Spooky Book Recs & Discussion: Snack Sized Stories

Normally on Mondays I do Must Read Mondays, to recommend one book, but for this month, I’m carving out some time to make lists of recommendations. I’ve decided to do this in categories (that I’m coming up with as I go, because in life, as with NaNoWriMo, I am a pantser and not a planner).

This week, I’m recommending collections of stories in their various forms, and a few long short stories and novellas. I’ve read more of these than I’d originally thought, and some have been featured on my blog before. Not all of these are particularly scary, but I wanted to suggest things for people who like horror, as well as for people who just want a little bit of creepiness, things based on folklore, or stories that have a Halloween-vibe/theme.

Short Story Collections, etc.

 

  • Basically anything by Edgar Allan Poe (obvious, but for a reason)
  • M.R. James’s ghost stories (not for everyone, but I liked them)
  • H.P. Lovecraft (I’ve only read a couple of stories, I think)
  • Ray Bradbury (I remember reading a couple of his stories in high school that I think were creepy. I really need to read more of his work soon because it’s great.)
  • Algernon Blackwood (I’m pretty sure I haven’t read any of his stories in 10 years or more and he’s really not that well known these days, except among horror lovers)
  • Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories trilogy (another obvious one, for a reason)
  • The Horror Zine (I think I’ve only read one issue so far, but I keep meaning to get more)
  • Penny Dreadfuls: Sensational Tales of Terror (I haven’t read everything in this, but it’s a great collection and has two full-length novels: Frankenstein–the original 1818 version!– and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street)
  • Halloween Carnival vol. 1 (I have a review of this one coming out tomorrow, which is also release day)
  • The Haunted Grove by Tim Jeffreys (I actually don’t remember much about this because I read it so long ago, but I rated it pretty high)
  • Horrors! 365 Scary Stories (I got this when I was in middle school, I think, so I haven’t read from it in a while, but I remember liking a lot of the stories)
  • Through the Woods by Emily Carroll (so pretty and creepy in an old-school fairy tale kind of way. Review.)

Longer Pieces 

These are longer than short stories, but under 150 pages (except the comic trades, but I included it in this part because they’re short, but not stand-alone stories).


There are definitely more that I read years ago, but they’re unfortunately lost to me now.

I wish I could remember some of the better true (or “true” if you’re not a believer) ghost story collections I read when I was growing up. I remember having quite a few, but the only ones I still have aren’t books I would recommend.

If true/”true” haunting stories are your jam, I would suggest you start by searching for books written about hauntings in your locality, or a place you’re interested in. Your local library might some collections from your area.


I have a few things I’m really looking forward to getting around to soon(ish), like Scottish Ghost Stories by Elliot O’Donnell, The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs, more of Lovecraft’s stories, Arthur Machen’s stories, and I’d like to revisit some Algernon Blackwood now that I’m older and have forgotten if I liked his work or not. On my wishlist, I have The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter (although I think it’s more horror/fantasy than just horror) in the highest position, but there are loads more I’d like to get eventually.


Ok, I think I’ve rambled on enough for one day, so I’ll wrap this up now.

Do you have any recommendations for shorter horror books, graphic novels or comics, or short story collections? I’d love to hear about them!

 

If you read any of these, let me know what you think!

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July& August Book Haul (+ bonus pictures of other kittens and a mama cat)

I might have left out a book or two :/ I don’t think I did, but I have this feeling that I missed one.

Anyway, this whole summer was ah-maze-ing for me and acquiring books. Like, I found so many deals! It was magical.

july august haul

Left stack, from top to bottom: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katerine Arden // The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers // Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher // The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike // John Dies at the End by David Wong // Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World by Bill Nye // Cicada Summer by Maureen Leurck (review here)

Right stack, from top to bottom: Reluctantly Charmed by Ellie O’Neill // White Teeth by Zadie Smith // Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh // Fun Home by Alison Bechdel // Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle // The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry // The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher // The Witches: Salem 1692 by Stacy Schiff


And now what you’re really here for…the cats!

mama cat

So, we think this is the mom of our two babies. Our best guess is that she was trying to move all her babies because they were getting more mobile, but the two little shits we found had squirmed into places she couldn’t get to.

Anyway, there are 3 others outside with her, but I could only get pictures of these two. (I touched both of these a couple of nights ago and holy crap you guys, the cream one is like petting a freaking cloud! So. Soft! And brave. She…I think…faced me and put herself between me and her two siblings until they decided I was harmless and climbed over her haha.)

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How freaking cute are these? The other one looks a lot like the top one, but more grey than brown.

Autumn Reading Challenges

Autumn is coming! Autumn is coming! I’m so excited 😀 Ok, so autumn isn’t my favorite season (allergies suck, ugh), winter is, buuuut… I still love autumn.

Maybe it’s because it’s the promise of winter arriving soon, or because of Halloween (!!!), or because my birthday is 2 weeks before Halloween, or any number of other things, but I love autumn. Not as much as winter, but a lot.

This year, I’ve been in a reading funk and I haven’t been in the mood for the genres I reach for the most. For the past few days, I’ve really been feeling darker books (horror, thrillers, mysteries, gothic lit, etc.), and I’ve been searching for reading events/challenges, read-a-thons, etc. that center around those genres. And I found some!


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R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril Challenge

This challenge that runs from September 1st through October 31st is one I think I’ve heard of, and possibly participated in a long time ago. It’s now being hosted by My Capricious Life and Estella’s Revenge, and it sounds like a really relaxed, fun thing, with several “Perils” (levels) to choose from. I’m going with Peril the First, which is to read four books for the challenge.

Some of my possible reading choices for this challenge:

I’m also thinking about reading some Agatha Christie and/or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for this one.

If anyone wants to buddy-read any of these, please let me know because I’d love to partner up to talk about them!


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#FrightFall Readathon

This one is hosted by Seasons of Reading and runs from October 1st-31st, and (as far as I can tell), the only requirement is to read at least one scary book. I’ve been itching for good horror books for ages, so I’m really excited for this one, and I hope I find something that actually scares me.

If you guys have any suggestions for truly terrifying reads, let me know in the comments!


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Gothic September– Edgar Allan Poe read along

For this month, I’m joining this read along hosted by Castle Macabre and it’s So! Exciting! ❤ I love Edgar Allan Poe, and I’m definitely going to try to keep up with the schedule.

 


Bookish Bingo: Fall 2017

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I came across this one, hosted by Pretty Deadly Reviews, by accident, and it looks like fun! This seasonal bingo runs from through the autumn season. I’m not sure how well I’ll do, but I love bookish bingo, so I’m going to play. (I wonder if you can count a graphic novel for “Illustrations…” If so, I’ve got one square already.)

I’ve already thought of some picks for about 6 of these, so yay!

 

 

 

 


And, there’s also a Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon coming around on October 21st! I’ve missed the last, like, 4 of these, so I’m hoping to remember this time and actually participate.


 

Whew! That’s a ton of things to (hopefully) inspire me to read a bit more, and more broadly, for the next 2-3 months. I’m super excited about all of these, and I can’t wait to post wrap-ups and see how many things I managed to complete.

 


Are you participating in any reading events this fall? Let me know about them in the comments!

 

(Ridiculously Late) June Wrap Up + Book Haul

Well, at least I did this before the month was officially half over? :/ Onward!

So June wasn’t really a great reading month for me, but that’s ok because I made up for it by buying a ton of new books…That makes sense, right? Terrifying TBR + slow reading month = buy more books! (I might have failed a math class once…)

Anyway, in June, I managed to finally get through some things I’m ashamed for having not read yet, found a new couple of favorites, and crossed an item or two off my PopSugar 2017 Reading Challenge, and completed my goal for #RockMyTBR. So, all things considered, it wasn’t a bad month. Plus, shiny new books!


I read:

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cover; links to goodreads

 

 

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (reviewed here) and I gave it 3.75/5 stars (rounded up to 4/5 stars).

 

 

 

 

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cover; links to goodreads

 

 

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire (reviewed here) and I gave it 5/5 stars.

 

 

 

 

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cover; links to goodreads

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cover; links to goodreads 

The Haunted and The Hunted by Cassie Alexander (reviewed together here), and I gave The Haunted a tentative 2.75 stars (rounded up to 3/5) and The Hunted 2.5/5 stars (rounded down to 2/5)

 

 

 

 

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cover; links to goodreads

 

La Douleur Exquise by J.R. Rogue which I gave 4/5 stars, and I highly recommend Rogue’s work in general!

 

 

 

 

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cover; links to goodreads

 

 

Slammed by Colleen Hoover which I gave 2/5 stars. I wanted to like it, but it really wasn’t my thing at all, so sorry to any fans out there :/

 

 

 

 

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cover; links to goodreads

 

Macbeth by William Shakespeare which I gave 5/5 stars (but maybe 4.5/5? I’m not sure yet), and this is one I was ashamed that I hadn’t read yet. I love Shakespeare and I feel like this should have been required high school reading.

 

 

 

And, finally, I read

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cover; links to goodreads

 

The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen for the first time. I think. I gave it 2/5 stars. I had a bunch of classic fairy tales when I was a kid, but I don’t remember if I had this one or not. If I did read it then, it didn’t leave an impression, and I’m still just not a fan. I think I’m more of a Grimm’s fan.

 

 


Book Haul!

june haul 02

From top to bottom: Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett; Hans Christian Andersen Tales (Word Cloud Classics edition because I love those and have a few others); The Girl in the Castle by Santa Montefiore; It’s All Fun and Games by Dave Barrett; Everything Must Go (ARC) by Jenny Fran Davis; Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour; Burial Rites by Hannah Kent; Blue Horses by Mary Oliver; Irish Folk and Fairy Tales by W.B. Yeats; Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel; The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell; If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio; The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon; The Complete Poetry of Maya Angelou

Husband picked out Equal Rites, mostly for me, because I didn’t get along well with The Color of Magic and, for a change, he wants to get me into a series. So, I read a page or so of Equal Rites, declared it to be more to my tastes, and here we are. He also found the W.B. Yeats book and thought I’d be interested (he knows me so well ❤ ).

I’m long overdue having some Andersen fairy tales, so I jumped at the chance to get this edition when I found it.

The Girl in the CastleIt’s All Fun and Games, and Everything Must Go were goodreads giveaway wins that arrived last month.

Everything Leads to YouBurial RitesBlue Horses, Station Eleven, The Bone Clocks, The Bone Season, and anything/everything Maya Angelou have all been on my wishlist and TBR for ages.

If We Were Villainshad to get because I won the audiobook a couple of months ago (review here) and became absolutely obsessed with it. I’ve been scouring B&N since then, but the closest to me doesn’t stock it. I actually–amazingly–found it at BAM, which blew my mind. Husband made me buy it because I’d finally found it (and had been talking non-stop about it for weeks by then). It’s definitely a contender for my favorite book read in 2017 and I highly recommend it!

Also, I think I should mention that while this looks like I spent an obscene amount of money, almost all of these (that I bought) were on sale. Like, under $5 kind of on sale. I felt like I’d died and gone to bibliophile heaven because I hadn’t even planned on going to the bookstore, but we did, and it was amazing. I really don’t usually buy as many books as I have this year, I’ve just come across great deals at opportune times. The only thing that bugs me a little is that a lot were on shelves outside, so they have a bit of dirt and slightly more wear than most of the inside books. But for the prices, I’m fine with that.


What was your June reading month like? See any books you loved (or hated!) on my lists?

 

Why I count (pretty much) everything I read on Goodreads

I felt inspired to write this because I’ve seen a few discussions online recently about what people do and do not count, and I realized how much my own choices have changed over the last few years.

For the first few years I used Goodreads, I only added “real books” I read. Then, I considered “real books” to be novels, entire collections of poetry or short stories, novellas, plays, and that was it. If something had a low page count, I felt too guilty to add it. An example would be The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. This story is, depending on your edition, pretty short. I think my two copies are both under 100 pages, which lands them in that hazy place where short stories and novellas meet. I think a novella is typically considered a short novel of 30,000 words, but maybe less than 50,000 words, and short stories are typically anything under about 30,000 words. I could be wrong about that, and maybe there are different classifications depending on where you look for the information.

I didn’t read many comics or graphic novels back then, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t add any I did read. I also didn’t add any long short stories, and I was too ashamed to admit I read erotica, so I didn’t include those for a long time, even the full-length novels. (This was before it was a popular genre that it seemed like everyone was reading without always being judged for reading.)

While I do focus a bit on the number of books I read in a year, my primary goal is to increase the number of pages I read. I don’t know why, it just is. So, eventually, I grew tired of A) not being able to remember what I’d already read, and B) missing out on hundreds–if not thousands–of pages counted each year because I wasn’t including everything I read on Goodreads.

Maybe someone will look at my Goodreads shelves and scoff because I’ve included a single issue of a comic, or a short story, but it works for me to do things that way. The big turning point for me was when I realized that I don’t always like to read an entire collection of short stories in one go, and I don’t want a single volume sitting on my “currently reading” shelf for a decade while I read a piece every few months. (Things like the Grimm brothers fairy tales, or Poe’s complete works, or Bradbury’s complete short stories fall into that category for me.) I was also sick of my yearly page count not being a true reflection of the number of pages I’d read. This was particularly frustrating when I was also reading a lot of fanfic, so not only was I missing out on counting those (which could be quite long), I was also denying myself the inclusion of things that were on Goodreads, if only I would add them.

So, I decided to stop caring what anyone else thought about what I added to my shelves. It is, after all, my account, to use in whatever way works best for me. I joined Goodreads to keep track of every possible thing I read, and I became a Goodreads Librarian to help add things that weren’t already on there (which seemed a particular problem with self-published books for a while, and I read a lot of those back then). So what if someone else laughs because I added “The Raven” as something I’ve read? I read it, so on the “read” shelf it goes.

The point of me writing this is mostly just to say this: If you use Goodreads, and you feel weird about adding shorter things, think about why. Is it because you really don’t care about adding it, or because you’re worried about what someone else will think? Remember that your Goodreads (or whatever book/reading tracking thing you use, if you use something else) is there for you, and it’s up to you how you use it. If you don’t like adding short works, that’s totally fine. But don’t shy away from it because you think someone else will think it’s weird or silly.

I still don’t actually count every single thing I read, but I count almost everything. I prefer doing it this way because it helps me remember what I’ve read and what I thought of it, as well as giving me a more accurate picture of how many pages I read in a year.

As far as the yearly Goodreads challenge is concerned, no matter what my goal is, I still don’t consider it finished until I’ve read that many longer pieces. For example, if my goal was to read 10 books, and I finished it in January by reading 5 novels, 3 collections of poetry, 1 comic, and 1 short story, I wouldn’t actually consider it “complete” by my standards until I’d read 2 more longer things, whether they were novels, novellas, plays, poetry collections, etc.

I’m not going to try to tell anyone how they should use Goodreads, or that they should change what they’re doing. If it’s working for you, and you’re happy with it, that’s all that matters. I just wanted to share this because I think that maybe, if I’d known other people who did add everything a few years ago, I would have started doing it much sooner, and possibly not had as much senseless guilt for so long.


How do you use Goodreads?

Do you also add everything you read, regardless of length/genre/etc., or are you more selective?

May Wrap Up + Book Haul

may wrap up

 

May was a surprisingly good reading month for me, but I’ve fallen behind on reviewing things. I read 15 books, but most of those were short (poetry collections). However, I did, finally, make it through East of Eden, which I started waaaay back for Tome Topple.

 


Books read:

(All covers link to goodreads)

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I Am More Than a Daydream by Jennae Cecelia– A collection of poetry I gave 4.5/5 stars.

 

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Burntown by Jennifer McMahon– I had an ARC of this, and reviewed it. I gave it 3.5/5 stars.

 

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Tell Me Where it Hurts by J.R. Rogue– A very emotional, raw poetry book. I gave it 5/5 stars.

 

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Poems I Found in My Closet by Evette Blue– More poetry. I gave it 3.5/5 stars.

 

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Growth by Karin Cox– Poetry. I gave it 2.5/5 stars.

 

 

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the three o’clock in the morning sessions by Angie Martin– Yep, more poetry. I gave this one 3/5 stars.

 

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The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams– This was a re-read, and I gave it 4/5 stars again. I love this series, but for some reason I don’t “5/5 stars” love the first couple of books in the “trilogy in 5 parts.”

 

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Mad Woman by Kat Savage– Poetry again (are you seeing the pattern yet? :P), which I gave 5/5 stars and it landed Kat Savage on my list of favorite poets. I reviewed it, too.

 

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love, and you by Gretchen Gomez– Yep, another lovely book of poetry. I gave it 5/5 stars and can’t wait to see what else Gretchen writes. Reviewed here.

 

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The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams– The second Hitchhiker’s Guide book, which was also a re-read and got 4.5/5 stars.

 

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If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio– AKA “The Book I WILL NOT SHUT UP ABOUT” because I freaking loved it and am now obsessed. 5/5 stars, reviewed here.

 

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East of Eden by John Steinbeck– The tome I did not topple during the read a thon, but finally finished. I gave it 4/5 stars and it also counted for #RockMyTBR, yay!

 

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Good Bones and Simple Murders by Margaret Atwood– Short stories, which I will possibly be reviewing eventually. I gave it 5/5 stars.

 

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Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff– This was on my TBR before it released, and I really enjoyed it. I reviewed it, and gave it 4/5 stars.

 

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Throes by Kat Savage– The last book, and another collection of poetry. I also gave this one 5/5 stars.

 

 


Book Haul!

Full disclosure: Not all of these are mine (my book obsession might be contagious, so husband might have caught it), but I’m including the ones that aren’t exactly/exclusively mine anyway because I know I’ll be reading them.

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From left to right: Hamlet (this edition ❤ ); The Girl on the Road; NW; The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden; Welcome to Night Vale; The Divine Comedy; Furiously Happy; Fates and Furies; The Beautiful and Damned; This Side of Paradise; Perfume: The Story of a Murderer; love, & you; Simulacra; La Douleur Exquise; Mad Woman; Redamancy; Throes; Good Bones and Simple Murders; and the boxed set of Time Lord Fairy Tales.

I’m not including my Kindle books because this post would take about 5 days to assemble if I did that :/ (I might have purchased, like, 20 Agatha Christie ebooks…and a bunch of others…because for some reason May was the month of book sales…)

Last month was ridiculous, and I never buy this many books. Like, there have been spans of two years when I haven’t bought this many books. But seriously, the sales. It was unbelievable. I got so many books for less than $2, and, like I said, they’re not all technically mine.

National Poetry Month Wrap-Up: I share a Poem, and Lots of Recommendations

 

napo wrap upI’m not sure if I mentioned it here, but I challenged myself to write 30 poems in 30 days for National Poetry Month. I can’t believe it, but earlier today I finished #34! Sure, some of them aren’t great, but they’re all finished, and that’s what counts (for me). Basically, I treated this month as a sort of poetry NaNoWriMo (or NaPoWriMo, I guess). Maybe 34 poems in one month doesn’t sound impressive, and maybe it really isn’t. I’m pleased and a little proud, though, because I struggle with writer’s block a lot, so this was a very nice change for me.

Here’s one I wrote that I was kinda happy with how it turned out :/ (I’m still terrified of sharing my writing, but criticism is welcome.)

 

I remember in technicolor
and 5.1 surround sound
every single time
some guy thought he had the right
to put his hands on me
without asking first.

I’m not a betting person,
or naturally inclined to violence,
but I’m willing to bet
my right knee left an impression
and tattooed my face on their memories.

Maybe in the future they’ll remember
that roses have thorns
and aren’t easily plucked.

— your family jewels are more delicate than this flower

 

Poetry Book Recommendations

25860497 I gave it 4/5 stars 30369886 I gave it 5/5 stars

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25330489 I gave it 4.5/5 stars 29564608 I gave it 4/5 stars

22916599 I gave it 4/5 stars 26877039 I gave it 5/5 stars

6563890 I gave it 3.5/5 stars 10340069 I gave it 4/5 stars

31945372 I gave it 3.5/5 stars 1188614 I gave this 5/5 stars

29431081 I just started this one, but I’m really enjoying it so far!

 

(A note on Bukowski: I know a lot of people hate him, and that’s cool. Honestly, I’m not a fan of the man, but I have enjoyed some of his poetry. I actually hated what I first read, but I bought the ebook of Love is a Dog From Hell on sale and ended up liking it more than I expected to. I’m not saying he’s amazing, just that I personally kind of liked that collection, and I ended up buying another one.)


Ok, those are the individual collections I’ve read and kept track of (I read others before the days of goodreads), but the next group is just my best attempt to recommend collections from some of my favorite old(er)-school poets. I’ve read some to all of their work (depending on the poet), but I don’t own any collections right now to recommend. So, the following haven’t been read by me, but I’ve read/probably read most/all of what’s in them.


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Sylvia Plath is one of my favorite poets from the last century, so I have to recommend her. I haven’t actually read this specific book, but I own it, I’ve read from it, and I’ve read most of her poetry over the years from different volumes.

 

 

 

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Robert Frost has been one of my favorite poets most of my life, and I’m hoping to get something like this book soon. I have a smaller volume of his poetry, but I would really like to get all of it.

 

 

 

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This is so high on my wishlist and I can’t wait to get it, or something similar, ASAP. I can’t actually remember when I first read her poetry, but I do know I’ve loved Emily Dickinson most of my life.

 

 

 

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Ok, I really like Shakespeare’s sonnets. Maybe that makes me really weird, because I’ve never met anyone else who likes them as much as I do, but whatever. This is also something on my wishlist.

 

 

 

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How could I not include Poe? I think he might have been the first poet I truly fell in love with. I do have (several) volumes of his complete works, I just didn’t have any poetry-specific collections to recommend.

 

 


I know I’m definitely forgetting people right now, but I tried, and I hope this is helpful to you if you’ve wanted to check out some poetry but had no idea where to start.

Actually, before I end this, here’s a list of some other poets you might want to check out:

  • E.E. cummings
  • Elizabeth Barret Browning
  • Robert Browning
  • Alfred, Lord Tennyon (check out one of my all-time favorite poems, The Lady of Shalott!)
  • T.S. Eliot
  • Edwin Markham
  • Mary Oliver
  • Sharon Olds
  • John Keats
  • Langston Hughes
  • Seamus Heaney
  • Leslie Marmon Silko
  • Anne Sexton
  • William Blake
  • Dorothy Parker
  • Lucille Clifton
  • Adrienne Rich
  • Rita Dove
  • Linda Pastan
  • Jennae Cecelia
  • Gretchen Gomez
  • Shelby Leigh

 

Ok, last thing, I swear! Some of these poets–like Amanda Lovelace, Gretchen Gomez, Trista Mateer, J.R. Rogue, etc.–are on social media (twitter, tumblr, instagram, probably facebook), so you can get a taste of what their writing is like before deciding if you want to buy one of their books. Following them can also help you find other poets, so if you’re on twitter (or whatever) and into poetry, definitely check them out!