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 – September 18, 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’ve made some good progress with my Stephen King reads this month (A Focus on Authors Reading Challenge). I have so many thoughts and opinions about what I’ve read so soon, that I can barely contain myself and wait until the final review I will make at the end of the month.

Currently Reading

See how I am trying to balance out my horror reads with a little Christmas romance thrown in the mix?!

Finished Reading

Focus on Authors Challenge: Christine by Stephen King – audiobook = ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ½
Focus on Authors Challenge: Apt Pupil by Stephen King – ebook = ♦ ♦ ♦
Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff & Georgia Hardstark – audiobook = ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

*Click on the title of the book for my full review. All Stephen King reads will be reviewed at the end of September.*

Reading Next

What are y’all reading this week? Leave a comment and/or your WWW links below!

HAPPY READING!!!

Reading Agatha Christie – June 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). June was spent reading some of Agatha Christie‘s many books along with a recent biography of her.

abcTitle: The A.B.C. Murders
Author: Agatha Christie
Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Collins Crime Club
Publication Date: January 6, 1936
Pages: 236
Format Read: Book
Standalone or series: Book 13 of the Hercule Poirot series
Where I got the book: Library book sale
Date finished reading: June 17, 2019

Goodreads Description: When Alice Ascher is murdered in Andover, Hercule Poirot is already on to the clues. Alphabetically speaking, it’s one down, twenty-five to go.

There’s a serial killer on the loose. His macabre calling card is to leave the ABC Railway guide beside each victim’s body. But if A is for Alice Asher, bludgeoned to death in Andover; and B is for Betty Bernard, strangled with her belt on the beach at Bexhill; then who will Victim C be?

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Murder_is_Easy_First_Edition_Cover_1939Title: Murder is Easy
Author: Agatha Christie
Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Collins Crime Club
Publication Date: June 5, 1939
Pages: 320
Format Read: Book
Standalone or series: Book 4 of the Superintendent Battle series
Where I got the book: Bookstore
Date finished reading: June 27, 2019

Goodreads Description: A new ‘signature edition’ of Agatha Christie’s thriller, featuring the return of Superintendent Battle. Luke Fitzwilliam could not believe Miss Pinkerton’s wild allegation that a multiple murderer was at work in the quiet English village of Wychwood — or her speculation that the local doctor was next in line. But within hours, Miss Pinkerton had been killed in a hit-and-run car accident. Mere coincidence? Luke was inclined to think so — until he read in The Times of the unexpected demise of Dr Humbleby…

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦

mysterious affairTitle: The Mysterious Affair at Styles
Author: Agatha Christie
Genre: Mystery
Publisher: John Lane
Publication Date: October 1920
Pages: 304
Format Read: Audiobook
Standalone or series: Book 1 of the Hercule Poirot series
Where I got the book: Library Libby app
Date finished reading: July 1, 2019

Goodreads Description: The famous case that launched the career of Hercule Poirot. When a wealthy heiress is murdered, Poirot steps out of retirement to find the killer. As the master detective makes his way through the list of suspects, he finds the solution in an elaborately planned scheme almost impossible to believe.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

My Review: I’ve enjoyed reading Agatha Christie, since a teacher had my class read And Then There Were None and Murder on the Orient Express when I was 12 years old. Every now and then, I like to revisit her works. Since she is so prolific, there are plenty of her novels I have not read.

When I was younger I did not know how I quite felt about the Poirot character. He bothered me a little bit. However, as I get older, I see just how brilliant that character and series are (and quite humorous at times). I finally read the first book in the Hercule Poirot series, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, and was blown away by Christie’s descriptions of poison. I’ve always been impressed with Agatha Christie’s ability to set a scene and provide multiple suspects, but now I found that I am also impressed with her descriptions regarding the mode of murder.

I can’t help but compare modern mysteries and thrillers to the stories that Agatha Christie created. She truly set the baseline for what makes a great mystery. If you have never read an Agatha Christie book, I highly recommend doing so immediately!

My Overall Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ¼

 

A Focus on Authors Reading Challenge

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While listening to an episode of the What Should I Read Next podcast, Anne Bogel had a guest on her show that was focusing on reading one author a month. I would like to challenge myself in 2019 to do the same. I have a lot of books on my TBR shelf that are by certain authors that I haven’t read or have read very little. I have made a list of authors I would like to read with a few book titles to choose from. I don’t expect to read all of the following books, as I have other books to read for book clubs, etc., but I feel this will at least help me become a bit more familiar with authors I keep hearing so much about.

January: Zadie Smith

  • White Teeth
  • On Beauty
  • Swing Time
  • Feel Free: Essays
  • The Embassy of Cambodia

February: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (I thought this would be a good pick for African-American History Month)

  • Americanah
  • We Should All Be Feminists
  • Half of a Yellow Sun
  • Purple Hibiscus
  • Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions

March: David McCullough

  • The Johnstown Flood
  • John Adams
  • The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris
  • The Wright Brothers
  • The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal 1870-1914

April: Margaret Atwood 

  • Oryx and Crake
  • Blind Assassin
  • Alias Grace
  • Stone Mattress
  • The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus

May: Kurt Vonnegut

  • Slaughterhouse-Five
  • Galapagos
  • Breakfast of Champions
  • Welcome to the Monkey House
  • Interview w/ Kurt Vonnegut

June: Agatha Christie (I’ve actually read a handful of her mystery novels, but there are so many more I would like to read)

  • Murder is Easy
  • The Mysterious Affair at Styles
  • The A.B.C. Murders
  • Murder in Mesopotamia
  • Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life

July: Bill Bryson

  • Notes from a Small Island
  • The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain
  • Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe
  • Bill Bryson’s African Diary
  • One Summer

August: Rainbow Rowell

  • Fangirl
  • Attachments
  • Landline
  • Carry On
  • Almost Midnight

September: Stephen King (I read my first ever Stephen King in 2018 and enjoyed it enough that I want to read more)

  • Apt Pupil
  • Christine
  • The Body
  • On Writing
  • The Shining

October: Shirley Jackson

  • The Haunting of Hill House
  • We Have Always Lived in the Castle
  • The Lottery
  • Dark Tales 
  • Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life

November: Neil Gaiman

  • American Gods
  • Coraline
  • Neverwhere
  • The Graveyard Book
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane

December: Kristin Hannah

  • The Nightingale
  • The Great Alone
  • Fly Away
  • Winter Garden
  • Night Road

I am really looking forward to diving into these works by these amazing authors! What are your favorite authors? If I continue this reading challenge in future years, what authors should be on my list?

2018 A-Z Classics Reading Challenge

I spent much of 2017 reading recent bestsellers and want to get back to reading some classics. I’ve decided to participate in a reading challenge, where I will read one classic for every letter of the alphabet. Here is my list:

  • A   Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte
  • B   Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  • C   Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
  • D   Dubliners by James Joyce
  • E   East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  • F   Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • G   The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • H   The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • I   I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
  • J   Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier
  • K   Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • L   Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  • M   Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
  • N   The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
  • O   Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
  • P   Peyton Place by Grace Metalious
  • Q   The Quiet American by Graham Greene
  • R   The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe
  • S   The Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway
  • T   Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  • U   Utopia by Thomas More
  • V   Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho
  • W   The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
  • X   Xingu by Edith Wharton
  • Y   The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  • Z   Zeno’s Conscience by Italo Svevo

Book covers

2018 Passport Reading Challenge

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I’ve chosen to read a book about the following places:

  1. China: Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
  2. Egypt: Midaq Alley by Naguib Mahfouz
  3. Gibraltar: A Dangerous Place by Jacqueline Winspear
  4. Haiti: The Boiling Season by Christopher Hebert
  5. Ireland: The Dubliners by James Joyce
  6. Liechtenstein: Escape to Liechtenstein by Ed Dunlap
  7. Montenegro: The Devil’s Own by Sandra Brown
  8. Portugal: The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel