Blogoween · Reading · Reviews

The Right Hand of Evil {Review}

Book Cover for The Right Hand of Evil by John Saul

7 out of 10? I really liked it but didn’t love it.

This is probably the first (only?) actual horror novel I’ve read for Blogoween. I used to love John Saul books, and this one has just sitting on my shelf, begging to be read. I finally gave in because I needed a not-just-Gothic-or-semi-creepy-but-actually-horror book in my October lineup. I’m really glad I did! I definitely remember why I love John Saul books and I’m not sure why it’s been so long.

The basic plot (without giving too much away) is that an alcoholic’s aunt dies, he inherits a house, moves his family in, and then everything goes insane. There’s a lot of Catholicism which I don’t really connect with generally but was a nice counterpoint to the evil going on. I absolutely have to mention that there’s violence against animals. Like, fairly graphic violence against animals. Almost quit reading, to be honest. I held out though, and while it wasn’t my favorite part of the book, I got past it.

John Saul has a talent for making me continue reading a book even if I’d normally roll my eyes at whatever’s happening. Hell? Demon faces beneath normal faces? Usually I’m out, but I stayed interested here. There’s a ton of hallucinating in this book and the images he paints are bananas. There’s a lot of atmospheric creepiness, which I always adore.

This is a legit horror novel that lingered in my mind and somehow pushed past the normal suspension of belief I have for the supernatural. I definitely recommend it.

A final note:
Last weekend at my mother in law’s farm I was there alone and had to go outside. I spooked myself because I realized that anyone could be lurking in the pines and the Farm Dog would probably not even notice. Also, I had a nightmare Tuesday night that wasn’t actually related to the novel at all, but as I walked to and from the bathroom for water all I could think of was that there could be people just standing in the apartment and I wouldn’t be able to see them. That fear is directly related to the novel, so thanks for that John Saul.

Blogoween · The Unexplained

My Top 5 Favorite Cryptids

When I was a kid, my dad and I always talked about Nessie or Bigfoot or whatever else. We read about them, watched TV shows about them, and on and on. It wasn’t just cryptids, though, it was anything weird, unexplained, unsolved, or just generally mysterious. Over the years it led me into an interest in true crime via unsolved killings/disappearances/etc. as well as a weirdly broad knowledge of famous hauntings. However, I’ve always had a soft spot for a few mythical-ish animals beyond Nessie and Co.
Dobhar-chu encounter

Dobhar-chú

In Ireland there is a story of a half dog/half otter (or half dog/half fish). Look at those teeth, guys. That otterdog will mess you up then float down the Loch holding hands with its little dobhar-chú friends.  Did I mention they travel in pairs so one will get you if the first doesn’t? They do. As I have never been to Ireland, I have no idea if this is true, but according the very legit-seeming Cryptid Wiki (and the actual Wiki page) there are dobhar-chú referenced on at least one gravestone from the 17th century. The image to the left was drawn by an eye witness named Sean Corcoran fairly recently. I like the idea of a vicious otterdog.

Orang PendekOrang Pendek

According to my Google Translate research, Orang Pendek is Indonesian for ‘shorty people’ which seems fair. The tallest of the Bigfoot-ish cryptids are said to get to 5 feet, so I’ve beaten them by 1.5 inches. They are found on the island of Sumatra in a crazy remote rainforest. The first white dude who recorded a sighting of the Orang Pendek was an Italian traveler in the 1300s, but his writings were apparently a mess. It’s been reported that the people who live on the island of Sumatra have legends dating way back about the people who live in the forest alongside them. The majority of this paragraph comes from the Wikipedia article and is pretty loose on where the claims come from. The entire idea intrigues me, though. A lost hominid roaming an island rainforest is a pretty cool thought. People have launched searches for them at least as recently as 2011, by the way. In case you want to add something really weird to your resume
OgoPogo crop

The Ogopogo

That’s a ridiculous image of the Ogopogo, a lake monster that lives in Okanagan Lake in British Columbia. Apparently it’s been hanging out since at least the 1700s, but the first ‘recorded’ sighting (ie – a white lady saw it) was in 1873. A man named Bill Steciuk saw Ogopogo in 1978 and runs a website dedicated to the creature and documents sightings, etc. He also sells t-shirts, if you’re interested. I love this site because people have sent in their experiences and you can read actual reports instead of ‘these people toootally saw X’ articles. I sort of hope that Ogopogo is chilling in Canada just being super reclusive because humans are the worst.

harry and harry tooLizardman of Lee County

While I definitely prefer my cryptids to be of the ‘ehhhhh…..could be possible I guess’, this is a home state legend that I can’t not mention. Also, Shane’s family lives in rural Lee County, so I travel through the Lizard Man’s hunting grounds regularly. Basically, this gigantic lizard-like fella roams Lee County in central South Carolina being a creep, attacking people/cars, and generally being obnoxious. He’s 7ish feet tall, with red glowing eyes, and is a bipedal reptilian. Lee County loves the Lizard Man; besides the sign for Harry & Harry Too, a restaurant in Bishopville, 2018 was the first year of the Lizard Man Festival and Comic Con. There are other random bits of local flair that have to do with the Lizard Man, and everyone has an opinion on what he was/is. Alien or mutated lizard are the two most popular theories. Mysterious Universe has a really good, really comprehensive article about the Lizard Man with some really great images.

ThylacinusThe Thylacine

On the opposite end of the spectrum of cryptids, there’s the thylacine, aka the Tasmanian Tiger. Everyone can agree that there was a large marsupial roaming Australia/Tasmania/New Guinea that looked like a dog but wasn’t a canine. The last scientifically accepted thylacine died in 1936. The zoo thought it would be able to find a new thylacine rather quickly and they were super wrong. There have been literal thousands of sightings of thylacines since the 1936 extinction even though indisputable proof has yet to be produced. The Wikipedia article’s references section is incredibly extensive if you’re interested in learning more. The protections for thylacines put into place 2 months before the last captive died are still in place, just in case. I always root for the underdog and I honestly hope there are pockets of thylacines out there.

This is by far the longest post I’ve written, so I’ll sign off now. I hope you enjoyed a little bit of the weirdness that is cryptozoology, even if I didn’t go too in depth.

~S~

Life & Family

Fall…kind of

It’s Fall! It’s also exactly as hot as it was before it was Fall. Okay, you can get away with jeans in the morning now, but you’ll still be suffering in the afternoon. I called it Slightly Less Summer on twitter the other day and I stand by that description. It feels like seasons are just slightly off from what they should be, but maybe by December it’ll be too cold to wear shorts.

The heat means nothing though. I still want to curl up under blankets and drink hot chocolate or tea while I watch Hallmark movies or read. Luckily, I’m generally cold when I’m inside. I think it has something to do with the movement of the air and not necessarily the temperature. Either way, I am able to curl up under a blanket, but no hot chocolate yet, it’s not quite cold enough for that. I’ve had some tea the past couple of days and I couldn’t be under the blanket at the same time.

Sometimes you can even smell Fall in the air when you walk outside. It’ll be 90+ degrees and I’m sniffing like I have a sinus infection because Fall is the best smell and I want to take in as much as possible.

When I went to campus a couple weeks ago I turned the AC waaaay down so I could pretend like it was really fall. I plan on doing the same the next several times I’m staying up there. I’m certainly not going to do it at home and add it to my electricity bill.

-Sarah-

PS – I wrote this on Wednesday & today (Friday) actually felt like fall. But I think that’s because Hurricane Michael brought the cooler weather & it won’t stay that way.

Blogoween · Reviews

I Remember You: A Ghost Story {Review}

 

Book cover for I Remember You: A Ghost Story

My favorite thing about reading a novel in translation is that not all words are translatable and you have to stumble through them the best you can. I don’t speak Icelandic so it was fun to look up pronunciations for names of towns and people. Don’t ask me to say them out loud, though, because I will fail.

I really liked this book. It’s not really a thriller but it’s a steadily unfolding story that has twists and turns and is pretty engaging. Even if you guess one (or some) of the twists, it’s still an interesting story. The only issue I had was that one of the twists was telegraphed pretty early on, but the reveal was solid, so it was fine. It’s fun to read a novel where being religious isn’t the norm, but isn’t completely weird either.

I would say this is a solid October read if you’re looking for something to make you uneasy but not terrified. The location is awesome – part of the novel takes place in an abandoned community in northern Iceland. The language is vivid, even though it’s a translation.

A warning, though: there’s violence against children mentioned. Nothing graphic at all, and most of the novel isn’t graphic, but it’s mentioned.

-Sarah-

 

Blogoween · Movies & TV

My Favorite Stephen King Adaptations

Honestly, I haven’t read a ton of Stephen King books. Not for any particular reason, I just haven’t. I have a few on the TBR Mountain, though, so that’ll change hopefully. Shane loves Stephen King novels, and we both love the adaptations. I know King isn’t huge on a lot of them, but to each his own. Here’s a list of my favorite adaptations. Besides the obvious Shawshank Redemption and The Shining. Those two are almost required watching these days.

Castle RockOkay, okay, it’s not *technically* an adaptation but a new story set in King’s favorite place – Maine. Using actors from past adaptations and containing shout-outs to King properties (Shawshank prison, anyone?), it’s close enough. And holy hell Bill Skarsgård is amazing. I loved him in Hemlock Grove and he just keeps delivering amazing performances. Also Sissy Spacek is a joy. It’s really mind trippy & I’m sure that even though I think I have a handle on what’s happening I probably have no idea.

Stand By MeI didn’t see this movie until I was an adult, but it’s a movie that was a big part of Shane’s childhood. I really enjoy this movie and didn’t even realize it was a Stephen King story until much much later on.

It: Chapter 1 ~ Moment of truth – I never saw the Tim Curry version. Or if I did, I don’t remember it. I love Tim Curry, though. This is a movie my 13 year old niece and I can talk about together, which makes it edge up the list a bit. Even without that, it’s a solid movie.

The StandThis is the mini series that kicked off my love of the apocalypse & science fiction in a big way. I can’t overstate how much this movie impacted my interests and tastes over the years. I will always have a soft spot for The Stand. I was pretty young when I watched it for the first time and I can still remember watching it religiously over and over again. If I ever write my novel, blame this mini-series.

The Langoliers ~ I grew up on this mini series (though I only ever watched it as a movie). I haven’t watched it in years and yet I can recall entire scenes vividly. It did not age well, though. I just watched a few clips on YouTube for nostalgia’s sake and they were not fabulous. But seriously, it will always be a favorite.

HavenI actually lost interest towards the end of the show’s run. I’m not a fan of love triangles and then the weirdness of her choice, I just snoozed through the last season. The first few seasons were crazy awesome though and I’ll probably go back and watch those. Adam Copeland as Dwight is one of my favorite performances. Just trust me on this one.

Life & Family

A week in Pictures (Sept 24th thru 30th)

Monday, the 24th

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My desk on an early Monday morning.

Tuesday, the 25th

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Best friends. Fish tank tubing in the background.

Wednesday, the 26th

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This cat lost his already ridiculous mind on Wednesday.

Thursday, the 27th

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Hotel life – campus in the morning!

Friday, the 28th

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I didn’t make this pile, but I’d like to hear the story of who did.

Saturday, the 29th

The Atalaya Craft Festival was super fun and those hushpuppies were amazing.

Sunday, the 30th

The new typical Sunday evening – writing posts with the cat.

Blogoween · Reading · Reviews

The Darkling Bride {Review}

darkling.jpg A solid 4 stars.

This book refuses you to miss the connections with Jane Eyre. It’s a quality book, though. Eerie vibes throughout the novel help set the stage and unexplained references to a main character’s shady past help to set the mood for most of the novel.

There’s a lot going on in here, by the way. There’s the thread of the Darkling Bride going through everything as well as a ton of story lines. There’s a mystery in the 1800s involving an author and his ‘mad’ wife, a 1990s murder/suicide mystery which involve several people from the current day shenanigans. Current day, the Lord of the Manor Castle is trying to sell his family’s home to the Heritage Trust which brings everyone back to the Castle. Oh, that’s right, there’s a creepy 700 (800?) year old castle in rural Ireland  with a monastic city’s ruins nearby. And a super creepy tower. Carragh is an American hired to catalog the family’s library and has A Very Dark Past that she references a bit until It All Comes Out later on. There’s also a brand new Detective Inspector from Dublin down to investigate the unsolved murder of Aidan’s parents. She has her own story line as well. The other characters have stories, obviously, but they aren’t given their own chapters/portions of chapters.

Overall, I really liked this book. My only issues were that the lurve story (of course there’s a love story) goes from 0 to 100 suddenly, Aidan’s kind of a dick & his redemption isn’t super redemption-like, and there wasn’t enough ghost stuff. There’s some ghost stuff, but not enough. I wanted haunting. I think I’d have added a part of a star if the author had included the ‘real’ story of the Darkling Bride instead of leaving us with bits and pieces.

-S-

Blogoween · Reading

A Zombie Apocalypse Reading List

I love reading about the zombie apocalypse! I don’t read nearly as many as I would like, but I truly enjoy the genre. I enjoy the apocalypse in general, though. Here’s a list of books I think should be on your Zombie Apocalypse Reading List. It’s a mix of books I’ve read and books I’d like to read. The list is barely scraping the surface, so add your favorite zombie books down below!

There are probably spoilers down below, buds. Just a warning.

I did manage to place the books in some loose groups. These three have something about zombies that I enjoy.

  • The Passage by Justin Cronin ~ Okay, okay, they’re vampires. But they’re controlled by an entity outside themselves, so I’m shoehorning them into the zombie category. It’s my blog, I do what I want. I loved reading about the vampire-zombies’ behavior and the suspected reasons behind the things they do. I highly recommend the entire series, I’ll probably end up reading them all again one day. Which is saying a lot, since they are all enormous.
  • The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey ~ Have you ever finished a book and been mad at the book so you give it a low rating but then you can’t stop thinking about the ending for weeks and then you boost the rating to 5 because if the book wasn’t as good as it is you wouldn’t be this upset at it? That was this book for me.
  • Extinction Horizon by Nicholas Sansbury Smith ~ I tend to avoid military apocalyptic fiction because I find a lot of it tries too hard to prove how manly the characters are. Which is not completely untrue with this series, but there’s enough going on otherwise to make it recommendable. There’s science-y type stuff and the zombies are pretty cool and there’s a lot of shooting. Try to spot the improbable but totally predictable love interest.

These are books with a little something different going on. Goodreads says I haven’t read the first two, but I have. Feed is on my TBR pile.

  • The Zombie Autopsies by Steven C. Schlozman, M.D. ~ I think I read this when it first came out – 2011 or 2012 – and I still clearly remember entire sections of this book. It’s a far more scientific zombie book than normal.
  • The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks ~ He wrote World War Z so you know it’s good. It’s also appropriately funny. If you want to read about zombies, laugh, and not be completely freaked out, get this book.
  • Feed by Mira Grant ~ This is apparently more of a political/journalism/freedom of speech book with zombies! It’s making the list because so many people have suggested it to me that it should be here.

These are books that have come highly recommended but I haven’t had a chance to read them, so I don’t have much to say about them.

  • The First Days by Rhiannon Frater ~ I read the first few pages of this while flipping through my friend’s copy. I remember it being pretty action packed, so why not check it out?
  • The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell ~ All I really know about this one is the Goodreads synopsis and that my friends really liked it.
  • Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry ~ The Goodreads description is pretty vague for this YA series, but Maberry is a really good author, so it makes the list.
Blogoween

Blogoween!

I’m participating in Blogoween, which is basically a bunch of (book)bloggers who will be posting Halloween/Fall posts throughout the month of October. You can find all the details over at Book Dragons if you’d like. You can also check out the #blogoween hashtag on Twitter. And Insta, I would imagine.

I’ll be doing Level 1: 13 Blogoween posts. I have 4 reviews, 5 lists, 1 prompt post, a welcome post & a wrap up post, & a few other Halloween/Fall posts as well. I was already planning on focusing on the creepy stuff this month, but added some more posts after finding out about Blogoween. Which I did accidentally – someone posted about it and then I immediately wanted to join in. I’ve only been blogging (this time….) for a month and a half, but doing things like this is good to meet other bloggers and find new blogs to read. It’s also a good way to get new readers, I won’t pretend like that’s not a thing. But even if I don’t get any, I think this will be a fun time. It’s certainly a good excuse to read horror/at least gothic novels!

This is kind of a short intro post, but that’s all I have right now. I hope you enjoy my foray into the creepy!

Life & Family

September in Review

Here’s a little roundup of the last month. Memories and all that.

Read:

  1. Crazy Little Thing by Tracy Brogan
  2. Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate (Review)
  3. A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis (Review)

Watched:

  • Castle Rock! So creepy and weird and awesome.
  • Cardinal.
  • La Mante.
  • The latest series of Death in Paradise.
  • Finished up Father Brown.
  • Forensic Files. So much.
  • Jack Ryan (on Amazon)
  • Too many YouTube videos about Bullet Journals & planners.
  • Too many YouTube videos from Chef John, Binging with Babish, Sorted Food, & Bon Appetite.

Did:

  • Fled to higher ground before Hurricane Florence.
  • Saw My Favorite Murder live in Charleston & wandered around with Shane’s brother and his girlfriend the next day.
  • Atalaya Craft Festival at Huntington Beach State Park.

Cooked:

  • Bacon wrapped chicken bites
  • Pimento cheese stuffed mushrooms
  • Greek marinated chicken skewers with tzatziki sauce

That one sentence about Hurricane Florence took up about half of September. Hopefully October will be less disastrous.

-S-