Sunday, August 19, 2018

Recent Updates and Currently Reading | August 19

I'm so sad that summer is winding down! My kids went back to school this past week, and now it's back to business for all of us. I hope everyone is having a great end of summer. Are you doing any last minute summer send off activities?

Posted Last Week

Last week I posted my ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫 review of I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara. I also listened to the I'll Be Gone in the Dark podcast this week. I highly recommend that as well. If you have any more recommendations regarding the Golden State Killer case/I'll Be Gone in the Dark, please let me know.

Finished Reading

Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury ⭐⭐💫 - Unfortunately, I didn't love Dandelion Wine like I thought I would. There were enough wonderful moments that I'm glad I read it, but it's not one that I will revisit.

The Sky Woman by J.D. Moyer ⭐ - The Sky Woman didn't work for me. I will likely have a review out for this one sometime this week.

Currently Reading

The Siren and the Specter by Jonathan Janz - I'm still reading (and really enjoying!) The Siren and the Specter. The other two books I finished this week were both buddy reads, so they took priority over this one. I'm happy to report The Siren and the Specter is successfully giving me the creeps.

Baal by Robert R. McCammon - Baal is one of McCammon's books that I have not read yet. I'm loving it!

Recent Acquisitions

The Exes' Revenge by Jo Jakeman - Thank you to folks at Berkley/Penguin Random House for sending me The Exes' Revenge. There has been a noticeable lack of thrillers in my life this year. I'm kind of in the mood to go on a spree soon.

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer - I've been wishing after this one for a while now so I was excited to come across this weekend. "Into Thin Air is the definitive account of the deadliest season in the history of Everest by the acclaimed Outside journalist and author of the bestselling Into the Wild. Taking the reader step by step from Katmandu to the mountain's deadly pinnacle, Krakauer has his readers shaking on the edge of their seat."

Corpse Cold: New American Folklore by John Brhel and Joseph Sullivan - Corpse Cold was a recent Kindle purchase. I've heard great things about it, and I'm in the mood for some folklore stories heading into fall.

So what about you? Let me know what you're reading this week or leave me some links!

This post is being shared as part of Book Date's It's Monday! What Are You Reading? and Caffeinated Book Reviewer's The Sunday Post.


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Sunday, August 12, 2018

Book Review | I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

I'll Be Gone in the Dark is a true crime book by Michelle McNamara.

"You’ll be silent forever, and I’ll be gone in the dark."

For more than ten years, a mysterious and violent predator committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before moving south, where he perpetrated ten sadistic murders. Then he disappeared, eluding capture by multiple police forces and some of the best detectives in the area.

Three decades later, Michelle McNamara, a true crime journalist who created the popular website, was determined to find the violent psychopath she called "the Golden State Killer." Michelle pored over police reports, interviewed victims, and embedded herself in the online communities that were as obsessed with the case as she was.

At the time of the crimes, the Golden State Killer was between the ages of eighteen and thirty, Caucasian, and athletic—capable of vaulting tall fences. He always wore a mask. After choosing a victim—he favored suburban couples—he often entered their home when no one was there, studying family pictures, mastering the layout. He attacked while they slept, using a flashlight to awaken and blind them. Though they could not recognize him, his victims recalled his voice: a guttural whisper through clenched teeth, abrupt and threatening.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark—the masterpiece McNamara was writing at the time of her sudden death—offers an atmospheric snapshot of a moment in American history and a chilling account of a criminal mastermind and the wreckage he left behind. It is also a portrait of a woman’s obsession and her unflagging pursuit of the truth. Framed by an introduction by Gillian Flynn and an afterword by her husband, Patton Oswalt, the book was completed by Michelle’s lead researcher and a close colleague. Utterly original and compelling, it is destined to become a true crime classic—and may at last unmask the Golden State Killer.

I was not prepared for this book. This is not the kind of book you can snuggle in with and read yourself to sleep. To be frank: I'll Be Gone in the Dark scared the shit out of me. If you can read this book - especially at night or alone in your home - without looking over your shoulder, you are a lot tougher than I am.

For so many reasons, this book had me in pieces. Not only did the Golden State Killer/East Area Rapist rape, kill, and/or rob his victims, he psychologically tormented them. This book is unnerving.

Michelle McNamara's death put another level of heartache into the experience of reading this book. She obviously had a wonderful way with victims and law enforcement and she handled the presentation of the facts in such a caring way. She inserted herself and her obsession with the case into the pages of I'll Be Gone in the Dark, and it's devastating that she passed before he was finally captured.

I'll Be Gone in the Dark was completed by two other individuals, and the overall feel is pretty disjointed. Despite the way the book was pieced together, I highly recommend it. Michelle McNamara did an amazing job in her research, and this is truly one of the most chilling things I've ever read.

9/10: Highly Recommended


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Recent Updates and Currently Reading | August 12

My kids go back to school this week. Summer flew by way too fast. I admit I'm looking forward to getting back to a routine, though. Fall and spring are my best months for reading!

I did manage to have a great reading week this week. The #25inFive challenge is happening on Instagram. (You read 25 hours in 5 days.) So far it has been the boost I needed to break out of my summer slump.

Finished Reading

I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫 - I will probably have my review out for this one tomorrow so check back for that!

We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix ⭐⭐⭐💫 - Each book I read by Grady Hendrix solidifies his place as a must read author for me. I didn't connect with We Sold Our Souls as much as I did with My Best Friend's Exorcism, but it was still a fun read. I'll have a full review of this out closer to publication date.

Killing Mr. Griffin ⭐⭐💫 - Killing Mr. Griffin was my latest draw from the TBR jar. It was one of the Lois Duncan books I missed as a kid. I'm pretty meh about it.

Currently Reading

Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury - I will be finishing Dandelion Wine this morning. This has been a weird readalong. Dandelion Wine has been so highly recommended. We all expected to love it. Several people have DNFed. Several of us are meh about it. Some of us loved it. So far I'm in the meh camp, but I'm still looking forward to reading the ending today. (It's not too late to join in over in the Horror Aficionados group on Goodreads if you've been wanting to read this one. August really is the best time to experience this one.)

The Siren and the Specter by Jonathan Janz - I'm starting that awesome stack of Flame Tree Press books today that I posted about last month. First up is Jonathan Janz's The Siren and the Specter. If my #25inFive challenge goes well today, I'll be spending much of my day on this one!

The Sky Woman by J.D. Moyer - Beginning tomorrow, Lilyn, Toni, Tracy, Emily, and I are buddy reading The Sky Woman (another Flame Tree release). I'm looking forward to checking out this SciFi release.

So what about you? Let me know what you're reading this week or leave me some links!

This post is being shared as part of Book Date's It's Monday! What Are You Reading? and Caffeinated Book Reviewer's The Sunday Post.


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Friday, August 10, 2018

Guest Post | Writing from the Land by Lee Murray

I'm excited to welcome Lee Murray to Book Den today!

Writing from the Land by Lee Murray

Much of my writing, including Into the Mist and now Into the Sounds, is derived from, and embedded in, the land. That deep connection to our landscape and our geography is true for many New Zealanders, not just writers. It is our ‘turangawaewae’ – which translates as ‘the place where we stand’. When I set Into the Mist in the North Island’s Urewera forest, 2100 square kilometres of drifting mist and craggy grey-green mountains and swift-flowing rivers, I had hoped to conjure some of the richness of its character, to reveal some of its mysteriousness and its beauty. So, it was interesting when, about the time I was writing the story, the Te Urewera Act was passed, making the land, once a national park, a legal entity with “all the rights, powers, duties and liabilities of a legal person.” Sometimes a setting will pay such a powerful role in a story that its readers say it became a character in its own right, but in New Zealand we’ve enacted that idea into law. The landscape has its own identity. But what if that landscape, that character, is known historically to be unpredictable and dangerous as Blood Related author William Cook points out: “The Kiwi Gothic constructs New Zealand not as a place of some pastoral idyll but rather as an environment where danger and horror lurk everywhere. The Antipodean gothic is generally considered to be an expression of the settler anxiety that derived from the confrontation with a hostile and alien environment, such as the native New Zealand bush. Unlike the European gothic, which often tells ghost stories set in old castles, the Kiwi version of the gothic often deals with alienation, family traumas and uncanny experiences in very familiar places.” Uncanny experiences in familiar places. This is how we write from the land because our writers, particularly horror writers, know that darkness and monsters are an everyday occurrence in New Zealand, that the land has its own power, and mythology is a living breathing thing.
“Cinematic and evocative, Into the Mist is a tension-packed expedition into primordial terror. Murray’s writing had me feeling the damp of the forest, seeing the mist curling through the fern fronds, and sensing the danger lurking there. Ancient myths, military men and scientists placed in remote, primordial locations – it had all the right ingredients for me, and it didn’t disappoint for a moment.” — Greig Beck, best-selling author of the Arcadian series

Lee Murray
Lee Murray is a multi award-winning writer and editor of fantasy, science fiction, and horror (Australian Shadows, Sir Julius Vogel). Her titles for adults include the acclaimed Taine McKenna series of military thrillers (Severed Press) and supernatural crime-noir series The Path of Ra co-authored with Dan Rabarts (Raw Dog Screaming Press). Among her titles for children are YA novel Misplaced, and best-loved middle grade adventure Battle of the Birds, listed in the Best Books of the Year 2011 by New Zealand’s Dominion Post. Dawn of the Zombie Apocalypse, the first book in a series of speculative middle grade antics, is forthcoming from IFWG Australia. An acquiring editor for US boutique press Omnium Gatherum, Lee is a regular speaker at workshops, conferences and schools. She lives with her family in New Zealand where she conjures up stories for readers of all ages from her office overlooking a cow paddock.

Into The Sounds by Lee Murray

Into The Sounds by Lee Murray

On leave, and out of his head with boredom, NZDF Sergeant Taine McKenna joins biologist Jules Asher, on a Conservation Department deer culling expedition to New Zealand’s southernmost national park, where soaring peaks give way to valleys gouged from clay and rock, and icy rivers bleed into watery canyons too deep to fathom. Despite covering an area the size of the Serengeti, only eighteen people live in the isolated region, so it’s a surprise when the hunters stumble on the nation’s Tūrehu tribe, becoming some of only a handful to ever encounter the elusive ghost people. But a band of mercenaries saw them first, and, hell-bent on exploiting the tribes’ survivors, they’re prepared to kill anyone who gets in their way. As a soldier, McKenna is duty-bound to protect all New Zealanders, but after centuries of persecution will the Tūrehu allow him to help them? Besides, there is something else lurking in the sounds, and it has its own agenda. When the waters clear, will anyone be allowed to leave?

Thank you so much for sharing, Lee!


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Monday, August 6, 2018

Book Review | Candle And Pins by Jacqueline West

Candle And Pins is a dark fantasy poetry collection by Jacqueline West.

The poems of “Candle and Pins” are inspired by familiar—and some unfamiliar—superstitions, ranging from love charms to burial practices, parsley seeds to the evil eye. Like superstitions themselves, these poems explore the terrain where magic and everyday life intertwine, and where beauty, horror, fear, and belief combine in ways both new and ageless.

In the last moment, I turned my eyes away – grandfather was cutting. Grandmother prayed.

I was really excited to be offered a review copy of Candle and Pins. Not only am I trying to read a lot of poetry this year, Jacqueline West is an author I already had on my wishlist. She’s an MG/YA children’s book author so reading an adult dark fantasy/horror poetry collection by her was something I absolutely wanted to do. Imaginative horror poetry is a trifecta I am not going to pass up.

Preceding every poem in Candle and Pins is a superstition related to that particular poem. For example, the superstition that goes along with the poem titled Mother-Die is if children pick these red and white flowers, their mother's death is near.

The poems in Candle and Pins breathed life into each superstition which, in turn, added an extra dimension to the entire collection.

My favorite poem of the collection was a poem called Ash Tree. The superstition it was based on states a young ash tree is severed, and an injured child is passed through the split part of the tree. Afterward, the ash is carefully bound, and as the sapling grows together, the child is healed. It reminded me of the old fairy tales that I used to love reading, and it was just a beautifully written poem.

If you love dark poetry, Candle and Pins is a lovely collection to check out. I will definitely be reading more of Jacqueline West in the future.

7/10: Recommended Read

Review copy provided by author


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Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Fun Stuff | Instagram Photo Challenge

I'm helping to host a photo challenge on Instagram and Twitter through the month of August. I would love for you to join in! We will be be highlighting women authors all month. The goal is women horror authors, but I know I will be posting darker books in other genres. Horror doesn't have strict boundaries. 🖤

My heart is full from day one of the challenge today. We've had several readers, a library, a bookstore, and various women authors joining us already, and I can't wait to see what all gets posted this month!

If you'd like to join in, be sure to use the #LadiesofHorrorFiction hashtag on your posts so we can see and share them. Every Instagram photo posted and tagged with the #ladiesofhorrorfiction hashtag will be entered to win a book from Book Depository.

Let me know if you'll be able to hop in this month!


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