Horror movie top ten, October, 2017

Can it really be time for another one of these posts already? Where has the year gone? Sheesh.

Anyway, here it is:  my annual list of the top ten horror movies Steve and I watched during our October challenge. (Previous lists can be found here: 2014, 2015, 2016). All descriptions are from either Amazon or the IMDB. I do not own any of these images; posters are from all around the ‘net.

10) The Shallows, Howl (tie)

Yes, for the first time since I started compiling these lists, I wound up with a tie!

I’ll start with The Shallows.

Shallows

A mere 200 yards from shore, surfer Nancy (Blake Lively) is attacked by a great white shark, with her short journey to safety becoming the ultimate contest of wills.

I debated including this film on the list because I’m not sure if it’s really a horror movie or a thriller.

(Side note: This was true of a lot of the movies we watched this year, actually. I’m starting to think Steve and I have watched every horror movie out there. We’re now having to expand the criteria for this challenge to include anything remotely scary or creepy in any way. I think sharks are frightening, so it counted.)

I feel as though it’s a fine line sometimes, between a sort-of-tame horror film and a really intense/bloody thriller, if you know what I mean?

Anyway, the IMDB lists this one as both, so…Aside from the climax, which I won’t spoil, I thought it was entertaining and I enjoyed watching it.

Howl

On a stormy night, passengers on the last train out of London begin to panic after coming to a sudden halt. They soon realize there’s something dangerous lurking in the forest, and it’s stalking the besieged train and picking them off one-by-one.

Howl was quite an entertaining movie, too, albeit completely different. Definitely a horror movie! This one is about people trapped on a train while…something prowls around outside, trying to get in and eat them. You can probably guess what that ‘something’ is just from the title and from looking at the poster, but…I won’t mention it here in case it’s considered a spoiler :). Just allow me to say I’m a fan of these particular creatures, so I may be a little biased here, but I thought this one was a lot of fun.

9) Clown

Clown

A loving father dons a clown suit for his son’s birthday party, only to realize that it’s cursed.

I know what you’re probably thinking. An evil clown suit? C’mon. I thought that, too, at first but I was pleasantly surprised. This was a very solid horror film, and I was impressed with the way it perfectly straddled the line between being scary and funny. I wouldn’t have minded if it was a straight-up horror comedy, TBH, but it wasn’t. The inherent humor in the clown-centered premise isn’t ignored, the film doesn’t take itself too seriously, and there were certainly laughs, but from the moment the dad, Kent, (played by Andy Powers), realizes he is stuck inside the suit and no matter what he does it will not come off, you start to get genuinely creeped out and anxious on his behalf. And of course from that point on, things only get worse for poor Kent…

8) 10 Cloverfield Lane

10 Cloverfield Lane

After a car crash, a woman wakes up in a survivalist’s bunker. He claims to have saved her from an apocalyptic attack but, growing suspicious of his motives, she’ll have to escape to discover the truth in this heart-pounding new thriller from J.J. Abrams.

Another one I’d probably classify as a thriller, or maybe sci-fi, but once again, the IMDB lists horror as one of the genres so we’ll go with that :). Everyone in this did such a great job with their performances. A nail-biter through and through.

7) Cult of Chucky

Confined to an asylum for the criminally insane for the past four years, Nica (Fiona Dourif) is wrongly convinced that she, not Chucky, murdered her entire family. But when her psychiatrist introduces a new group therapy tool — a “Good Guy” doll — a string of grisly deaths plague the asylum and Nica starts to wonder if maybe she isn’t crazy after all. Andy (Alex Vincent), Chucky’s now-grown-up nemesis from the original Child’s Play, races to Nica’s aid. But to save her he’ll have to get past Tiffany (Oscar-nominee Jennifer Tilly), Chucky’s long-ago bride, who will do anything, no matter how deadly or depraved, to help her beloved devil doll.

I’ve enjoyed all of the Child’s Play franchise and this installment was no exception. It was very weird, but in a good, kinda mind-bending way that worked for me. There were just so many elements here that I enjoyed: seeing Nica, Andy, and Tiffany/Jennifer again, as well as the multiple Chucky dolls. Yeah, there were unanswered questions but overall, a fun movie.

6) The Devil’s Candy

Devil's Candy

Diehard metal-head and struggling artist Jesse (Ethan Embry) moves with his wife (Shiri Appleby) and daughter (Kiara Glasco) to a rural Texas town, unaware that the house they got for an unbelievable deal comes with a grisly history. Their dream home turns into a nightmare as disturbing demonic occurrences culminate with the appearance of Ray (Pruitt Taylor Vince), the home’s former resident who’s destined to do the devil’s bidding.

Well, I love metal and I love horror so I guess it’s not all that surprising that I’d like a horror movie about metal fans–and which features metal music on the soundtrack.

This was a good, creepy haunted (sorta) house movie that easily held my interest, but what I really liked about it were the performances by all the actors (even though I totally did not recognize Ethan Embry until the credits rolled. I’m still not entirely convinced that was him. When did he morph into a completely different dude?) The relationship between Jesse and his daughter, in particular, felt realistic and sweet.

5) Possession

Possession

A woman starts exhibiting increasingly disturbing behavior after asking her husband for a divorce. Suspicions of infidelity soon give way to something much more sinister.

I’m sort of cheating with this one, I guess, because I’d seen it multiple times before, but…it’s one of my favorites and IMO doesn’t get enough attention, so I’m putting it on the list :). Also, this viewing was special because it was on the big screen, at the Alamo Drafthouse. To say I was surprised they decided to screen this is putting it mildly. I was even more surprised I’m not the only person who showed up!

I first stumbled upon this movie completely randomly. Steve and I were in a Tower records, I think (so yeah, you know it was a long time ago) and we came across this DVD…actually a two-pack with Mario Bava’s Shock. So we bought it on a whim.

Shock

I loved both movies, particularly Possession, but Steve didn’t care much for either one. So Possession became one of those movies (like Mulholland Drive, Brazil, or The Man Who Fell to Earth) that I’d watch whenever he was out of town, so as not to subject him to the weirdness. Ha, ha.

I’m not even sure what it is about this film that I like so much, other than that it’s just so hard to look away from. And it certainly isn’t predictable. A lot of it doesn’t make sense. It does remind me a little of Hellraiser, though, in some respects. If you watch it, you’ll probably see what I mean. Not that I recommend watching it. Please don’t blame me if you do!

4) Blair Witch (2016)

Blair Witch

After discovering a video showing what he believes to be his vanished sister Heather, James and a group of friends head to the forest believed to be inhabited by the Blair Witch.

Was this movie necessary? Nope. Was it surprisingly creepy and fun to watch? Yep.

I’m not generally a fan of hand-held/found footage movies and am hard-pressed to watch them…unless Eduardo Sanchez was somehow involved in their production. All of his movies are cool.

3) Victor Crowley

Victor Crowley

The latest installment in the very fun Hatchet franchise. Good, old-fashioned, old-school horror with loads of gore and humor mixed in. Felissa Rose cracked me up so much in this! And it was especially cool to see this movie in the theater, with director Adam Green in attendance.

2) The Blackcoat’s Daughter

Blackcoat's Daughter

Two girls must battle a mysterious evil force when they get left behind at their boarding school over winter break.

This was slow-paced and understated without being pretentious. Not too heavy on the gore (although there are a couple of sequences) but very heavy on the creepiness. And how impressive is Kiernan Shipka? She did a great job in this film. I knew while I was watching The Blackcoat’s Daughter that it would most likely make this list because I was enjoying it so much, and I knew for sure it’d make the list when I kept thinking about it the next day, too. If you like stuff like Rosemary’s Baby or The Lords of Salem–movies that really crank up that building sense of dread–you might dig this.

1) The Void

Void

Shortly after delivering a patient to an understaffed hospital, a police officer experiences strange and violent occurrences seemingly linked to a group of mysterious hooded figures.

It’s kind of funny to me that this wound up being my number one movie this year, for a couple of reasons. To begin with, it was the very first one we watched, on the last day of September. We decided to include it as a bonus movie on “day zero” because Steve had already seen it before, but I had only seen half. Because I’d fallen asleep the first time we watched it! Not because it was boring or anything; it was just really late at night. And I’d taken a Zirtec. And had a couple of beers.

We’d gone to see it as part of a double feature (with In The Mouth of Madness) at the Alamo Drafthouse and it was freezing cold in the theater, so between movies, Steve, being the sweet husband that he is, went out to the car to get me the travel blanket we carry around in there. Well, I snuggled down under that thing and…boom, out like a light by the second half of the movie. I felt really bad! But yeah, I made it up by watching it again and this time staying awake for the whole thing. Turns out I’d missed all the craziest/best parts. This was an insanely weird film that was right up my alley. If you like Cronenberg, Lovecraft, The Thing, and you know, stuff like that, you should give this a try; it’s really cool.


Honorable mentions this year go to:

Friday the 13th pt. 2

and

Hellraiser

I didn’t put them on the list because I’d seen them both multiple times before. Hellraiser is my fave, and I felt like I’d already used up that chip by including Possession ;).

Okay, so that’s it; another year down. The full list of movies we watched can be found on my husband’s blog. All links in this post are his. Hope y’all enjoyed your October!

XOXO,

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10212017 (General updates–plus a new book announcement!)

Since it’s been so long since I last updated, this is going to be a kind of long, rambl-y post…with lots of pictures :). I’ll do my best to keep it organized in some fashion, though.

Where to start?

The summer went by so fast!

Back in July Steve and I saw Matthew Sweet live. This was a dream come true for me and I sort of blubbered all through the show.

I know, how embarrassing :X.

I hadn’t expected to get that emotional but sheesh…so many of his songs just mean so much to me! Hearing them played live made me think about the past, and what a lonely and depressed teenager I was back then. It’s not an understatement to say music was one of the things that got me through those rough years, and some of Matthew Sweet’s albums in particular, helped me so much. So, yeah. That show was an a-m-a-z-i-n-g experience for me. I just wish the audience had been livelier. They just sat there–while I wanted to go nuts, lol :).

Matthew Sweet marquee

I also got to see Guns N Roses live again in September, in San Antonio. They put on a really great show, of course, and it was doubly wonderful because Steve and I were able to catch up with some old friends before the concert, too! Later in the month we saw The Descendents, one of Steve’s favorite bands, which was also a lot of fun.

In August, we continued with our 6pack 5K Beer Challenge and completed the course at the Southern Star Brewing Company in Conroe. This race benefited Toys for Tots. It was super fun, as all of these races have been. The breakfast tacos afterward were dee-licious, too!

Toward the end of August, Hurricane Harvey hit and everything went haywire. Or at least, that is what it sort of felt like down here in Houston! I’m thankful (very, very thankful) our home did not flood. We were without power for a couple of days, but that was it.

scrabble board

We played Scrabble by candlelight :).

It was heartbreaking to see so much damage all around us, though.

We have made some donations to relief charities and Steve and I will be raising money for the Houston Food Bank when we run the Aramco Houston Half Marathon for the tenth time this year. This is an organization that we have donated to and volunteered with many times in the past, and I think they are great. Here are some stats about their recovery efforts, from an email they sent me. (And if you’d like to read more about them and their ongoing work, please click here to go to their website!)

Houston is my home, it has a big piece of my heart, and I hope we can do at least a little something to help out around here.

karbach happy hour for hunger

A Rodeo Clown IPA from Karbach Brewing Co.’s “Happy Hour for Hunger” back in September — another fun event, and for a good cause!

At the same time, I know we are far from the only area to be devastated in one way or another, lately :(. There have been hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, and that terrible shooting in Las Vegas, just to name a few.

I know bad things happen all the time but it really feels as though 2017 has been an especially tough year for a lot of people.

I’m not one to blog very much, either here or on social media, in general and honestly, lately it has been even harder for me to get motivated to do so. In the face of so much tragedy, what do you even say? Particularly when you are someone who spends a lot of her time writing (ostensibly) funny stuff. You can begin to question what you do, whether it is important at all, or a worthwhile contribution to the world. I think about this a lot anyway, but lately it has really been on my mind.

BUT…a couple weeks ago, Steve and I saw horror-comedy director Adam Green speak before a screening of Victor Crowley and he talked about this very topic. He said (and I’m totally paraphrasing here) that, in a way, it’s more important than ever to share a laugh together after something bad happens, because it reminds us that life isn’t all one thing.

There’s good and there’s bad, and getting our minds off the bad, even if it’s only for a short while, can be really helpful sometimes.

I think that makes sense. I know it’s true for me. A few years ago I had some health problems and was having to go to the doctor a lot, while they tried to determine what was wrong with me (it ended up being nothing too bad, thankfully). I was reading Meg Cabot’s Abandon series at the time and I remember being so grateful for the distraction. Her funny, happy books almost always put me in a good mood! I would love it if anything I wrote or did was ever able to lift someone’s spirits in a similar manner, even temporarily. That’s part of why I do what I do, to entertain and encourage, and it’s extremely humbling and fulfilling for me when someone does seem to get something worthwhile out of my work :).

So, um, I guess I’ll keep doing it. Particularly since I can’t seem to stop, anyway.

All of which leads me to…book news!

The Goodreads giveaway for The Real You ended on September 10th. There were almost 1500 entries all told, which is awesome! All of the books have long been packaged up and sent out, I just hadn’t gotten around to writing about it yet (big surprise). Thanks to everyone who entered! I had such a blast with this, I may just have to do another one again sometime soon ;).

And last but not least…I’ve written another thing.

a_very_merry_carreen_halloween_cover_v3

Adorable cover by Steve, once again :).

This is a short novella, about 33,000 words (130 pages) in length, and I hope to have it out soon. Very soon.

As in very, very soon.

You know, seeing as how it is set at Halloween and all..! 🙂

This story (which I’m so far referring to as a “Bonus Holiday Special”) takes place about 2+ years after the end of The Real You. It features Rourke, Dallas, and a bunch of other characters from The Real You, as well as Fear and Laundry and Fear and Laundry 2. I have no idea if anyone will be interested in reading this (and, really, that is true of everything I’ve ever written in my life), but I wrote it anyway because:

  • A) I like Rourke and Dallas, they wouldn’t leave my mind, and I wanted to write a little more about them.
  • B) I enjoy writing about holidays, and since Halloween is my favorite, I wanted to write a story set then.
  • C) And yeah, I wanted to put the characters in funny costumes and send them off to a haunted house :D. Why not, I ask you?

I hope at least some of y’all will check it out and get a kick out of it. I’ll post the release date as soon as I know what it is. (Edit: As of October 28th, 2017, A Very Merry Carreen Halloween is now available in the Amazon Kindle store :)).

‘Til then…thank you for reading this and take care, y’all!

With love and gratitude,

XOXO,

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Books #16 – 21

This post is part of my ongoing battle project to tame my TBR pile. As usual, all descriptions are from Amazon.

I’m way behind on making these updates, so although I have actually read about 55 books so far this year, this list only goes through #21 :(. Maybe someday I will catch up. Maybe.

For the record, July was not a very good month for me in terms of keeping my numbers under control. I bought seven new books and only read two old ones. Also, in June I used Overdrive for the first time and while I think this is an awesome service…well, let’s just say I can see how it is likely to throw a wrench into my plans to read my own books! Unless I can stay away from it for a while. To that end, I’ve vowed to only read books from my own collection throughout the month of August. Preferably stuff I’ve had since before the beginning of the year. That should help make up for July. Sort of. Wish me luck :)!

Now, on with the updates…

#16: Sweet Valley High #18: Head Over Heels, by Kate William

Bruce Patman and Regina Morrow in love? No one at Sweet Valley High can believe it. Regina is beautiful and shy, one of the nicest girls at school. Bruce is a real snob, and the only person he’s ever cared about is himself.

Jessica Wakefield figures the romance can’t last. She knows Bruce too well. She’s even willing to bet Lila Fowler that Bruce and Regina break up within two weeks. The stakes are high, and Jessica can’t afford to lose. If she has her way, Regina and Bruce won’t be happy for long.


This one was pretty cute. I really like Bruce with Regina. There’s just something about a hardened guy softening for a sweet girl :). Jessica tries to cause trouble, as usual, and Elizabeth tries to help everyone out. There were some really sweet moments between Elizabeth and Bruce in this, actually, including one where Elizabeth is so impressed by the changes in his behavior and attitude that she impulsively gives him a kiss on the cheek. It was really cute!

#17: Dancing Through Life: Steps of Courage and Conviction, by Candace Cameron

Candace Cameron Bure has grown up before our eyes and we’ve watched as she’s balanced life in Hollywood with her faith for many years. But that all reached new heights when she was given the opportunity to join the cast of Dancing With the Stars. Being on the show was one of her dreams come true; and with that dream came the opportunity to display her Christian faith in front of millions of people, through an intense season of stretching beyond her limits, and to run the race God gave her with joy and perseverance.

Join Candace as she reflects on the self-discovery that came through leaping out of her comfort zone. Go behind the scenes and experience the highs and lows, the roadblocks, and the personal victories. Hear straight from her heart on tough lessons learned about grace, rejection, perfectionism, disappointment, accountability, dealing with criticism, and more. Through God’s strength, and with the help of endless support from her family and friends, see how Candace stayed true to herself and publicly lived out her faith in Christ all the way to the finale.

How do you stand with conviction in your world? Where does your courage come from when faced with challenges? How do you live out your faith on a daily basis despite opposition? Your stage probably isn’t in Hollywood and the challenges you are facing may not be on live television, but they are no less real. Come along with Candace as she shares how she found the courage to stand with conviction on one of the largest platforms of her life.


I downloaded this for 99 cents back in 2015. Actually, I’ve gotten all three of Candace Cameron Bure’s books for 99 cents each, at some time or another. Not a bad deal! I’d only read one other one before this: Balancing It All. I liked that one because it was more autobiographical, describing her experience growing up as a child actress. This one was good, too, but it is about Dancing with the Stars and I don’t watch that show, nor have I ever even seen an episode of it! I think if you’re a big fan of DWTS (and don’t mind reading a lot about God) you’d probably enjoy the book a lot, as she really gives a detailed look from behind the scenes at how the show is run. Sounds pretty brutal!

The bulk of the book is about Candace’s experiences on the program, and how she tried to reconcile her religious beliefs with being part of a mainstream show sometimes known for “sexy” dances and tiny, potentially immodest costumes. Unsurprisingly, she received a lot of flak for participating in a secular show. Some of it seemed to me as though it might be rationalization (with her telling herself certain things were okay because she really wanted to continue being part of the show) but I suppose only she knows for certain. Regardless, it was an interesting read and gave me some things to think about.

#18: No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State, by Glenn Greenwald

In May 2013, Glenn Greenwald set out for Hong Kong to meet an anonymous source who claimed to have astonishing evidence of pervasive government spying and insisted on communicating only through heavily encrypted channels. That source turned out to be the 29-year-old NSA contractor and whistle-blower Edward Snowden, and his revelations about the agency’s widespread, systemic overreach proved to be some of the most explosive and consequential news in recent history, triggering a fierce debate over national security and information privacy. As the arguments rage on and the government considers various proposals for reform, it is clear that we have yet to see the full impact of Snowden’s disclosures.

Now for the first time, Greenwald fits all the pieces together, recounting his high-intensity ten-day trip to Hong Kong, examining the broader implications of the surveillance detailed in his reporting for The Guardian, and revealing fresh information on the NSA’s unprecedented abuse of power with never-before-seen documents entrusted to him by Snowden himself.

Going beyond NSA specifics, Greenwald also takes on the establishment media, excoriating their habitual avoidance of adversarial reporting on the government and their failure to serve the interests of the people. Finally, he asks what it means both for individuals and for a nation’s political health when a government pries so invasively into the private lives of its citizens—and considers what safeguards and forms of oversight are necessary to protect democracy in the digital age. Coming at a landmark moment in American history, No Place to Hide is a fearless, incisive, and essential contribution to our understanding of the U.S. surveillance state.


I really wanted to read this after watching Citizenfour and Snowden, and I was psyched when it went on sale for $2.99. Glad I got it; it was super interesting and I read it really fast. Although that may have had something to do with the fact that the day I started it, I got stuck at the dealership, having about twenty different things done to my car. I was there for hours and had plenty of time to read! Anyway, I liked it a lot. It will make you paranoid, though, if you aren’t already. Although is it really paranoia if we really are being watched-? :O 😉

#19: Amethyst, by Lauren Royal

London, 1666: Amethyst Goldsmith makes dazzling jewelry, but her future isn’t nearly as bright as the pieces she creates. Though custom dictates she wed her father’s apprentice, her heart rebels against the match. In mere days Amy will be condemned to a stifling, loveless marriage, and she sees no way out–until the devastating fire of 1666 sweeps through London, and tragedy lands her in the arms of a dashing nobleman who knows a diamond in the rough when he sees it…

Colin Chase, the Earl of Greystone, has his future all figured out. He’s restoring his crumbling castle and estate to its former glory, and the key to its completion is his rich bride-to-be. But the Great Fire lays waste to his plans, saddling him with trouble–in the form of a lowly shopkeeper’s daughter with whom he’s most inconveniently falling in love…


I’ve wanted to start this series for a while and I’m happy I finally did. This was quite cute. Felt a little too long toward the end, and the H had a strange personality quirk of liking to play odd pranks/practical jokes on people (they weren’t very funny) but aside from that I have no complaints!

Quote:

“…what he felt for her had nothing to do with wealth or position, and everything to do with the way just looking at her made the blood course through his veins. His need for her was illogical, emotional…Dangerous. It didn’t bear thinking about.”

#20: A Million Little Ways, by Emily P. Freeman

The majority of us would not necessarily define ourselves as artists. We’re parents, students, businesspeople, friends. We’re working hard, trying to make ends meet, and often longing for a little more–more time, more love, more security, more of a sense that there is more out there. The truth? We need not look around so much. God is within us and he wants to shine through us in a million little ways.

A Million Little Ways uncovers the creative, personal imprint of God on every individual. It invites the discouraged parent, the bored Christian, the exhausted executive to look at their lives differently by approaching their critics, their jobs, and the kids around their table the same way an artist approaches the canvas–with wonder, bravery, and hope. In her gentle, compelling style, Emily Freeman encourages readers to turn down the volume on their inner critic and move into the world with the courage to be who they most deeply are. She invites regular people to see the artistic potential in words, gestures, attitudes, and relationships. Readers will discover the art in a quiet word, a hot dinner, a made bed, a grace-filled glance, and a million other ways of showing God to the world through the simple human acts of listening, waiting, creating, and showing up.


Oh my gosh, this was so good! Freeman’s sort of flowery/poetic writing style took me a while to get into (and there were points where I didn’t really even know what she was saying, tbh) but overall, the message was great and I loved it.

It was hard to pick just one quote (I high-lighted SO much in this book) but here’s one:

“Instead of setting off on a journey to find your art, consider staying right where you are to uncover your art. Like the tree with roots crawling deep into the ground, God has already done the work of putting his art within you. I believe he’s asking us to do the work of uncovering what is already true and trusting him to release it for his glory and the benefit of others.”

#21: Once Upon A Bride, by various authors

Six captivating novellas from six New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors!

Fall in love with six grooms-to-be as you escape to medieval Scotland, 17th century England, 19th century America, Georgian London and the high seas. These steamy, seductive stories will warm your heart!

THE HANDFASTING by Glynnis Campbell
The Highlands, Scotland, 1199: When Sir Noel de Ware claims his betrothed—the most beautiful heiress in the Highlands—he’s sure he’s getting the best gift ever…until he discovers he’s wedded and bedded the wrong sister. Spirited Ysenda of Rivenloch never intended to be a counterfeit bride, and when she falls in love with her handsome husband, she becomes trapped in her own deception.

FOREVERMORE by Lauren Royal
England, 1667: Sensible Clarice Bradford is content in her widowhood. She has a pretty one-room cottage and a lovely little daughter, and the last thing she wants is another husband. Until one fairytale evening when she’s invited to a wedding at a castle…

FALL FROM GRACE by Jill Barnett
Scottish Highlands, 17th Century: The Clan McNish is left starving by their bitter rivals, the McNabs. Granddaughter to the chieftain, Grace McNish, decides it’s her duty to capture and ransom a vile McNab. But she and her clan of misfits capture the wrong man, Colin Campbell, Earl of Argyll and Lord of the Isles, who holds her clan’s fate in his powerful hands.

HEART OF FRAGILE STARS by Cynthia Wright
Georgian London and the High Seas: Dashing French pirate Jean-Philippe Beauvisage revels in his life of freedom…until the night at a ball in Georgian London, when a Russian beauty steals his heart. The instant attraction he feels for recently-orphaned Antonia is soul-deep, but she is bound for America with an arrogant captain.

THE FOUR-LEAF CLOVER by Cheryl Bolen
Missouri, 1870: The wealthiest man in Peace, Missouri, Norman Sterling can’t believe his good fortune when the beauty he worshiped from afar years ago moves to his town. At their Fourth of July picnic, he blurts out a proposal to Millie Gresham—and to his profound surprise, she accepts. But can she ever win his love?

A WINTER HEART by Annette Blair
Ohio, 1873: Hannah Peachy has nurtured a winter heart since she lost her family. Caleb Skylar struggles with the horror of his wife’s drowning. When Caleb aimlessly pulls up stakes and leaves his home behind, the spirit of Hannah’s earthbound twin leads him straight to Hannah. But how can two guilty souls accept love as a reward for their transgressions? A Sensual Amish Historical Romance.


This was such a great bargain at 99 cents!

I bought it because I wanted to read “Forevermore,” by Lauren Royal. That alone would have been more than worth the price, but I got 5 other stories out of it, so I’m happy. Especially since I liked all of them, and I LOVED the first story, “The Handfasting” by Glynnis Campbell. It was so cute and perfect. I looked her up and she’s got some free books available, which is nice except…it means I’ll probably end up with more books soon. Yeah, just what I need :/!

Cute quote: 

“’Ye know I’m your protector now.’ Indeed, he was surprised by just how fiercely protective he felt. “If anyone touches ye, he’ll have to answer to me.’

Her eyes went all soft and dewy when he said that. But he was serious.”

(from The Handfasting, by Glynnis Campbell)

‘Til next time, y’all!

XOXO,

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07172017

Had a really nice past few days with Steve, even though we didn’t do anything too special.

Thursday night we saw Spider-man: Homecoming, which I thought was a little too long but overall, cute and fun. I still haven’t quite gotten used to the movie theaters that have reclining seats in them but I have to admit they are comfy. I’m sure it won’t be long before I wind up falling asleep in one of them :).

Friday night I tried my hand at making pizza using beer in the crust. We had an odd number of Saint Arnold’s Art Car IPA, so I used the extra one in the recipe. It turned out pretty well but I think a different, darker beer might work better. Steve suggested Fat Tire and I think that would probably be really good!

Earlier in the week, a local furniture bank sent a truck out to pick up our old bed, which had been sitting in our garage since we moved to this apartment a few months ago. We knew before we even moved that we wanted to get rid of it. It’s too big and not very comfortable. But it’s hardly been used, so we wanted to find a good home for it if we could, and we didn’t have time to do that before packing up, so we just wound up bringing it along with us.

It took a lot of hunting to find a charity that would take it but I finally did. I’m glad the bed will now most likely be going to someone who can use it, and I’m also SO glad to have that crossed off my to-do list! The garage looks so much better now, too, without the mattresses and such stacked in it. Yesterday Steve and I re-arranged the stuff that’s left in there and it looks even nicer and neater now. It’s awesome every time we open the door and go in there.

No, it doesn’t take much to excite me :).

Yesterday was National Ice Cream Day, or so Steve told me. We went to get milkshakes. Mine was Oreo.

We started watching “Ash Vs. Evil Dead” on DVD from Netflix over the weekend. I don’t watch TV shows anymore, really, unless they are “Supernatural” or “The X-Files,” but we both wanted to give this one a shot because it ties into the Evil Dead movie series. We got through the first disc really quickly. It’s pretty hilarious so far — and gory. Groovy :).

Still watching “Twin Peaks: The Return,” too. It’s so bizarre, but I look forward to watching it every Sunday night. I hope there’s another season after this because it doesn’t seem as if the plot is going to wrap up in only 8 more episodes…or as if much of anything is really going to happen at all, TBH. Ha. But I am such a Lynch/”Twin Peaks” junkie, I really don’t mind. I will watch and/or read anything related to the show.

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Proof. Although I kinda feel like I need that little Funko log lady to make this complete.

I finished reading Just Kids by Patti Smith yesterday. It started off so cute but by the end it was a total bummer. I got to thinking about how, even though Patti and Robert Mapplethorpe were best friends for over twenty years, he has now been dead longer than they knew one another :(. The idea left me in a bit of a melancholy mood. But that is one more book knocked off the virtual TBR pile.

In happier news, the paperback version of The Real You should be available by the end of the week :). This has been largely Steve’s project and I’m so grateful he not only knows how to do these sorts of formatting-type-things, but that he’s willing to, and that he seems to enjoy it. The end product looks so great, I think. Can’t wait to give away some copies!

XOXO,

Books # 10 – 15

#10: Factotum, by Charles Bukowksi

One of Charles Bukowski’s best, this beer-soaked, deliciously degenerate novel follows the wanderings of aspiring writer Henry Chinaski across World War II-era America. Deferred from military service, Chinaski travels from city to city, moving listlessly from one odd job to another, always needing money but never badly enough to keep a job. His day-to-day existence spirals into an endless litany of pathetic whores, sordid rooms, dreary embraces, and drunken brawls, as he makes his bitter, brilliant way from one drink to the next.

Charles Bukowski’s posthumous legend continues to grow. Factotum is a masterfully vivid evocation of slow-paced, low-life urbanity and alcoholism, and an excellent introduction to the fictional world of Charles Bukowski.


I liked this a lot, although not as much as Ham on Rye. Factotum is quite funny but in a dark way, since the main character is a terrible alcoholic and his life is bleak. The book is much shorter than I’d anticipated. I read it in two days!

#11: Post Office, by Charles Bukowski

“It began as a mistake.” By middle age, Henry Chinaski has lost more than twelve years of his life to the U.S. Postal Service. In a world where his three true, bitter pleasures are women, booze, and racetrack betting, he somehow drags his hangover out of bed every dawn to lug waterlogged mailbags up mud-soaked mountains, outsmart vicious guard dogs, and pray to survive the day-to-day trials of sadistic bosses and certifiable coworkers. This classic 1971 novel—the one that catapulted its author to national fame—is the perfect introduction to the grimly hysterical world of legendary writer, poet, and Dirty Old Man Charles Bukowski and his fictional alter ego, Chinaski.


Like Factotum, this one was shorter than I’d anticipated. It went really quickly! This was darkly funny and interesting and I enjoyed it (although I probably liked Ham On Rye and Factotum better).

Btw, when I was a kid, I wrote a lot of letters to pen pals. I loved mail, and I used to think it would be so fun to work at the Post Office. This makes it sound awful, though. Ha.

#12: Heartless, by Marissa Meyer

Long before she was the terror of Wonderland, she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love. Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.

Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

In her first stand-alone teen novel, the New York Times-bestselling author dazzles us with a prequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.


I’m not a big Alice in Wonderland fan but I wanted to read this because I enjoyed Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles so, so much. I’d read the excerpt for this, too, and liked it. Ultimately, however, the book just wasn’t for me. It’s not that I disliked the writing – it is well-written – it just wasn’t my kind of story. Too dark for my taste. I’m still looking forward to Renegades, though.

#13: Dressed To Kiss, by various authors

True love never goes out of style….

Once renowned for creating the most envied gowns in London, Madame Follette’s dressmaking shop has fallen far out of fashion. The approaching coronation of King George IV offers a chance to reclaim former glory by supplying stunning new wardrobes to the most glittering society in Regency England. In the face of long-held secrets, looming scandals, and the potential ruin of their shop, the dressmakers of Follette’s are undaunted, not even by the most unexpected complication of all: true love.

The Duke’s Dressmaker by Madeline Hunter

When the Duke of Barrowmore walks into the dress shop, Selina Fontaine assumes her secret identity will compromised. Four years ago this man’s brother seduced her and abandoned her to scandal, and she holds the duke responsible. To her amazement the duke is more interested in pursuing her than exposing her, however—and that pursuit soon becomes seductively pleasurable.

The Colors of Love by Myretta Robens

Delyth Owen’s exuberant passion for her new job as a dressmaker at Madame Follette’s is matched only by her love of diverse, vibrant, and frequently unfortunate color combinations. Simon Merrithew, the pseudonymous author of a well-regarded fashion column, is horrified by the gown Delyth creates for a friend, and suspects her motives. He sets out to uncover her duplicity, but instead, he uncovers genuine joy and discovers the colors of love.

No Accounting for Love by Megan Frampton

Miss Katherine Grant is a lady’s companion, one whose number of dishonorable offers (six) greatly outweigh her honorable ones (zero). Now tasked with making certain her charge, Lady Euphemia, does not contract herself to someone inappropriate, she finds herself inexplicably drawn to Mr. Henry Dawkins, the inappropriate gentleman Lady Euphemia wants to charm, who keeps the books at Madame Follette’s. But it seems that Henry only has eyes for Miss Katherine Grant.

A Fashionable Affair by Caroline Linden

Madame Follette’s is Felicity Dawkins’s birthright; her mother founded it, and now she runs it. She’s fiercely committed to making it the most exclusive modiste in London. The Earl of Carmarthen also has big plans for the shop—he wants to buy it and tear it down, to make way for a grand new boulevard of shops. One way or another, he’s determined to persuade Felicity…not only to sell her shop, but to explore the passion that sparks between them every time they meet.


When I first heard about this book, I knew I wanted to read it. I’ve read a lot by Megan Frampton already and I like her humorous writing style, plus the premise of this book just sounded too cute. I like anthologies where all the different stories are inter-connected, and I wanted to read about the dress shop. I wasn’t disappointed; this turned out to be super cute. I enjoyed the first story best, and will definitely look for more books by the author, Madeline Hunter, because I liked her minimal writing style a lot, but all of the stories were entertaining in different ways. I will probably look for more stuff by all of the writers, actually.

#14: With My Eyes Wide Open, by Brian Welch

He left KoRn to help himself. He went back to help others. And along the way, he nearly lost everything.

A life-changing spiritual awakening freed Brian “Head” Welch from a stranglehold of drugs and alcohol and prompted him to leave the highly successful nu-metal band KoRn in 2005. What followed was a decade-long trial by fire, from the perils of fathering a teen lost in depression and self-mutilation to the harsh realities of playing solo and surviving the shattering betrayal of a trusted friend. In this intensely inspiring redemption saga, perhaps most inspiring is Brian’s radical decision to rejoin KoRn and reconcile with the tribe of people he once considered family in the metal music scene.

Brian returned to his musical roots with a clear head and a devoted heart. Though his story is wild, hilarious, and deeply poignant, the message is simple: God will love you into the freedom of being yourself, as long as you keep the relationship going and never, ever quit.


I read Brian’s previous book, Save Me From Myself and really liked it. This one was great, too; it was interesting to learn what happened to him after he left the band, and why he ultimately decided to rejoin Korn. I’m glad he did, because I love the band so much and I definitely think they are better with Brian around!

#15: Got the Life, by Fieldy

From Reggie “Fieldy” Arvizu, legendary bassist of nu-metal pioneers KORN, comes Got the Life: a no-holds-barred look at his extreme highs, drug- and-booze-fueled lows, and, finally, redemption through a conversion to Christianity. Got the Life is simultaneously an insider’s look at rock n’ roll superstardom—the good, the bad, and everything in between—and a survivor’s story of a life brought back from the precipice by a new found belief in religious salvation.


After finishing With My Eyes Wide Open I felt like reading more about Korn. I’m glad I did because this was so good! I’ve read a lot of “rock star books” over the years and it can get tiresome hearing about their binges, but I do always enjoy a good redemption story. This one seems like nothing short of a miracle, given just how horrible Fieldy’s self-described behavior was. He definitely doesn’t try to sugar-coat his past, and even for a rock star he sounds bad :(. But of course his life is completely different now and I’m very glad for him (and for us Korn fans :)).

Lots of travel, running, beer-drinking, and rock.

Just a quick update on what I’ve been doing with myself these past few months…:)

I’ve been fairly busy. Steve and I moved cities back in March and we’ve also been on several small trips, so it feels as though I’ve been “in transit” quite a lot this year.

In April we took a pretty big trip to Orlando, FL, to participate in the Star Wars Dark Side Challenge at Disney World. This was a 10K on Saturday followed by a half marathon on Sunday. We also did the 5K on Friday because…you know, that wasn’t enough running for us, apparently :). It was an, uh, interesting experience; one I’m not in a big hurry to have again, frankly! But I’m glad we went. We did have fun.

We flew to FL but drove back to TX afterward. Along the way, we stopped in New Orleans, LA because neither of us had ever been there before. That was interesting and fun, too. We had iced coffee and beignets at Café du Monde (not the super-popular one, but a different location in the city):

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D-licious…although they kinda skimp on the powdered sugar, don’t they?! 😉

…and on our way out of the city, we made a detour to Oak Alley Plantation, where we took a guided tour of the house and self-guided tour of an exhibit about slavery. Part of the movie Interview with the Vampire was filmed here. The house and grounds were quite gorgeous!

We got back home just in time for my birthday. Steve took me to see PJ Harvey in concert and then the following weekend we went to Dallas for the Texas Frightmare Weekend horror convention, where we met E.G. Daily, Michael Berryman (got those two to sign our The Devil’s Rejects poster) and Dario Argento!(!!)

Steve and I are also doing this Texas 6-pack 5K beer challenge thing this year, where you participate in a bunch of races at different independent craft breweries around the state. Each race benefits a different local charity. We’ve completed five so far, in San Marcos, Goliad, San Antonio, Seven Points, and Katy. These events have all been super fun, even if coming back from Seven Points (about an hour outside Dallas), we got stuck in major traffic for hours :(! Boo!!

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This “Sittin’ Sidehaze” from No Label Brewing Co. has been one of my favorites we’ve tried so far. I had two! :O

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Although I was excited to finally try the “Brew of H,” too — being a UH alum and all :).

Earlier this month we saw At the Drive-In, Metallica, and Iron Maiden in concert (not all at the same time, though, ha). They were all awesome performances and I’m really grateful I got to see them. Metallica and Maiden both have super impressive visual effects and stage shows! If you get the chance to check them out, I highly recommend it!

I think that’s all the fun stuff for now. Aside from that, I have been doing the usual:  being a hermit, doing housework, reading and writing most of the day :). Luckily, these are my favorite ways to spend the time. I’ll post an update on some of the books I’ve finished reading soon. It feels as though there a ton of them. What have you guys been up to?! I hope you’re well. xoxo,

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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