Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Book Review: Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill


Author: Joe Hill
Pages: 376
Published: February 13, 2007
Genre: Horror, Fiction, Paranormal, Thriller

Stephen King must be proud. Joe Hill is Stephen King's son. I'd say he does a good job of proving that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree in this book, his first novel.

Judas Coyne is a semi-retired rock star who has a personal collection of occult items that he has purchased over the years. It's just something of interest to him. He doesn't take any of it seriously until his assistant "happens" upon an old suit on an online auction that promises to contain the ghost of the suit's owner. Thinking, "what the hell, why not?", Judas buys the suit. 

From the moment the suit arrives in a heart-shaped box, strange things begin happening to him and his girlfriend. Without placing anyone in a proverbial box, as rock stars typically go, Judas has had his share of casual girlfriends through the years. One in particular begins to resurface when he calls the woman who sold him the suit to find out if he can send it back. The seller turns out to be the sister of one of Judas' old girlfriends - the one who committed suicide after Judas threw her out.

The step-father of the dead girlfriend is the ghost who came with the suit. His mission is to kill Judas - or rather, make Judas kill himself and anyone else affiliated with him - girlfriend, employees, dogs - makes no matter. The reason: Judas is told is that the ghost holds him responsible for the death of his step-daughter. 

The story throws the reader some curve balls of surprise every now and again. Judas' real name is Justin. He has some old ghosts of his own from his past to confront - and he gets that opportunity.  He suffered abuse at the hands of his father as a child - and the trauma and emotional turmoil that brings must be dealt with. This leaves the reader wondering by the end of the book whether the events of the story were real - or did everything happen in Judas' mind? 

I thought the book would make an 'okay' movie, although it would be predictable at some points. 
Overall, it was a good book. I would rate it 3.75 out of 5 stars. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

My Favorite Things


Sprinkles on cupcakes and roses on mittens

Little red cauldrons and warm, fuzzy kittens

Bright shiny baubles that make pretty rings

These are a few of my favorite things.

     I'm in the middle of reading my next book, so I figured I would share the happy little jingle that I         was thinking about this morning to fill the gap before my next book review.

This blog is about books, and how the act of reading itself can be healing. It takes us away to another world of our choosing. It is an escape from reality. 

I don't know about you, but when I'm reading a great book, my physical body may be sitting in my favorite reading spot, but my mind is somewhere else. 

Did you know that reading actually lowers your blood pressure?  Books really are a fantastic way to improve your mental and physical health. 

So, besides books, which are one of my very favorite things, thinking about the things that make you happy - the things that make you smile and feel safe and cozy are healing too. 

Everyone has an inner child. Embracing the things that you love, whether it's cupcakes, fuzzy kittens, art, nature, magickal books, a hot cup of coffee or tea, scented candles...whatever it is that makes YOU happy - find a little time for those things today. You'll be glad you did. 

What are some of your favorite things? 

Saturday, November 27, 2021


I'm sad. I'm discouraged. I'm disappointed. I'm struggling. Can ANYONE relate to that? No? Just me?


I'm also utterly alone in my struggle. Maybe the universe says, "No you're not. We're here boo." 


Obviously this isn't a book review. But hey, it's my blog. I can write about whatever flows from the depths of my dark soul. Does anyone have to listen? No. Will anyone listen? Probably not. I suppose I have to be okay with that so that I can do whatever it is I'm going to do with my life. 

Everyone struggles. I get it. Some people's struggles are much more intense and severe than what I'm dealing with currently. But getting a rejection letter from grad school is not the struggle that I wanted to embrace. 

But....embrace it I shall! 😎 

Now to work on plan B. 

I'm not quite over my disappointment. That will take some time. Grad school wasn't in the cards. Or was it? Should I apply to another grad school? Or should I just take the rejection as a sign that this isn't the path I'm supposed to take? If it isn't then what next? 

Any suggestions? Comments? 

Just my raw thoughts put out into the world for everyone's potential criticism. 

Now to go live my life. Clock's ticking. 


Wednesday, November 24, 2021

The Ultimate Struggle


Author: Clive Barker
Year Published: 2015
Pages: 361
Genre: Horror

The genius of Clive Barker needs no introduction to the horror novel crowd. I hadn't read Clive Barker - ever. Shame on me, I know. I DID watch the movie Hellraiser many, many years ago, which is based on the prequel to The Scarlet Gospels named The Hellbound Heart. When I discovered The Scarlet Gospels on the shelves at the library, I didn't realize that it was a sequel. Being familiar with the movie Hellraiser which creeped me out and gave me nightmares as a teen, I thought The Scarlet Gospels would make a good read, and I wouldn't be missing any details. I was correct. And VERY glad I picked up this book. 

Clive Barker could be described as none other than the master of horror. As a Stephen King fan, I think even he would agree that Clive Barker is the master. Making a comparison, Stephen King is the master of psychological horror, but when it comes to gore combined with capturing the most unimaginable terrors of the reader, Clive Barker outdoes himself. 

The book tells the tale of the Hell Priest aka Pinhead, who is on a mission to take over Hell. He murders the world's most powerful magicians in order to steal their knowledge so he can, of course, use it for none other than taking on the King of Hell himself - Lucifer. I won't spoil how that turns out for him - but it makes for rapid page turning and not being able to put the book down at the end of a chapter - even when I have laundry or dinner to attend to. 

The hero of the story is detective Harry D'Amour. When he happens upon the infamous puzzle box that opens the door to Hell, he goes to his friend Norma who is a psychic medium, for help. Long story short, Norma is dragged into Hell by the Hell Priest for ransom. Harry goes into Hell after them in an attempt to rescue his friend and hopefully stop the Hell Priest's plans to take over Hell - which would result in a war that both the human and inhuman world has never seen. 

Get the paperback here: 

Monday, November 15, 2021

More Fantasy, Even More Mythology

Author: Michael Scott
Year Published: 2007
Pages: 369
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy

If you enjoy learning Greek, Egyptian and/or Celtic mythology, there are a myriad of characters in this book that will have you grabbing an index - or two. But probably the most fascinating thing about this book is that the other characters (aside from the werewolves and vampires), were real people. 

The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel is a fast moving story mostly about the Codex which is the book also known as the Book of Abraham the Mage - which is also a REAL book allegedly written by THE Abraham. 😲 Yes. That one. 

Nicholas Flamel and his wife Perenelle are two of the main characters in the story. Nicholas Flamel was a real person, an alchemyst, who found the Book of Abraham the Mage and discovered the recipe for immortality. The catch? (There's always a catch.) Nicholas and his wife need to drink the magical elixir once a month in order to continue down the road of immortality. Without the magic, they begin to age at the rate of one year per day. Whew! I'm glad our rate of aging is a bit slower. 

Obviously, a book that contains the recipes for such power is wanted by the bad guys. Isn't it always?  Enter Dr. John Dee - who was also a real person. He wants the book in order to bring back the Dark Elders to rule the world - which means the end of life as we know it. 

The book not only contains magic, but a prophecy about twins who are able to stop the evil. Sophie and Josh are two seemingly normal twins living in California working summer jobs to save their money for a car. Completely unaware of a world outside their own, their lives quickly become entangled in a race to save the world. 

This is a great start to the six-book series. If you enjoy action, adventure, magic, fantasy and again, mythology, you're in for a treat. The author leaves the reader a note at the end of the book that provides a little more insight into the real lives of Dr. John Dee and Nicholas Flamel. For me, this was a little prod to further research the lives of these interesting people. Looks like there's more than one empty tomb in history - the tomb of Nicholas Flamel is empty. Hmmmm......truly immortal? Fascinating stuff. 

Friday, November 12, 2021

Nonfiction November

Although my first love is fiction, I have been reading a good bit of nonfiction lately on topics that interest me. I'm usually not an avid reader of biographies, but wow! All book nerds know that November marks the month of reading nonfiction. I've started reading this riveting account of Catherine the Great. So far, it is NOT boring.  Although not overly familiar with the Empress of Russia, the story of her life is fascinating. I'll post a review when I'm done reading it. 

Are you reading nonfiction this month? I'd love to hear what you're reading. 


Tuesday, November 9, 2021

House of Secrets


Authors: Chris Columbus & Ned Vizzini
Year Published: 2013
Pages: 490
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy

Chris Columbus delivers in this non-stop action thrilling adventure! It's no surprise that the author directed the Harry Potter movies and produced Night at the Museum. 

Set in modern day San Francisco, Chris Columbus' first book in the House of Secrets trilogy opens with the purchase of a house by the Walker children's parents. Money is tight for the family since their father lost his job as a medical doctor due to a very strange incident that occurred in the operating room. The children later learn that there is an eerie connection 

The three children, Cordelia, Brendan and Eleanor, soon discover that what they first thought was a run down old house, holds secrets beyond their wildest imaginations. Their first family movie night in the house is rudely interrupted by a very creepy lady who introduces herself as the next door neighbor. She tells the family that she grew up in the house. The book nerd 😊 of the family, Cordelia,  quickly puts two and two together, and realizes that the old lady is the daughter of Denver Kristoff - the man who wrote the books that inhabit the shelves of the library inside the house. But how could the next door neighbor lady possibly be his daughter? She would have to be well over one hundred years old - like Guinness Book of World Records over one hundred. 

Almost as soon as Cordelia solves the WHO, the WHAT happens. The creepy old lady shows up with a bang and identifies herself as the Wind Witch. The parents are injured and disappear, and the children are left trying to figure out where they are and how to find their parents. 

Trapped inside a mash of Denver Kristoff's stories, the children meet the characters from the books, some nice, some trying to kill them. Every page is filled with Jumanji-ish, Night at the Museum-ish adventure - from giants to giant dragonflies to pirates to sword wielding skeletons. The children have to find a way to get back to reality and stop the Wind Witch while resisting the overpowering urge to open the Book of Doom and Desire. The Book uses the selfish desires of each character in order to overcome them and enable the Wind Witch to become all powerful.

Do the children love each other and their parents more than they love themselves? Will they find their way back home to reality? Did their parents survive? Which one of them will give in and open the Book? Just once? Just a peek? 

                                Get it here: House of Secrets (House of Secrets series Book 1)