Review – 20th Century Ghosts

51a575Ka2sLBook Review: “20th century ghosts,” by Joe Hill

For Valentine’s day, I got the missing piece to a collection that I hadn’t even realized I had started – all of Joe Hill’s published works.  The missing piece to this…shall we call happy but accidental collection, was “20th Century Ghosts.

Like his father, Stephen King, Joe Hill is often categorized as a horror writer.  Don’t get me wrong, a lot of what he writes is downright creepy.  “Heart Shaped Box” not only kept me up wondering what would happen to its main characters, it also gave me terrifying nightmares of deadly hypnotizing ghosts.

I don’t know how I would classify “20th Century Ghosts.”  This book of short stories does have horror type stories – the first one in particular is the most typical of the genre.  But it also has stories about families, friends, murder, bugs, and some that are just strange.

Out of the collection of stories, I think my favorites are “20th Century Ghost” and “Pop Art,” which are less scary and more sweet.

“20th Century Ghost” is about an old man who runs a movie theater that is haunted by a ghost of a teenage girl…who happens to be a movie buff and a somewhat chatty one at that.

“Pop Art” is a story about a young boy and his best friend…who happens to be inflatable.  And before you ask, no – not that kind of doll.  But, as you can imagine, it would be hazardous to live as an inflatable person…so many things could be the end of you, including a vicious dog named Happy.  It was a touching piece, and it is from this story that I’ll choose my quote for the book –

“It is my belief that, as a rule, creatures of Happy’s ilk – I am thinking here of canines and men both – more often run free than live caged, and it is in fact a world of mud and feces they desire, a world with no Art in it, or anyone like him, a place where there is no talk of books or God or the worlds beyond this world, a place where the only communication is the hysterical barking of starving and hate-filled dogs.” – Joe Hill, “20th Century Ghosts

I loved this book and I loved the dedication page of the novel (as I am and will always be a hopeless romantic, even if lately I’ve been doing a good job of pretending not to be), which reads:  “To Leanora: We are my favorite story.”   Oh Joe Hill, you fabulous, romantic bastard…who also happens to write excellent novels, short stories, and graphic novels.  <Sigh>  Can’t say I’d mind a dedication like that to me.

Five out of five stars.

Wisdom from the road

IMG_2200Wisdom from the road

I travel a lot for work and being away from family, friends, and my dog can make me somewhat introspective and poetic.  This past week, I was traveling for business and on the trip home (perhaps due to being over-tired), I was struck by the wisdom in the traditional airline safety demonstration –

“Remember to secure your mask before helping others.”

Yes, I know it’s a little cheesy to relate this to a life message.  But, hear me out.

As someone who always tries help people and often puts the needs of others ahead of my own, I know that it’s easy to lose track of your own needs while being a good friend, family member, or spouse.  Sometimes, people feel guilty about taking care of themselves, thinking that it means that they’re selfish.  But (assuming you don’t always put your needs above others and don’t only think about yourself), being good to you is an important part of being healthy.  After all, you can’t do a good job of helping other people breathe, if you’re gasping for your own breath.

So, take care of other people, help other people, be good to other people…but also remember to be good to yourself too.  :)  Have a great weekend, readers…and take care of yourself. :)

Binge TV Review – The Fall

“The Fall,” a binge watching review (thanks to the magic of Netflix)

Stella Gibson is a Metropolitan Police Superintendent, who is tasked with investigating a recent murder of a young, brunette woman in Belfast.  But it isn’t long before Stella realizes that she’s got a serial killer on her hands.

Paul Spector is a grief counsellor, a husband, a doting father…and a murderer – who first breaks into women’s apartments and then later returns to murder them.   

 Oh Netflix, have I told you lately that I love you?  But I digress, let’s talk about Gillian Anderson’s new series, “The Fall.”  

Side note: I have always been a sucker for crime/mystery genre, and have been known to binge watch Investigation Discovery – informative murder porn for those of you who watch South Park…I’ve also called it “the trust channel,” since it is so not good at helping my trust issues. :p

Anyway, the fall has everything a crime drama junkie like me loves – excellent plot, clever investigator tracking down the criminal, well developed and multidimensional characters (including the bad guy)…as well as extras I wasn’t expecting – strong female lead, social commentary, and <yay!> feminist undertones!

One more point of interest, I don’t know about you, but when I think of Gillian Anderson, I think of Scully -

 

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 and the awesomeness of 90’s style Scully suits.  I loved the X-Files (actually, still do – I watch old episodes all the time) and there is a special place in my heart for Scully.  

So, when I first pressed play to watch “The Fall,” I expected to see awesome Scully.  Instead, I got feisty & feminist Stella Gibson.

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Way different look and way different character.  But still a strong, smart, and clever woman.  

Though I do feel like when faced with the smart, take-no-bullshit, kick ass Stella Gibson even the smoking man would have fallen into line…

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lol.  Sorry.  But it’s true and now Stella Gibson has a special place in my heart for kick ass feminism and all around bad assery. 

Five out of five stars, you should totally  check out “The Fall!”

Lottery’s Permission To Dream

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Just before leaving for work, a coworker reminded me to buy a lottery ticket – you see, because the jackpot tonight is huge.

I work in numbers, so both my co-workers and I know the astronomical odds of actually winning (I think your odds are better for being struck by lightening….twice).  And yet, we played a game I haven’t played since learning the Spanish subjunctive clause in high school – “if I won the lottery, I would…”  :)

Any other day, waxing poetically about what you would do with a million (or more) dollars is overly silly for most adults.  And yet, when the jackpot is large enough, the lottery gives us permission for these fun, child-like dreams.

Hmmmm…what would I do if I were to win the jackpot?  I’d donate a good amount to charities and scholarship funds, take my co-workers out to a fancy steak dinner (we came up with a “gentlemen’s agreement” for this before we left for the day), give a good amount to family & friends, travel, lobby Congress in a fabulous pantsuit for positive social change (like paid maternity/paternity/adoptive parental leave in the U.S.), buy a house with lots of land for dogs and horses…and of course, buy my dog that diamond doggie collar she so deserves. :)  Though I don’t really need to win the lottery to do some of those…at least in moderation.  But it’s always fun to imagine what to do if I won…and hey, the dream only costs a $2 ticket.  Wish me luck ;)

What would you do if you won the lottery?

Locke and Key – Volume 3

Graphic Novel Review: Locke & Key Volume 3 – Crown of Shadows

Locke+and+Key+Vol.+3-+Crown+of+ShadowsTy, Kinsey, and Bode return in Locke & Key’s third installment – Crown of Shadows.  While their mom continues to struggle to come to terms with the brutal massacre that caused them to move to the Keyhouse, the Locke kids meet new people, get into trouble, and kick some serious ass.

Kinsey, now free of the parts of her that are responsible for fear and negative self image, makes two new friends….and then proves why a little bit of fear is a good thing when she nearly gets them all killed in a cave by the water.  Bode helps find two new keys while being ridiculously cute.  And Ty continues on that great rite of passage known as flirting terribly with your crush. (Ah high school, I do not miss you at all.)

Also Dodge…. dude. It’s not enough that he’s some kind of undead classmate of their father’s, secretly terrorizing them (while pretending to be their friend), and searching for the rest of the magical keys (one of which he uses to unleash creepy shadow monsters on the Locke kids)…he is also trying to romance Kinsey.  To which I must respond with a quote from Archer Vice - “damn dog, inappropes.” :p

Five out of five stars for Volume 3 – it did an excellent job of continuing the story, ratcheting up the tension, and deepening character detail, all with spectacular art, dialogue, and plot.  I’m hoping that I get more backstory on Dodge and Rendell Locke in the later books, as well as on the guy who forged the keys way back in the day. So curious!

Gaslight(-ing)

Gaslight 

Source: IMDB "Gaslight"

Source: IMDB “Gaslight”

When Paula was young, she suffered a traumatic loss – the death of her aunt and guardian.  The murder was never solved and the young Paula traveled to Italy to escape this horrible past.

Years later, she falls in love and marries a man who convinces Paula to move back to England to the small house in a square that she used to share with her aunt.

But it isn’t long before strange things start happening.  Paula starts hearing noises at night, seems to grow forgetful, and thinks she sees the gaslight in her room flicker after her husband leaves the house.  As these strange events persist, her husband asks her to not leave the house and not let any one in either.

Side note:  When houses used gas for light, if I were in the living room reading and you turned on the light in the bedroom, the gaslight in the living room would flicker.  If this were to happen when you were alone in a house, you would get creeped out.  I mean, imagine if you were home alone and all of a sudden, the light in an empty room turned on.  Scary, right? If it happened enough, you’d wonder if your house was haunted or worse, that you were going crazy.

It’s not really a spoiler alert to tell you that Paula’s husband is behind all of these weird events and worse, that he manipulates his wife into nearly having a breakdown.  It’s an interesting movie and if you have a chance, check it out.  But this 1944 movie isn’t just a psychological thriller, its premise coined a term for a very real terror – gaslighting.

Taking its definition from the movie, gaslighting refers to psychological abuse in which the abuser lies and twists the information or situations in order to disorient their victim to the point of making the person doubt their memory or sanity.

According to the CDC psychological or emotional abuse can include:

  • Humiliating the victim
  • Controlling what the victim can and cannot do
  • Withholding information
  • Isolating the victim from friends or family
  • Controlling access to money or denying the victim access to money or other basic resources
  • Threatening loss of custody of children
  • Disclosing information that would tarnish the victim’s reputation
  • Prohibiting access to transportation
  • Stalking

 According to a PDF report from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:

  • 17.9% of women have experienced a situation where an intimate partner tried to keep them from seeing family and friends.
  • Women who earn 65% or more of their household’s income are more likely to be psychologically abused.
  • And it’s not just women  – 4 in 10 women and 4 in 10 men have experienced at least one form of coercive control by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

Educate yourself at National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Witchy Women – American Horror Story Season 3 Review

American Horror Story – Season 3 “The Coven”

AHSCovenPosterOh American Horror Story, you’ve restored my faith in you with the “Coven,” or as I like to say, “I’m all about the witches, bitches.” :)

“Coven” follows a small group of yes, witches (duh, it’s in the name) within a secret school.  There are enemies outside the group – witch-hunters and a voodoo queen with a serious grudge.  But even more dangerous, there are enemies within the house and within the coven itself, as the witches strive to determine who the next supreme (the head witch) will be.

From the first episode to the last, this series does an excellent job with plot, twists, and characters (yay for interesting and strong women!).  Loved everything – the story, the main characters, side characters, and strong characters.  Side note though: whenever they’d talk about the next “supreme,” I kept thinking of “Toddlers & Tiaras” and all the weird kid beauty pageants.

Also, this season had excellent guest appearances from Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, and Stevie Nicks – which totally made me download a bunch of Fleetwood Mac music because, hey there’s so much wisdom in there.  I mean, players really do only love you when they’re playing.  And you really shouldn’t stop thinking about tomorrow either. ;)

And may I just say, Angela Bassett – you look fabulous.  I wish I could look as good as you do now, let alone when I’m in my 50’s.

Sadly, that’s the end of the seasons available on Netflix, so I’m not sure when I’ll be able to start the fourth season, “Freak Show.”  Boo.  I’ll have to find some other dark and/or thrilling TV series to watch on Netflix.  Lucky for me, there are a ton to pick from. :)

Five out of five stars for “Coven,” and I can’t wait for Netflix to have the next season!!

Guest Post from the Bookish Mouse

Yay for Guest Posts!  This post is from my best friend, Marisa, at the Bookish Mouse.  Marisa gives the most enjoyable (and often smutty) book recommendations ever.  We have also been known to giggle (and perhaps cackle) in the aisles of major bookstores. I also like to play a game  in B&N (much to Marisa’s chagrin) called, “can we find a shelf full of books that Marisa hasn’t read?”  As she is a voracious reader, it takes quite some time to find a shelf without at least one book she’s read.  Enjoy… ;)

Originally, I was going to write about angsty heroes in romance novels. Because there are heroes with so much angst. The kind of angst that makes him feel all the feels. These are my catnip.
But! I recently found myself wanting something to read and not being able to decide on what (as I do). I settled on a book I downloaded during one of Barnes and Noble’s Free Friday giveaways: Still Life With Murder, by P.B. Ryan.

P.B Ryan, by the way, is her mystery books name. Guess what she writes as Patricia Ryan? Romance novels!

You’re welcome.

This is the first in a series of 6 books. It tells the story of Nell Sweeney, an Irish woman that works as a governess for a little girl that a wealthy family in post-Civil War Boston adopts. The family, the Hewitts, are one of the wealthiest and oldest families in the city. They had four sons, two of which died in the infamous Andersonville prison camp.

Or did they?

Well, one of them did. The other reappears after being accused of murdering a man outside of a gaming hell, which also happens to house an opium den. William Hewitt hid from his family for at least three years after the war, spending his time gambling and feeding an opium addiction.

William’s mother, Viola, has Nell investigate and try to clear Will of the murder charge. Will doesn’t make it easy for Nell to help him. He deals with demons from the war, but also with demons from a difficult childhood.

During one conversation with Nell, William explains that one of the reasons he’s kept away from his family is his guilt over failing to help one of his young brothers. He tells her: “And, too, I saw something of myself in him–those of us with an appetite for sin always recognize it in others–and I didn’t like what I saw.”

This is one tortured man. I love it.

Nell, too, has some angst, but in general she’s a badass. She has to hide her awesome badassery, however, in order to keep the life she’s worked so hard to acquire. Her background is less than genteel–which the whole being-Irish-in-19th-century-Boston tells you–but she’s intelligent and determined.

One of the things I liked most about this book is how it highlights the complexity of women’s lot in life during this time period. At one point, Nell muses about how much she knows that ladies shouldn’t know. Are these women really being protected or are they pretty much prisoners within their fancy homes?

I enjoyed this book immensely. I’ll be checking out her romance books when I’m done with this series.

Five stars!

P.S. As of this writing, the e-book is still available for free both from Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

Burning down the House (Daily Prompt)

WordPress Daily prompt: Burning Down the House – Your home is on fire. Grab five items (assume all people and animals are safe). What did you grab?

At first, I thought this prompt would be easy.  People and animals are safe, so I only have to worry about things.  Thoughts quickly raced through my head – my laptop (has all of my writing and pictures), phone (has all of my music and contacts), typewriter (because I love my Remy), writing desk (because it’s a fabulous wooden desk with claw feet!  claw feet!), and hmmm I’d have to decide what book…

But then I thought about it more (I am an over-thinker) and really, what is worth risking the flames to save?  What things do I have that are truly irreplaceable?

Passports, licenses, and credit cards are replaceable.  And while you might want to take them to save you from all that paperwork, I’m going to replace them in a few weeks when I change back to my maiden name.  My diploma could burn – the university could ship me another copy and I can buy another frame.  Besides, I carry my education with me where ever I go.

So fire, these can serve as your breakfast.

With iClouds and backups, most of my writing and pictures would be safe.  The same could be said of all of my music, contacts, and many of my books.

Fire, you can eat my electronics for lunch.

And jewelry?  When I was married, I’d say my wedding and engagement rings.  But now that I’m getting a divorce, I’d gladly leave those behind.  I’ve been meaning to get rid of them anyway…

So by all means fire, have these for your dinner.

As someone who had her life go up in smoke last year, I can tell you this – you’d be surprised what you can live without and what is truly irreplaceable…and more, you’d be surprised what better things you’ll find after the flames have feasted on what you thought was important.

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Coffee Confessional

Office Worker Confessions #2 – Coffee

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I don’t know how to make coffee……on purpose.

Why?  Well, first of all – I don’t drink it, so why would I learn how to make it?  I’m weird and grew up in New England, so I only drink tea (mmmmmm chai lattes are awesome).

But also in honor of all of the women in the workforce who have fetched or made coffee in the last, oh 100 years or so.  Also known as….

…feminist bad-assery. ;)  Happy Monday, office workers!