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2015 – a reading Round-up!

Like most writers, I am an avid reader. or rather, I try to be. This year on Goodreads, I pledged to read 40 books and I made my goal with some to spare! Some books were hardly book length (more like short stories), but I counted them all. Especially since I don’t count the fanfic reading I do on goodreads ;). I don’t finish anything I don’t really like, so if I finished it and it’s listed below, I enjoyed it. Here are the snapshots of my Goodreads list!

 

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Okay, Ravenwood is my OWN book. It still counts! I read it, like, 12 times while doing edits.

What stuck with me:

The Success Principles [Non Fiction, self betterment]– I feel like this is a book I will continually return to and re-read as I progress. I really enjoyed this book and felt empowered while reading it. I AM RESPONSIBLE FOR MY OWN SUCCESS! If I work hard, I can do it!

Dead Mountain [Non Fiction, true story, mystery] – WOW. What a story. ALL TRUE [with some speculation tossed in]. This was a book that I TOLD EVERYONE ABOUT. a true story about a group of hikers that died in Russia in the 1960s. Amazing story. Has tickled my brain re: Infrasound.

Dark Space [M/M Romance, Sci Fi]- THIS ONE HAUNTS ME. I read a couple Lisa Henry books this year and HOLY GOD. she is SO GOOD. Her narrative voice is amazing and PULLS YOU IN. I felt like I WAS HER CHARACTERS. I read it in one day and then cried happy tears when I saw Henry had just released a sequel.

The Riddle of the Labyrinth [Non Fiction, true story, languages]– Another amazing story, this time on the decipherment of Linear B. WHAT COMMITMENT. Unbelievable. I can’t even focus on a book sometimes so reading about the effort and time these people put into deciphering an unknown language is truly fantastical to me.

Reflections in General – As a reader I am HUMBLED by the storytelling abilities of the books I’ve read this year. Shirley Jackson, Dean Koontz, Lisa Henry… I’m in awe of their ability. I hope my own writing grows and that I get better as I go!

What am I reading now? – I’m currently working on The Noonday Demon by Andrew Solomon. Having struggled with depression for most of my life, I was amazing and gobsmacked by some of Solomon’s insights during a Ted talk. I immediately picked up his book. I’m also re-reading Fingerprints of the Gods. I read this one in 2007 and really enjoyed it. With a trip to Peru coming up this year (29 WEEKS AND COUNTING), I wanted to re-read to refresh my mind. Just as engaging the second time around. I’ve pledged to read 50 books this year, including writing 2, so I guess my decision to give up almost all television was a good one.

Happy reading!

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Reading Classics – Jekyll and Hyde

I decided to read The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde the other day, and as I did, I felt sad that I was technically ‘spoiled’ for the book. I mean, is there anyone that isn’t? Jekyll and Hyde have become part of our lexicon, along with Dracula and Frankenstein and as I read it, I found myself kind of sad that I couldn’t experience it for the first time without knowing what the mystery was.

I tried to imagine what it would be like to read it when it was first published in 1886 but it was so hard to separate my knowledge of the basic story from my reading experience.

I still really enjoyed the book! I just wish that I could have read it without knowing the ‘big surprise.’

 

Book Review – We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

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I’ve read Shirley Jackson before. I remember reading The Haunting of Hill House and enjoying it and am disappointed in myself for not reviewing it at the time. Anyway, I knew I would like her book. The book cover had me really intrigued. I know you aren’t supposed to judge a book by its cover but c’mon. Don’t we all?

From the first line I was really wrapped up in this book. It definitely had a ‘vibe’ to it. It reminded me of the beginning of the movie Rebecca when the new Mrs. De Winter is narrating as the camera rolls up the driveway to see Manderly. The first line really set me up for the tone of the book. It is only “My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood.” – I’m not sure why such a simple sentence already put me in the right frame of mind. Maybe it was her actual name. The rest of the opening paragraph really pulled me in.

My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenent, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead.

Well, I’m already intrigued! What sort of girl is Mary Katherine [Merricat as she is often called]. What happened to her family? We get teh story in pieces and those pieces come from what we suspect are all unreliable narrators – Mary Katherine, her sister Constance and their Uncle Julian – the only surviving members of the Blackwoods. We see through Merricat’s eyes what the town is like and how the townspeople have ‘turned’ on the Blackwoods – ostracizing them. Were they all crazy? The town and the Blackwoods?

Was any of one them sane? What was going on with the people in the village? What kind of mob mentality was this?

This was a real intellectual thriller, in my opinion. No supernatural tricks here – just people being people and what they can and will do to each other. A fascinating read.

I admit, I skipped over the intro of the book. I started reading it and realized it was giving pieces of the book away so I moved on. I’ll likely go back and read it now that I’ve finished the book.