Sunday Salon, 12/1/19

Sunday Salon
Whew, November. The past two week have felt like some alternate universe of rain and no ultimate frisbee playing. I generally love the rain, especially here in overly sunny Arizona, but not when it floods the fields I rely on for exercise. So, things have been a bit disjointed around here. And then a four day weekend which has pretty much contained three Saturdays! I’m looking forward to Monday…


I had Nonfiction November plans which seemed to evaporate as soon as I made them. I ended up splitting the month between fiction and nonfiction. In November, I finished:

  • Ghostbuster’s Daughter by Violet Ramis Stiel
  • Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell
  • The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle – a reread
  • Columbine by Dave Cullen – I plan on posting about it later in the week.

One of the more interesting short stories I read in November was Poe’s “A Tale of the Ragged Mountains.” As I’m going through my books of his complete works, I’m finding a lot of Poe stories that I’m not familiar with. “Ragged Mountain” combines one of his travelogue-style stories with a themes of mesmerism. I hadn’t realized Poe had written more on mesmerism than “Mesmeric Revelation” and “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar.” “Ragged Mountain” preceded both into publication.

Of course, I have a TBR for December!

Well Met (Well Met, #1) War for the Oaks Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within


We don’t go to the movies much, but I’m looking forward to seeing Knives Out in the near future. I’ve pretty much been a fan of director Rian Johnson since Brick (2005). I’m glad to see him back from Star Wars land.

Did I watch the three (four?) movies I ear-marked for November? I did not. But that won’t stop me from having a list for December:

  • Creed (2015)
  • Birdman (2014)
  • American Heist (2014)
  • The Beguiled (2017)

I also have The Alienist and season two of American Gods in the queue.


R. E. M.’s Monster was a pretty big deal for me in college. The band just released a 25th anniversary edition remix. That kind of makes me feel old, but it’s definitely feeding into my college days nostalgia.

Other Stuff

I’d say I had fun with my project “fling” during NaNoWriMo, but honestly reading and writing about a 100 year old murder was rough going. I’ll come back to the project, I’m sure, but for now I’m going back to  pure fiction. I’ll be working on Wicked Witch Retired for the foreseeable future.

Fall ultimate league finished a couple of weeks back. My team lost our first game. The second meant very little so we played mostly fun, beer-soaked points. Below it a picture from that game of me catching a hammer throw (an up-side down throw). It was a good throw and an easy catch.

Katherine catching hammer throw.
Photo by Quan Nguyen

And then I didn’t even go running for two weeks (see above about rain) which meant playing today at a friend’s birthday game pretty hard.

The Sunday Salon is a linkup hosted by Deb @ Readerbuzz

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.

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.

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!

Nonfiction November 2019 ~ Week 2

Week 2: (Nov. 4 to 8) – Book Pairing

Hosted by Sarah of Sarah’s Book Shelves)

This week, pair up a nonfiction book with a fiction title. It can be a “If you loved this book, read this!” or just two titles that you think would go well together. Maybe it’s a historical novel and you’d like to get the real history by reading a nonfiction version of the story.

Every year this prompt gets a little harder. It might be because overall my reading has been narrower, but I’m not sure. I did come up with a “pairing” though:

Scripting Hitchcock: Psycho, The Birds, and Marnie Psycho The Birds and Other Stories
  • Scripting Hitchcock: Psycho, The Birds, and Marnie by Walter Raubicheck & Walter Srebnick
  • Psycho by Robert Bloch
  • The Birds and Other Stories by Daphne du Maurier

Scripting Hitchcock provides a behind-the-scenes look at the writing of three classic Alfred Hitchcock movies. All three were based on existing works. I haven’t watched or read Marnie, but I’m pretty familiar with Psycho and The Birds. Both are very different from their subsequent movies, which makes the stories outstanding in both medias.

Sunday Salon, 11/03/19

Sunday Salon

#RIPXIV & #SomethingWickedFall Wrap-Up

*emerges from under a pile of candy wrappers, pumpkin pie tins, and creepy stories*

Hope everyone had a great spooky season! Since I can see Halloween decorations in the stores in August, I have little problem with queuing up the Christmas music now. Me, though, I’ll stick with my Halloween-flavored playlist a little longer.

I did okay with my seasonal reading goal, though I’m behind a little on my yearly goal. For Peril the First, I read:

  • The Two Sams by Glen Hirshberg
  • The Other by Thomas Tryon
  • The Small Hand & Dolly by Susan Hill
  • Hungry Ghosts by Anthony Bourdain,  Joel Rose, et al.
  • Death by Suggestion by Donald K Hartman

Plus a bunch of short stories and horror movies. I’m terrible at wrap-ups, so on to the next things!

Nonfiction November TBR

In addition to trying to keep up with Nonfiction November posts, I’m going to try and read 2-3 nonfiction books this month.

The Beautiful Cigar Girl: Mary Rogers, Edgar Allan Poe, and the Invention of Murder Edison's Eve: A Magical History of the Quest for Mechanical Life Tesla: Inventor of the Modern
  • The Beautiful Cigar Girl: Mary Rogers, Edgar Allan Poe, and the Invention of Murder by Daniel Stashower – I’ve started this book a few times, but every time some other book gets in the way. Not this time.
  • Edison’s Eve: A Magical History of the Quest for Mechanical Life by Gaby Wood
  • Tesla: Inventor of the Modern by Richard Munson – Didn’t realize I had pitted an Edison book against a Tesla book. Will my Tesla fandom win out over my love of reading about automata? Time will tell…

November Movie Watch-List

I enjoyed talking about movies last month. My plan going forward is to pick four or five movies to watch in a given month and blog about them a little. My list for November:

  • 12 Years a Slave (2013), directed by Steve McQueen
  • 42 (2013), directed by Brian Helgeland
  • Birdman (2014), directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu
  • Creed (2015), directed by Ryan Coogler
  • Hail, Caesar! (2016), directed by Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

Other Stuff

NaNoWriMo: Yes, I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month. Well, sort of. I’m not writing a novel, but I’m going to try and put together a 50K word manuscript of notes on a 1915 murder that happened in Omaha. Yeah, I don’t exactly know what I’m doing. This is a writing/researching adventure.

Ultimate Frisbee: Ultimate has been rough lately. I’ve been playing two league games a week and some of those games have been savage (meaning no subs). My team hasn’t won too many games, but I’ve enjoyed this group of players more than I thought I would. I have two league games this week and then none until finals on the 16th.

The Sunday Salon is a linkup hosted by Deb @ Readerbuzz

📽 30-Day Horror Movie Challenge, Days 29 & 30 🎃

What’s this all about? See the first post.

This has been a lot fun and I’m a little sad to see it come to an end. I intend to blog more about movies in the future because they really are a form of storytelling that I enjoy.

Day 29 – Your least favorite horror film of all time

I suppose there are horror movies out there that I quit part-way through that might qualify as less favored, but as a movie I watched entirely, I have only ambivalence for Friday the 13th (1980). Maybe it’s the setting (I never went to camp), maybe it’s that it compares poorly in concept and production (imo) to the movies that came before and after it. I probably didn’t watch it until 20 years after its release; by that time, everything about Friday the 13th had become a horror movie cliche. Still, that could be said for Halloween (1978) or Romero’s zombie movies, but I like those well enough. This probably bears some investigation on my part…

Day 30 – Your favorite horror film of all time

I didn’t start really watching horror movies until the 2000s when the internet allowed easier access to them. But even so, I was a late-comer to Candyman (1992). I had chalked it up as another slasher flick. I was surprised at how much story there is and how meta it is. All movie monsters seem to have some sort of mythology surrounding them, but Candyman might be the only one reliant on the mythology being known. I like that concept. And again, this movie has such a strong setting. Give me a fly over shot of Chicago set to Philip Glass’s music box music and I’m hooked. (Pun wasn’t intended…)