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books and reading

The Road Out of Hell

I listen to a lot of true crime podcasts. I read a handful of books on the subject, as well, but sometimes they get too intense. I really enjoyed The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir, Manson: The Life and Times of Charles MansonMidnight Assassin, and The Ice Man: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer. There are a few others that I never reviewed, but not many are as intense as this one was. Although you know it’s non-fiction and the boy we read about escapes, the horrors he and others endured are beyond words.

Sanford Clark was sent to California to live with his uncle, Gordon Northcutt, on a chicken farm. Uncle Gordon was, to put it plainly, a monster. He kidnapped, raped, and killed little boys. Sanford lived there for two years and was forced to endure many horrifying things himself, including helping kill boys and dispose of bodies. As odd as it sounds, this book is also uplifting. Sanford’s survival was nothing short of heroic, as well as his sister, who never gave up on rescuing him. Sanford eventually marries and has kids (this is all in the beginning of the book, so I’m really not spoiling anything for you) and, although he struggled as an adult to let go of his past, he was constantly surrounded by love.

The details of what happened to Sanford and the other boys are terrible, but nowhere near as graphic as I  was expecting. The story really is about Sanford overcoming this terrible part of his life, how he survived, and how he turned his life into something meaningful. I enjoyed it much more than I was expecting.

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books and reading

Baal

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For the PopSugar Reading Challenge, I had no desire to read a book by or about a world leader. I just couldn’t think of anyone who interested me much. I’m not a political person, so I struggled with the prompt. My husband suggested Baal, though, which was about a person who wanted to take over the world. Baal being the anti-Christ. This book was much more up my alley.

I’ve read a couple of books by Robert McCammon, Swan Song and Boy’s Life, and both were excellent. Swan Song is a masterpiece, really, and it’s a must-read for dystopian fans. So I knew McCammon had a good track record, but I wasn’t sure about his more creature/horror type books. He has some about supernatural creatures, which isn’t really my thing, but I was going to give this one a chance and have to say, I really enjoyed this book.

Baal is born to a human mother, but we know from the onset that he’s the anti-Christ. As a child, he torments people and wreaks havoc upon every place he goes. Then he grows up, and his powers strengthen. Of course, he gets followers because, well, that’s what the anti-Christ is supposed to do. However, a few see him for what he is and refuse to let him continue his ways. As dark as the subject is, this book is really good and I enjoyed it a lot. It dragged a bit getting to the end, but for his first publication, this is a McCammon book that I  would still recommend.

 

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books and reading

Winter

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Whew! When I downloaded this book to listen to, I had no idea it was 800+ pages and 23+ hours long. I always listen on 1.5 speed, so that helped, but when I had to return it to the library in just a couple of days and had over 4 hours left, I had to double up to 2x speed. I can’t say it was easy to listen to that way, but I managed to finish in time and am pretty sure I fully understood what happened.

After Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Fairest, I was ready to see how it all ended. And with 800 pages of action, twists and turns, double crosses, and plenty of chaos, I wasn’t disappointed. I’m not a big fantasy/fairy tale person, but these books are really fantastic. Each one was better than the one before, just because I got more and more immersed into their world. I was always rooting for our heroes, and Scarlet is my favorite.

Even though this one was long, I didn’t feel like words were wasted. Everything moved the plot forward, even when our heroes had to take back a couple of steps. Nothing is solved easily, but nothing was in the first three books, so you don’t expect it to be in this one. These are excellent books for teenagers, but as an adult, I really appreciated how well-written they were and how the heroines were all different from one another but still awesome in their own rights. I will be recommending this series as much as I can.

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books and reading

Fairest

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I’m almost finished with Winter, after having read Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress. A friend recommended that I also read Fairest, which features Queen Levana. I was a bit turned off because of how much I hate Levana. She is easily the worst villain I’ve read in a while. She has zero redeeming qualities. Which I guess, makes her a great villain. But I just can’t wait for her downfall.

In this origin story, we meet Levana and Channary as young women. You see how Levana ended up married to Winter’s father, how Princess Selene came to be, how Channary died, and what happened to cause Levana to always have to use her glamour. As fun as it was to see Winter and Selene as little girls, this book did nothing to make me feel sorry for Levana. She is a wretched person, and I look forward to seeing her demise by the end of the series.

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books and reading

Concussion

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There are a lot of topics I know nothing about. But I don’t know anything about them mostly because those topics don’t interest me at all. I was struggling with the PopSugar prompt about this very subject, so I went to my bookcase and looked around. Between my books and my husband’s, we have a wide array of topics. I found this one and thought it would be interesting enough. And if not, it was only 250 pages, so it would be easy enough to get through.

I knew was CTE was before I started and that it affects NFL players, but that was it. I really didn’t even know what the acronym stood for or how it was discovered. Once I started this book, I couldn’t put it down. It is a fantastic read. The man who first brought CTE to light is a fascinating person. Bennet Omalu is from Nigeria, struggles to fit in in America, even to understand it really, but is vastly educated and, on a whim, decided to take a closer look at the brain of Mike Webster, a former player who had been struggling with mental issues before his death from a heart attack. What Omalu found changed the NFL forever. The story goes on to illustrate other players’ autopsies, the fight Omalu had with the NFL, and how his determination kept him fighting.

Even if you don’t like football, this book is absolutely riveting. What Omalu found and the ensuing battle is something I really had no idea about, let alone the magnitude of the NFL cover-up. This quick read is definitely worth looking into.

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books and reading

Lovecraft Country

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As much as I love books, most book podcasts are rather dull and very much like listening to NPR. I need something a bit grittier when it comes to book discussion. And a friend turned me on to Books in the Freezer. And granted, these girls are very sweet and aren’t gritty themselves, but the books they discuss definitely are. They recommend some books I’ve already read and loved, so I trust their judgment. They are also really good about letting their listeners know what kind of horror the books contain. I’m not a fan of body horror, so when something includes that, I make a note not to read it. So, when I needed a book recommended by your favorite blog, vlog, podcast, or online book club for the PopSugar Reading Challenge, I knew where to turn.

I’m a couple of years behind on this podcast, so I have no idea what new books they are recommending, but this is one I remember them discussing in an early episode. And with the upcoming HBO series based on the book, I wanted to give it a try. I’ve never read Lovecraft. I’ve been meaning to, but I’ve just never made it a priority. I can’t say that I missed anything in this book because I haven’t read Lovecraft, though.

The book is really a series of interrelated short stories, each featuring one member of two different families who are close friends with each other. The “main character” of each story is usually accompanied by other characters within the families, but that main person is the one affected by whatever crazy thing is happening. Set in the Jim Crow 1950s, the supernatural events of the story are not so subtly tinged with racism. The author does a great job capturing what life was like then for black people in the US.

This book wasn’t what I was expecting. I thought it would be more of just one big battle against monsters. And technically it was, but the monsters didn’t turn out to be space aliens or similar. They were simply racist white people, which is much more horrifying.

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books and reading

The Library at Mount Char

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Buzz about this book has been reaching me. People I follow on Twitter have been talking about it for a while now, but I haven’t put it at the top of my list because I really didn’t know anything about it. But for a personal online book club challenge, I needed to read a book with a house on the cover, so I moved this one to the top of my list. And, boy, what a book.

I’m not sure I can begin to explain what this book is about because it’s just so crazy. Basic premise is that Carolyn is the adopted daughter of a man she only knows as “Father.” He has adopted 11 children, and all are his apprentices. Father is a god. Maybe *the* god. But that’s not exactly addressed, but it really doesn’t matter. He controls the world, all space and time, everything you know. His apprentices all study one field: death, healing, languages, animals, etc. But Father has gone missing and now someone has to take control of his Library of knowledge.

This is truly one of the most bizarre and crazy books I’ve ever read. But don’t let that statement turn you against it. I loved it. This book was engaging from the first page. Carolyn is a fantastic character, very complex. However, the minor characters are the ones who truly shine in this one. I understand this book won’t be well received by everyone, particularly ones who don’t enjoy reading about religion in this fictional context, and that’s fine. However, if you aren’t particularly bothered by that aspect, I highly recommend this one.