Monday, October 31, 2016

Music Monday: Lesser Known Halloween Tunes


Happy Monday everyone and welcome back to Music Monday! Let's share some songs we've been enjoying lately!  If you would like to play and I really hope you do, please see the rules and link up below.

Rules:

Every Monday share one or two of songs you've been enjoying lately.  It doesn't have to be a specific genre, new, or one of your favorites - just something you'd like to share with others.  If possible, share a music or lyric video of the song and your thoughts on the song(s), artist(s), and/or music video(s).

If you would like to participate in Music Monday, please join the link up by sharing your post's url.


Happy Halloween everyone!  Today, I was thinking of sharing some pretty standard Halloween-esque songs, until I stumbled upon this list of more obscure songs that are just perfect for Halloween from the 1950s-1970s via MeTV Network.  Here are my three favorites featured on the list:

"Music To Be Murdered By" by Jeff Alexander (feat. Alfred Hitchcock) (1958) - You may recognize some of the iconic Alfred Hitchcock Presents theme (aka Funeral March of a Marionette by Charles Gounod) plus Hitchcock's own voice!  I'm not going to lie, it sets the mood perfectly.



"She's My Witch" by Kip Tyler (1958) - Seriously, why isn't this more well known?  It has the perfect dark rockabilly surf sound!  Also, I was messing around with the speed options and I'll have to admit that it sounds really good at 1.25 and 1.5, too.



"Grave Yard Creep" by James Duhon (1974) - I think I need to get a jukebox just to listen to this (and She's My Witch) soul number that makes about the best use of bongos of any Halloween song I've ever heard!




Sunday, October 30, 2016

Chicken Challenge Read Along Wrap-Up and Reviews


At the beginning of this month, I challenged myself to read four books for Lys @ The Mad Reader's Chicken Challenge - I was really hoping to complete all of them, but I didn't half expect I would make it through the four considering everything on my plate this month.  But, good news!  I actually did it! 


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The Enemy by Charlie Higson fulfilled the orange on the cover option for the reading challenge.  It's set during the middle of the zombie apocalypse in London, England and follows teen survivors.  The zombie apocalypse came about due to a disease that only affected the adults who slowly deteriorated into mindless flesh-eating zombies.  The main group of survivors have holed up in a supermarket, so when another group comes and offers them refuge at Buckingham Palace, they begin the dangerous trek across the city in hopes of finding sanctuary.

I plowed through this 448 page novel in two days - it's that fast-paced and addicting.  I didn't want to stop turning the pages.  While thrilling and a good take on zombies, the storyline felt a little too familiar and it was difficult for me to fully connect with anyone from the cast.  However, the last hundred pages or so took everything up and even and made me bump my rating up to a full four stars.  If you're a fan of The Walking Dead, you may like to begin this series opener.  I believe I will be continuing on with it eventually.

I read The Enemy (The Enemy #1) by Charlie Higson from October 9 - October 10, 2016.



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Meg Corbyn is a cassandra sangue, a blood prophet, who can means she can see visions when her skin is cut.  She and others like her are enslaved by the Controller, so they can have full access to the visions.  Then, Meg escapes to the Lakeside Courtyard, a business district in the city operated by the Others.  The Others are earth natives, they've been here long before humanity and they pull a lot of strings behind the scenes.  Simon Wolfgard, a shape-shifter and a leader in the Courtyard, is initially reluctant to hire Meg for the open Human Liaison position.  He can tell she has a secret, doesn't give off the usual "prey" scent that regular humans do, but instinct tells him to take the risk and hire her.  Then, when he discovers what she really is and that she's wanted and on the run from the government, he'll have to decide if she's worth the battle that's sure to ensue. 

Written in Red by Anne Bishop is the first book in a new-to-me series that I've been wanting to start for a very long time.  I've heard so many great things about it and, to be honest, I was actually kind of intimidated by it's size and all of the hype surrounding Bishop's series - that's the challenge option this novel fulfilled.  Anyway, I was so pleased to see that it is in fact really awesome and totally lives up to all of that hype!  Bishop's world-building and character development are absolutely top-notch.  I can totally see myself getting completely obsessed with this series.  I also listened to this novel on audiobook and it's narrated expertly by Alexandra Harris - I never lost interest in the story once in the 18 hours and 32 minutes of narration.  I will definitely be continuing this series, preferably on audio since the other installments are narrated by the same person.  If you're a fan of dark urban fantasy, do yourself a favor and try this take on an alternate America.  I can't wait to move on to book two, Murder of Crows.

I listened to Written in Red (The Others #1) by Anne Bishop from October 4 - October 15, 2016.


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Brothers Nick and Alan have spent years on the run from magic after their father was murdered and mother was driven crazy by magicians and the demons that give them power.  The magicians want to reclaim what their mother stole from them, a charm that keeps her alive.  They'll do whatever it takes to get it back.  When two siblings come to them for help, one of whom has a deadly demon's mark on his skin, and when Alan himself finds himself marked as well, Nick will do anything to save his brother.  The only way to do it is to kill one of the magicians they've been hiding from for so long.

The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan fulfills the relatively popular novel option and I've been meaning to start this series for quite awhile, especially since I've heard it compared to one of my favorite tv shows, Supernatural.  Maybe I expected to much from it, but I had a difficult time getting into it.  Maybe it was the characters, Nick especially is very difficult to like.  I was hoping he could have at least been sarcastic or clever, but he doesn't come off that way.  Plus, it took me a little to long to get into to the story.  But, then, the twist at the end came a long and it was very well done.  I was quite pleased to see when the author took her characters, most importantly Nick.  I'll probably continue this series with The Demon's Covenant, but it's not at the top of my tbr.  If you are a fan of Supernatural, The Curse Workers series by Holly Black, or the Cal Leandros series by Rob Thurman, you may want to give The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan a shot.

I read The Demon's Lexicon (The Demon's Lexicon #1) by Sarah Rees Brennan from October 24 - October 26, 2016. 


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After a bout with the Spanish Influenza, Ivy Rowan finally recovers to find her world torn apart on two fronts.  The war has claimed the lives of many in her Illinois town, including her brother, and her surviving sibling and her father have murdered a German immigrant in retaliation.  Horrified, twenty-five year old Ivy leaves home, to discover just how much further society has broken down under the strain of the war and the deadly disease at home.  Ivy begins to find herself drawn into the world of jazz and newfound freedoms as some begin to realize that they need to live their lives to the fullest because they might not live to see tomorrow.  By the way, the women in Ivy's family have always had the ability to see ghosts, aka uninvited guests.  These guests are always harbingers of death yet to come, and Ivy's world is being inundated with more guests than she's ever dealt with.

Cat Winters is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors - I loved The Cure for Dreaming and In the Shadow of Blackbirds - and The Uninvited is no exception.  Plus, this is her first adult novel.  This book fulfilled the ghost story option for the challenge.  Winters writes some of the best, most well-researched historical fiction out there.  I loved that this focuses on the effects of WWI and the Spanish Influenza epidemic.  There aren't enough novels that focus on this time period with as much detail as she puts into it.  The world she has created and her characters all feel incredibly real,  Even more impressive?  Winters also manages to make a story set ninety-eight years ago feel very timely.  Also, I have to say that the twist at the end is perfect.  I had my suspicions, but I loved seeing it exactly how exactly it would all play out.  If you like your historical fiction with just a dash of paranormal fantasy, you need to try Cat Winters.  I can't wait to read The Steep & Thorny Way and her newest release, Yesternight!

I read The Uninvited by Cat Winters from October 26 - October 30, 2016.  By the way, I am giving a way my copy of The Uninvited via Twitter - all you have to do is follow me & RT this status by 11:59pm Eastern October 31st (INT)!



Thanks again, Lys, for hosting this wonderful month long challenge.  I've really enjoyed it and I hope we'll get to do it again next Halloween!  If you'd like to check out my other Chicken Challenge posts, here they are: Horror Book-To-Movie Recommendations, The Chicken Challenge Tag, and Get Creative: Horror Movie Logic.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Friday 56 (With Book Beginnings): The Uninvited by Cat Winters + 50/50 Friday


Welcome to The Friday 56, a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice.

These are the rules:
1. Grab a book, any book.
2. Turn to page 56, or 56% on your eReader.
3. Find any sentence (or a few, just don't spoil it) that grabs you.
4. Post it.
5. Add the URL to your post in the link on Freda's most recent Friday 56 post.


I'm also taking part in Book Beginnings, a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader.  The rules are pretty simple - you share the first sentence or so and your initial thoughts, impressions, or whatever else it inspires.  Don't forget to link up your post's url with Rose City Reader.


This week I'm spotlighting my current read, The Uninvited by Cat Winters.  This is my third Cat Winters book, and she is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors of historical fantasy.  I'm not very far along yet, but I'm already enjoying this ghost story set during WWI.


Beginning:

I admit, I had seen a ghost or two.

The childhood night my mother's father died, when the silver moonlight graced the floorboards and the antique furniture in our front room, I once came upon my granny Letty - gone one year and a month - rocking in my mother's chair, next to the upright piano.

56: 

The boarded up entrance fell open behind me, and I was out in the cold, dark air with the door slamming shut two inches from my nose.


This week I'm also taking part in a brand new linkup called 50/50 Friday, which is hosted by Carrie @ The Butterfly Reader and Laura @ Blue Eye Books.  Every week they'll have a new topic featuring two sides of the same coin - this week the topic is Character most/ least likely to curl up on a couch and read a book.


Cath from Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell - After all Cath does write fanfiction based on her favorite book series.


Ronan from The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater - I have a hard time picturing him just curling up to read a good book unless it was absolutely necessary.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline - Review


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Like most, Wade Watts spends pretty much all of his waking hours in the OASIS, an entire virtual universe that let's you be whatever you want. Like most, he also hopes to win the ultimate OASIS lottery - he wants to discover James Halliday's Easter Egg which offers a huge fortune and a lot of power. Since Halliday's death five years ago no one has made any progress in the egg hunt. The hunt is based in Halliday's, the creator of the OASIS's, favorite 1980s pop culture from video games, movies, and music. Wade has dedicated years of his life to devouring these favorites and committing them to memory in case they could come in handy in the hunt. Then out of the blue, Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle of the first challenge of three that comprise the hunt, and now everyone's eyes are on him (or his avatar's) and his next move. He'll have to watch his back in both the real world and the OASIS because some players are willing go to any lengths to win, even commit murder.

Wow! That was quite a ride! Thank you, Mr. Cline, for writing a book that I'm sure will go down as one of my all time favorite books. I don't know why I've put off Ready Player One for so long - I suppose I didn't want to be disappointed by such a well loved book. Luckily, though, it absolutely lives up to all of the hype. Although, I don't play a lot of video games, let alone ones from the 80s, I was absolutely hooked and able to keep up with ease. Cline is a brilliant storyteller and his world building skills are astounding. Plus, his cast of characters could practically step off the page, especially Wade and Aech. Overall, this book is absolutely epic, but don't just take my word for it. If you haven't read it yet, honestly, what are you waiting for? It's so much fun! If you like Neal Stephenson, Andy Weir, Terry Pratchett, Orson Scott Card, and Neil Gaiman, you just might love this novel just as much as me. I'm really excited for both the Ready Player One movie adaptation and Ernest Cline's Armada.



I read this novel from September 27 - October 6, 2016 and my review is also on Goodreads.


I read this novel as a part of YALSA's Backlist Bingo Reading Challenge and it fulfilled the Alex Award winner from any year option.  I have completed 2 of 5 books for the challenge so far, and I have until November 15th to finish my final three picks.


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Horror Novels I Want To Read


Happy Tuesday and welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's theme is a Halloween related freebie, and I will be doing my post on Horror Novels I Want To Read.


The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty - I've seen the movie, but I've never read the book.  In fact, I didn't realize it was based on a book until recently.


The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson - Again, I've seen both movie versions, but I've never read the original source material.


World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks - I've heard a lot of great things about this, so I would like to try Brooks take on zombies.


Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin - I've seen both the movie and the miniseries and I definitely want to see what Levin's novel is like.


I am Legend by Richard Matheson - I've seen all of the very different movie adaptations (except for the most recent one with Will Smith), so I want to see where it started.


The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux - I've seen this on Broadway, seen the classic movie adaptation, and watched the musical movie version - it's about time I read the original book.


The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe - I have read her other classic Gothic novel called The Italian and I'm really looking to trying this novel as well.


Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill - I seriously have no idea why I haven't already read this one already.


And The Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich - I was so thrilled by Dawn Kurtagich's first novel, The Dead House, that I need to read this!


The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco - This sounds like it could be type of horror novel - and, of course, the cover reminds me of one of my favorite horror movies, Ringu, and also the American remake, The Ring.


What do you think of my list this week?  Have you read any of these books?  What horror novels would you like to read?  What Halloween related freebie topic did you discuss this week?

Monday, October 24, 2016

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon - Review


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Madeline has SCID and that means she's pretty much allergic to everything and hasn't left her own home in forever. Aside from her mom, her primary doctor, the only person she can interact with in person is Carla, her nurse. Otherwise, she goes to school and lives her life online (she's a book blogger!) - until a new family moves in next door. Their teenage son, Olly, is super cute, and the more she gets to know him the more she realizes that she would be willing to do anything for him.

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon is an intriguing debut novel yet predictable story of young (and stupid, in a well-meaning way) love. Madeline has SCID, aka "bubble boy syndrome", and can't leave her own home for her own safety. When Olly, the cute boy next door, moves in, she also begins to suffer pretty heavily from instalove. That said I really enjoyed getting into Madeline and Olly's heads as they get to know one another online and seeing just how much they push each other to do more with the lives they've been given.


Maybe I'm just getting old, but (at least at first) I kind of agreed more with her mother more. She's just trying to keep her daughter safe, and still happy, but Madeline wants to do things and go places with Olly that will obviously endanger her life. His influence really has an effect on her mental faculties. That's not to say that Olly isn't a good guy, he isn't really pushing her into anything and he always tries to keep her well-being in mind. Like I said, the story is quite predictable until the plot twist at the end which made me do a complete 180 on my opinions of Madeline's mother. (view spoiler) That plot twist alone made me bump this up from a two star read to a three star read. Also, I listened to this novel on audiobook and the two person narration is excellently done.


Overall, Nicola Yoon's debut, Everything, Everything, is a well-written yet predictable contemporary right up until the roller coaster of an ending. If you like The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, you may also like this novel. I'm definitely interested in trying Nicola Yoon's newest release, The Sun Is Also A Star.


I listened to this audiobook from September 24 - 28, 2016 and my review is also on Goodreads.

The Crown's Game (The Crown's Game #1) by Evelyn Skye - Review


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Vika Andreyev and Nikolai Karimov are the only two enchanters currently in Russia and with threats approaching the country from all sides, the Tsar needs a powerful enchanter to serve him. That's where the Crown's Game comes in - it's an ancient duel that tests the skill of an enchanter where the winner becomes the official Imperial Enchanter of Russia and the loser dies. In 1825, the Crown's Game hasn't happened in ages because there's usually only one enchanter of any consequence in the country at a time.

I wanted to like The Crown's Game - I mean, it's YA historical fantasy set in 1825 Russia featuring two competing powerful magicians. Just that was enough to make me want to try Evelyn's Skye's debut. I was expecting a fast-paced, brutal spectacle, where a lot happens, but unfortunately that isn't the case. It takes quite a while to get off the ground and takes it's time, the competition is more of a challenge to see who can impress the Tsar most and not exactly brutal (at least, in a way I was expecting). Plus, considering how long the novel is, not a whole lot happens outside of the competition. Otherwise, though, what we do get is still good, but not nearly as enthralling as I hoped it would be. However, Vika, Nikolai, and Pasha really make the novel. All three are well developed and we get a good sense of them as characters over the course of the story - and the love triangle is actually pretty well done. Also, the magic is quite visually described, but I would have preferred a better explanation of a few elements of the why and how behind it. Otherwise, though, the world-building is good and pretty atmospheric.

Overall, if you enjoyed The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and don't mind novels with a slower pacing, you may also enjoy Evelyn Skye's debut novel, The Crown's Game. While I didn't quite love this novel, I am still interested to see how the sequel, The Crown's Fate, turns out.


I read this novel from September 18 - 24, 2016 and my review is also on Goodreads.

Music Monday: Hercules


Happy Monday everyone and welcome back to Music Monday! Let's share some songs we've been enjoying lately!  If you would like to play and I really hope you do, please see the rules and link up below.

Rules:

Every Monday share one or two of songs you've been enjoying lately.  It doesn't have to be a specific genre, new, or one of your favorites - just something you'd like to share with others.  If possible, share a music or lyric video of the song and your thoughts on the song(s), artist(s), and/or music video(s).

If you would like to participate in Music Monday, please join the link up by sharing your post's url.


This week I'm spotlighting two of my favorite songs from Disney's Hercules (1997) which is, in my opinion, the most criminally underrated Disney movies.  Hades is also one of my all time favorite Disney villains!

"Go the Distance" (Plus the Reprise), performed by Young Hercules



"Zero to Hero", performed by the Muses






Saturday, October 22, 2016

Chicken Challenge: Get Creative - Interactive Horror Movie Logic


Welcome back to week four of Lys @ The Mad Reader's Chicken Challenge!  My topic for this Get Creative post features Horror Movie Logic.  If you watch plenty of horror, both new and classic like me, you know that characters in horror movies seem to have their own special brand of logic.  Anyway, my post is going to be interactive - I'm going to share some scenes that feel like they could be right out of a horror movie and then it's you guys turn.  For each scene, you guys, my readers, to come up with what you think should happen next for each one using your best horror movie logic.  You don't have to do all of them (you can only do one if you want to), but be as creative as you can and have fun!


1. You and a group of friends are going on vacation. Your car runs out of gas in the middle of nowhere and it’s getting dark. You realize you can't get a signal on your cell phone. The only things you’ve seen on the road are an abandoned old house with a little girl selling lemonade in the overgrown front yard, a poorly lit gas station without any customers, and an amusement park that’s closing down for the night. What do you do?


2. You’re interested in buying a house and are speaking with the realtor about it. What are the two most important questions you should ask the realtor about the property before you buy it?


3. You hear a noise in your house. You decide to investigate what caused it – maybe it was only the cat. What do you do?


4. To escape a crazy man in a nondescript pale mask, you enter an old farmhouse through the cellar storm doors. You manage to lock the storm doors from the inside, but when you look up the stairs leading to the main level, you realize that there is no door. What do you do?


5. While walking along the beach, your friend found an antique necklace and has been wearing it proudly each day during vacation. Recently, you noticed that she’s sleeping more, looking pale, wincing at bright lights, and then at dinner she surprises you by speaking another language you didn't know she spoke. What do you do?


6. You are watching tv when the image flickers and loses its cable connection. You notice an image is slowly emerging from the static on the screen. Your friend happily exclaims "Oh good! The picture is coming back.” But, you’ve seen that the movie The Ring, and you’re pretty sure that that isn't your show. What do you do?


7. You find a desiccated corpse in a coffin. Buried with it is a rosary, a dead cat, a dagger and a wilted rose. You have to take one of the items buried with the body. What do you take and why?


8. You are being chased in the dark through a cornfield by a monster. You’ve just reached the edge of the field. To your left is your car, to your right is your house, and straight ahead is your neighbor’s home. Where don’t you go?


9. You are babysitting. A psycho keeps calling you on the house's landline phone and menacingly asks you to check on the children. What should you do?


10. You’re with a group of strangers and you’re all being stalked by a vicious monster. You have to pair off with one of them - which one do you pick as your partner: the science geek, the jock, the cheerleader, the criminal, or the pale and quiet girl?


As always, thanks for visiting my blog - and hopefully participating.  Until next time!

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Friday 56 (With Book Beginnings): The Last Days of Jack Sparks by Jason Arnopp + 50/50 Friday


Welcome to The Friday 56, a weekly meme hosted by Freda's Voice.

These are the rules:
1. Grab a book, any book.
2. Turn to page 56, or 56% on your eReader.
3. Find any sentence (or a few, just don't spoil it) that grabs you.
4. Post it.
5. Add the URL to your post in the link on Freda's most recent Friday 56 post.


I'm also taking part in Book Beginnings, a weekly meme hosted by Rose City Reader.  The rules are pretty simple - you share the first sentence or so and your initial thoughts, impressions, or whatever else it inspires.  Don't forget to link up your post's url with Rose City Reader.


This week I'm spotlighting a novel that I've just started in on, The Last Days of Jack Sparks by Jason Arnopp.  I'm really excited to read this - it sounds exactly like something I'll love, plus Tammy @ Books Bones & Buffy gave it a glowing review!


Beginning:

Forward by Alistair Sparks

At the centre of the house in which my late brother Jacob and I grew up, there was a black hole.

56:

I endure videos that - gasp - actually do feature moving pictures.  Most of these betray their lineage from Oren Peli's successful "found footage" movie franchise Paranormal Activity.  The clue tends to be the "Paranormal" in their titles.  Shot in people's houses, generally in America, they show someone clowning around or presenting a video about some random topic, before a door slams shut in the background.  Whereas Paranormal Activity did a good job of convincing the viewer that its stars might be real people, the protagonists here are less gifted in the fields of acting and improv.

"Thanks for watching.  Please comment and subscribe. ☺️"



This week I'm also taking part in a brand new linkup called 50/50 Friday, which is hosted by Carrie @ The Butterfly Reader and Laura @ Blue Eye Books.  Every week they'll have a new topic featuring two sides of the same coin - this week the topic is Best/ Worst villain an author has created.

Best Villain:



Dolores Umbridge from J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series - First one that came to mind for me.  I hated her even more than Voldemort!

Worst Villain:



Warner from Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi - I only read the first book in this series and I have no interest in continuing it, but Warner struck me as very flat, like he was trying to fulfill every villain trope out there.