October TBR

I’ve spent the last two Octobers reading creepy books. The cooler weather makes it feel good to curl up under a blanket and read something scary.

There will be a couple non-scary reviews in October too. I’m behind with NetGalley reviews and Jennifer Egan’s Manhattan Beach comes out on the 3rd.

I’ve picked out seven for this month:

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

I read this back in February and have been sitting on the review. It’s not scary, but seems seasonally appropriate given how Frankenstein’s monster is a common Halloween costume.


Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist

I’ve seen both movies—the Swedish original and the American remake—though it’s been a while. I don’t read many vampire books, but this one sounds good. Both movies had some excellent jump scares so I plan to read this with all the lights on.


The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers

I picked this up after the first season of True Detective, but haven’t read it. I tried the first story, but it was weirder and trippier than I thought it would be.


It by Stephen King

According to my Kindle, this book is 1,477 pages long. What a doorstop! I wouldn’t have put it on my October list if I hadn’t just finished it because I’m not sure I could fit seven reviews into the month if I had to read 1,000+ page books too. The book is more frightening than the movie; many of the most terrifying/disgusting scenes would be hard to put on film without looking campy/cheap. Still though, if you haven’t seen the new movie—you should.


The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley

The end of this book is strange so it’s been on my reread list since I read it last year. The religious mania in the book creates an uncomfortable, unsettling tone and there are TWO gothic mansions, not just one. That’s twice the fun.


Zero K by Don DeLillo

I wouldn’t call the overall story “horror,” but there was one chapter in the middle that made my blood turn cold. I had to set it down and walk away. Zero K taps into the whole fear-of-death thing, though not so obviously as White Noise. White Noise has a repeated refrain of “who will die first” every time the lead character looks at his wife that similarly got under my skin.


The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

No ghosts, vampires, or werewolves here—just creepy ol’ Tom Ripley who kills his friend and takes over his life. Yikes.

For some recommendations in the meantime, here are links to reviews from previous years:

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Hell House by Richard Matheson

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Shutter Island by Dennis

Slade House by David Mitchell

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

And don’t forget the most terrifying, skin-crawling vampire book of all time: Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight. ūüėõ

Happy October!



Reading Ireland Month 2016: Sign Up

I’m already participating in two challenges this year, but when I saw Cathy746books‘ sign up for Reading Ireland Month 2016, I couldn’t resist joining in. The goal is to explore/celebrate Irish culture (books, movies, music, food, etc.) and blog about it. Since this is a book blog, I’ve pulled a selection of Irish authors to the top of my queue.¬†If you’d like to join in too, click over to Cathy’s blog where she has thoughtfully¬†provided a list of 100 books that would be excellent for March (or any month, really).

Here’s the list I’m hoping to read:
(blurbs from Goodreads or Amazon (see links))

The Classics

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

gullivers travels_cover

Shipwrecked and cast adrift, Lemuel Gulliver wakes to find himself on Lilliput, an island inhabited by little people, whose height makes their quarrels over fashion and fame seem ridiculous. His subsequent encounters – with the crude giants of Brobdingnag, the philosophical Houyhnhnms and the brutish Yahoos – give Gulliver new, bitter insights into human behaviour. Swift’s savage satire view mankind in a distorted hall of mirrors as a diminished, magnified and finally bestial species, presenting us with an uncompromising reflection of ourselves. (Goodreads)

I read lengthy excerpts of Gulliver’s Travels for an English class a decade ago. Though I made a note to read the rest of the book, I never got around to it. It’ll be more fun now though; it’s not homework!


The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

picture of dorian gray_cover

Combining elements of the Gothic horror novel and decadent French fiction, the book centers on a striking premise: As Dorian Gray sinks into a life of crime and gross sensuality, his body retains perfect youth and vigor while his recently painted portrait grows day by day into a hideous record of evil, which he must keep hidden from the world. For over a century, this mesmerizing tale of horror and suspense has enjoyed wide popularity. It ranks as one of Wilde’s most important creations and among the classic achievements of its kind. (Amazon)

Another “always meant to read” book though I may have read a “kids” version a long, long time ago. I have vague memories of a large print version with small words and frequent illustrations. The last illustration was surprisingly graphic and gave me nightmares for months. Between that, and this book’s prominence in pop culture, I can’t pretend I don’t know the ending, but I look forward to a well-crafted story.


New Authors

Nocturnes by John Connolly


In his first collection of short fiction, New York Times bestselling author John Connolly offers a selection of dark, daring, and utterly haunting tales. Here are lost lovers and missing children, predatory demons, and vengeful ghosts. In “The New Daughter,” a father comes to suspect that a burial mound on his land hides something very ancient, and very much alive; in “The Underbury Witches,” a pair of London detectives find themselves battling a particularly female evil in a town culled of its menfolk. And finally, private detective Charlie Parker returns in the long novella “The Reflecting Eye,” in which the photograph of an unknown girl turns up in the mailbox of an abandoned house once occupied by an infamous killer. This discovery forces Parker to confront the possibility that the house is not as empty as it appears, and that something has been waiting in the darkness for its chance to kill again. (Amazon)

I mentioned here that Connolly is on my list of authors to pay more attention to on account of how much I enjoyed The Book of Lost Things. Looking through Amazon, many of his books feature recurring characters and I’m not up for a new series right now, even if they feature standalone plots. So I went for Nocturnes (which is followed by Night Music). One of the factors in my decision was how closely the cover of this book mirrors the cover of The Book of Lost Things. Yes, this is superficial. I know you can’t judge a book by its cover, but book decisions have to be made somehow and I really loved The Book of Lost Things. (Please don’t judge me.)


The Heather Blazing by Colm Tóibín


Eamon Redmond is a judge in Ireland‚Äôs high court, a completely legal creature who is just beginning to discover how painfully unconnected he is from other human beings. With effortless fluency, Colm T√≥ib√≠n reconstructs the history of Eamon‚Äôs relationships‚ÄĒwith his father, his first ‚Äúgirl,‚ÄĚ his wife, and the children who barely know him‚ÄĒand he writes about Eamon‚Äôs affection for the Irish coast with such painterly skill that the land itself becomes a character. (Amazon)

Colm¬†T√≥ib√≠n’s name has been coming up on my WordPress reader and Amazon recommendation pages more frequently these days and this challenge is a great kick to pick up one of his books.


The Book of Evidence by John Banville

book of evidence_cover

Freddie Montgomery is a highly cultured man, a husband and father living the life of a dissolute exile on a Mediterranean island. When a debt comes due and his wife and child are held as collateral, he returns to Ireland to secure funds. That pursuit leads to murder. And here is his attempt to present evidence, not of his innocence, but of his life, of the events that lead to the murder he committed because he could. Like a hero out of Nabokov or Camus, Montgomery is a chillingly articulate, self-aware, and amoral being, whose humanity is painfully on display. (Amazon)

I’ve read and enjoyed a few books by Benjamin Black (John Banville’s pen name). Careful Googling led me to The Book of Evidence as a good starting place for his works as Banville. Feel free to let me know if Google has led me astray on this point…


From Way, Way, Way Down the TBR

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann

let the great world spin_cover

In the dawning light of a late-summer morning, the people of lower Manhattan stand hushed, staring up in disbelief at the Twin Towers. It is August 1974, and a mysterious tightrope walker is running, dancing, leaping between the towers, suspended a quarter mile above the ground. In the streets below, a slew of ordinary lives become extraordinary in bestselling novelist Colum McCann’s stunningly intricate portrait of a city and its people. (Amazon)

Pretty much everyone says this book is good. It sounds like a book I would find interesting and enjoy. And yet, every time I pick it up, I don’t open it. It moves around the apartment more than my other books because it’s my go-to when I don’t know what to read next. My brain scans my bookshelf, says, “Oh right, that’s supposed to be good,” and somehow, between the bed/couch and the fridge for a drink/snack, some other book ends up in my hand. This happened as recently as two weeks ago. It was sitting by my bed and I downloaded Breakfast at Tiffany’s to my Kindle. That’s right. It was two feet away and bumped by a book I didn’t even own. Wow. It’s about time.


Already Read and Loved… but Unreviewed

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

importance of being earnest_cover

Cecily Cardew and Gwendolen Fairfax are both in love with the same mythical suitor. Jack Worthing has wooed Gewndolen as Ernest while Algernon has also posed as Ernest to win the heart of Jack’s ward, Cecily. When all four arrive at Jack’s country home on the same weekend the “rivals” to fight for Ernest s undivided attention and the “Ernests” to claim their beloveds pandemonium breaks loose. Only a senile nursemaid and an old, discarded hand-bag can save the day! (Goodreads)

I read this a couple weeks ago, but it looks like my review will be posted in March. What a happy coincidence of timing!

Back to the Classics: Sign Up


And another challenge!
Back to the Classics hosted at Books and Chocolate promises to be interesting. It also pairs well with the Mount TBR Challenge which is sure to include a bunch of classics. So many classics are free on the Kindle and I’ve let them accumulate these last few years. Quick note on Kindle freebies: I recommend spending a couple bucks on compilations and collections—a functional Table of Contents makes the¬†complete Sherlock Holmes or P.G. Wodehouse much more navigable.

I haven’t picked books for each category yet. Feel free to make suggestions! And sign up (link above) if you’re interested in joining in.

Here are the categories:

1.  A 19th Century Classic Рany book published between 1800 and 1899.

2.  A 20th Century Classic Рany book published between 1900 and 1966. Just like last year, all books MUST have been published at least 50 years ago to qualify. The only exception is books written at least 50 years ago, but published later.

3.  A classic by a woman author.

4.  A classic in translation.  Any book originally written published in a language other than your native language. Feel free to read the book in your language or the original language.

5.  A classic by a non-white author. Can be African-American, Asian, Latino, Native American, etc.

6. ¬†An adventure classic – can be fiction or non-fiction. Children’s classics like Treasure Island are acceptable in this category.

7. ¬†A fantasy, science fiction, or dystopian classic. Dystopian could include classics like¬†1984, and children’s classics like The Hobbit¬†are acceptable in this category also.

8. ¬†A classic detective novel. It must include a detective, amateur or professional. This list of books from the Golden Age of Detective Fiction is a great starting point if you’re looking for ideas.

9.  A classic which includes the name of a place in the title.  It can be the name of a house, a town, a street, etc. Examples include Bleak House, Main Street, The Belly of Paris, or The Vicar of Wakefield.

10. A classic which has been banned or censored. If possible, please mention why this book was banned or censored in your review.

11. Re-read a classic you read in school (high school or college). ¬†If it’s a book you loved, does it stand the test of time? ¬†If it’s a book you disliked, is it any better a second time around?

12. A volume of classic short stories. This¬†must be one complete volume, at least 8 short stories. It can be an anthology of stories by different authors, or all the stories can be by a single author. Children’s stories are acceptable in this category also.




Mount TBR Challenge: Sign Up

Mount TBR 2016

I love making queues and this year I’ve resolved to read more than last year. To push myself along, I’m signing up for the Mount TBR Challenge hosted at My Reader’s Block. As it’s quicker to acquire books than to read them, challenges like this are helpful in conquering the stacks on my bookcase. To this end, only books acquired prior to January 1, 2016 qualify. (For sign up info and the full list of rules, follow the link above.) Additionally, ebooks count, so those free classics on my Kindle are fair game. It’s shocking how quickly you can download all of Jane Austen’s books. And to think I’ve only read one of them!

[Edit: I fixed the link to the actual challenge main page.]

I’ll list the books below as I read them and link to my reviews as they’re written. By the end of the year, there should be 75 books on this list as I’m going for the Mt. Toro level.* Wish me luck! And go sign up!


14. Night by Elie Wiesel
13. Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
12. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
11. The Secret History by Donna Tartt
10. The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
9. My Uncle Oswald by Roald Dahl
8. My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier
7. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
6. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
5. Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch
4. Gun, with Occasional Music by Jonathan Lethe
3. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
2. The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens
1. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline


*I was tempted by the Mt. Everest level (100 books), but wanted to leave time for 2016 releases and new books.