Thursday, October 31, 2019


How would you like to visit one of these haunted castles?
Don't they look cool?

Burg Frankenstein, Darmstadt, Germany

Bran Castle (Dracula's Castle), Romania

Chateau Miranda, Belgium

Leap Castle, Ireland

Happy Halloween!

(And be sure to check out My Favorite Halloween Movies!)

Monday, October 28, 2019

Fantastic Fiction...

In The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter, Theodora Goss weaves together a captivating mystery involving Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson and the daughters of several classic mad scientists: Mary Jekyll, Diana Hyde, Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherine Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein. Their fathers were all involved in the Societe des Alchimistes, a society devoted to helping humans and animals evolve through transmutation whose strange and terrible experiments involved their very own daughters! And while these men are all dead now, someone from their society has been killing women in London ... and stealing their body parts. Mary Jekyll is determined to figure out her father's part in the society, who this new murderer is, and what his ultimate goal may be.

There are lots of monsters and adventure in this one, and I enjoyed every page. I think it helps to be a little familiar with the original classics that Goss draws from, but she does a good job of having each character narrate enough of her own story to catch you up of you're not familiar with them or their infamous fathers. Mary Jekyll and Beatrice Rappaccini were by far my favorite of the bunch, but all of these headstrong heroines are well-drawn and memorable. And the mystery is a good one, too. But then any mystery with Sherlock Holmes in it is one I know I'll like. For me, this was just a fun read. It's also my fourth and last book for this year's R.I.P.

Happy Reading! 

Friday, October 25, 2019


I was in a bit of a bookish funk last week. Do you ever get in one of those? For some reason, I just couldn't seem to find a book I wanted to read. I started several different ones that all sounded good:

But in the end, I didn't finish any of them; I just wasn't in the right bookish mood. So, I returned them to the library and grabbed a book off my shelves instead: The Lost City of the Monkey God by Douglas Preston.

This is a book I've been meaning to read for a couple of years. And you know what? It did the trick! Douglas Preston's captivating writing pulled me into the narrative and I got caught up in the history of this lost city and all the previous jungle expeditions that trekked through the inhospitable and unexplored Honduran rain forest in search of this ancient legend. It was fascinating and fun. And I always love that primeval jungle setting. Best of all, this adventurous nonfiction tale pulled me out of my bookish funk. Gotta love a book good enough to do that!

Happy Reading!

Similar nonfiction read:

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

October's Bookish Art...

Edward Burne-Jones -- Portrait of Katie Lewis

"One must always be careful of books and what is inside them, 
for words have the power to change us."
--Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Angel

Saturday, October 19, 2019

The Anomaly by Michael Rutger

       "You're that guy ... The You Tuber. That archeologist guy. Unsolved mysteries and stuff."
       This, I should note, seldom happens. My grin in response was charming, and the accompanying shrug could have been used as a Wikipedia illustration of self-deprecation.
       "Guilty as charged," I said. "I am indeed Nolan Moore."

Nolan Moore is a failed screenwriter who is now the face of The Anomaly Files, a small-time YouTube show that seeks to uncover unexplained phenomena and other strange mysteries. This time he and his crew--his producer, Ken, assistant producer, Molly, and cameraman, Pierre, as well as a journalist and one of their new backers--are on the trail of a 1909 explorer who claims to have found a mysterious cavern hidden somewhere high up in the Grand Canyon reportedly full of wonderful things. This time their expedition is backed by the Palinhelm Foundation, and they have a shot at making the move to cable TV if they can actually find this cavern. Despite his immense amount of research on this project, Nolan doesn't really believe it'll be there, so when they do find a cave where he predicted it would be, he's as surprised as everyone else. Eager to enter and explore, none of them stop to question if what's hidden deep inside this lost cavern should be shown to the world...or if there's a reason what's inside should stay hidden forever.
It felt strange to be standing in a place where at some point -- hundreds or thousands of years ago -- there had been an intense fire and great heat. That was gone now, along with any hope of understanding what had caused it. All that remained was an unpleasant olfactory echo. And us, stuck, with no way out.
 The suspense mounts slowly in this one, but I thought it was a fun escapist adventure. But then, I've always liked survival stories that take place in mysterious caves. And you'll never guess what's in this one! Nolan is a fun character who doesn't take himself too seriously but is a surprisingly good person to have around in an emergency. I liked him and his crew (even though I thought Ken used the f-word a little too much.) There are some good twists along the way as they explore the cave, and some tense and suspenseful moments as they try to find a way back out. I liked Rutger's writing, though I did think the ending was a bit fantastic and out-there. Still, The Anomaly is a pretty entertaining read. (And it'd make a great Syfy movie.)

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Mystery & suspense...

Title & Author:  The Retreat by Mark Edwards

The Setting:  Nyth Bran, a writer's retreat in North Wales

The Main Characters:  
JULIA -- the owner of Nyth Bran who's still grieving the disappearance of her young daughter, Lily.
LUCAS RADCLIFFE -- a horror writer who's working on his next book...or trying to anyway.
MAX, SUZI, and KAREN -- the other writers at the retreat.
ZARA SULLIVAN -- the private  detective Lucas hires to look into Lily's disappearance.

The Mystery:  Three years ago, eight-year-old Lily disappeared along the River Dee. Most assumed she drowned, but her body was never found. Did her disappearance have anything to do with the legend of the Red Widow? Did a stranger take her? Or is she still alive as her mother believes? Her disappearance is not the only mystery at Nyth Bran. Strange things have been happening at night:  a girl's voice singing, an unexplained smell of fear, and a whispered warning, "You're not welcome here!" Are Lucas and the others being haunted by Lily's ghost? Or by something more sinister? And what is watching Lucas and Julia from down in the woods?

My Thoughts:  This is a tangled and twisty, compelling and eerie mystery. I didn't guess where it was headed, but I happily went along for the ride. It's entertaining; and it's a page-turner! Lucas was my favorite character, but maybe that's because I've always been drawn to characters who are writers. I also really liked the way Mark Edwards writes. I'd definitely read him again. The Retreat is a fun R.I.P. read.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, October 13, 2019


Got the time?
Here is the perfect clock for all of us bookworms:
(Don't you love it?)

On unwanted blog comments.  Like all of you, I get spam comments from time to time on my blog. All from Anonymous, of course. They're mostly annoying, but sometimes I do get a good laugh out of them. Like these recent ones:

  • I used to be able to find good advice from your blog posts.
  • With exactly what went via your head: uhh.
  • Heart tattoos can encompass lots of senses.
  • Generally Ido nnot read article onn b1ogs, but I would like to say that this write-up very forced mee to try and do sso!.
  • Hack my singing monsters.
  • Plus, solar panels are not transportable either.

So, there you go. Pithy comments from questionable sources that I usually delete as spam, but thought I'd share this time around. Hope you got a laugh from them like I did. (The last one is my favorite.)

Have you seen these Strange Planet cartoons by Nathan W. Pyle? They're all about aliens interpreting life here on earth in ways that always make me smile. Here are two of my favorites... the one with the three-eyed dog, and the one where they're watching a horror movie:

Funny, right?
Pyle has a book of these clever cartoons coming out next month:

And I definitely want it!

Happy Reading!

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Seek by Anthony O'Neill

"If he be Mr. Hyde, I shall be Mr. Seek."

As Henry Jekyll's lawyer, Gabriel Utterson was one of the only people who knew that Dr. Jekyll was also Mr. Hyde. So when Edward Hyde was found dead almost seven years ago, Utterson knew his friend, Henry, was dead, too. But he couldn't tell anyone how he knew without revealing his friend's darkest secret. So, when a man suddenly appears in London claiming to be Henry Jekyll, Utterson is the only one who knows he's an imposter. Everyone else thinks that Jekyll has finally come home. And Utterson can't convince them of the truth. In fact, the more he argues the point, the more they start to question his own motives....and his sanity. To make matters worse, as Utterson obsessively seeks to prove that Jekyll is an imposter, he discovers that several people who once knew and could identify the real Henry Jekyll have recently died. Is it just a coincidence? Utterson himself imagining things that just aren't real?

I found Utterson's search for answers in this book quietly compelling. I also empathized with his frustration at not being able to convince anyone else of the truth. And the suspense really mounts when he begins to question his own sanity. Could Jekyll really be alive? Is Utterson going mad?

I love Robert Louis Stevenson's original tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and while this sequel doesn't equal that one, it's still a fun mystery. It's short, only 216 pages. And Anthony O'Neill does a good job of capturing the unsettling atmosphere of the original novel. The ending, though, is a bit abrupt and not nearly as satisfying as I wanted it to be. For me, it left a few too many questions unanswered--questions that the author himself raised. So, I didn't love this one, but I did like it. Best of all, it counts as my second R.I.P. read

Happy Reading! 

Monday, October 7, 2019

Got Monsters?

If Monet Painted a Monster by Amy and Greg Newbold is a whimsical picture book that imagines how 16 famous artists, from Frida Kahlo to James Whistler, might have painted a monster. The text is fun and the artwork amazing. I loved the entire book! Here are just two of my favorite illustrations:

(A play on Edward Hopper's Nighthawks...

(...and M.C. Escher.)

Now don't you want to buy the book and see the rest?

Happy Reading!

Their other picture books, If Picasso Painted a Snowman and If da Vinci Painted a Dinosaur are equally amazing. If you haven't already seen them, be sure to check them out. They're awesome!

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Wicked Fox (Gumiho #1) by Kat Cho

Gumiho -- n. an immortal nine-tailed female fox who can take the shape of a human woman, and who survives by consuming the gi, or energy, of men. 

Miyoung is eighteen and half-gumiho, half-human; in order to live she takes the energy of human men every full moon, killing them at the same time. But she's not a monster. With the help of Nara, a young shaman who sees ghosts, she chooses men who aren't innocent, but who are guilty of their own terrible crimes. It's not ideal, but she doesn't want to die.
"If I stop absorbing gi for a hundred days, I'll die. I trade human energy for my life and for immortality."
Jihoon, on the other hand, is a typical Korean teenager. He prefers video games to school and usually manages to charm his way out of trouble with his boyish grin. He stumbles upon Miyoung one night in the woods just after she's fed. She ends up saving him from a dokkaebi, a powerful goblin, losing her fox bead in the process (that's the bead that holds her gumiho soul). It's a problem. Jihoon now knows her secret, and that puts both of them in danger because the gumiho have many enemies. But even though Miyoung tells Jihoon to leave her alone, he persists in trying to be her friend. Because he can't seem to forget her.
"It had been a long week of thinking of Miyoung. Of worrying about her. Of remembering that night in the rain. That night ... he'd been tempted to kiss her. He'd wanted to see if she'd taste like rain. He suspected it was more likely she'd taste like lightning."
Melody suggested we read this book for our next buddy read and I'm so glad she did! I loved the fantasy part of it that revolves around the Korean folklore of the gumiho, and the dokkaebi, and the shamans and their power; and I loved the 'teen-ness' of Jihoon's friendship and growing feelings for Miyoung, and her guardedness against getting involved with him...or any human. Jihoon's loving relationship with his aging grandmother was another favorite part. Miyoung's mother, Yena, on the other hand, kind of scared me. The modern-day Seoul backdrop, with its distinctive culture, added really nice flavor to the entire story. This fun YA novel has humor and magic and suspense, along with death and loss, forgiveness and love.

I also thought it was really well-written, though there were times when the dialogue felt a little stilted and not quite realistic. And I could have done without the epilogue. But overall, I really liked this one. The chapters are short, so it reads fast. The characters are great. And there's even an unexpected twist or two at the end. Be sure to check out Melody's review of this entertaining novel!

Happy Reading!

Here are Melody's questions for me...and my answers:

Q. Prior to reading this book, have you heard of this Korean mythology featuring the mystical nine-tailed fox? In this story, what do you think of Miyoung preying on men who did evil deeds?
A. I'm not very familiar with Korean mythology and wasn't familiar with the gumiho at all. But after reading this book, I'd like to read more about these Korean myths and legends. And while I've never been a fan of characters meting out their own justice on people, I sympathized with Miyoung's desire to not be a monster while she's forced to kill in order to stay alive herself. The fact that she tries to only steal the life energy of evil men made me like her a little more.

Q. Love and trust seem to be the core factor surrounding this story. Which scenario touched you the most? 
A. Jihoon doesn't really know his father, and his mother left him with his grandmother when he was four, so it was his relationship with his grandmother that touched me the most. Especially what she was willing to sacrifice in order to save his life. That kind of love always makes me cry.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week's theme is Book Titles With Numbers In Them. I did a very similar post to this several years ago called Reading By The Numbers where I listed ten book titles with numbers from 1 to 10; I even added a classics version. So, to change it up a little bit today, I decided to choose ten books from my Goodreads "want to read" list that have numbers in their titles. These are some of the books I hope to read this next year:

Seven At Sea by Erik & Emily Orton

The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib

One Way by S.J. Morden

The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring

Zero Sum Game by S.L. Huang

The Six Sacred Stones by Matthew Reilly

The Seventh Plague by James Rollins

The Tenth Muse by Catherine Chung

The Dinosaur Four by Geoff Jones

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

Happy Reading!