This Is My Design: Reviewing Red Dragon by Thomas Harris

Hi everyone! I hope you forgive my absences. I am bogged down with academic reading now that (obviously) has to be a priority. Thank you all so much for 400 subscribers! Wow, I still can’t believe any of you are interested in what I have to say. Since I have your attention, I will be giving you my review of Thomas Harris’ Red Dragon, which is the novel that first introduced the world to Hannibal Lecter. I am a huge fan of the television show, “Hannibal,” so I had to read one of these novels. Also, since we are creeping towards October, it felt appropriate to do a horror/thriller novel.

Will Graham risked everything in order catch the ingenious and dangerous Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Graham was ready to start a normal life when he was called upon to catch a killer called the Tooth Fairy, who has murdered entire families. In order to find him, Graham must first understand him. Only Hannibal can help him enter the killer’s mind. Will Graham must risk it all, once again, in order to catch this new monster

I had read this novel previously and, upon revisiting it, forgot how genuinely uncomfortable it made me. I mean that in the best way, though. Any good murder mystery novel should give the reader visceral feelings and Harris succeeds at that. Even though Lecter isn’t technically a threat, he still looms over every page of this novel. It feels as though we are watching Will Graham outrun him while still trying to catch the “Tooth Fairy.” Graham and the other “good guys” are relatable and sympathetic while still being morally grey. The novel is wonderfully suspenseful. It is not afraid to reveal the gruesome details. Even in a clinical language, the descriptions of the crimes still give you chills. The cat-and-mouse game keeps you hanging on until the end. I would then recommend Red Dragon as a good fall read for anyone looking for a thrilling and complex mystery.

If you want me to talk more about “Hannibal,” the television show, I will happily create a post about that where we can have a discussion.

Yield to It or Fight It: Reviewing The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Hi everyone! In case you haven’t been able to tell, I am sucker for books that have been adapted to television and/or movies. I have watched some of the Netflix adaptation of this book, but I haven’t watched enough to properly compare the two. I just wanted to give you a heads up about that. Shirley Jackson has been on my radar for some time now. I did read her short story, “The Lottery,” in high school and I absolutely loved it. Since this novel has arisen in pop culture once again, I decided to give it a shot. Here is my review of The Haunting of Hill House.

Four strangers arrive to the infamous Hill House in order to find out the truth about the paranormal. First, Dr. Montague and his assistant, Theodora arrive to find the truth behind the mystery of Hill House. Eleanor, affectionately called Nellie, must use her knowledge of poltergeists to help them. Lastly, Luke, the heir to Hill House, is trying to clear the mystery behind his odd inheritance. Soon, the four realize that Hill House isn’t simply full of death. It is full of life that is growing stronger and stronger.

The Haunting of Hill House is the quintessential haunted house story. I have always loved classic haunted house tales and Jackson has an interesting take on this tale. The book is atmospheric in every way. The characters and setting are well-defined but also have an air of mystery that morphs throughout the novel. You feel unsettled throughout the novel as Jackson adds unsettling detail after unsettling detail. I wouldn’t go so far as to call this novel scary, I did certainly find it creepy. It is a relatively quick read also. I think all horror fans and non-horror fans can find enjoyment in this novel. I would definitely recommend The Haunting of Hill House. If you don’t feel like reading it, then at least read “The Lottery” as it is just as chilling.

See No Evil: Reviewing Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Hi everybody! I’m just out here cranking out more book reviews. I’m sure a lot of your have already heard of this novel or seen the Netflix movie based off of this book. I watched it when it first came out and, overall, I did enjoy it. I’ll be making some more comparisons in my review. For those of you who are interested, let by tell you about Bird Box by Josh Malerman.

The apocalypse started and no one saw it coming, literally. The world has been invaded by creatures that drive people to madness with a single look. Malorie, a mother of two young children, must take her chance to get her and the children to safety. With her only chance being a rough trip down a river, Malorie must embark on the perilous journey and escape whatever might be chasing her and her family or lose her mind and life in the process.

This novel carefully straddled the line between character-driven and plot-driven. Overall, the plot is certainly intriguing but the characters felt a little bland to me. It felt as though the only reason I really cared about any of them was because of their situation. The whole situation with the creatures actually gets a better explanation in the movie. In fact, the movie actually did a slightly better job depicting the whole chaotic nature of this apocalyptic scenario. I did, however, enjoy the suspense of the novel and the quick pacing. For those of you who have seen the movie, it’s not a spot-on adaptation. It is pretty close, though. The novel doesn’t hold back in depicting any graphic violence, of which there are a few instances. In conclusion, Josh Malerman’s Bird Box is a good read if you are interested in apocalyptic/survival stories. The whole thing felt a little overhyped to me, but I can’t say I didn’t find enjoyment in this novel. Overall, I’m going to go ahead and recommend reading this novel.

You do not believe although you have seen: Reviewing The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

Hi everyone! I want to begin out this post by saying thank you so much for your response to my post about anxiety. I’ve been doing a lot better and I hope that you have been feeling well too. Now that we are past that for now, I’m going to talk to you about one of the more famous horror novel, The Exorcist. I should note that I’ve never seen the movie but I have seen the more famous moments. In general, I’ve always been really fascinated with the paranormal. Some of you are already rolling your eyes but, if I’m being honest, my life would be just a little more boring if I didn’t believe in the possibility of ghosts or demons or whatever. I’ll talk about this more after I give you my review of The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

Chris MacNeil is a struggling single mom and actress whose only source of happiness is her young daughter, Regan. Chris realizes something is wrong after Regan begins spending time with an imaginary friend she calls “Captain Howdy.” When things begin to escalate to the point everyone in the house is in danger, Chris calls on the help of Father Damien Karras in the desperate hope that he might save her daughter. Soon, they are faced with a dangerous entity who wants to destroy everything dear to them.

I do want to give a bit of a warning. There are some very graphic parts in this novel that those who are sensitive may not want to read. With that being said, the novel delivers with all of the horror elements. It has just enough gore, scary real-life details, and the psychological elements. I liked the build up to the final event of the actual exorcism itself. It was a terrifying and interesting experience that didn’t feel too convoluted or drawn out. This is certainly a very plot driven novel if you prefer the that type of novel. If you aren’t familiar with horror then you might not enjoy this novel but horror fans should give this one a chance. I had a hard time putting this novel down and it is a surprisingly quick read. William Petter Blatty’s classic horror novel lives up to its reputation with plenty of scares and suspense.

Note: The novel is based on a real life event. If you are interested, I’m going to leave a link below. You might have heard of the Roland Doe case before. If you haven’t, it is an interesting read. You’ve been warned again as there are some graphic details.

Dead Men Tell Tales: Reviewing Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

Hi everyone. First of all, I’m really proud of doing two reviews in one weekend. Since Thanksgiving break is coming up for me, I’ve had a little bit of time to catch up on my reading. This book stood out to me in particular because I remember watching the movie adaptation when I was pretty young. It was the first R-rated movie I had ever seen. It’s certainly not the most intense movie but, for an 11-year-old, it was wild. We can all just admit that we went through a vampire phase in the early to mid – 2000s. I remember being obsessed with Twilight for a time. Dracula is still one of my favorite novels.I decided I wanted to read something in between Dracula and Twilight so I will now tell you what I thought about Interview with the Vampire. 

A young man named Louis was riddled with guilt over his brother’s death when the mysterious Lestat appeared in his life. Louis soon falls victim to Lestat’s charms and finds himself transformed into a vampire. He is pulled down into a dark world of the undead and must navigate the dangerous society with the young Claudia by his side. After hundreds of years, Louis decides it is finally time to reveal his secrets to a young man and hold back nothing.

Like I said above, It’s been a while since I’ve read a vampire book and decided to give this one a shot. Anne Rice has written some of the most popular vampire novels. After reading this novel, I can see why. Louis makes for a great narrator as he is sympathetic and a bit of an underdog. He’s the closest thing to a protagonist in a book where there are little to no “good” characters. Normally, a book with one character talking would be boring to me but I found myself enjoying it more than I thought. Lestat is one of the more intriguing antagonists with his charismatic and intense nature. Claudia was even creepier in the novel than she is in the movie but it makes for a good horror element. While the book isn’t super violent or graphic outside of what you might expect with all of the blood drinking, it has enough to make it intense. I would definitely recommend this book for anyone interested in a supernatural novel, specifically a vampire one. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would and I would read it again.

Note: Anne Rice is a bit of a controversial figure but her life is pretty interesting so I’m going to leave a link to her wikipedia page if you’re interested in reading more about her.

Human Places Make Inhuman Monsters: Reviewing The Shining by Stephen King

Happy Halloween everyone! In honor of today, I decided I’m going to review one of the most classic horror novels from the master of horror novels himself. Despite the novel not being long, it took me a while to get through it but I survived the Overlook and I’m here to tell you about it so sit back and enjoy my review of Stephen King’s The Shining. 

Jack Torrance is troubled man struggling to overcome his personal demons. When he is given an offer to be a seasonal caretaker at the famous Overlook Hotel, he seizes the opportunity to offer a better life for his young family and to work on his writing. As a terrible winter creeps in, the Overlook begins to a reveal a darker side that brings about the worst in the Torrance family. Soon, Danny – the gifted child, Wendy – the caring wife, and Jack – the struggling writer must fight for survival against the long-buried ghosts lurking in the Overlook Hotel.

I have to admit that I have only recently seen the movie, along with finishing the novel. I must say that I was surprised by some of the drastic differences in the plot that were not shown in the movie. That, however, is a different tangent for a different time. The Shining is a brilliantly frightening novel that puts the reader into the isolation that the Torrance family faces. King’s narrative is a perfect balance of suspense, shock, and gore all wrapped up into one haunting novel. Surprisingly, this one of the shorter Stephen King novels so, if you don’t want to commit to one of his longer novels, then I recommend this one. Any horror fan is guaranteed to love this book as (in my opinion) it provides more shock and thrills than the Kubrick movie. Note: I’m not saying the movie is bad but, compared to the book, you would be surprised by how much Kubrick left out.

 

The Horror Movies Book Tag

It’s October so I might as well do something Halloween-themed. Shout out to Thrice Read for posting this tag on their blog. I welcome you all to do this super spooky tag too.

Zombie Apocalypse: Name a book you would save when civilization ends.

If I were to pick a series, then I would say Harry Potter. If I were to pick a standalone novel, then I would pick The Odyssey.  

zombie

The Vampire: Name a book you would stake through the heart.

The Circle by Dave Eggers pissed me off to no end with its infuriating characters who don’t learn anything at all. I get that the point of the book is that sometimes you can’t escape innovation (good or bad) but I thought that was a little pessimistic.

vampire

Haunted House: A book that still haunts you

The Secret History by Donna Tartt has stuck with me since I read it for the first time, not knowing what I was getting into. It’s easily Tartt’s most quotable book. Bonus: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak also stuck in my mind after I read them.

haunted house

The Psychological Thriller: A book with a twist that you didn’t see coming.

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn definitely threw me for a loop. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher also does a great job with plot twists as Hannah tells her story. Bonus: American Gods by Neil Gaiman (that I love) includes some great plot twists as well. Red Shirts by John Scalzi has a really meta plot that messed with me.

psycho

The Creepy Doll: A book that seems innocent but it’s not.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green both begin out innocently enough only to rip your heart out and stomp on it. (I mean, you can say that for most John Green books, though. I can’t say the same for John Steinbeck.)

creepy doll

The Monster: A book that you could barely tackle.

I reviewed The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt before I actually finished because the book was so long, at least for me. I still enjoyed it, though. Admittedly, I’m still not quite finished with IT by Stephen King either.

monster

The Comedy Horror: A book with mixed genres that worked or didn’t work.

Rooms by Lauren Oliver did a really good job mixing a ghost story with a family drama. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman is a great combination of supernatural elements and comedy as well.

beetlejuice

The Cliched Teen Horror: A book you found super cliche.

The Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer was riddled with cliches. I also found An Abundance of Katherines by John Green to be a bit cliche but it wasn’t nearly as bad as Twilight if you ask me.

teen horror

The Demonic Possession: A book that was so gripping that you needed an exorcist to escape it.

The Harry Potter series, The Percy Jackson series, American Gods, The Princess Bride, Looking for Alaska, The Little Friend, The Lost Symbol

exorcist

The Science Fiction: A book you would sacrifice to the aliens for the good of mankind.

I would happily give the aliens The Book Thief and To Kill a Mockingbird in order to illustrate the best and worst parts of humanity.

alien

 

 

 

Current Favorites: Podcast Edition

Hello All! I had some time this weekend in between studying and reading to share with you all some of my favorite podcasts. I’m a little bit of a podcast junkie so I hope to introduce some podcasts for those who are interested and those who already love podcasts. These aren’t any particular genre or style. These podcasts are simply ones that I love to listen to.

Welcome to Night Vale – This is probably the most well-known current podcast. Set in the mysterious and weird desert town, Welcome to Night Vale is the local radio show hosted by the enigmatic Cecil Baldwin. The story is perfectly bizarre and profound. This podcast also showcases indie artists as part of the “weather report.” It may not make sense right now, but you will be sucked into the abyss once you give this podcast a listen.

welcome to night vale

The Nerdist – Chris Hardwick hosts this interview series where he sits down with celebrities from all over the entertainment industry and they talk about everything. Hardwick manages to make an interview sound more like a fun conversation between friends (who just happen to be A-list celebrities).

the nerdist

Ear Biscuits – If you are a fan of YouTube then you have probably heard of Rhett and Link, the hosts of Good Mythical Morning. In this podcast, they sit down and talk about everything from conspiracies, to being cool, and even vasectomies. It’s a humorous and enjoyable listen for anyone looking for comedy.

ear biscuits

How Did This Get Made? – Did you ever want to know how some of the most terrible movies to grace cinema were made? This podcast is for you. Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael, and Jason Mantzoukas sit down with celebrity guests to review and dissect the bizarre, the humorously bad, and the poorly acted. This podcast is perfect for movie buffs.

HDTGM-Logo-300x298

Lore – For fans of creepy history and urban legends, I present to you this particular podcast. The narrator (with a soothing voice, I might add) doesn’t look to spook but to merely explore these dark and gruesome parts of history. This podcast is great for the fall season.

lore

The NoSleep Podcast – In the same vein as Lore, this podcast incorporates various narrators to read submitted scary stories. It is not for the faint of heart but horror fans are sure to love this one to.

NoSleep.Podcast.S4.Logo_1400.jpg

Stuff You Missed in History Class – Time to give one for the history buffs. This podcast explores the lesser known figures of history who deserve recognition and lesser known historical events. The hosts do put an emphasis on women who have been disregarded by history, which I feel we can appreciate now. This podcast is informative and will keep you wanting to learn more.

symhc-new-logo-1600x1600

The Writers Panel – I have a feeling a lot of you will be interested in this one. This podcast is a series of panels where writers from across entertainment discuss their craft. They do not limit it to just novelists but they interview screen writers, non-fiction writers, comic writers, and many more. Any writer is sure to be enamored with this podcast.

the writers panel

Stuff You Should Know – Have you ever wondered how the CIA works? Why do people stutter? What about fever dreams? This podcast covers a whole variety of diverse topics as the hosts delve into explaining how everything works. The never-ending topics will keep you saying, “Wow, I didn’t know that!”

sysk-square-new-logo

Small Town Murder – Dark comedy is not meant for everyone but if you do have a slightly twisted sense of humor, then I recommend this one. Two comedians explore some of the strangest murders to happen in middle of nowhere-type places. The hosts keep a sense of levity while still providing an informative look at some graphic crimes. It sounds a little weird when I explain it but once you listen to it, you will understand what I mean.

small town murder

 

This is my list for now. I will put out a part two once I listen to a few more podcasts. I hope you listen to these because I would love to discuss these with my followers. Let me know what you think and thank you for reading this.

And Then There Were None…: Reviewing Final Girls by Riley Sager

I’m a bit weird when it comes to the horror genre. I’m not a fan horror movies but I love horror books and I listen to “creepypastas” all of the time but I don’t watch horror movies. Thankfully, I’m familiar enough with the tropes to appreciate the structure on which the horror genre is built. I plucked this particular books off the shelf on nothing more than an impulse and I am certainly glad I did. Here is my review of Final Girls  by Riley Sager.

Quincy Carpenter is the lone survivor of the Pine Cottage Massacre, where five of her college friends were slaughtered by a man she refers to as Him. She was dubbed a Final Girl by the media and found herself a part of an exclusive group of survivors. Ten years later, Quincy finally has her life together with a successful lawyer boyfriend and a baking blog.  She is forced to confront her past when the first Final Girl, Lisa Milner, is found dead in her home. With the help of Sam, a fellow Final Girl, and her police officer friend, Coop, Quincy must race against time to find the killer before she is taken by the fate that she escaped ten years ago.

Now, I read these horror/thriller books knowing that they are not for everybody. If you are a fan of horror movies, this is the novel for you. Better yet, if you are a fan of Paula Hawkins (Girl on the Train) or Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl), then you will appreciate the strong and complex female characters who must confront their pasts while trying to salvage an uncertain future. Sager provides an uncertain and gritty narrative that plays off of the classic horror movies tropes, building off of the standard slasher movie script. I found myself enjoying this novel more than I originally thought. Horror/mystery/thriller fans are sure to enjoy Sager’s Final Girls.