3 on a theme: you’re my reincarnated love (and my name is probably Daniel)

collage

Usually my 3 on a theme posts involve books read close together or even concurrently.  In this case, however, it was more a feeling, much like the heroines of these stories, that I had read this before.

In Fallen by Lauren Kate, the main character Luce finds herself drawn to Daniel, a broody type who is sometimes outright mean to her.  After all, he’s fallen in love with her over and over again – every 17 years in fact – and when he kisses her, she usually dies.

Where had I read this before?  Almost three years ago, I read two books with the theme of reincarnation.  In My Name Is Memory by Ann Brashares, the main character’s recurring lover is also named Daniel.  And, strangely enough, even though Daniel has known her as Sophia in other lives, her name in this life is Lucy!

No wonder I had déjà vu.  But wait, there’s more!  I had déjà vu about My Name Is Memory shortly after reading it, when I picked up I Remember You by Cathleen Davitt Bell.  This time, instead of a girl named Luce/Lucy, there was a guy named Lucas.  Again, it’s the dude who remembers falling in love with the girl before.  Or after.  Lucas remembers things that have yet to happen.

To further confuse matters, I listened to all three of these on audiobooks.  And look at the similarities of the covers!  All in shades of blue and green, with white centered text and silhouetted profiles.

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December reading round-up

  • # of books read: 13
  • audiobooks listened to: 2
  • graphic novels read: 3
  • total page count: 3,954
  • year total page count: 44,234

Lots more reading this month!  Especially since I hardly wrote anything!  Did some editing and wrote a couple of chapters, but otherwise I’ve been busy reading…

I’m not sure how my coworker heard about Paperbacks from Hell before I did, but I was quite excited for a book about horror paperbacks from the author of Horrorstor and My Best Friend’s Exorcism.  Turns out I had read a bunch of these and had a couple sitting on my TBR pile.  Gotta love a book about books 🙂

The Scarlet Pimpernel is a classic that’s been on a TBR list in the back of my brain for a long time, and this year’s Nanowrimo novel drove me to pick it up.  It takes place during the French Revolution, and while it didn’t help much with my novel, it was a good adventure story.

I saw this one on Dawn Kurtagich’s Instagram and decided that I needed to read it.  Thornhill is a ghost story that is told in two parts: the novel part, that of a girl’s diary years ago; and the graphic part, of a girl who has just moved in near the abandoned Thornhill orphanage, which is told only in images.  The effect is haunting and won’t be soon forgotten.

I was so, so excited for The Becoming of Noah Shaw!  I loved the Mara Dyer series so much that I think it would be impossible for this to live up to that.  It was strange seeing Mara from an outside perspective, and I had forgotten what a jerk Noah was.  But I do love this world, so I’ll be eagerly awaiting the next book!

Nevernight keeps popping up on the book sites I follow.  I hadn’t actually read a review or summary of the book, however… yet the title made me curious enough to download it.  I can’t say I would recommend reading via ebook, because there are footnotes, and it took me a long time to get used to the author’s style.  The world is quite rich, and I ended up really enjoying it.  Hopefully I’ll be reading book #2, Godsgrave, next month!

A friend from college had recommended Lamb and Christopher Moore in general way back when, and I’ve had this book sitting on my shelves for literally years.  I brought it along to read while on vacation in the Azores, because it was almost Christmas and I couldn’t find The Twelve Frights of Christmas (I’m afraid I got rid of it!).  It was definitely amusing and somehow actually taught me more about the Bible…

Winter days = cozy reading #erased #currentlyreading #bookstagram

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The artwork on the cover of Erased convinced me to pick up this manga.  As you know, I don’t read a whole lot of manga, but this was a cool story.  Man occasionally relives seconds of his life until he changes something that saves lives, but when his mother is murdered he forces himself to go back to his childhood to prevent the murder of one of his classmates.  When I checked this out of the library, I thought this was a 2-book series that was complete, but turns out there are five volumes and counting…

#rupikaur #milkandhoney #currentlyreading #poetry #bookstagram

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Another book I just kept seeing, Milk and Honey is the only poetry collection I read this year.  Some of the poems really blew me away with their truth.  Others not so much…

I thought I would never win a Goodreads giveaway again, and I’m so happy it was this book.  Josh Malerman’s first book, Bird Box, is one that has stayed with me.  Unbury Carol (out in April 2018) was another unique thriller, taking place in the Wild West.

  • Best Overall: Unbury Carol
  • Best Audiobook: Feed
  • Goriest: Nevernight
  • Fastest Read: Louis Undercover (1 day)
  • Slowest Read: Born at Midnight (13 days)

The full list (links take you to my Goodreads reviews):

  1. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy
  2. Paperbacks from Hell by Grady Hendrix
  3. Feed (Newsflesh #1) by Mira Grant (audiobook)
  4. Thornhill by Pam Smy (graphic novel)
  5. The Becoming of Noah Shaw (The Shaw Confessions #1) by Michelle Hodkin
  6. Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
  7. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
  8. Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore
  9. Louis Undercover by Fanny Britt (graphic novel)
  10. Erased, Volume 1 by Kei Sanbe (graphic novel)
  11. Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman (ARC)
  12. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
  13. Born at Midnight (Shadow Falls #1) by C.C. Hunter (audiobook)

all the free books!

There’s a huge sale over at Smashwords, which means all my books there are free!  These include:

I haven’t posted the third Wolf Point Origins novella, The Seer, on Smashwords yet, unfortunately.  You can download these ebooks from Smashwords in pretty much any format, including Kindle (which apparently no longer does the price matching thing).

Once of my goals for this year will be to publish the fourth and final Wolf Point book, Warriors, as well as an omnibus of all the prequel novellas.

I’ll also plug the novel I posted over on Swoonreads.  Waiting Room is a contemporary LGBQIA+ novel, and you can read the whole thing and leave comments and ratings.  (The more ratings I get, the more likely it will get published!)  You can read more about Waiting Room (and why I haven’t talked about it on this blog until now).

christmas horror story: Silent Night, Deadly Night

This has to be one of the worst holiday horror movie franchises in existence.  It may also be the only holiday horror movie franchise, which makes it that much worse.  Where is Black Christmas 2?  Jack Frost 2?  No one asked for Gingerdead Man and its many sequels but we got them anyway, and that’s really it.

Image result for silent night deadly nightThe first film follows two brothers orphaned after a criminal in a Santa suit murders their parents.  Years later, the eldest brother Billy now works at a toy store, and becomes unhinged when he is forced to fill in for the store’s Santa.  There are quite a few Christmas-themed murders happening: aside from murders committed by “Santa”, there is also strangulation by Christmas lights and impalement by deer antlers.  Of course the murders are sparked because Billy can’t handle people having sex, so the tagline “He knows when you’ve been naughty” is pretty accurate.

The second movie, creatively titled “Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2” is where we run into problems.

Image result for silent night deadly night

Basically, you could skip the first movie and just watch the second.  The second movie contains a complete recap of the first movie, and is made up of at least 50% footage from the first movie.  The movie is about Billy’s younger brother Ricky, who takes up the mantle of Killer Santa (after killing a Salvation Army bellringer for the costume).  Ricky’s still upset about people being “naughty,” but also upset about the abuse he suffered as an orphan.  His main goal is to kill Mother Superior, who is now in a wheelchair and puts up a good fight before he finally offs her.

 

Image result for silent night deadly nightThe third movie still contains footage from the previous movies, but thankfully not as much.  Part 3, or “Better Watch Out,” follows the experimentation of a blind psychic girl, who a doctor is trying to connect to the comatose mind of Ricky.  Why?  Who the hell knows.  So Laura starts having visions of Santa killing people.  And then, of course, Ricky is awakened by the drunk asshole playing Santa at the hospital and he begins his murder spree anew.  This movie continues the tradition of laughable acting, but unfortunately, there weren’t very many Christmas-themed murders in this one.

 

Image result for silent night deadly night initiation“Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: The Initiation” finally drops the footage from the original movies!  Instead of Ricky as the main murderer, we are treated to a feminist cult that worships Lilith and causes our protagonist, Kim, to see cockroaches everywhere and makes her fingers do a weird twisty thing, and later lets Ricky (now a homeless weirdo – or is this even the same Ricky??) rape her and impregnate her with some weird giant larvae.  Aside from being set around Christmas time, the deaths and theme have little to do with Christmas.  There’s a lit Christmas tree on the top of the building where our initial sacrifice spontaneously combusts, and where our finale takes place.  A man is killed having fallen into said Christmas tree.  There’s also a lovely scene where Kim hangs with her current bf’s family, who turn out to be pretty sexist and anti-Semitic.  Given that the ending involves the defeat of the Lilith cult, I’m not sure what the takeaway is meant to be.  Are we for or against feminism?

Silent Night Deadly Night 5.jpg“Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker” proves that maybe the fifth in a franchise can be the best.  It amazes me that the actors in this franchise have become more recognizable (Mickey Rooney, what are you doing here??).  The Toy Maker starts out with a Christmas bang as a young boy listens to his parents having sex.  Little Derek then discovers a gift clearly marked “do not open until Christmas.”  After his father practically beats him down for opening it, Derek watches on as Dad opens the gift and is attacked by the Santa ball within.  The toy attacks Dad’s face (is it kissing him?  eating his face off?) and kills him.  Derek’s mom isn’t much better and quickly loses patience with him after the brutal death, deciding that buying his happiness is the only way – Mom doesn’t seem too upset it.  There’s a nod to SNDN4 with a larvae toy, and Ricky returns as a department store Santa.  “You would not believe the things I’ve been through,” says Kim, who also returns, and doesn’t seem too freaked out by mysterious Christmas gifts that keep showing up for Derek.  There’s a murderous Santa and a full-on assault by an army of toys (while the baby-sitter is having sex, naturally).

SPOILERS AHEAD

The finale of the last movie almost makes up for how terrible the first four movies.  I mean, a robot/puppet named “Pino” created by “Joe Petto” who just wants to be a “real boy” with a real dick, and somehow figures he’ll make that happen by sex with his mommy?  Didn’t see that one coming.

 

November reading round-up

  • # of books read: 10
  • audiobooks listened to: 3
  • total page count: 1,782
  • year total page count: 38,498 / 40,280

I didn’t get as much reading in as I would have liked this month, because I was busy Nanowrimo’ing.

At the beginning of the month I was still working my way through this stack of horror novels I had vowed to read in October.  The Bargaining was kind of meh for me, while The Ravenous and Midnight Movie were full of gory thrills.  By the end, however, I was ready to read some non-horror.

The Good Girl was a paperback someone donated to the library, which I knew I had put on my TBR list a little while ago.  It’s similar to Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, one of those twisty thrillers with not-especially-likable protagonists, and the word “girl” in the title.  A fast read that’s a bit unpredictable, although the ending and twist stretched believability.

I saw The Life She Was Given come across the library desk, and put it on hold for myself (but staggered out, so it wouldn’t interfere with my October horror binge). The story felt like a strange mash-up of Water for Elephants and Flowers in the Attic, if you can imagine such a thing. Of course I loved it.

Hopefully next month I’ll get more reading done – even if only because I’m going on vacation!

  • Best Overall: All the Crooked Saints
  • Best Audiobook: Eat the Dark
  • Goriest: Midnight Movie
  • Fastest Read: Forbidden Secrets (1 day)
  • Slowest Read: Boy Meets Boy (8 days)

The full list (links take you to my Goodreads reviews):

  1. The Bargaining by Carly Ann West
  2. The Ravenous by Amy Lukavics
  3. Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan (audiobook)
  4. Midnight Movie by Tobe Hooper
  5. The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin (audiobook)
  6. Forbidden Secrets (Fear Street Sagas #3) by R.L. Stine
  7. The Good Girl by Mary Kubica
  8. The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman
  9. Eat the Dark by Joe Schreiber (audiobook)
  10. All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

how the heck did they go to the bathroom??? and other questions asked while writing historical fiction

To date I have about 8 different novels that can be classified as historical fiction, in varying states of completion. For Nanowrimo, I am writing a novel that takes place shortly after the Reign of Terror in France.  And this isn’t the first time that I’ve had to research historical bathroom habits.

The drawback to writing historical fiction in general is that small details will throw you out of the story and down a rabbit hole of Google searches.

In chapter one of my current WIP (The Red Ribbon), I Googled:

  • where did people get guillotined in french revolution paris
  • place de la concorde (answer to the above question)
  • rue des marronniers lyon
  • map of paris

(These were to simply get a sense of where my main character was walking and where she lived in the first few paragraphs)

  • matches history
  • lighting a fire in the 1790s

(Because my character needed to light a fire in the fireplace, and I wasn’t sure if matches existed back then.  I’m still not sure.  I managed to write the two sentences without specifically saying how she lit the fire)

  • invitation historical ball
  • invitation wording 1700s
  • french phrases with blood
  • phrases of the french revolution
  • french proverbs
  • qui vivra verra
  • Le Réveil du peuple lyrics
  • 1794 calendar days of the week

(My MC receives an invitation, and I wanted to include the actual words on the invitation… The example I found included a quote that gave hint to a theme for the ball, which led me to try to find some proverb that might work for my story.  And since the proverb was in French, I needed to verify that the translation was correct.  I also decided to make the ball happen on Friday the 13th and amazingly, according to one site I found, September 13, 1794 was indeed a Friday!)

  • rue du colisée paris
  • gossip magazines in revolutionary france
  • garters 17th century
  • how common were pistols in the 17th century
  • pistols history
  • pianoforte
  • pianos history
  • french pianos
  • 17th century french outerwear

(Moving onto the 2nd and third chapters – once again I was trying to place the MC’s home near where the ball was being held.  She also packs a few weapons to bring to the ball because she wants revenge, so I had to figure out a. whether 17th century garters could reasonably hold a knife or pistol and b. whether pistols were common enough for an aristocratic family to own one.  My character also has a moment where she remembers playing the piano, so I had to figure out if pianos existed then, or whether something like a pianoforte or harpischord was more common.  Finally, my MC needed to wear a coat or cloak of some sort as she walked to the ball)

  • waltz popularity
  • panniers
  • french fashion 18th century
  • chic synonym

(In describing the ballroom and the other guests of the ball, I needed to know if the waltz had even been invented, and whether it had reached France, also a few fashion terms, and while “chic” is a French word, it was not in usage at that time…)

  • what poisons were available in france 18th century
  • effects of arsenic poisoning
  • when did red and green become christmas colors
  • old french christmas songs
  • Bel Astre Que J’Adore

(One of my characters dies short after eating poisoned cake, which led to the searches about effects of poisoning, and then what poisons were readily available.  What exactly does rat poison contain?  How long does it take to work?  After I described a color combination as “Christmas-like” I remembered that red and green have not always been used as traditional Christmas colors.  And then I needed a Christmas carol that would have existed back then…)

  • how was it determined that someone was dead in the 1700s
  • pencils history
  • historical term for cataracts
  • what was the bathroom called in french revolution

(Obviously, at this point in the novel, someone has died.  And I was fairly certain that people did not check a pulse to determine if someone was dead at that point in time.  Also, did they have pencils back then and how common were they?)

And the question we’ve all been waiting for.

I know the obvious answer is that people used chamber pots.  You didn’t go to a bathroom in the middle of the night, you just pulled out your chamber pot and went.  But if one was out at a fancy ball in someone else’s home, or in this case, at a hotel, there would have to be a room, right?

In my research I discovered that Versailles and the bathroom situation is a big part of the reason for the stereotype of the French not being very hygienic.  Dogs and other animals that were allowed to roam loose in the palace relieved themselves wherever, and apparently the humans used stairwells or went behind curtains.  Eventually I did find that bathrooms might have been called “lavatories” or “commodes” (I dropped in the term “powder room” as well) and that there might be curtains for privacy while one used the chamber pot.  Obviously, there was no running water.

I also discovered while trying to find this information, that pissing in the streets was such a problem in Paris that in the early 1800s they built “pissoirs” or small buildings where you could go to pee on the street in privacy.

Oh, the things you learn… I just hope the FBI hasn’t put me on a surveillance list…

October reading round-up

  • # of books read: 11
  • audiobooks listened to: 2
  • horror novels read: 7
  • total page count: 3,149
  • year total page count: 38,498

The first book read this month was from the batch I got signed at the Boston Teen Author Festival.  Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe was just such a lovely book that I gave a rare 5 stars! The writing was poetic and the story was just beautiful.  I don’t have the words.

I’ll be looking for more of this author’s books, but I had to put that aside, because this month I had vowed to read all the horror!

It was a daunting stack.  But I currently have only 2.5 books left to go!  Which is great, considering some of these have been languishing on my TBR shelf for years.

My absolute favorite horror novel I read this month was Diary of a Haunting.  I loved how the mystery of the house unfolded and how the format of blog posts was affected by the haunting as well.  There were some great creepy moments.  The Women in the Walls was a close second.  Amy Lukavics really knows how to pull you into a story without fleshing out the setting, somehow.

Many of these seemed to be more thriller than horror (Blind Spot and The Creeping).  And sadly, I was a bit disappointed in There’s Someone Inside Your House.  I read so much horror that I was waiting for some new twist and did not find it.

Of course, I vowed to read all horror novels in October, but then this one came out, and I had to read it.  I’ve only been waiting years since his last book!  Luckily it was a fast one and had everything I’ve come to expect from a John Green novel: quirky characters, philosophical discussions, and endings that are not tied up in a neat little bow.

  • Best Overall: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
  • Best Horror: Diary of a Haunting
  • Weirdest Overall: Fiendish
  • Fastest Read: Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror
  • Slowest Read: The Copper Gauntlet
  • Best Audio: Highly Illogical Behavior

The full list (links take you to my Goodreads reviews):

  1. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
  2. There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins
  3. The Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics
  4. Diary of a Haunting by M. Verano
  5. Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley (audiobook)
  6. Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
  7. The Creeping by Alexandra Sirowy
  8. Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror by Chris Priestley
  9. Blind Spot by Laura Ellen
  10. Fiendish by Brenna Yovanoff
  11. The Copper Gauntlet (Magisterium #2) by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare (audiobook)