More books!

Here a few more books I’ve read so far this year. All descriptions are from Amazon.

(Btw, there are gaps in the numbering because I don’t write about everything I read. For the most part, I only write about the older titles [and post the write-ups on LibraryThing] as part of my effort to conquer the TBR pile. I am part of a group there that tracks older books read. If you’re interested in seeing the complete list of books I’ve read for the year, I catalogue pretty much everything on my LT profile. I’m on Goodreads, too, but I haven’t finished adding every book over there yet. Feel free to add me as a friend on either or both platform(s). :))

#4: Seven Deadly Sins: Settling the Argument Between Born Bad and Damaged Good, by Corey Taylor

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For the first time, Slipknot and Stone Sour frontman Corey Taylor speaks directly to his fans and shares his worldview about life as a sinner. And Taylor knows how to sin. As a small-town hero in the early ’90s, he threw himself into a hard-drinking, fierce-loving, live-for-the-moment life; when his music exploded, he found himself rich, wanted, and on the road. But soon his extreme lifestyle led him to question what it means to sin and whether it could—or should—be cast in a different light. After all, if sin makes us human how wrong can it be?

Now updated with a new Afterword by the author, Seven Deadly Sins is a brutally honest look “at a life that could have gone horribly wrong at any turn,” and the soul-searching and self-discovery it took to set it right.


Having read Corey’s second book last year, I sort of knew what to expect in terms of his writing style. It is rambling and at times completely incoherent, but he does throw in a lot of interesting and hilarious stories. If you’re a big fan (like I am), it’s worth the effort to push through this; otherwise, probably not. I liked his other book better, too – it made me laugh out loud more often :). But still, I’m glad I read this one as well. Corey divulges more about his personal background in this one than in the other, and the details were interesting, if often sad.

#7: Sweet Valley High #17: Love Letters

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Caroline Pearce has always been one of the least popular girls at Sweet Valley High. But when she invents a new out-of-town boyfriend, people finally start to pay attention to her. Brown-eyed, six foot Adam and his romantic love letters are the talk of the school.
Caroline has everyone fooled even clever Jessica Wakefield. But what begins as a bid for love and attention quickly becomes the worst jam of Caroline’s life, when her friends insist on meeting the boyfriend she’s been bragging about. Can Caroline keep the truth a secret, or will her lies be her downfall?


I’ve been working my way through all the SVH titles available from the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library (for some reason, you can’t borrow #1 -#12, but I think the rest of them are there). So far, this one has been my favorite. I just thought it was really cute and I liked that Caroline learns a few lessons:  namely, that it’s never a good idea to lie in order to get attention, and that the best way to make friends is to try and learn how to be a good friend yourself.

PS – I love that cover :).

#8: Supernatural: Heart of the Dragon, by Keith R.A. DeCandido

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A Supernatural novel that reveals a previously unseen adventure for the Winchester brothers, from the hit CW series!

When renegade angel Castiel alerts Sam and Dean to a series of particularly brutal killings in San Francisco’s Chinatown, they realise the Heart of the Dragon, an ancient evil of unspeakable power, is back! John Winchester faced the terrifying spirit 20 years ago, and the Campbell family fought it 20 years before that – can the boys succeed where their parents and grandparents failed?


I liked this story a lot. The fact that the demon comes back every twenty years means we get to see various members of the Winchester family fight it: first Mary (and her parents), and then John, and then finally Sam and Dean. I think this is the third of DeCandido’s Supernatural tie-ins that I’ve read and I really enjoy his no-nonsense writing style and the way he keeps the action moving. Also, this story sort of made me wish there were more books about Mary as a teen. She was cute and fun to read about :).

#9: The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield

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Think of The War of Art as tough love… for yourself.

Since 2002, The War of Art has inspired people around the world to defeat “Resistance”; to recognize and knock down dream-blocking barriers and to silence the naysayers within us. Resistance kicks everyone’s butt, and the desire to defeat it is equally as universal. The War of Art identifies the enemy that every one of us must face, outlines a battle plan to conquer this internal foe, then pinpoints just how to achieve the greatest success. Though it was written for writers, it has been embraced by business entrepreneurs, actors, dancers, painters, photographers, filmmakers, military service members and thousands of others around the world.

Steven Pressfield is the author of the novels The Legend of Bagger Vance (made into the movie starring Matt Damon and Will Smith), Gates of Fire, Tides of War, Last of the Amazons, Virtues of War, The Afghan Campaign, Killing Rommel, and The Profession. His nonfiction includes The War of Art, The Warrior Ethos, and the upcoming Turning Pro. His books are included in the curriculum at West Point and the Naval Academy, and are on the Commandant’s Reading List for the Marine Corps.


This was a short book (around 200 pages) and I read most of it in one sitting. It was very good; probably one of the best books I’ve read about writing. If anyone ever feels they need a good kick in the pants to get them started on a project (of any type) I will be sure and recommend this!

Stuff I’ve been reading.

I’m still working on whittling down that TBR pile that is threatening to get out of control (even if most of the books are digital, it still makes me anxious) :). Here are a couple I’ve read so far this year.

#1: Tales From the Clerks, by Kevin Smith

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Collects the contents from the Clerks, Chasing Dogma and Bluntman & Chronic books together with one new story and a 15-page, never before reprinted story.


 

Recently, Steve and I re-watched all the View Askew-niverse movies and it motivated me to finally read this collection of related comic book stories we’ve had on our shelf for a while (since 2009 — he’d read it, I hadn’t).

I enjoyed the stories featuring Dante and Randal the most, but the whole book had funny parts. If you’re a fan of this stuff, you’ll pretty much know what to expect but honestly, as Steve warned me when I started reading, “That’s a lot of Kevin Smith.” He was right; the raunchiness wore on me after a while. I’d recommend spacing the reading out over time!

#2: The Secret History of Twin Peaks, by Mark Frost

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From the co-creator of the landmark series, the story millions of fans have been waiting to get their hands on for 25 long years.

The Secret History of Twin Peaks enlarges the world of the original series, placing the unexplained phenomena that unfolded there into a vastly layered, wide-ranging history, beginning with the journals of Lewis and Clark and ending with the shocking events that closed the finale. The perfect way to get in the mood for the upcoming Showtime series.


 

This book isn’t old at all. I got it for Christmas from Steve :). But, hey, it still needed to be read!

This book wasn’t at all what I was expecting (not sure what exactly I was expecting, but not this) but I really enjoyed it. It is supposed to replicate a found “dossier” of documents explaining the history of Twin Peaks, and I thought the lay-out and style were very cool. I tore through it. I’m quite psyched for the new season of TP, especially after reading this; too bad it won’t air until May!

Happy reading,

Elizabeth

PS: I’ve decided to discontinue the #MinsGame posts.

Why? Because after only a couple of days in, I remembered something about myself — the fact that I do not like to edit photos.

I couldn’t see myself editing all of those pictures, just so I could post them, particularly since they are photos of things I got rid of because I was tired of looking at them :). Ha. Also, the point of my decluttering those items was so that I could be done with them! I didn’t want to dwell on my old things any longer than necessary. So that’s the end of that project :).

 

 

The Real You

So, I’ve got a new book out :).

It’s actually already been out for a couple of weeks but due to my inability to ever post about anything in a timely fashion, I am just now getting around to saying anything about it (well, I did announce it on Facebook :)).

Thanks to everyone who has downloaded The Real You already, either to buy or to borrow; I really appreciate it. If you haven’t gotten a copy yet and are interested, here’s the link.

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After publishing my 2nd book, Fear and Laundry 2, I had no intention of writing any more books set in Carreen, TX, at least not for a while. I spent a year working on a completely different project, but when NaNoWriMo 2015 rolled around, I decided to take a break from that new book and write something else.

I started from a few notes I’d made regarding the epilogue to FaL 2, and the character introduced there, named Rourke. I’d thought I might write a short story about her, but I wound up writing a full-length novel, which became The Real You. Since it came together much faster than the other project I had been working on, I decided to concentrate on Rourke’s story, instead, for a while and then go ahead and put it out.

I loved writing it and I hope y’all enjoy reading it. Much love,

Elizabeth

#MinsGame Days 3 and 4

I don’t know about anyone else, but even though it is now January 4th I still feel like I’m “coming down” from the high of the holidays. Maybe it’s because I’m easily overstimulated? I’m not sure. All I know is that even though I had a great, fun Christmas and New Year’s, I just feel kind of drained now. Which is unfortunate because it’s a new year and I would rather feel pumped up and motivated right now. Oh, well. Maybe by next week I’ll feel sufficiently recovered enough to get started on a few things :).

Speaking of overstimulating…this Minimalism Game project was fun, but decluttering is always a bit overwhelming for me. It’s hard not to feel emotional when you’re looking through and parting with your things, particularly if you’re purging a lot of items at once. I don’t want or need any of this stuff anymore but I still attach emotions to getting rid of it, even if it’s just the negative emotions of “man, I can’t believe I used to spend so much money on this,” or “I can’t believe I’ve held onto/carried this around for so long,” etc.

I’m sure those of you who have cleaned out your homes know what I’m talking about! Still, the benefit is so worth it.

To wit…

Days 3 and 4 relieved us of the following:

  • 1 water bottle, 1 mouse pad, and 1 letter file/organizer thingy (technical term)
  • 1 belt, 1 tie hanger, 1 broken USB drive, and 1 utensil holder thingy (also a technical term)

Onward to Day 5!

Minimalism Game

Happy New Year!

I hope 2017 has started off well for everybody. Steve and I had a low-key celebration here at home, as usual, and spent NYE eating our traditional meal of tamales (tofu, spinach, and cheese) and various snack foods. We watched Phantasm II (because one of Steve’s Christmas presents from me was the new re-mastered edition of the first movie and we’d watched that a few nights ago).

Anyway…In an effort to continue our seemingly never-ending de-cluttering process, Steve and I decided to play the Minimalism Game last month. We sort of cheated, I guess, because we started gathering things to get rid of way back in November, in anticipation of the game. But whatever, I don’t think there are really any hard and fast rules with this project :). I’ll be posting what we got rid of here throughout the rest of this month. And since I’m already behind (surprise, surprise), here are the first two days’ worth of stuff:

  • 1 broken chip clip
  • 2 dry erase markers

 

Exciting start, huh? 🙂 I decided to make the images black and white in an effort to make photos of clutter look somewhat appealing. Not an easy task, really.

 

 

October, 2016 horror movie round up

I’m a little later than usual with this, but here it is:  the annual list of top ten horror movies S and I watched together during the month of October. Thankfully, we had better luck picking good movies this year than last!

10) Ouija: Origin of Evil

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I thought there was a lot to like in this sequel to Ouija, particularly Lulu Wilson’s impressive performance as nine-year-old Doris Zander. All of the acting was pretty good, actually. I like Henry Thomas a lot, but that’s admittedly mainly because I saw him at a convention once and he seemed super nice and down-to-earth.

So anyway, even though parts of this movie were a bit confusing, there were enough cool elements to make me like it overall. For example, the Ouija board moving by itself…sorry, but that is just creepy. And the mystery surrounding what once went on in the Zanders’ basement…Ugh! This would probably be a good one to watch at a slumber party.

9) Hush

This is about a deaf writer who is terrorized in her home by a masked maniac — and who decides to fight back for all she’s worth.

The MC’s deafness brings a unique twist to a familiar set-up, and the story definitely kept my interest the whole way through. My only complaint about the movie is how dark it was. I mean that literally:  the villain cuts the power early on in the story, and the rest of the film plays out in deep shadow. This made it hard to follow the action at times. We turned out the lights and fiddled with the brightness on the TV, but it didn’t really help. Still a good movie, though.

8) The Boy

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After watching the trailer for this, I was so excited to see it! I guess I was hooked by the promise of a good creepy house/creepy doll story.

Well, in the end it wasn’t as great as I’d hoped, but I did enjoy it. I thought the setting was atmospheric and well done. The story was interesting, but it left me with questions and I’m still not sure how I feel about the ending. I won’t spoil it but suffice it to say it, um…didn’t go where I thought it would. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, particularly since I’m not sure if what I’d anticipated would have worked any better. Basically, I’m just not sure what I wanted from this movie, which is not the filmmakers’ fault. Ha.

7) The Conjuring 2

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For the most part, I liked the first Conjuring movie. This was better, though.

Even though the real case it’s based on seems to have been pretty thoroughly debunked, it still makes for an interesting premise for a horror movie. There were a lot of creepy moments.

My favorite element of the film, though, was the relationship between Lorraine and Ed Warren. It seems to happen so rarely that I’m always thrilled when married couples are portrayed in popular media as actually being in love and, you know, happy together. This couple even work together! Okay, they work together investigating demon possessions and whatnot, but still. They are cute.

I actually think the Warrens’ cases would make for a good TV show. Kinda like the X-Files (my favorite show of all time) but possibly even better, because the two leads would be allowed to smooch and stuff :). I don’t watch TV, but I’d be tempted to watch something like that, if someone made it.

6) Jaws

I saw Jaws as a kid and remember being terrified by it. Then I rented it as an adult and was bored stiff. I was so bored, in fact, that I didn’t even finish watching it! So I was kind of dreading watching it a third time. But this time I didn’t think it was boring at all. I actually thought it was really, really good. And I was surprised by just how gory and scary a lot of it was. Audiences in the seventies must have been freaking out when this was first released. I can see why it was such a big hit.

5) Jessabelle

I loved how straightforward this was. Maybe I’m just getting old and jaded, but I’m pretty tired of every movie trying to have a big twist to it, and/or an ambiguous ending. I know it works sometimes (trust me, I like a confusing, ambiguous movie as much as the next person), but…I’ve gotten to the point where I appreciate it so much when a movie just straight up tells me a good story without feeling as though it’s relying too heavily on gimmicks. This one had a good story. I thoroughly enjoyed watching it.

4) The Hallow

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Ditto this one. Another good, solid story, featuring real monsters. “Real” in the sense that they were actual elements in the story, not just figments (or potential figments) of people’s imaginations. Monsters are a plus in my book.

3) It Follows

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I’d heard a lot about this one, both good and bad. Overall, I liked it. It kept my interest throughout, and made me wonder just what the heck was going on. There were some genuinely creepy moments, and I’m not going to lie:  when I woke up in the middle of the night after watching it, I momentarily worried I might encounter a scary naked person on my way to the bathroom :(. (Luckily I did not.)

2) Phantasm: Ravager

Okay, I’ll confess, I love me some Phantasm. So I’m a little biased on this one.

I’ve been waiting for this fifth installment in the series for what feels like forever and even though it ultimately didn’t make much sense, I still liked it. Cause hello…it’s Phantasm. And at this point, why would I expect the franchise to suddenly start making sense? It never has before. Which is part of what makes it so awesome. (Told you I don’t mind being confused).

1) The Witch

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I debated whether or not to include this one because it isn’t new to me (I’d seen it before, when it first came out). But I couldn’t think of anything else that deserved the number one spot on the list. I think this is a really great horror movie. It was especially cool that this time around, we saw it at an outdoor screening. The host had mentioned having a live black goat in attendance, which I was excited about, but it ultimately didn’t happen. Oh, well. Still a fun night. Now S tells me the director, Robert Eggers, is re-making Nosferatu. That is exciting to me, too. Possibly moreso than getting to see a live goat.

 


Now for the “honorable mentions.” These movies didn’t make the list, only because I had seen them before, but they are all really good:

Return of the Living Dead

Repo! The Genetic Opera

Jennifer’s Body

I also want to give a little shout out to Unfriended because I thought the way the story was told was really interesting. I don’t know that I’ll ever watch it again, but I can respect what the filmmakers did with their premise (a group of friends begin receiving messages online from a dead schoolmate). And it was good that they kept it so short, since I don’t know that the gimmick would have worked in a much longer movie.

Hellions was another movie I liked a lot, but there wasn’t enough room for it on the list. Watching this gave me a claustrophobic feeling, like I was stuck in someone’s nightmare. And that little kid’s voice constantly asking, “Dora? Can you hear me?” Yikes.

Okay, that’s it. The full list of movies we watched can be found on my husband’s blog. All links in this post are his. Happy Halloween (almost a month late)!

-Elizabeth

Sunshine

Seventieth book read this year:

Sunshine by Robin McKinley

Description from Amazon:

A small-town baker uses her own magic to confront a post–vampire apocalypse world in this award-winning urban fantasy Neil Gaiman called “pretty much perfect.”

Although it had been mostly deserted since the Voodoo Wars, there hadn’t been any trouble out at the lake for years. Rae Seddon, nicknamed Sunshine, head baker at her family’s busy and popular café in downtown New Arcadia, needed a place to get away from all the noise and confusion—of the clientele and her family. Just for a few hours. Just to be able to hear herself think.
 
She knew about the Others, of course. Everyone did. And several of her family’s best regular customers were from SOF—Special Other Forces—which had been created to deal with the threat and the danger of the Others.
 
She drove out to her family’s old lakeside cabin and sat on the porch, swinging her feet and enjoying the silence and the silver moonlight on the water.
 
She never heard them coming. Of course, you don’t when they’re vampires.


I thought this dragged in some places, but overall I really liked it. Looking at reviews and stuff, I see the book seems to get compared to “Buffy” a lot but I personally don’t think it’s anything like that, except that it is about a young (blonde?) girl and there are vampires in it. I’ve also seen that McKinley has stated she won’t write any sequels to Sunshine, which I find disappointing because the story left me very curious about what happens next to the characters! And the fantasy world she created for this is so complex and detailed, it seems ripe for more tales to be set in it…I’m still thinking about the story, even though I finished the book a while ago. Oh, well. In some ways, it’s cool there were so many possibilities left open at the end of the book, because it means I’m free to imagine whatever I want to happen next. Ha, ha. It’s also nice to read a book (particularly about vampires) that isn’t part of a series. One and done!

PS: I love all these covers, particularly the one with the coffee cup, which was the one included with my version of the e-book. The one with her in the red dress is really cool too, though.

The Shining

Sixty-ninth book read this year:

The Shining by Stephen King

Description from Amazon:

Terrible events occur at an isolated hotel in the off season, when a small boy with psychic powers struggles to hold his own against the forces of evil that are driving his father insane.


I had a paperback copy of this for a really long time, but since I never read it, I sold it. Then, a couple of years ago I saw the e-book on sale for $1.99 so I bought it again. Now I finally read it and I’m glad! It was quite good. I’d always heard it was different from the Kubrick movie and that King didn’t like that adaptation. Now I can see why. One write-up I read about it said that “while the film was a technical marvel… it lacked the heart and emotional complexities of the novel,” and I would have to agree. The book was heart-breaking to me in a way that the movie (which is one of my favorites) just has never been. I may have cried a little while finishing the book.

I’m interested in the sequel, Doctor Sleep, even though the excerpt included with The Shining made it seem depressing, too :(.

First cover image taken from Amazon (I believe), the rest from the following places: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

Here’s the link for cover #4, with a warning that following it will expose you to spoilers for the novel because it is a side-by-side comparison of the book and Kubrick film.

So, what’s a Minimalist?

I wanted to share this video I saw on YouTube recently, because I think it’s probably the best video I’ve seen about minimalism so far (and trust me, I’ve watched a lot).

Specifically, it’s one of the most thorough explanations I’ve seen of what it can mean to be a minimalist and how you can go about becoming one. Also, here is the link from Becoming Minimalist that Audra uses as a template for her discussion. If you’re curious about the minimalist lifestyle and what it can potentially do for you, check these out :)!