Reading Shirley Jackson – October 2019

I am a little late in posting this review of my month of reading Shirley Jackson. I was quite surprised with how much I enjoyed these reads, and they stuck with me for a weeks afterwards.

One of my reading goals for 2019 is to become more familiar with works by different authors by featuring a different author every month (see A Focus on Authors Reading Challenge). I thought another great addition to my Fall reads and for October especially would be to read Shirley Jackson for the first time. I think it will be great for the Halloween season.

The-Lottery-and-other-storiesTitle: The Lottery and Other Stories
Author: Shirley Jackson
Genre: Short stories
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Company
Publication Date: 1949
Pages: 302
Format Read: Audiobook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Library Libby app
Date finished reading: October 5, 2019

Goodreads Description: The Lottery, one of the most terrifying stories written in this century, created a sensation when it was first published in The New Yorker. “Power and haunting,” and “nights of unrest” were typical reader responses. This collection, the only one to appear during Shirley Jackson’s lifetime, unites “The Lottery:” with twenty-four equally unusual stories. Together they demonstrate Jackson’s remarkable range–from the hilarious to the truly horrible–and power as a storyteller.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ 

6708624Title: We Have Always Lived in the Castle
Author: Shirley Jackson
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Viking Press
Publication Date: September 21, 1962
Pages: 146
Format Read: Ebook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Amazon
Date finished reading: October 28, 2019

Goodreads Description: 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-cap mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead…

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

HauntingOfHillHouseTitle: The Haunting of Hill House
Author: Shirley Jackson
Genre: Horror
Publisher: Viking
Publication Date: 1959
Pages: 208
Format Read: Ebook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Amazon
Date finished reading: November 3, 2019

Goodreads Description: First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a “haunting”; Theodora, the lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

My Review: I had never before read Shirley Jackson. I tend to hide away from any story classified as horror. I am quite a scaredy cat when it comes to horror, but I decided to jump out of my comfort zone for October. I am really glad I did. Shirley Jackson is now one of my favorite authors that I read this year. While I did not as much enjoy her classic short story collection that includes The Lottery, which was quite disturbing, I absolutely loved both We Have Always Lived in the Castle and The Haunting of Hill House. While We Have Always Lived in the Castle was a bit slow at times, it kept me guessing. It was a very unique read and unlike anything I had ever read before. My favorite read of Shirley Jackson’s was definitely The Haunting of Hill House. It was really creepy in a great way. I already new the story a bit from the movie The Haunting (1999) with Liam Neeson and the recent Netflix series The Haunting of Hill House. However, I can honestly say that the book is better. I still can’t stop thinking about this book. It continues to haunt me. 🙂 I highly recommend reading some Shirley Jackson.

My Overall Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ½

WWW Wednesdays – December 4, 2019

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What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Time for another WWW Wednesdays, which is brought to you by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. If you too want to participate, answer the above questions and post that link on Sam’s page.

I didn’t read much this week, because I had family in town and was busy watching Christmas movies and putting up Christmas decorations. I just started my final month of the Focus on Authors Challenge, where I will be reading Kristin Hannah. It has been an interesting reading challenge for sure.

Currently Reading

Recently Finished

American_gods

Focus on Authors Challenge: American Gods by Neil Gaiman – audiobook/book =DNF

*Click on the title to read my full Neil Gaiman review.*

Reading Next

What are y’all reading this week? Please feel free to leave a comment and/or your WWW link in the comment section below!

HAPPY READING!!!

Reading Neil Gaiman – November 2019

One of my reading goals for 2019 is to become more familiar with works by different authors by featuring a different author every month (see A Focus on Authors Reading Challenge). I thought another great addition to my Fall reads would be to read Neil Gaiman. I read my Neil Gaiman earlier this year, when I read Good Omens.

coralineTitle: Coraline
Author: Neil Gaiman
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: August 4, 2002
Pages: 162
Format Read: Audiobook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Libby library app
Date finished reading: November 4, 2019

Goodreads Description: The day after they moved in, Coraline went exploring….

In Coraline’s family’s new flat are twenty-one windows and fourteen doors. Thirteen of the doors open and close.

The fourteenth is locked, and on the other side is only a brick wall, until the day Coraline unlocks the door to find a passage to another flat in another house just like her own.

Only it’s different.

At first, things seem marvelous in the other flat. The food is better. The toy box is filled with wind-up angels that flutter around the bedroom, books whose pictures writhe and crawl and shimmer, little dinosaur skulls that chatter their teeth. But there’s another mother, and another father, and they want Coraline to stay with them and be their little girl. They want to change her and never let her go.

Other children are trapped there as well, lost souls behind the mirrors. Coraline is their only hope of rescue. She will have to fight with all her wits and all the tools she can find if she is to save the lost children, her ordinary life, and herself.

Critically acclaimed and award-winning author Neil Gaiman will delight readers with his first novel for all ages.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ½

graveyardTitle: The Graveyard Book
Author: Neil Gaiman
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: September 30, 2008
Pages: 307
Format Read: Audiobook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Libby library app
Date finished reading: November 21, 2019

Goodreads Description: Bod is an unusual boy who inhabits an unusual place-he’s the only living resident of a graveyard. Raised from infancy by the ghosts, werewolves, and other cemetery denizens, Bod has learned the antiquated customs of his guardians’ time as well as their timely ghostly teachings-like the ability to Fade. Can a boy raised by ghosts face the wonders and terrors of the worlds of both the living and the dead? And then there are things like ghouls that aren’t really one thing or the other.

This chilling tale is Neil Gaiman’s first full-length novel for middle-grade readers since the internationally bestselling and universally acclaimed Coraline. Like Coraline, this book is sure to enchant and surprise young readers as well as Neil Gaiman’s legion of adult fans.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

American_godsTitle: American Gods
Author: Neil Gaiman
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: June 19, 2001
Pages: 635
Format Read: Audiobook/Book
Standalone or series: Book #1 in American Gods series
Where I got the book: Libby library app
Date finished reading: November , 2019

Goodreads Description: Days before his release from prison, Shadow’s wife, Laura, dies in a mysterious car crash. Numbly, he makes his way back home. On the plane, he encounters the enigmatic Mr Wednesday, who claims to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America.

Together they embark on a profoundly strange journey across the heart of the USA, whilst all around them a storm of preternatural and epic proportions threatens to break.

Scary, gripping and deeply unsettling, American Gods takes a long, hard look into the soul of America. You’ll be surprised by what – and who – it finds there…

My Rating:

My Review: While I did enjoy reading Good Omens for a IRL book club earlier this year, I unfortunately did not enjoy reading Neil Gaiman this month as much as I would have liked. I knew when I decided to read Neil Gaiman for the first time this year that that would be stretching my reading life in a direction I did not know if I would enjoy. Fantasy tends to be one of my least favorite genres.

Coraline was a fun read and am definitely giving the graphic novel version to my niece for Christmas. However, it is definitely a story that caters to young people who need to appreciate their parents more. I feel that age-wise, I am a bit too old to truly appreciate this one.

The Graveyard Book was the most enjoyable Neil Gaiman read I chose this month. I thought it was very unusual and clever. The story had interesting characters both dead and undead, and the plot moved along with lots of fun adventures. I do recommend this book for kids and adults.

American Gods was not at all for me. This is the book I was most looking forward to reading this month and was unfortunately most disappointed in. The story had me engaged until immediately following funeral of Shadow’s wife. Is it just me or does this book assume that the reader knows norse mythology? I do not actually know anything about norse mythology, so maybe that is why the story lost my attention. I forced myself to read at least 25%, but eventually just decided to give up on it, hence the 1-star rating (which I give to all books that I DNF). This may be an unpopular opinion, but I do not recommend this book.

My Overall Rating: ♦ ♦ ¾

WWW Wednesdays – November 27, 2019

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What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Time for another WWW Wednesdays, which is brought to you by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. If you too want to participate, answer the above questions and post that link on Sam’s page.

I am currently preparing my house to host our annual Thanksgiving dinner with both my family and my husband’s family. It’ll be a crazy day tomorrow. If it gets to be too much, I have a place in my house I can hide with my book for a bit. 🙂

Currently Reading

Recently Finished

Focus on Authors Challenge: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman – audiobook = ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham – audiobook = ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

*Click on the book title for a full review. All Neil Gaiman titles will be reviewed as on full review at the beginning of December.*

Reading Next

What are y’all reading? Please leave a comment and/or your WWW link below in the comment section.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

Book Review: Midnight in Chernobyl

Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham CR: Simon & Schuster

Title: Midnight in Chernobyl
Author: Adam Higginbotham
Genre: Nonfiction History
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: February 12, 2019
Pages: 538
Format Read: Audiobook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Libby library app
Date finished reading: November 26, 2019

Goodreads Description: The definitive, dramatic untold story of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster, based on original reporting and new archival research.

April 25, 1986, in Chernobyl, was a turning point in world history. The disaster not only changed the world’s perception of nuclear power and the science that spawned it, but also our understanding of the planet’s delicate ecology. With the images of the abandoned homes and playgrounds beyond the barbed wire of the 30-kilometer Exclusion Zone, the rusting graveyards of contaminated trucks and helicopters, the farmland lashed with black rain, the event fixed for all time the notion of radiation as an invisible killer.

Chernobyl was also a key event in the destruction of the Soviet Union, and, with it, the United States’ victory in the Cold War. For Moscow, it was a political and financial catastrophe as much as an environmental and scientific one. With a total cost of 18 billion rubles—at the time equivalent to $18 billion—Chernobyl bankrupted an already teetering economy and revealed to its population a state built upon a pillar of lies.

The full story of the events that started that night in the control room of Reactor No.4 of the V.I. Lenin Nuclear Power Plant has never been told—until now. Through two decades of reporting, new archival information, and firsthand interviews with witnesses, journalist Adam Higginbotham tells the full dramatic story, including Alexander Akimov and Anatoli Dyatlov, who represented the best and worst of Soviet life; denizens of a vanished world of secret policemen, internal passports, food lines, and heroic self-sacrifice for the Motherland. Midnight in Chernobyl, award-worthy nonfiction that reads like sci-fi, shows not only the final epic struggle of a dying empire but also the story of individual heroism and desperate, ingenious technical improvisation joining forces against a new kind of enemy.

My Review: I’ve been interested in learning more about the Chernobyl nuclear disaster for years. Three years ago, while temporarily living in Ukraine, I had an opportunity to visit Chernobyl (see my Chernobyl post). It was a haunting experience, but I learned a lot and got to see the building of the new sarcophagus, which was just placed over the reactor a few months ago. Earlier this year, I learned a bit more about this disaster through the HBO miniseries Chernobyl. I looked up the literature that was used to create the miniseries and saw Midnight in Chernobyl on the list and have been looking forward to reading it every since. It did not disappoint.

If you are interested in learning about the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, Midnight in Chernobyl is the most comprehensive work about this disaster I have come across. The character list at the beginning is very helpful and was useful throughout the book. The book begins by giving some background on the early days of the cities that surrounded the Chernobyl nuclear plant. Around the time of the nuclear disaster, a nearby town, by the name of Pripyat, had grown to a population of 50,000 people.

Midnight in Chernobyl gives you a thorough account of the disaster itself. I’ve always been amazed that officials of the surrounding cities told civilians to just go about their daily lives, while high levels of radiation polluted the air. It seemed like such a horrific and unnecessary detriment to human life. However, Adam Higginbotham does a great job of explaining life and politics in the former Soviet Union. “The traditional reflexes of secrecy and paranoia were deeply ingrained. The truth about an incidence of any kind that might undermined Soviet prestige or provoke public panic had always been suppressed.” There were other nuclear incidences before Chernobyl that were covered up. People were not evacuated during from those areas, so why should they be evacuated now? By evacuating the cities around the Chernobyl nuclear plant, that would be alerting the public and possibly the international community of the accident, which the Soviet Union did not want. Not only did they delay evacuations but they quarantined the area, so no civilians could leave even if they wanted to. However, despite their best efforts, the international community would soon be alerted to this disaster as other European countries measured high levels of radiation in their air. The US President at that time, Ronald Reagan, stated “A nuclear accident that results in contaminating a number of countries with radioactive material is not simply an internal matter. The Soviets owe the world an explanation.”

Midnight in Chernobyl continues with such extensive details related to the aftermath, including the containment, the suffering of individuals exposed to acute radiation poisoning (ars), the building of the sarcophagus to put over the reactor, and the trial to hold certain individuals responsible for this nuclear disaster. While officially only 30-60 deaths occurred due to the Chernobyl nuclear accident, the UN states that 3.5 million people in multiple countries were affected. This book was the best piece of literature I have read on this event, and I highly recommend it!

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

WWW Wednesdays – November 20, 2019

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What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Time for another WWW Wednesdays, which is brought to you by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. If you too want to participate, answer the above questions and post that link on Sam’s page.

Is anyone else wondering how it can possibly be almost Thanksgiving already??!! I’ve mostly been audiobooking, while I clean my house and prepare for the company that is arriving from out of town soon. Both my family and my husband’s family are coming for Thanksgiving dinner, so it will and crazy next week and a half. Anyone have any book recommendations on how to deal with family? I would appreciate some humorous books if possible. LOL

Currently Reading

Last night, I met up with my friend to discuss Book One of Dune. I really am enjoying reading books piece by piece and discussing each section. My friend and I also use this as a great excuse to get together once a month, even during the busy times. Those times tend to be the best times to get together as a way to unwind and focus on something else.

Recently Finished

Fair Play by Eve Rodsky – audiobook = ♦
Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport – audiobook = ♦ ♦ ♦ ½

I actually did not make it through Fair Play, hence the 1-star rating. I was interested in reading about how couples balance their high-stress jobs, housework, and still have time for each other. This book seemed to cater more toward households with kids, which is fine, but not really relevant to me. Most of what I read seemed to really attack men, that the women were doing all the child care and household responsibilities. Seems like some items mentioned in the book should have been discussed among the couples before they decided to have children. Again, not really the book for me I guess. If anything, I started to appreciate the communication I have with my significant other. I was just hoping this book would share good tips on time management. It was a let down for me.

I will have a review of Digital Minimalism posted soon!

Reading Next

What are y’all reading? Please feel free to comment below and leave your WWW link as well.

HAPPY READING!!!

WWW Wednesdays – November 13, 2019

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What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Time for another WWW Wednesdays, which is brought to you by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. If you too want to participate, answer the above questions and post that link on Sam’s page.

I spent last week into this week reorganizing my bookshelves. It turned into a much bigger project than expected, but now I can easily access all books that I haven’t read yet and have recorded all of them into my book catalog app, so I will always know what books I own. I would like to avoid owning duplicates in the future. We shall see how it pans out. For now I think the shelves look good. 🙂

Currently Reading

Finished Reading

American Kingpin by Nick Bilton – audiobook = 4
Force of Nature by Jane Harper – book = 4.5
Blowout by Rachel Maddow – audiobook = 3.5
IRL Book Club: The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler – book = 5

Reading Next

What have y’all been reading? Have you read Neil Gaiman? Are there any Gaiman works that you particularly enjoyed and recommend? Leave a comment or your WWW link below.

HAPPY READING!!!