Am I lacking some basic emotion?

alberta's book reviews

Musing Mondays random question today is ‘what is your favourite horror novel?’

I have read a few, mainly because of book group choices.

Horror novels, ghosts stories, chilly, frightening, scary. My favourite? Well I have a great disadvantage here, there is very little scary in the genre which scares me. Real life? yes that can be scary but horror no.
Some of my friends tell me it’s because I don’t believe in ghosts.

It’s true I don’t, however, I also don’t believe in elves, dwarfs and goblins but can happily enjoy fantasy. I don’t believe in magic – well not the man-made kind but I am quite happy reading magic realism or even full scale magic.

So why not ghosts or horror?

I have just now finished A Head Full of Ghosts  by Paul Tremblay for one of the book groups I belong to. A book that according to Stephen King  ‘scared the living hell out of me and I’m pretty hard to scare’

It’s a winner of the 2015 Bram Stoker Award:  garnering words of praise such as terrifying, gripping, suspenseful, bloodcurdling,  Tremblay is one of the greatest horror writer’s today.  Wonderful accolades, and I think for aficionados of horror novels justified.

Am I lacking in some basic human emotion? As I say there are many fearful and terrifying things in our world. Too many if one follows the new or travels the world. I have seen and experienced many in my long life. I cannot remember any novel which has scared me.

A Head Full of GhostsThe lives of the Barretts, a normal suburban New England family, are torn apart when fourteen-year-old Marjorie begins to display signs of acute schizophrenia.

To her parents’ despair, the doctors are unable to stop Marjorie’s descent into madness. As their stable home devolves into a house of horrors, they reluctantly turn to a local Catholic priest for help. Father Wanderly suggests an exorcism; he believes the vulnerable teenager is the victim of demonic possession. He also contacts a production company that is eager to document the Barretts’ plight. With John, Marjorie’s father, out of work for more than a year and the medical bills looming, the family agrees to be filmed, and soon find themselves the unwitting stars of The Possession, a hit reality television show. When events in the Barrett household explode in tragedy, the show and the shocking incidents it captures become the stuff of urban legend.

Fifteen years later, a bestselling writer interviews Marjorie’s younger sister, Merry. As she recalls those long ago events that took place when she was just eight years old, long-buried secrets and painful memories that clash with what was broadcast on television begin to surface–and a mind-bending tale of psychological horror is unleashed, raising vexing questions about memory and reality, science and religion, and the very nature of evil.

I found A Head Full of Ghosts disturbing, but only for the way mental problems were addressed. Because of the way reality TV can rip apart people lives. How humans in their fragility can be bullied, manipulated, failed and destroyed in the name of science, religion and media frenzy.

The story was good I enjoyed (strange word! found it satisfying, maybe is a better choice) the plot and characters kept one on board. I read it in two sessions and stayed up late to finish it. I don’t regret the time to read it, but scary? not for me:)

It also employed a favourite device of mine, the unreliable narrator. That, I like – the feeling at the conclusion that nothing is known, nothing understood, the uncertainty of life ahead and the past behind.

I think I know why it has accumulated the accolades and although I didn’t find it a horror, so I would certainly recommend it to whoever enjoys horror books.

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

Musing Mondays | BooksAndABeat.com

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

 

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A perfect reader, moi!

reading passion

I have been missing for the entire summer it seems to me, I am contrite but much prevented me. I have read a great deal but not written any reviews for a while so I will catch up. In the meantime this post is in answer to the question put on Books and a Beat, a challenge I have missed this last few months.

What bad habits do I have, to do with reading?

Well I would, of course, say I have no bad habits; I am a perfect reader! Of course, this depends on who is asking, and what their habits are. To many I am appalling, treating MY books with a cavalier casualness bordering on vandalism. (borrowed books are treated as if they were Great Aunts, with gentleness and courtesy)

So okay I offend many readers.

I read while I’m eating and cooking, I used to take books into the bath when I could get into a bath – I do draw the line at taking them into the shower! In consequence despite best efforts my activities do leave a mark sometimes. You can see the juice of oranges (my favourite treat when I was small) on my children’s book:)

I constantly lose my bookmarks, have great trouble remembering the numbers of the pages therefore I turn down the corners.

I will put books down on the table, or whatever, open and face down, not many spines have broken but it is a risk.

I have tottering piles of books and many a time they will crash, any old how, onto the floor.

I have been known to highlight and comment in the margins of pages mostly in the non fiction books I read.

Books go everywhere with me, so are squashed into small bags and drift around the floor of the car.

When I was young I used to write my name in them –

an attempt to claim something for myself in a house full of others book possessions?
Maybe.
Every book in or which comes into the house now, is mine, I possess them all:)

In reference to that last comment. I do use the library it doesn’t help my addiction tho’, if I find a book from there I like I have to immediately buy a copy and have it for my own.

So this perfect addictive reader has probably caused everyone to tut and shake their head over at least one of my sins, possibly all of them. I am tho,’ unrepentant; my books are my friends and I do not put my friends untouched in a metal safe or bank. My friends live as I do, we have fun, we hurt each other sometimes, we forgive each other always, we trust each other and best of all –

We are comfortable together.

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

Musing Mondays | BooksAndABeat.com

 

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: What is your worst habit as a reader?

The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski

alberta's book reviewsI attend a small sci-fi/fantasy book group. ‘Tis smallish last meeting there was seven of us there to discuss The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski. Out of seven what, I wonder, is the chance of all of them enjoying it? I don’t know but I did expect someone to like it. Nope. I was the only one who not only enjoyed but thought it was the best we had read for the six months I have been part of this group and we have had some really good reads.

I don’t play video games, I never have, so I had not come across these characters before. The characters did come before the games I understand. I enjoyed this book so much it was like a slap across the face that everyone else trashed it so thoroughly. That they found it boring and tedious, it made no sense to them.

That they didn’t find the layers of richness, the insights into changing civilisations, the authenticity of the monsters and fairy tales, that I had, saddened me.

I felt puzzled and out of sync. I had been looking forward to sharing something I had enjoyed with others and it didn’t happen:( ah well these things happen and I really ought to know better; all my life I have found very few books my friends enjoy as I do, they all have have different tastes to moi.

I shall enjoy The Last Wish on my own:)

 

The Last Wish

The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski

Geralt is a witcher, a man whose magic powers, enhanced by long training and a mysterious elixir, have made him a brilliant fighter and a merciless assassin. Yet he is no ordinary murderer: his targets are the multifarious monsters and vile fiends that ravage the land and attack the innocent. He roams the country seeking assignments, but gradually comes to realise that while some of his quarry are unremittingly vile, vicious grotesques, others are the victims of sin, evil or simple naivety.

One reviewer said: ‘This book is a sheer delight. It is beautifully written, full of vitality and endlessly inventive: its format, with half a dozen episodes and intervening rest periods for both the hero and the reader, allows for a huge range of characters, scenarios and action. It’s thought-provoking without being in the least dogmatic, witty without descending to farce and packed with sword fights without being derivative. The dialogue sparkles; characters morph almost imperceptibly from semi-cliche to completely original; nothing is as it first seems. Sapkowski succeeds in seamlessly welding familiar ideas, unique settings and delicious twists of originality: his Beauty wants to rip the throat out of a sensitive Beast; his Snow White seeks vengeance on all and sundry, his elves are embittered and vindictive. It’s easily one of the best things I’ve read in ages.’ Amazon blurb.

The best bit is?  I have discovered this author after  he has written for decades, so I have enjoyment for a couple of years. Yay:)

This post is also part of Musing Mondays

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

Musing Mondays | BooksAndABeat.com

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION:Which one book would you say everyone must read?

As to this question I have spent the whole day pondering it. One book everyone should read? I believe this a question I find impossible to answer, although I would like to. One’s first thoughts ranges over the classics, many are important life changing, let alone history changing, then I considered the modern authors(last 100 years !) all those amazing books. There is not one I could pick above others. So I admit defeat:)

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton: Musing Monday

alberta's book reviews

When I thought of today I was going to write about a book I was reading, however, I stayed up so late I finished  it so it will be a book I have just finished reading. I must stop doing that, I have such problems waking up and functioning next day if I read until 2-3 in the a.m:(

we have all been there though I am sure, when leaving a book just to sleep seems to be impossible.  Far too often in my life have I done this:)

The Miniaturist

On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives at a grand house in Amsterdam to begin her new life as the wife of wealthy merchant Johannes Brandt. Though curiously distant, he presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift; a cabinet-sized replica of their home. It is to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist, whose tiny creations ring eerily true.

As Nella uncovers the secrets of her new household, she realises the escalating dangers they face. The miniaturist seems to hold their fate in her hands – but does she plan to save or destroy them?

 

Lovely book.

I had had a mixed bag of good, okay’ish and ‘don’t like that much’ books lately. Many of them for the book groups I belong to. None were awful, a couple were disappointing and some I think were just me, or the mood I was in..

So it was with trepidation I approached The Miniaturist, another book group read. Weary from the long reads of Wool by Hugh Howey 500 pages and Citadel by Kate Mosse 1000 pages, I groaned as I reached for it, 400 pages – not so bad:) . It accompanied me to the garage to find out what bad news they would give on the car. It was bad, bad, bad, but the trepidation about the book, the shock of the estimated bill were not enough to dim this book. What a delight it was from beginning to end. A book where the loss is felt after the pages close, when another book is impossible for a day or two.

17th century Amsterdam. A city built on reclaimed land and trade from every corner of the globe. A naive young bride, a rich merchant husband who is reluctant to consummate the marriage, his sour sister, a Negro man servant and a outspoken maid. Living unconventional lives within a conventional and hypocritical society of fabulously wealthy elite and a thundering Calvinistic religion.

And of course a doll’s house.

I discovered after I had finished it that this is a Marmite* book. Rave reviews or scorn. Nothing, it appears, in the middle. For me, the story flowed along beautifully, like an old river. Each character so different, the claustrophobic feel of a society of long ago was, for me, interesting. The unseen but ever present miniaturist is the creepy part. Is she friend or foe, how does she know so much of this fairly closed household, how does she know the secret lives. Is she an insider that she knows so much or . . .or. . . is this a delicious bit of magic realism?

It is a story with some endings predictable and others left hanging. A book to weep over and to wonder at after the event. For a debut novel it was impressive.

  • Marmite for those who do not know is a dark brown yeast and salt based food paste with a advertising slogan ‘Love it or Hate it’ and is now used generally as a metaphor for polarized positions on any subject

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

Musing Mondays | BooksAndABeat.com

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: Approximately how many books do you usually read per week? Per month?

How many a week, a month. It is so dependant on how much time, how much work, how many social commitments or appointments. On my mood, health, family’s mood and health. Is the sun shining, is it pouring with rain or blowing a gale . Some weeks I read book after book then I may go for a week without picking one up.
I can report that my Goodreads challenges for the past few years come in at

2012 = 64 books

2013  =  120 books

2015 =  106 books

2016 so far = 23 books

I don’t remember why 2014 is missing I would have read but I was in the middle of a great depression so maybe didn’t register on the book challenge. 2012 I was ill most of the year with massive migraine type headaches which had to operated on, so reading was difficult.

I used to read a lot more when I was young and cutting edge – late night sessions didn’t bother me so much – massive books were easier to hold before wrists gave out and I spent a lot of time on public transport so reading times were extended:)

I grounded the car for bad behaviour!: Friday Finds

FRIDAY FINDS  from adailyrhythm showcases the books you ‘found’ and added to your To Be Read (TBR) list… whether you found them online, or in a bookstore, or in the library — wherever! (they aren’t necessarily books you purchased).

FridayFinds-ADailyRhythm

 

You had all better sit to receive this next bit of news – I did NOT BUY any books this week — yes yes that’s correct, no money was exchanged this week on books.

Can hardly believe it myself.

It is such a rare event.

I cannot claim any virtue in this state of affairs, I was going too. Wednesday is book group day – held in a bookshop! Yeah all you addicts know what that entails:) however on Tuesday the car began to behave badly. What? I couldn’t decide it sounded like not just exhaust but maybe clutch problems at the same time. I do hope it isn’t either, or both. I have an appointment with the garage tomorrow and in the meantime I have grounded the car for bad behaviour.

I never made the book group = never bought any books:) I didn’t even turn to the Internet because if my worst fears are realized it will be a long time before I can afford any more books – sigh:)

I do have some new reads though. The Tuesday saw me at the library book group – so have next month’s book and three others I borrowed at the same time.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (next month’s read. I have seen the film and am hoping the book is much better!

Mr G by Allan Lightman (this one sounds intriguing – great hopes for it)

On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan (have been meaning to read this for ages)

Wise Words and Country Ways by Ruth Binney (It is always fun reading what our forbears believed in and this book promises more – whether there is any truth to old wives tales and the origins of some of the others. A good cherry-pick book)

Gone GirlMr g: A Novel About The CreationOn Chesil BeachWise Words And Country Ways

 

So four new reads – can’t be bad:)