#T5W: Gateway Books To Your Favorite Genre

top5

This week’s Top 5 Wednesday is covering the topic of gateway books. In your favorite genre, what books are best for newcomers? Firstly, my favorite genre is horror. Secondly, I’ve read so much of it that this was a little difficult. So many books seemed important or worthy or as if they’d easily win over a new reader. This is a narrowed down list, and hopefully I can make it sound compelling.

5. John Dies at the End by David Wong. This is one of my favorite horror novels of all time, and the reason I think it works as an introductory book is it doesn’t take itself seriously at all. It’s a horror comedy. That’s often a good way to ease someone in, especially when I find that most people don’t try horror because they’re afraid it will scare them too badly. This book has scares and gross-outs, but it also handles it all with humor, poop jokes, and great characters. Surely that doesn’t sound too intimidating. But also entertaining.

4. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. While this is paranormal and weird, it’s also psychological. Again, a good way to lure people in who are afraid of trying horror is by going for things that could also fit in the thriller category. Most readers are always ready for something psychologically twisted, even if they’re not ready for extreme bouts of violence. This fits that slot nicely. It’s also a modern classic, so when facing someone who wants to debate the literary worth of horror, I’d throw this their way.

3. The Books of Blood by Clive Barker. Short stories are another good way to prod someone into trying something new. It’s not a huge commitment like a whole novel. Just read this one short story. See if you can get them hooked in until suddenly, whoops, they’ve read the whole book. This particular set of stories is shocking and beautifully written and very affecting. Grab-you-by-the-throat sort of stuff that’s probably best for people who aren’t as nervous about the horror factor.

2.The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris. A very popular best seller is also a good place to start. Especially if it’s gained the reputation this one has, becoming a horror classic as the years have passed. Hannibal Lecter is an audience favorite, so it shouldn’t be hard to convince someone to try this. More than being outright violent, this book is tense and suspenseful, which at its heart is where fear really lies. It’s a perfect example of horror done right.

1. The Shining by Stephen King. Of course the ultimate choice would have to be Stephen King. The hard part is which one. This is more a placeholder than anything, since depending on the reader, I might make different choices. The Shining, like many of the choices I’ve made, is a modern horror classic. It stands the test of time. It’s a good place to start with King’s massive bibliography. It’s rare that I’ve heard anyone say they didn’t enjoy this book, meaning it has mass appeal. It’s a book that when someone says they want to read horror, it’s the first that gets mentioned, and there is a reason for that. It’s the perfect place to start.

If you enjoyed this article and wish to support this blog, check out my Redbubble shop. As always, happy geeking!

Advertisements

TBR: Spoopy Reads

tbr_banner

I don’t normally do TBRs, because I don’t like feeling hemmed in by choices I made that might not interest me in the moment. I’m a total mood reader. For October, on the other hand, I dedicate myself to reading nothing but horror. The TBR system works pretty well for me in this one case, because horror is my jam. I’m always in the mood for it, and even books I don’t like satisfy my craving for it.

So here are several books I’m eying for this Halloween season. Will they all get read? Maybe, maybe not. I always give myself a big pile so that I’ll have some choice.

Burnt Offerings by Robert Marasco. I appear to be already reading this. My Goodreads account doesn’t reflect that, because it was a spontaneous decision. This is the story of a family of three who are going to house-sit a haunted mansion for a few months, and it was written before The Shining. My curiosity was too high to deny it, so probably expect this in the September wrap-up.

This Book Is Full Of Spiders by David Wong. This is the sequel to John Dies at the End, a book I read last year and fell completely in love with. I’ve been meaning to get to this for months, so this is a pretty sure thing. I want to see what David and John are up to and also catch up before the third book comes out. Here’s hoping this series goes on indefinitely, simply because I want it to.

Death Instinct by Bentley Little. I already started this one a couple months ago, and I really should finish it. I balked because it’s not one of his better ones. I think I’ve solved the mystery already, and if I’m right, it’s a disappointing plot twist. But I want to give it a chance. I want to see if I’m the sleuth I think I am. This is a strong maybe.

The Merciless II: The Exorcism of Sofia Flores by Danielle Vega. That’s a mouthful. I read the first book a few months ago, and it was a wonderful, nasty time. For YA horror, it sure didn’t pull a single punch. It’s time to complete the duology and see what the aftermath of that madness was like. I haven’t heard very encouraging things, but I want to see for myself.

After the People Lights Have Gone Off by Stephen Graham Jones. It’s always good to have a short story collection in the mix, since I read those at a quick pace. This is a recent purchase, meaning I’m freshly excited about it, so it’s likely to get read. Also, there’s a werewolf story in here? I say that tentatively (because I’m not entirely sure) but also with palpable excitement.

Grotesque by Natsuo Kirino. This is one of those books that’s been sitting on my shelf for too long. It’s time to tackle it. I’ve been wanting to get into more Japanese horror, and this one is highly regarded. It’s also good to have a thriller on hand, since they tend to be quick, involving reads. This promises to have that “the narrator is a bit off” vibe that I love my thrillers to have, so I’m eager to try this out.

Baal by Robert McCammon. This is one of those times I’m glad I’m a blogger and not a vlogger. Because don’t even ask me to pronounce that title. I haven’t read a ton of McCammon, and I’m trying to rectify that, but what I have read has been mostly great. This one keeps staring at me, calling to me for some reason… Should I be worried?

Strange Angels by Kathe Koja. Another thriller. This one is about art and mental illness and all the twisted things in-between. I love Koja’s lyrical style and the dark subjects she tackles. She has a gift for giving you the shivers unlike anything I’ve ever seen. I’ve been meaning to read another of her novels, and this is the perfect excuse.

Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler. I gotta have a vampire book in there. This is an author I’ve been meaning to get into, though I’ve heard this maybe isn’t the place to start. However I end up feeling about this book, I promise I won’t let it be the only chance I give her. I’ve heard this one is very disturbing, because we’re dealing with a rather young vampire here, but disturbing is what I signed up for. We shall see.

There are so many more I could list, but I think I’m being very ambitious even listing this many. If I read more than what I have here or even make different choices down the line, it’ll be in the wrap-up. For now, these are the ones calling to me.

Thanks for checking out my spoopy TBR. If you want to support this blog, have a look at my Redbubble shop. As always, happy geeking!

Horror Triple Feature

htf_banner

Welcome to a new type of article I’m trying out: Horror Triple Feature. Where I wrap-up the three most recent horror flicks I’ve watched.

howling4The Howling IV: The Original Nightmare. The Howling sequels are not known for being the most well-made things on the planet, but I’m surprised to say this wasn’t that bad. Especially for straight-to-video. Decent special effects considering the $2 million budget. The story was interesting if a bit convoluted. It felt like those games you play when you’re a kid. Someone is pretending to be a wizard, and when you think you’ve gotten a hit in on them, they shout something about having a forcefield. And you try to argue them down, but they keep changing the rules on you. This “mystery” was the same way, with so many changing elements and random “facts” that it felt bloated.

It also was a lot like the first film, and supposedly it was based more closely on the book than the first Howling was, which would explain it. It also begs the question if we needed this movie at all. When the first movie is superior and they tell very closely related stories, maybe the answer is no, we didn’t need this. I will say the inclusion of a badass (if shakily acted) nun makes me feel like maybe I can give it a pass.

Final Rating: 3/5

we_are_still_hereWe Are Still Here. This is one of those gems you find scrolling through Netflix, looking for something spooky to watch. I’m not the type to go in for haunted house stories. They never strike me as particularly scary for some reason. Some people are thoroughly creeped out by that sort of thing, and I’m simply not. I’ll say this one surprised me. It’s very effective. There are layers of evil at play here. Ghosts, yes, but more than that. For what appears to be a simple production, it manages some great effects and a fantastic third act.

Minor complaints would be that it’s short, and they clearly pad it out to make it seem more feature length than it is. Some of this padding includes overly long shots of snow and trees. In a way, that sets a tone, but it also feels like I’m staring at trees for way too long. Despite that, the acting is very strong, the story has some minor twists that make it fun, so it’s great for an evening.

Final Rating: 4/5

necroNecronomicon: The Book of the Dead. Anthology movie! I love these. I also love, well, Lovecraft’s nasty world. Which makes this a mixed bag. It’s disappointing that while the framework the stories are wrapped in features Lovecraft himself (cult favorite Jeffrey Combs stars in makeup that looks okay until we’re treated to a close-up) and the stories are surely Lovecraftian in nature, they’re not actually based on any of his stories. Also, somehow we’re meant to believe that an ancient book holds accounts that take place in our own time, which for dear Howard would be the future. I don’t think they were thinking very deeply when they came up with that.

Which is a warning to sit back, relax, and have fun with it. It’s not worth thinking about on a profound level. It will let you down if you try. It’s schlock. It’s pulp. It has some good effects and some laughable failures. It has interesting story elements and brow-furrowing blunders. It has an actor who can say Cthulhu with grace and another, in the same segment, who calls to “Keth-loo.” And Cthulhu isn’t even the one who answers, so what was the point of invoking him at all? It’s a turn-off-your-brain movie, but still enjoyable for all that.

Final Rating: 2.5/5

If you enjoyed this new style of article, another will be coming up in the future. Also, if you wish to support my blog, check out my Redbubble Shop. As always, happy geeking!

Comic Con Haul

Extra special post today! Yesterday, I went to a local comic convention, and I picked up a few things I thought I would share. I had a very particular agenda for this convention. I wanted to get the kind of stuff that you can’t buy on Amazon. Believe me, there were comics and action figures galore, but I was all about the handmade treasures this time.

For instance, that necklace. It’s a pink dragon’s eye, and I’d never seen anything like it before. Not even online. So I snagged it. It was made by Fantastic Menageries, and there’s a link to their Etsy. Though sadly I didn’t see any of the dragon eye necklaces she had at the convention listed there. It’s why getting out to the conventions is so important. You never know what you might be missing.

Then there’s the Cthulhu art. I’ve been on a Lovecraft kick lately, and I got lucky that this convention fed my obsession. The vector art was made by Geek Mountain, and the hilarious and adorable convertible art is by DungeonWears.Com. He was a very nice guy, by the way. Was thrilled I even knew who Cthulhu was, and I got a kick out of his excitement.

Then lastly, the various fantasy and fairy tale art. I couldn’t walk away with just one piece. The artist, Madalyn McLeod, was selling them 5 for $10, and that seemed incredibly worth it to me. She had so much beautiful work that I wish I’d had a hundred dollars to spend just at her table.

Check out those links. Supports these amazing artists and creators. Support your local conventions when they come your way. And as always, happy geeking!

#T5W: Books You Want To See As TV Shows

top5

You know what I like about this topic? It’s not about movie adaptations. It’s about an entire television show. Meaning the choices for this list are substantial enough that they could sustain an ongoing series with multiple seasons. So let’s do this thing.

5. The Sandman by Neil Gaiman. This one seems to be caught in some sort of development hell, but whenever I hear some whisper about it, it’s always about a movie. No! Show! It’s such a long series with so many different ideas addressed. It would be very easy to make this a visually stunning TV series that would become the new thing everyone obsesses over. Also, the series is complete, so there’s none of that waiting on an author or the show getting ahead of its own story. It’s simply ready to be adapted if someone just will.

4. The Works of H.P. Lovecraft. I love horror anthologies. I think they’re loads of fun, and I wish they’d come back into style. This could be the way to do it. Again, everyone wants films of Lovecraft’s work, but aside from maybe “At The Mountains of Madness”, none of it’s long enough to sustain a two hour movie. But an hour long episode? Sure. They could set them in the time they were written. They could modernize them. They could make the characters more diverse. The possibilities really get your brain working when you start thinking about it.

3. Swamp Thing by Alan Moore. I’m specifically invoking Moore’s version of Swamp Thing here, but just Swamp Thing in general would be fantastic. It could be one of those shows like The X-Files or Supernatural, but the one dealing with the strange and unknown is a monster himself. The comics always handled that in very interesting ways, and if they can transfer that inspiration to a show, it would be incredible.

2. Swan Song by Robert McCammon. How many times am I going to talk about this book? As many times as it takes to get everyone to read it. It’s massive, I know. Meaning it wouldn’t make a very good movie. There’s too much there to squeeze into a small space. Something like this needs a TV miniseries. Remember when those used to be big events? Give it about four weeks to get the whole story onscreen. Not all TV series need to go on and on. Just long enough to make it epic.

1. The First Law Series by Joe Abercrombie. We have Game of Thrones. Which maybe isn’t a great example, since I personally love the books and have given up on the TV series. But I still hold out hope that GoT’s popularity could make it possible for The First Law Series to get made. It’s dark, gritty, and surprisingly funny, and anyone who loves dark fantasy would love this. I also would love to see who they’d get to play Glokta. That’s a prime role for any actor right there.

If you enjoyed this article and would like to support my blog, check out my Redbubble Shop. As always, happy geeking!

DNFing Books

discussion

What do you do when a book is not enjoyable and it’s proving to be a slog to get through? The obvious answer is you stop reading it. It’s taken me years to be even remotely okay with that. I don’t like leaving things unfinished, even difficult, unrewarding things. Why? Well, sometimes even when a book is not what I want, I find that I want the whole story. I want to “see what happens.” Sometimes it’s good, old-fashioned stubbornness. I don’t want to be beaten, I suppose. But this kind of behavior often keeps me too long on one book that I dislike or even puts me in a slump.

More recently it’s gotten easier for me to accept when I don’t want to keep fighting this pointless fight and the story isn’t even engaging me enough to want more of it. I generally don’t regret when I’ve put a book down for good. Still it’s a thing I don’t do often. I try to give a book every chance to win me, which feels fair. It has to be a very negative experience for me to give up.

Length of the book often comes into play. If it’s short and irritating, I’ll be more likely to finish it. If it’s over 400 pages and equally irritating, chances are it’ll go unfinished. I also tend to push through books that I feel like I “should” read. This is something I’d like to shed, because really that’s a made-up thing. If something considered a classic or an important read is giving you that much trouble, don’t feel beholden to anyone else’s opinion or what’s considered “book canon”. Reading should be about enjoyment first.

I’ve seen people use the term to mean something they’ll eventually come back to, and I don’t use it for that. DNF stands for Did Not Finish. I consider that pretty final. If I intend to come back to something, chances are no one will even hear about it until I do.

It’s difficult determining what standards you should hold yourself to as a reader. My general rule is if something is pushing all my negative buttons, which is hard to do, then I shouldn’t put myself through that. Also, if a book is exceedingly long and I have no desire to pick it up when I’m not reading it, that might be a sign. Everyone has to search their own reading habits for what their limits are.

What are your personal rules for DNFing books? Share them in the comments. If you found this at all helpful and want to support my blog, check out my Redbubble Shop. As always, happy geeking!

The Unpopular Opinions Book Tag

booktag

Everyone and their brother has done this tag, so I’m late to the game here, but it’s just such a good tag. I had to play, too. This was created by TheBookArcher over on YouTube. Before I get started, keep in mind that it’s only my opinion. You’re not stupid for liking anything that you like. I’m not superior. If we disagree, that’s okay. It’s what makes the world go round. Now let’s get opinionated!

A popular book or series that you didn’t like. Probably the one I would get lynched for is Cinder by Marissa Meyer. I expected it to be more science fiction and less fantasy, and it was definitely more fantasy. I didn’t care for the characters or the romance. I thought the world-building was incredibly weak. Therefore I only read the first book and didn’t pursue any of the others, and I’ve watched people devour this series while just asking myself… why? I don’t see the appeal.

A popular book or series that everyone else seems to hate but you love. The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer. I see a lot of disappointed reviews with this one. Even people who loved the first book seemed to turn against the series with the second one. Whereas I loved every second of it. I have no complaints. I realize the second book was a shift in tone, but I feel like I understood what VanderMeer was trying to accomplish with it. Plus, Control. How can you not love Control?

A love triangle where the main character ended up with the person you did NOT want them to end up with (warn for spoilers) OR an OTP that you don’t like. Here’s an entirely different opinion that people won’t like: this is a very young-adult-centric question. I do read some young adult, but no book that I read is with the intention of biting my fingernails over who the girl will pick. I like character-driven stories, and secondarily I like good plots. If I care about whether or not two characters hook up, the author usually has set it up that they will. That’s why I care, because the author has given me the impetus to care. So generally that author’s romantic choices don’t piss me off, and if they do, then the whole book pisses me off, because they’re bad at conveying what their characters want or need.

A popular book genre that you hardly reach for. Well, I think I just answered that. Any YA with a heavy slant toward romance. It can be any genre, and if the summary describes a special girl with “and she meets a boy” somewhere a beat later, I don’t want it.

A popular or beloved character that you do not like. Davos and Jorah from A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. Davos, because for some reason he is deeply beloved and I found him to be boring. The interesting parts of his chapters belong to Stannis, and it really felt like he was just a vehicle to give Stannis a voice when Martin could’ve just given Stannis his own chapters.

Jorah seems to be someone fans of the show have embraced, but he always struck me as smarmy in the books. So that when there’s a reveal about his character, I wasn’t surprised. I felt vindicated if anything. I see people defend him, and it always makes me wince. It might have something to do with the fact that the younger characters are very young in the books, whereas they aged them up in the show. That does make a difference.

A popular author that you can’t seem to get into. Robert Heinlein. He’s considered the father of so many science fiction tropes that we take for granted, but his writing was nothing special and his characters, especially the way he portrays women, leave a lot to be desired. I’ve concluded that just because someone did it first doesn’t mean they did it best, and I’m sorry that I can’t forgive him his quirks more.

A popular book trope that you’re tired of seeing. Stuffed Into The Fridge. Women, men, children, pets, anything that gets abused or murdered for the sake of giving a character “reasons to fight”. It’s usually a character we’re told is going to retire in a couple of days or that we see just long enough to established the main hero really cares about them deeply. We don’t feel that; we’re told it. Telling and not showing is bad enough, but then before we’re even fully invested, this person or animal is kicked to death in front of us so that the story can begin. It’s considered a misogynist trope, but I’ve seen the reverse done, too. Because apparently that’s progress? It’s so lazy. Please stop doing this, writers.

A popular series that you have no interest in reading. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. I know you probably made a face and said to yourself, “of course, you don’t want to read that.” Listen, there was a time when everyone was reading this, and it was very popular. It was the series to read or you were a total square. I knew then I didn’t want to read it, because it seemed too twee for me. Then suddenly everything reversed, and it was the popular thing to hate. You weren’t one of the cool kids unless you hated this series, and people were reading it so they could accurately hate it. And I realized I didn’t want to read it for that reason either. I don’t hate Twilight. I don’t love it. I don’t really have an opinion other than it’s not my type of book. I’m content with that.

The saying goes “The book is always better than the movie”, but what movie or T.V. show adaptation do you prefer more than the book? Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk. But even Palahniuk himself thinks this is true. It wasn’t a bad book, but it was a pretty phenomenal movie that’s remained a favorite for me. It outshines its source material. Also, it was his first novel, and those are always going to be slightly shaky and imperfect.

If you liked this article and want to support this blog, check out my Redbubble Shop. As always, happy geeking!