I heart Shirley Jackson!

The Haunting of Hill House The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow.  Where have you been all of my life Shirley Jackson?  This book is not necessarily a super scary book, but the writing SO incredible.  The way she writes makes me want to roll around in her words like a blanket.

“Don’t do it, Eleanor told the little girl; insist on your cup of stars; once they have trapped you into being like everyone else you will never see your cup of stars again.”

I mean, seriously.  Isn’t that just delicious?

The characters are generally unlikable but the banter between them is terrific.  This entire story is told by an unreliable narrator that becomes even more unreliable as time goes on.  It’s crazy.  And it’s crazy good.

We Have Always Lived in the CastleWe Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this one even more!  I can’t even express in words how much I love Shirley Jackson right now.  What an incredible storyteller.

“My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all, I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in our family is dead.”

I love it.  Her writing makes me smile.  And bite my nails.  And stay up too late.  I don’t know how I have lived for the last 36 years and not known about this author.  I’ve never  been a fan of the short story, but I will definitely be picking up some of Shirley Jackson’s.

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Dracula by Bram Stoker

DraculaDracula by Bram Stoker
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This took me forever to read. Maybe I would have had a higher opinion of the book had I read it in fewer sittings. I just couldn’t do it. I don’t know if it was the stilted manner in which Van Helsing spoke or the slow pacing throughout the middle of the book. There were sections of the book that I thought were great, but there were just not enough of them to keep my interest.

The beginning starts out with Jonathan Harker held captive by Count Dracula in his mansion in Transylvania. I thought this was a fantastic beginning and I was totally on board. The epistolary format allowed me to see exactly what was going through Harker’s mind as he fully realizes the situation he’s in. His earliest journal entries are full of superstitions and doubts and those niggling feelings. By the time he finally leaves, he is so out of his mind with fear and crazy thoughts that he’s admitted to a sanitarium. It was awesome. I really enjoy being inside of a crazy person’s head (other than my own).

Afterwards, more characters are introduced and the very slow ramping up to the next bit of scary stuff. I found myself irritated with Van Helsing more than once, as he tends to come off as a pompous, secretive, misogynistic ass. And it seems that he really likes to talk. A lot. About not much of anything that can be understood by anyone in the room.

Overall, I’m glad I read it but I don’t see myself picking it up again.

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When She Woke by Hillary Jordan

When She WokeWhen She Woke by Hillary Jordan
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I started this book with pretty high hopes. I absolutely loved Mudbound by Jordan and I really liked this premise. A dystopian future where law-breakers are color-coded by the type of crime they commit? Sounds bizarre – sign me up!

Ultimately, I ended up with mixed feelings about this book.

The first half was great and a fantastic start for a The Scarlet Letter retelling. The main character wakes up to find that she has been “chromed” red. All of her skin is as red as a fire truck to symbolize that she is a murderer. She had an affair with a married man and was caught having an illegal abortion, so now she is doomed to be red for 16 years.

The second half is where I feel that the book loses steam. It stops being about racism and the extreme religious-right type government and tries being an action packed adventure with a lot of preachy dialogue. The whole story just seemed rushed and the main character seemed to evolve too fast to be believable.

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Holy Holes in Donuts Batman!

That was the longest readathon I’ve ever participated in!  And I didn’t even make it the whole 24 hours!  I’m weak and the call of sleep was just too strong!

Overall, I loved it and I actually had a hard time changing gears for normal life.  I ended up reading most of Sunday as well.  My poor family wanted their wife/mother back.

  1. Which hour was most daunting for you?  I would say that 3 am CST was the most daunting hour for me.  Obviously.  Since that was when I fell asleep and slept for like 10 HOURS.
  2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?  I absolutely LOVED Mudbound by Hillary Jordan for a longer novel type book and any of the Locke & Key graphic novels because they are also FANTASTIC.
  3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?  Nope.  Other than the obvious need for more cheerleaders.  The poor things … they had to be super overwhelmed.  And I shouldn’t have so many donut holes for a snack.  OMG I think I might have gained A LOT of weight this weekend … I love me some donut holes.
  4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?  All the things!  I was actually kind of ADD with the reading and the cool challenges and the LINKS!  OMG all the very cool people and blogs I found!  I’m going to have to make some tough decisions on the blogs I’ve subscribed to otherwise I’ll never succeed at anything again in life.
  5. How many books did you read?  I read 1 and ALMOST a second.  And 4 graphic novels.
  6. What were the names of the books you read?  Mudbound by Hillary Jordan, Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout, and the first four Locke & Key graphic novels.
  7. Which book did you enjoy most?  That’s tough.  I picked out some really great stuff for this readathon.  Mudbound is the one that has really stuck with me the most, so I think I’ll pick that one.  But they were all TERRIFIC reads!
  8. Which did you enjoy least?  Nope – none!
  9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?  Maybe setting some goals on how often you visit your teams blogs or twitter accounts?  It’s hard to say because it just seems like there really just needs to be more of them.  Maybe cloning??
  10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?  I would say there is no doubt that I’d participate in the next one.  I think it was just announced that it would be on 4/26 and that might not work for me, so we’ll have to wait and see.  It’s my wedding anniversary so the hubby might have something to say to that.  lol  If I do get to participate, I think I’ll volunteer as a cheerleader.  I like blog-hopping too much not to volunteer to cheer people on while I’m at it.

Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon!

Today I’m taking part in my very first Dewey 24 Hour Readathon!  I got a late start this morning, but now that I’ve got everybody out of the house, it should be smooth sailing from here!
1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?  I’m about an hour and a half north of Jackson, Mississippi!  And the weather is fantastic, which means some of my reading can be done from the porch swing!  ❤

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?  I am mostly looking forward to finishing up Mudbound!  I picked it up after seeing Andi review it on her vlog and I’m thoroughly enjoying it!

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?  I’m currently addicted to green grapes and I’ve got some in the freezer right now so …. those will definitely get eaten today!

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!  I’m mom to six boys, but only 2 left at home now.  One is in the Navy and three are currently in college so things are quieter now than they used to be :).  I have avoided the empty nest syndrome by adopting a dog every time one of the boys left home.  So, I currently have 4 spoiled rotten fur-babies that will be keeping me company today while the hubby and youngest boys are gone!

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?  This is my first Dewey readathon, and my first readathon of this length of time.  I did make sure to get the boys out of the house for the first part of this, so hopefully I can get some serious reading done without interruptions.  The last readathon I took part in they seemed to want my attention a lot more than usual!  I am looking forward to making a small dent in my HUGE tbr pile!!

Kind of Cruel by Sophie Hannah

I received this arc from the publisher through First Reads. I was super excited when this came in the mail, as I love mystery/crime fiction! I had not read anything by Sophie Hannah and did not really know anything about this series.

The story begins as Amber Hewerdine decides to see a hypnotherapist for her ongoing insomnia. During her first session she says the words “Kind, Cruel, Kind of Cruel” without knowing the meaning behind them or where she saw them written. Next thing you know, she is picked up by the police for questioning regarding the murder of a local school teacher, Kat Allen.

The point of view shifts back and forth between Amber, the therapist, and each of the detectives involved with the case. This shifting narrative becomes very complex and sometimes difficult to follow. I did, however, discover that I didn’t care much for any of these characters. Which is unfortunate because a large chunk of this book is spent on character development. The plot on the other hand was interesting, but not particularly compelling. 

Overall it was an okay read. I probably would have enjoyed it more had I read the previous books. If you are a fan of Sophie Hannah and enjoy the series then you will probably like this book.