R.I.P. VIII

R.I.P. VIII Wrap-Up

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Happy Halloween peoples! Since it’s the last day of the R.I.P. VIII Challenge, I figured I’d do a quick wrap-up post.

I was aiming for Peril the First (4 books), and I managed to read:

So I managed! Horns wasn’t on my original list, but I’m still counting it since it was a good dark, supernatural story. Beloved scared me in the beginning, and then it became disturbing and sad. Stiff was interesting – I learned a lot about how we use dead bodies. Miss Peregrine’s was really dark and creepy, especially with the freaky photographs in it. I’m also about 160 pages into The Woman in White, which was on my original list but I haven’t finished yet. I’ve been reading it slowly this month, I’ll probably finish it in November.

Where I failed was in actually socializing for RIP. I totally forgot that there was a review site for people participating, and I generally didn’t blog hop much at all. I feel bad about this… but it seems like I haven’t had as much spare time as I usually do for blogging and reading, so things have just been crazy. I’m barely keeping up with reading the blogs I already follow, much less expanding to new-to-me bloggers. Sorry ya’ll :-/

Anyways, I look forward to doing this again next year, with scarier books, some scary movies, and generally getting into the RIP mix a bit more.

And in the spirit of Halloween, I give you the newest Epic Rap Battle of History – Blackbeard vs. Al Capone (there’s even a reference to Halloween)

I think Al Capone won that one, sadly. I always cheer for the pirates.

~Sarah

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Beloved by Toni Morrison

Beloved by Toni Morrison

I read my first Toni Morrison!

I tried reading Beloved like 6 years ago, but I remember being really, really freaked out in the beginning and having to stop it. Like I distinctly remember that I was living at my sister’s house, reading on my bed, and it was scaring me and I had to quit. This is why it was on my R.I.P. VIII pile*, although now that I’ve successfully read it I realize it wasn’t THAT scary… definitely creepy, and horrifying overall because of the consequences of slavery… but now I’m getting ahead of myself. You might want to know what the book is about.

Sethe. Proud and beautiful, she escaped from slavery but is haunted by its heritage – from the fires of the flesh to the heartbreaking challenges to the spirit. Set in rural Ohio several years after the Civil War, this profoundly affecting chronicle of slavery and its aftermath is Toni Morrison’s greatest novel – a dazzling achievement and a spellbinding reading experience.

That’s from the back of the book, and it honestly doesn’t tell much, but it also sums things up really articulately. Sethe IS proud and beautiful, and she IS haunted by her years as a slave. It IS profoundly affecting – I can’t say that it’s an enjoyable book to read, but it’s an important book to read, and disturbed me in several different ways.

But I’m going to tell you a little bit more, without being too spoiler-y. Sethe escaped from slavery 18 years ago, and she now lives in her mother-in-law’s house with her daughter Denver, and the house is haunted by an angry baby ghost. (Seriously, this isn’t a spoiler – it’s on the first page.) One day Paul D. shows up at the house – he was one of the slaves Sethe knew at Sweet Home, and his arrival changes everything. From there, the plot slowly unfolds – the story of Sethe’s escape from slavery, her arrival at her mother-in-law’s house, who the baby ghost is, and why it’s haunting them.

The things that happen in this book, to Paul D and to Sethe and her whole family, are fucked up. And that’s because slavery is fucked up, and this book shows that perfectly. Beloved excels at showing some of the darkest psychological impacts of slavery, which make it intense, uncomfortable, and terrifying to read. You know how sometimes you read a classic or an award-winning book and you think “Why? Why in the world would this win an award?” Well I totally get why Beloved won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. I wish it was on all the high school reading lists, although I’m sure it would immediately be protested and stupid book-banning parents would fight it, but it’s IMPORTANT. The whole point of the book is the horrible, upsetting things that happen and students should read it and discuss it. It’s a tragic story, full of pain and sadness and regret, and that’s why it’s a really good book.

Sarah Says: 4.5 stars

 

 

*Seriously, there’s an angry baby ghost. You guys know that babies/dolls/small children/gnomes/any small creatures freak me out, so obviously that was the scariest.

October Monthly TBR

September, you kind of sucked.

I didn’t have a pretty picture of books last month because I was moving, but here’s the original list with the ones I managed crossed out:

  • A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
  • Empire Falls by John Russo
  • Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
  • Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  • Kinslayer by Jay Kristoff
  • Primates by Jim Ottaviani
  • The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

FAIL. This was not a great reading month for me – I read 6 books overall. Between moving, starting at Second Job again, and the honeyman being home more, I just couldn’t focus. It didn’t help that some of the books I was reading were really slow and dragged and I either pushed through it or DNF-ed. Ugh.

So, ONWARDS! I should have a lot more reading time this month, and I’m determined to get back into my reading groove. PLUS Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon is on October 12th, and that’s some good motivation. Here’s my October TBR pile…

TBR pile

From left-to-right, then top-to-bottom…

  • The Corrections by Jonathan FranzenAlley’s hosting this readalong, and it’ll be my first Franzen! I foresee lots of snarky posts about this one.
  • Amped by Daniel H. Wilson – Wilson’s books look really interesting to me, and I started reading the first chapter and this seemed cool (and quickly readable, important to me at the moment).
  • Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch – The sequel to The Lies of Locke Lamora, my favorite read last month and definitely in the top ten for the year.
  • The Devil’s Right Hand by Lilith Saintcrow – This is the third Dante Valentine book, should be a fun fluff read.
  • Just Another Judgement Day by Simon R. Green – The 9th Nightside book. I’m almost done with the series! (There are 12 in it.)
  • One of Our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde – The 6th Thursday Next book. Can you tell I’m trying to catch up on my series reading?
  • Six Easy Pieces by Richard Feynman – Non-fiction pick that I’m REALLY excited to read. The lovely Ellie sent this to me when I won her Bout of Books challenge!
  • The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins – My Classics Club pick for the month, AND one of my RIP VIII reads! So excited for the Wilkie.
  • Horns by Joe HillKayleigh raved about this a while ago, and Alley recently, and the library had it so I grabbed it. Might fit the RIP VIII challenge too.
  • The Universe Within by Neil Shubin – Another non-fic pick, about the relation between our universe’s history and ourselves.
  • Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith – Another RIP VIII read.
  • The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black – Black is a pretty popular YA author, and this is about vampires I think, so whatever, I’ll give it a try. It’s gotten decent reviews, and I’m hoping is kind of a quick, fluffy read.
  • The Returned by Jason Mott – I don’t know if this counts as paranormal or just as literary fiction, but it’s about loved ones who have died returning as if they never left. Cool premise, and I’ve heard a lot of great things.

 

That’s 13 books in total… which is actually pretty manageable. And I think I have a good mix here – lots of sci-fi/fantasy, some appropriately spooky or paranormal books for the Halloween spirit, some non-fic… this is a very Sarah-friendly pile. I’m so psyched to just sit around my house and get started.

Have you read any of these? What books are hoping to get to this month?

~Sarah

 

 

 

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

Stiff, Mary Roach

My first Mary Roach book!

I’ve had this one my shelf for YEARS, and Mary Roach has gotten really uber-popular lately, and I STILL hadn’t read any of her books. When RIP VIII came up, I hunted around my bookshelves looking for spooky books, and I was happy to realize that I had a book about dead bodies lying around on my shelf! And yay, for working non-fiction into my pile.

So! This is a book about dead bodies – more specifically, cadavers and all their creepy, wonderful uses throughout the years. I immediately liked Mary Roach when I read this in the Introduction chapter:

“Many people will find this book disrespectful. There is nothing amusing about being dead, they will say. Ah, but there is. Being dead is absurd. It’s the silliest situations you’ll ever find yourself in. Your limbs are floppy and uncooperative. Your mouth hangs open. Being dead is unsightly and stinky and embarrassing, and there’s not a damn thing to be done about it.”

Don’t you just instantly love her? The book follows the same semi-whimsical tone, whether she’s talking about heads being used for plastic surgery practice, cadavers being used in crash tests, or bodies being freeze-dried and composted. Overall, I suppose I learned a lot about cadavers and dead bodies. I learned that there are jobs that involve cutting off heads to be used in teaching seminars. I learned that there’s a field that’s just full of cadavers lying in different states of decay, to study for forensics purposes. I learned that there has been research done solely involving cadaver penises. Such weird stuff to think of! And it made me think of whether or not I would ever donate my body to science and the answer is… probably not. Not unless I could be certain that I’d be used in some sort of NASA project in which they launch my body into space. That would be really cool. Otherwise… ehh. I agree with Roach – what to do with a body should largely be the decision of the survivors, with them knowing your preferences ahead of time.

Stiff was informative and funny, but I found some of my middle chapters about cannibalism and cadaver ballistics research a little boring (the cannibalism section was a little nauseating though). I like Roach’s style – she’s witty, cavalier, and intelligent. I love that she’s a writer that writes mainly about scientific things she feels like researching, even though she doesn’t have a scientific background. I’m actually now REALLY interested in Roach’s other books – Packing for Mars, and Bonk, in particular. Space and sex are things I think I’ll find infinitely more interesting than dead bodies.

 Sarah Says: 3.5 stars

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’m Gonna Read This Fall

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Good morning guys! I am PUMPED for today’s Top Ten Tuesday. As you should know by know, Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the fabulous ladies at The Broke and The Bookish, and the topic this week is easy-peasy; Top Ten Books On My Fall 2013 TBR List. So many books I’ve been looking forward to are coming out or just came out recently, AND I’m participating in R.I.P., so this list is a piece of cake for me.

The Ace of Skulls

1. The Ace of Skulls by Chris Wooding – This is easily the book I’ve been looking forward to the most – it’s the fourth, and last, book of the Tales of the Ketty Jay series. It comes out in the UK on September 19th, and I’ll be ordering my copy from The Book Depository as soon as it’s available. And you can bet that as soon as it gets here, I’m dropping everything to read it.

the deaths of tao

2. The Deaths of Tao by Wesley Chu – This is the sequel to The Lives of Tao, which I read and liked SO MUCH, and I’ll be in Barnes and Noble on October 29th (release day) to buy it. Also, I love the covers to these books. So fun and simple and cool.

Fangirl

3. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – If you haven’t read Rainbow Rowell yet, why the hell not??? Attachments and Eleanor & Park were fantastic, and I already bought my copy of her newest and plan to read it this week. Probably in about a day. And then you’ll see me here, fangirling about Fangirl. Ha.

Crux

4. Crux by Ramez Naam – This is the sequel to Nexus, which was a really cool kind of sci-fi techno thriller, and it came out at the end of August and I seriously need to read it soon. Frankly, it’s a shame that I haven’t yet.

Parasite Mira Grant

5. Parasite by Mira Grant – I am SO EFFING EXCITED that Mira Grant is writing another series. Her Newsflesh trilogy was so so so awesome, and Parasite comes out on October 29th, and man that’s going to be such a good book-buying day for me!

Kill City Blues

6. Kill City Blues by Richard Kadrey – This is the fifth Sandman Slim book, and it came out in July and I can’t believe I haven’t read it yet! These books are so fun, gory, and bad-ass, and I can’t wait to see where Stark’s story goes next.

Kinslayer

7. Kinslayer by Jay Kristoff – Remember how I read Stormdancer and totally enjoyed the Japanese steampunk thing and the great main characters? Welllll the sequel, Kinslayer, actually comes out TODAY. Yesssss.

the song of the quarkbeast

8. The Song of the Quarkbeast by Jasper Fforde – This just came out (in the U.S., I believe it’s been out in the UK for a while now) on September 3rd, and how have I not bought it yet? I looooooved Jasper Fforde’s books, and this is the second book in his Dragonslayer series.

the woman in white wilkie collins

9. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins – This is on my RIP VIII pile, and I’m SUPER excited to finally read it. Wilkieeeee.

Beloved

10. Beloved by Toni Morrison – This is probably the only book on my RIP VIII list that I’m actually afraid to read. I started it years and years ago, and it started to kind of scare the bejeezus out of me, and I stopped. But this fall, I shall conquer it! I hope.

BAM! Easiest TTT list ever. I have some seriously good reading ahead of me. What’s on your TBR lists for this autumn? New releases, good fall reads, what?

~Sarah

Giving in to the peer pressure & signing up for R.I.P. VIII

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R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril VIII is an annual challenge kind-of thingy that happens in the fall – it’s hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings, and literally EVERYBODY and their mothers have signed up for it. At least it seems that way. I mean I’ve kind of seen bloggers participating in past years, but this week I’m pretty sure sign-up posts have gone up for about 75% of the blogs that I follow. And everyone’s so excited about it, which got me all excited about it, which led to this.

The point of R.I.P. is to read horror, mystery, thriller, paranormal, spooky, gothic, and other various darker genres of books between September 1st and October 31st. It’s a way to get in the mood for autumn! Which I’m kind of digging right now – tall boots, sweaters, cider, and spooky books all sound pretty nice right now. There are different levels (“perils”) that you can sign up for, and of course I’m going for Peril the First (read 4 books) because go big or go home, right? Right.

So here’s my stack.

Readers Imbibing Peril VIII

 

  • Murder is Binding by Lorna Barrett – I’ve been meaning to try this cozy mystery series for ages. The author is local to my area, and this copy is signed! Need to read.
  • Bag of Bones by Stephen King – Because I hear that this is a good King novel? And I’m trying to dip my toe into the King waters this year, I suppose.
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison – No lie, I started this book about 5 or 6 years ago and stopped because it was freaking me out. Like put-it-in-the-freezer kind of freaking me out. Time to put on my big girl panties and try again.
  • The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins – WILKIE! And I missed the epic readalong for this 1.5 years ago because my grandma passed away, and I think that’s kind of why I haven’t tried reading it since. But it seems like a perfect fall read, so I’m gonna do it!
  • Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach – This is actually non-fiction, but I’ve been wanting to try out Roach for a long time, and it’s about DEAD BODIES. So that should totally count.
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs – I just bought this at the library for $2, and it seems appropriately dark and creepy.
  • Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith – I STILL haven’t read this or seen the movie. If I do both, then I’d technically be participating in “Peril on the Screen” as well, so yay there.
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – The hype for this one had better be worth it. I actually have no idea if it’s dark or creepy, but I saw it on some other R.I.P. lists, so I’m adding it.

Is it wise to add MORE reading to my already overflowing stacks for the upcoming months? Probably not, but I’m doing it anyways! And I’m psyched to start, just as soon as I finish Empire Falls, which admittedly is KILLING me right now.

Ummm so I don’t know how this works exactly – I’m going to aim to read some of these books, and if I do I’ll tag them with “R.I.P. VIII”. I’ll maybe do a wrap-up post in the beginning of November? How do you guys usually keep track of this sort of thing? Is there a Twitter hashtag or anything that we use? Tell me stuff, I’m new at this.

So, does reading some spooky stuff to get in the spirit of autumn sound cool to you? Of course it does! Join in the peer pressure. Do it.

~Sarah