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…

 

Born with a book in my hand:) Musing Monday

reading passionIn answer to Books and a Beat Musing Mondays’ random question.Can you recall a time when you weren’t an avid reader?

Well maybe not born with a book in hand:) I cannot honestly remember learning to read as such; new words yes, from food packets, newspapers and books but, who taught me and when I don’t recall.

Before I can remember.

I have always read.

With a good start, being born of parents who read avidly, in a house tottering from the weight of books:)

I read.

I do remember being soundly told off first day at school for knowing how to read, being told my parents should not have taught me and to forget everything I had been told

Yeah.
Well yes.
Was so going to do that wasn’t I?

I was way ahead of my age group for years, only in reading mind – in every other subject I was rubbish!

When I discovered the books which could be read at school, I was taking one home every night only to face a barrage of suspicious interrogation as to the books content, had I understood. I complained at home about this daily disbelief, which just meant my father quizzed me as well. Nobody really believed I could read so swiftly for a few years. But I could and did. I didn’t know how either, had always thought it was normal.

Books in our house never seemed to be censored or designated adult / child;  maybe books totally unsuitable would have been put out of reach I don’t know all I knew was I could try any book in the endless bookcases.

I was quiet, shy, awkward in social situations and spent hours reading. I couldn’t make friends in the real world but I grew up with dozens of good mates within those pages. Formed my dreams and ambitions from the stories I read. I still read swiftly and widely, there is a hint of desperation now as the years race by, so many more books to read so little time:)

At the moment I’m reading Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle for a reading group in town and enjoying it, surprised I hadn’t read it before.

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:Can you recall a time when you weren’t an avid reader?

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?

Wrapped in Different Coloured Banners & Musing Mondays

reading passion

I had been planning to re-blog some reading related posts from an a-z  a few years ago.  so the random question from Musing Monday this week has resulted in this.  Some of my childhood books. All these would have been read during the 1950s when I was between child and what is called YA today. These are only the historical favourites, I read many other genres.  They are a mixture of those written for youngsters and those such as Buck, Weyman or Hornblower written for adults.  I ranged between the two quite happily.

I wonder now which was the first historical novel I ever read, The Children of the New Forest? The Eagle of the Ninth? The Silver Sword or maybe A Moor of Spain? They all meld into one period of my life. These would have been those I could read to myself. What of those which were  read to me, how young was I when someone first read Gulliver’s Travels to me, I seem to have memories of that tale stretching way back. Or Treasure Island? I remember listening to The Black Arrow on the small radio set high on the walls of the fourth form at my primary school, I would have been ten years then.

 Many books I considered historical when a child of course were no such thing. I had assumed it because they were written in the past, whereas in reality they had been contemporary to the author. Kipling wrote of a time and place that was a reality to him in the same way as Austen did. The Black Arrow by R.L.Stevenson was certainly an historical novel as it was written in 1813 and set in the time of the War of the Roses, an exciting blood thirsty time if ever there was:) but a book written in 1813 does seem to a child to be historical already. 

Lines blur often in reading:)                                  

That we were listening to the Black Arrow at Primary School, seems to indicate the powers to be considered it more historical than romance! There is more line blurring there.

I like my historical tales to inform me, the action is important but action on it’s own is never enough. Romance? well that never has been my thing. No, historical must fill me with a feeling I have walked the dusty/smelly streets, know the why? what and how? of a time long passed.Know that people were the same as us just wrapped in different coloured banners. Historical must cause a heart pounding fear/pleasure/excitement as I read. Historical must leave me battered by  the experience.

A Moor of Spain by Richard Parker set in the time of Christopher Columbus and written in 1953, this was mDSCF0786y first introduction to the Inquisition and showed me a startling fact of history. The Moors had at one time a great deal of control over Spain, I never  knew. It led me to explore a little more of Spain’s history as well as that of North Africa. The beauty of books ? those diverse side paths they can lead you down.

 The Children of the New Forest also served up to us on the school radio, set this time during the English Civil War but printed in 1847. From that one I discovered much; that the Civil War was not just about plumed hats and round helmets, that Cromwellian were not always the enemy. Learnt in fact that history is many sided. It was an interesting discovery and one which appealed to my sense of fair play. Look at both sides of an argument/dispute/is a lesson well learnt.

 I mustn’t forget The Eagle of the Ninth, that wonderful adventure in Roman Britain written by R.Sutcliffe and published in 1954.The Romans, beloved of our primary school teachers. Such misty times, especially in the 50s, much more is known now of life around Hadrian’s Wall and of the remains of Roman rule. Because of this book I developed an interest in ‘really long ago times’ and I have followed with interest the discoveries being unearthed from the ground. Marvelling as I do, how history refuses sometimes to remain buried.

 The Silver Sword also, is deemed historical, being published 10 years after the Second World War, but how far from the period being written about does an historical novel need to be set – The Silver Sword never felt like an historical story to me, the Second World War and it’s horrors were everyday fare, as more was discovered of the atrocities of war, in the years following, when children on still played on bomb sites, it felt like everyday life. – this was a contemporary story for me. On that criteria as soon as any book is published it becomes after all historical.

Lines blurring again.

 Weyman
One of my favourite historical authors was Stanley Weyman, and on a recent re-read 60 years later I found he stood up reasonable well.  Again with this sense of blurring, was he romance or historical adventure or. . .   

I read him for the adventure and history, be it Elizabethan history or 16th & 17th century French. The romance part was barely there for me. There was much to learn from his pages of the grander sweep of history than was ever found in the dry history of school text books.

I read Gone with the Wind very early, because it was one of my mother’s favourite books. Scarcely veiled rape scenes passed me by on the first reading but my entire view of the American Civil War was first introduced and then fixed by this book. Scarlett was my kind of girl, she did – whatever she had to – from spoilt brat to woman in control. With forces of such universal power against her – I say, didn’t she do well?

The descriptions of hospitals full of the wounded the burning of Atlanta , birthing dying –  Life as I hadn’t experienced – the romance was neither here nor there for me. Not the lovey dovey stupidity of Ashley or the looser attitude of Brett – why didn’t the one move on and the other give her a good hiding. No, but the romance (old fashioned definition here) of the whole the grand sweep of history – great.

Another firm favourite were the Hornblower books. Set during the Napoleonic wars and set, what’s more on the sea. Discovered by me because they were my father’s favourite books (he of the navy) action, history and life in olden times, what’s not to enjoy.  The descriptions of life at sea, of the storms, battles, life below decks so good I was seasick reading them:(

I latched onto Pearl S Buck for years – staple reading for me from the mid 50s onward. Not only set in days of yore but in such a different culture it was almost shocking. China was a closed book to most of us westerners, but within those closed covers lay a magical land of mystery, I knew that. Pearl Buck delivered.She delivered well. My only regret, that not more of them have been turned into audio books.

 History is never just the history of one country, every nation interlinked to others in strange and divers ways. Reading these grand sweeping global extravagances shows how one tiny event on a small rocky island can be influenced by and influence many greater worlds.

MusingMondays-ADailyRhythm

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

  • 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 would you say is the best children’s book you’ve ever read?

That is so difficult  – it was so long ago, so many thousands of books past.  When is childhood defined. What age are we discussing. As a very small child I liked the Orlando books, about a ginger cat and his family, complete with pictures in lurid colour! I was very small then, I could just spell out the words.  I have some still upstairs.

Later ? well I suppose a great book is one that is remembered over 60+ years, re-read a few times and still in the bookcase.  so I would have to include The Wind in the Willows, the Jungle Books, Aesops Fables, The Just So Stories, The Borrowers, Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan.

Early teenage books? Teenagers hadn’t really been invented then! again so many and mixed by then with adult books but The Silver Sword, A Moor in Spain, The Children of New Forest and the Eagle of the Ninth.  Aall written for children.

Mid teens It was all adult books , Georgette Heyer, Dorothy Sayers, Harper Lee.  I was into detective and science fiction, 1984, Brave New World and stuff like that. Late teens I guess The Group, One Flew Over the Cukoos Nest and Catch 22 would be among the top contenders.

I’ll stop here because it was mainly books written for adults I was reading from about 13 onward.

Musing Mondays

MusingMondays-ADailyRhythm

 

I have been writing this week so haven’t managed to read much, however, I have read one from Clare North, –  Touch. Ever since I found she was Kate Griffin in another guise I have been intrigued at the small differences in the writing – I plan on doing a piece about it later.
So books in a series, I read:

Die and Stay Dead by Nicholas Kaufmann – Urban Fantasy, No2
The Hollow City by Ransome Riggs – YA Fantasy, No 2
Primal Cut by Ed O’Connor – Detective No3

One off
Touch by Claire North – fantasy

Re-read
84 Charing Cross Road – Non-fiction

I enjoyed them all in different ways and will be writing reviews later on. I found Touch needed the most concentration, as the hero! leaps in and out of bodies sometimes many in a few moments, it was fascinating to see how Clare North handled this.  She is an amazing writer whether as Clare North or Kate Griffin. She plays with the English language inventive and at times lyrically and often with a deft British kind of humour. This book scored the highest mark from me.

84 Charing Cross Road I have read many times in my life from way back when it first arrived on the scene. this time it was a re-read for a book group. It never fails to entertain me .I was trying to guess how often I had read it and I think it is probably around the  20 mark.

The Hollow City is, as the first in the series, a fine example of how the best of the YA genre overlaps the adult market.  They are beautiful books for the old photos alone and the plot lines, characters and action are supurb.

Now Primal Cut is not for the squemish and I’m not sure I could read too many of these detective stories but this old lady does enjoy a bit of gore and an easy read.  Quite blood thirsty moi:)

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84, Charing Cross Road

It all began with a letter inquiring about second-hand books, written by Helene Hanff in New York, and posted to a bookshop at 84, Charing Cross Road in London. As Helene’s sarcastic and witty letters are responded to by the stodgy and proper Frank Doel of 84, Charing Cross Road, a relationship blossoms into a warm and charming long-distance friendship lasting many years.(Goodreads)
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Die and Stay Dead (Trent, #2)


A brutal murder in Greenwich Village puts Trent and the Five-Pointed Star on the trail of Erickson Arkwright, the last surviving member of a doomsday cult. Back in the day, the Aeternis Tenebris
cult thought the world would end on New Year’s Eve of 2000. When it didn’t, they decided to end it themselves by summoning Nahash-Dred, a powerful, terrifying demon known as the Destroyer of Worlds. But something went wrong. The demon massacred the cult, leaving Arkwright the sole survivor.

Now, hiding somewhere in New York City with a new identity, Arkwright plans to summon the demon again and finish the job he started over a decade ago. As Trent rushes to locate a long-lost magical artifact that may be the only way to stop him, the clues begin to mount… Trent’s past and Arkwright’s might be linked somehow. And if they are, it means the truth of who Trent really is may lie buried in the twisted mind of a madman( Goodreads.)

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Miss PereHollow City (Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children, #2)grine’s Home for Peculiar Children was the surprise best seller of 2011—an unprecedented mix of YA fantasy and vintage photography that enthralled readers and critics alike. Publishers Weekly called it “an enjoyable, eccentric read, distinguished by well-developed characters, a believable Welsh setting, and some very creepy monsters.”

This second novel begins in 1940, immediately after the first book ended. Having escaped Miss Peregrine’s island by the skin of their teeth, Jacob and his new friends must journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world. Along the way, they encounter new allies, a menagerie of peculiar animals, and other unexpected surprises.

Complete with dozens of newly discovered (and thoroughly mesmerizing) vintage photographs, this new adventure will delight readers of all ages( Goodreads.)

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BeforePrimal Cut the days of the National Health Service and modern psychiatry, common wisdom called for brain paste – a mash of the pituitary glands of cow – as a remedy for mental illness. Doctors have forgotten; the general public has forgotten; but Bartholomew Garrod, of East London s Garrod s Family Butchers has not forgotten, and he is using more than just animals to treat his brother . . . he is murdering people.When a body is found, ripped apart and torn, although the slashings appear random, Detective Inspector Alison Dexter recognizes that the marks are actually butchers cuts of meats: the primal cuts.Meanwhile, in Cambridgeshire, a vicious bare-knuckle fight, results in a dead body, complete with bite wounds. Are the cases linked?As Alison Dexter investigates, she starts receiving threatening letters and body parts – human body parts. Time is running short and Dexter desperately needs to find the murderer . . . before he finds her.(Goodreads)

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Kepler haTouchd never meant to die this way — viciously beaten to death by a stinking vagrant in a dark back alley. But when reaching out to the murderer for salvation in those last dying moments, a sudden switch takes place.

Now Kepler is looking out through the eyes of the killer himself, staring down at a broken and ruined body lying in the dirt of the alley.

Instead of dying, Kepler has gained the ability to roam from one body to another, to jump into another person’s skin and see through their eyes, live their life — be it for a few minutes, a few months or a lifetime.

Kepler means these host bodies no harm — and even comes to cherish them intimately like lovers. But when one host, Josephine Cebula, is brutally assassinated, Kepler embarks on a mission to seek the truth — and avenge Josephine’s death.(Goodreads)

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

Have I read The Shannara Chronicles by Terry Brooks – have I seen the TV version?

The answer to both parts of the question s no – have I missed something is this a series I should have read. I am always open to recommendations although  my TBR pile is huge and tottering.  Sorry cannot comment on the books.