their abilities and others get screwed over by it.  Because is there ever pride without a fall?  But completely classic, almost formulaic, but that is not a criticism. This tosses back to the other Japanese horror movies I watched into my brief foray into Japanese horror films. I liked it.  It was scary and diverting and fun, the villain was humanized, there was some kind of resolution, which my readers know I care about.  Women like closure.  Whatever.

Halloween reads is going to bleed into one more week because I have some books read up that have to do with coming back to life but with the theme of siblings, which is such a YA thing…but appropriately, since siblings are so important to teens, especially in families who don’t all live under one roof.

So, here’s wishing a sweet Halloween weekend to everyone with one more iteration of seasonal reads. Looking for scary reads and all the other blog posts with scary reads has of course lengthened the wish list, filled it out a bit because it’s a never ending process.