Posted in History, Male Author

{Book Quote} The Last Unicorn

The Last Unicorn

On a whim, slowly I reread The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle, a chapter a day as a part of my morning routine. Every time I read it, something new pops out at me. This time it was this quote by the talking skull:

“You can strike your own time, and start the count anywhere. When you understand that—then any time will be the right time for you.”

As someone who is overly fond of New Year’s Day, the first of the month, Mondays, and blank pages, I would do well to learn this myself.

(The quote isn’t in the movie, but can I post about the talking skull without including a clip? No. Here he is voiced by René Auberjonois.)

Posted in Readathons-Challenges-Memes

Nonfiction November 2019 ~ Week 5

Week 5: (Nov. 25 to 30) – New to My TBR

Hosted by Rennie @ What’s Nonfiction:

It’s been a month full of amazing nonfiction books! Which ones have made it onto your TBR? Be sure to link back to the original blogger who posted about that book!

Oh, man. In week three, I asked for recommendations for true crime & books about true crime and you all OBLIGED. Mostly, I added recs to my TBR that sounded appropriate and were available at one library or another. I’m sure I’ll be returning to that comment section in the future though.

So, lets start off with our host this week, Rennie @ What’s Nonfiction? who suggested Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession by Rachel Monroe (which I immediate put in a hold request for) and The Trial of Lizzie Borden by Cara Robertson.

Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession The Trial of Lizzie Borden Why We Love Serial Killers: The Curious Appeal of the World's Most Savage Murderers

Since it was immediately available, I checked out Why We Love Serial Killers: The Curious Appeal of the World’s Most Savage Murderers by Scott Bonn suggested by hmsgofita. Shelleyrae @ Book’d Out recommended The Killer of Little Shepherds by Douglas Starr and If I Tell You . . . I’ll Have to Kill You by Michael Robotham, among a bunch of other books with lots of focus on forensics and writing crime fiction.

The Killer of Little Shepherds: A True Crime Story and the Birth of Forensic Science If I Tell You... I'll Have to Kill You Columbine

Julie @ JulzReads pointed me to her whole expert page from 2016. This sparked off my noticing Columbine by Dave Cullen all over the place (The Lowery Library and Never Enough Novels that I bookmarked, probably others too). I checked it out and am about 50% finished reading it. It’s heavy stuff.

Therefore, I needed some other reading too. Plucked from the Stacks posted about Broadway flops. I am fascinated by behind-the-scenes stories of movies and theater. There are so many people and so many things can go wrong! So, Song of Spider-Man: The Inside Story of the Most Controversial Musical in Broadway History by Glen Berger and Not Since Carrie: Forty Years of Broadway Musical Flops by Ken Mandelbaum are definitely going to be reprieve reading.

Song of Spider-Man: The Inside Story of the Most Controversial Musical in Broadway History Not Since Carrie: Forty Years of Broadway Musical Flops

So many good books! It’s been another great Nonfiction November.

Posted in Female Author, Graphic Novel, Nonfiction

{Books} Ghostbuster’s Daughter & Pumpkinheads

Shockingly, I announced a TBR near the beginning of the month and haven’t read anything from it. I should possibly always find/replace “books to-be-read” with “book-I’m-not-going-to-read-yet.”

Ghostbuster's Daughter cover Ghostbuster’s Daughter: Life with My Dad, Harold Ramis by Violet Ramis Stiel

At the beginning of the month, I jumped into reading some heavy stuff about axe-murderers and hysterical news papers for NaNoWriMo. I intended to read The Beautiful Cigar Girl for NonFicNov, but it was too much of the same thing.

Instead, I checked my elibrary “wishlist” and chose something different: Ghostbuster’s Daughter. Not only is Harold Ramis my favorite Ghostbuster, but he wrote and directed several of my favorite movies. I was looking forward to some nice movie trivia bits. This books has some of that, but it’s mostly about Violet Ramis Stiel. And her life is… somewhat interesting? It’s definitely a look at a person who has been a very privileged and only sometimes aware of that.

Pumpkinheads cover Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell (author), Faith Erin Hicks (illustrator)

I put this on hold at the library on October 7th and just got it this week. I had really hoped to read it before Halloween, but que sera, sera.

Pumpkinheads was pretty much exactly what I expected: autumn-in-Nebraska setting, fluffy romance, and some honest-to-goodness funny bits. I also really appreciated that Deja’s secondary mission for her last night working at the pumpkin patch (a Disneyland version of a pumpkin patch) is to sample all the snacks. And the art was lovely!


Posted in Nonfiction, Readathons-Challenges-Memes

Nonfiction November 2019 ~ Week 4

Week 4: (Nov. 18 to 22) – What Makes a Favorite?

Hosted by Leeann at Shelf Aware

We’ve talked about how you pick nonfiction books in previous years, but this week I’m excited to talk about what makes a book you’ve read one of your favorites. Is the topic pretty much all that matters? Are there particular ways a story can be told or particular writing styles that you love? Do you look for a light, humorous approach or do you prefer a more serious tone? Let us know what qualities make you add a nonfiction book to your list of favorites.

I like stories that are told (or topics that are explored) within wider context.

Erik Larson’s books are prime examples of this. In The Devil in the White City, for example, it’s not not just the story of the Chicago World’s Fair or just the story of H. H. Holmes, but the combination of the two—and how one enabled the other.

Hiding the Elephant: How Magicians Invented the Impossible and Learned to Disappear The Magician and the Cardsharp: The Search for America's Greatest Sleight-of-Hand Artist

Even within my favorite topic, magic history, the best books aren’t the ones about the doings of a single magician. Jim Steinmeyer’s Hiding the Elephant looks at the golden age of magic through the lens of a single trick: Houdini’s disappearing elephant. One of my favorite biographies, The Magician and the Cardsharp by Karl Johnson, is about Dai Vernon and his search for a gambler who could deal cards from the center of a deck of cards.

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age

One last example: I’ve read quite a few biographies of Nikola Tesla and some of them are quite good, but my favorite is W. Bernard Carlson’s Tesla: Inventor of the Electric Age, which puts Tesla’s major inventions in the context of the wider political and economical world. It also goes deeper into electrical engineering than I’m comfortable with, but I respect that about it.

Posted in Anthology, Female Author, Male Author

{Book} Death by Suggestion

This book was provided to me by the editor for review consideration.

Death by Suggestion: An Anthology of 19th and Early 20th-Century Tales of Hypnotically Induced Murder, Suicide, and Accidental Death

Death by Suggestion: An Anthology of 19th and Early 20th-Century Tales of Hypnotically Induced Murder, Suicide, and Accidental Death, edited by Donald K Hartman

DEATH BY SUGGESTION gathers together twenty-two short stories from the 19th and early 20th century where hypnotism is used to cause death-either intentionally or by accident. Revenge is a motive for many of the stories, but this anthology also contains tales where characters die because they have a suicide wish, or they need to kill an abusive or unwanted spouse, or they just really enjoy inflicting pain on others. The book also includes an introduction which provides a brief history of hypnotism as well as a listing of real life cases where the use of hypnotism led to (or allegedly led to) death. (via Goodreads)

Why Was I Interested In This Book?
The late 19th and early 20th century was awash in periodicals. A wealth of literature is tucked away, nearly forgotten, in these magazines. It always surprises me how modernly “genre” some of these stories are, especially since they aren’t from the pulp magazine that appear by the 1920s. It’s fun to see what gems can be mined, especially on a particular theme.

In the case of Death by Suggestion, Donald Hartman has pulled together over twenty tales of hypnosis and mesmerism from the Victorian and Edwardian eras  in which death also plays a part. Hypnosis was quite the fad topic at the time and Trillby, the novel that spawned the character of Svengali, was a bestseller.

What Did I Think?
This was an entertaining collection. Appropriately, I read it during October and enjoyed all the perilous situations. There are murders; there are suicides; there are accidents. As is often the case for me, though, (maybe it’s my aging brain) I wish I wouldn’t have read it straight through. The stories tend to start feeling the same when I read too many in a row. It’s not the fault of the stories.

The anthology has some recognizable names (Ambrose Bierce, Arthur Conan Doyle) and some rather unknowns, as you might expect. In all cases the quality of the writing is pretty good, which is not always the case when delving into old magazines. I do wish the stories had been placed in chronological order, but that’s probably my over-want for order kicking in. I’ll probably eventually reread this anthology, but reorder the stories.

But, I’d also unreservedly recommend this anthology for Deal Me In, if one might start thinking about the 2020 edition of that challenge already. The story choice and stories themselves are far better than the Hitchcock anthologies I’ve been reading this year…

Original Publishing info: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform, 2018
My Copy: Kindle edition provided by the editor
Genre: mystery/crime

Posted in Other Media

{Movies} Shirley Jackson, Hail, Caesar! & Dead Don’t Die

We Have Always Lived in the Castle (2018)

In the realm of Shirley Jackson adaptations Mike Flanagan’s The Haunting of Hill House television series and Stacie Passon’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle are on opposite ends of the fidelity spectrum. The Haunting of Hill House is sort of Jackson-flavored. I’m not saying that this is a bad thing, but I feel bad for TV watchers who may have picked up the book after watching the Netflix series expecting to find the modern-day Crains.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle, on the other hand, suffers somewhat by being faithful to the source material. The novel is very much from Merricat’s point of view and she’s an unreliable narrator. That’s hard to pull off in film. As viewers, we don’t quite feel Merricat’s dread and distrust of the world; the plot ends up feeling a little flat. That’s unfortunate because everything else about this movie is more than I could want in an adaptation of one of my favorite books. The world is lush and dreamy. Taissa Farmiga is a perfect Merricat, and I’ve missed Crispin Glover’s off-kilterness.

Hail, Caesar! (2016)

A friend I play ultimate frisbee with has been on me to watch the Coen Brother’s Hail, Caesar! since, well, 2016. At league finals this Saturday, I can report that I’ve finally seen it. Alas, I don’t think I like it as much as he does. There are parts that I definitely found enjoyable. George Clooney should do more comedies and we should bring back musicals with dancing male leads just for Channing Tatum. Josh Brolin is an actor I enjoy in nearly every role aside from the ones that involve an overage of CGI. I almost can’t believe that he’s the same actor who played Llewelyn Moss in No Country for Old Men (2006) or that the Coen Brothers are the same directors behind both of those movies. I get that Hail, Caesar! is a love letter to 50s Hollywood, but the pretty set pieces get in the way of the plot. The trailer above makes it seem much more put together than it is.

The Dead Don’t Die (2019)

The 30 Day Horror Movie Challenge proved me a liar. I don’t hate zombie movies. But for me to really like a zombie movie, it has to have something a little special about it. Jim Jarmusch puts a surprising number of horror and B-movie nods into The Dead Don’t Die. He does seem to care about the genre and playing with the genre tropes. In the spirit of George Romero’s zombie fare, the movie tries really hard to be socially conscious. It has an out-standing cast. But if it’s a horror comedy (and maybe it isn’t), it sort of forgets, aside from a few moments, to be horrific or comedic.

Posted in Readathons-Challenges-Memes

Nonfiction November 2019 ~ Week 3

Week 3: (Nov. 11 to 15) – Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert

Hosted by Katie at Doing Dewey

Three ways to join in this week! You can either share 3 or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert)

I’m going to participate this year in an Ask the Expert fashion.

At the moment, I may or may not be writing a historic true crime book. Since I’m using NaNoWriMo as a effort blitz on back-burner project, I’m very early in the process and don’t quite know what it is yet. But I realized I’d like to learn more about the true crime genre.

I’m not asking for true crime recommendations, per se; it’s more like I’m looking for books that discuss the genre and what true crime fans get out it. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark does this somewhat because it’s also about Michelle McNamara’s involvement as an amateur  investigator. Why do we enjoy books like I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, TV shows like Making a Murderer, and podcasts like Serial?

And, heck, if you feel super strongly about a really good true crime book, especially on the historical end, tell me about those too!