50 Scariest Books of All Time – A Challenge

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I’ve always been a sucker for horror. At 29 years old I can without a doubt say that for over 2 decades I’ve been in love with the genre. I’ve also found that it seems people who love horror were drawn to it at a young age. For me it was Stephen King’s It, and A Nightmare on Elm Street that I remember watching first in the early 90’s. Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare came out when I was 7 years old in 1991, and I saw it in the theater. So by the time I was 7 I was already a die-hard Freddy Krueger fan, because I begged to be allowed to go see the movie once the previews began running on TV.

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that I am really into horror!

Recently my local library posted a link to a list of the 50 Scariest Books of All Time. Admittedly these are listed as the scariest books, not the 50 greatest horror novels – so some of these are non-fiction horrific events.  Some of these I’ve read, but a lot I haven’t. So that got me thinking – I love making up book challenges for myself, (like my challenge to read 10 books in January 2012), so why not read and review all 50 books! It should be a fun challenge for not only my inner book geek but also my inner horror geek!

  1. It – Stephen King
  2. Piercing – Ryu Murakami
  3. The Exorcist – William Peter Blatty
  4. Ghost Story – Peter Straub
  5. American Psycho – Bret Easton Ellis
  6. Hell House – Richard Matheson
  7. Dracula – Bram Stoker
  8. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
  9. The Best of H.P. Lovecraft – H.P. Lovecraft
  10. The Turn of the Screw – Henry James
  11. House of Leaves – Mark Z. Danielewski
  12. The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson
  13. The Silence of the Lambs – Thomas Harris
  14. Rosemary’s Baby – Ira Levin
  15. The Amityville Horror – Jay Anson
  16. The Trial – Frankz Kafka
  17. Books of Blood – Clive Barker
  18. Blood Meridian – Cormac McCarthy
  19. Heart-Shaped Box – Joe Hill
  20. Carrion Comfort – Dan Simmons
  21. The Complete Tales and Poems – Edgar Allan Poe
  22. Dawn – Octavia Butler
  23. We Need to Talk About Kevin – Lionel Shriver
  24. The Girl Next Door – Jack Ketchum
  25. The Painted Bird – Jerzy Kosinski
  26. The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
  27. The Cipher – Kathe Koja
  28. Lord of the Flies – William Golding
  29. The Ruins – Scott Smith
  30. Ghost Stories of an Antiquary – M. R. James
  31. Naomi’s Room – Jonathan Aycliffe
  32. The Ritual – Adam Nevill
  33. Johnny Got His Gun – Dalton Trumbo
  34. Incarnate – Ramsey Campbell
  35. The Woman in Black – Susan Hill
  36. The Great God Pan – Arthur Machen
  37. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark – Alvin Schwartz
  38. The October Country – Ray Bradbury
  39. White is for Witching – Helen Oyeyemi
  40. Let the Right One In – John Ajvide Lindqvist
  41. I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream – Harlan Ellison
  42. The Collector – John Fowles
  43. The Store – Bently Little
  44. Penpal – Dathan Auerbach
  45. In Cold Blood – Truman Capote
  46. Swan Song – Robert R. McCammon
  47. The Wolfen – Whitley Strieber
  48. The Hot Zone – Richard Preston
  49. The Killer Inside Me – Jim Thompson
  50. 1984 – George Orwell

Happy Halloween, everyone!

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That One Time a Murderer Lived Under my Roof and Fathered my Sister.

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I always thought Bob was a little creepy, even before I really knew him. Mom introduced me to her co-worker and friend when I was 18, and denied up and down that she was romantically attracted to him.

A few months later that changed – I’m not sure what happened, but suddenly they were an item. It wasn’t a slow build up either – it all seemed so very frantic and fast. I had been away from home for just a few months making my way through my first year of college away from home, when suddenly a strange man and his daughter were moving into my home. Suddenly there was no more room for me there.

The story Bob told everyone, was that his wife was a little crazy and a few years prior had run off, never to be seen again. Abandoning her daughter and husband like a shadow in the night. He was, as he said, very much in love with my mom and wanted a new family with her. Being that I was 19 at the time, you can do the math…mom wasn’t a yougin’ anymore and her birthing years were quickly coming to a close. Bob, however, wished to remain “married” to his missing wife for a total of 7 years, at which point he’d be able to declare her legally dead and cash in her life insurance. Therefor his solution was to have the baby then…get married a few years later! Being that she was the villain in his story, no harm, no foul…right?

Three months before my 2nd year of college wrapped up, about a week before my 20th birthday…my mother gave birth to Becca. The spitting image of Bob.

By that time, as you know if you’ve been paying attention thus far, I was no longer living at home. However, I did have many belongings still there…which seemed to be magically running off with their own feet. But the thing was, it wasn’t only my things missing. My sister Kelly’s things were missing, mom’s things were missing, Bob’s things were missing, and Bob’s daughter Jennifer’s things were missing….we all had stuff missing. Bob seemed to always know where these missing things were going though…my sister was stealing my stuff, or my friends were stealing hers, her friends were stealing Jennifer’s things and Jennifer was stealing mom’s things and so on and so forth etc, etc, lather rinse and repeat.

Right up to and during the time that Becca was born I had become pretty outspoken to mom with my disgust with her, Bob and the whole situation. I was pretty convinced he was a bad guy and was swindling her for some reason. I’m not sure why he chose my mother to swindle…we were on welfare at the time. I grew up poor, dear reader, so I’m not sure what his end goal was there if he was looking for someone to swindle money out of. But for some reason he was…only mom was the last person to see it.

After a while my friends knew, I knew, my sister Kelly knew….we all knew it was him doing the stealing.

One night sometime after 2 in the morning after a long shift at McDonald’s, I jumped in the backseat of my friend’s car for a ride home. He let me know my mother had called….and that Bob had stolen her car and the little money she had in the bank. He was gone. When Becca was 3 months old during the summer of 2004, we all saw the last we’d ever see of Bob. When I heard the news I was all at once not surprised, relieved he was gone, and furious that he had taken mom’s car, money, and heart.

After he left, mom began getting calls from detectives in Delaware. He had been under investigation ever since his wife went missing, for her murder…but they could never piece the puzzle together to pin it on him. Mom wasn’t any help to the detectives, but their calls solidified it in her mind that it was probably true that he had killed his wife. She also accepted the fact that he was the one who had stolen all of our missing belongings. Turns out he had 2 storage units in town, and with a police warrant she was granted entry into the units to retrieve ONLY the items she knew by heart that were gone. Once she got into the units however, she discovered so much more was missing than she realized, including a baby blanket my grandmother had made for me. He was never stealing items to make a profit from them, he was stealing items and pitting the lot of us against each other.

My mom attempted for years to have him arrested. He ended up in Alabama after leaving our old Kentucky home in mom’s car. He lived his days out there, never giving any of us a second thought as far as we know. Mom did get him on the phone once, and he acted as if they were old friends and that Becca didn’t exist to him. The police never arrested him for stealing the car, the money, or unpaid child support.

He died this May.

His storage units went up for auction to one lucky bidder who gained access to a master collection of random things, some of it I’m sure belong to me.

What no one ever realized, however, was that his dead wife was in the storage unit…all these years. The coroner and forensics have determined that the bones that were wrapped up in plastic grocery bags are those of his dead wife Doris. Of course, police can’t determine without a shadow of a doubt at this time that he was in fact the one that murdered his wife….but everyone knows it’s true.

It’s all so surreal, the home I spent my high school years in became the scene of a police search for more bones. The man whose DNA flows through my sister Becca was a murderer and surely a sociopath. He lived in that house with my mom and my sisters and at any time…he could have killed them too. In fact, I’m almost certain that if Becca had been a boy my mother would be dead right now. If mom had money , she’d be dead right now. Thankfully she’s alive and we’re all unscathed in this whole ordeal.

Although Becca will never know her father, she will know and come to understand one day what kind of man he was. My hope is to always let her know that she’s not like him in any way, and what he was and did will never matter to her and her life.

And I hope that poor Doris may now rest in peace.

If you want to read Jennifer’s story, click here, which is a more interesting version of my outsider view of the whole ordeal.

A New Start

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I changed my theme, I thought the cobwebs would be fitting to how little use this blog has been the past few months.

I started it one fall evening when I lived in an unhappy place and was going through an unhappy time in my life, and felt that just talking to myself and get some “creativity” out may make me feel better. As it turns out I’ve moved from that place, and life has been so much less toxic in the past year – thus my blog fizzled and died.

However, I still have an urge to write… just not about what’s going on in my head anymore, because though I may fail from time to time, I’m trying very hard to stop living in my head.

My source of escape ever since I was a wee lass was stories. Be it something my dad had written, a monster movie on the TV, Narnia books… no matter the type of story they provided a place for my  head to comfortably rest in the clouds.

So I have decided to start blogging again, but to review stories – books, movies, shows, poems, etc etc what have you and what not. Will my past readers care to read anymore? I dunno! If you do I will still love you and proved this imaginary pouty face to let you know how sorry I am for being such a blog deserter this past year. Will this bring me new readers? Not sure about that either. And to be honest, I’m fine with that. If I’m the only one reading my own blog, well I guess that’s OK!

Now…..ALLLLL that being said I DO have one last non-review related blog to publish. Here I am with my own new start breaking my own rules….uh oh well it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to 😀

Without further ado – I leave you now in suspense of the new updated Cheesecake Summer!

– Laura

Just Ramblin’

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I don’t know what it is, but the past 6 months, maybe even longer, I’ve just felt uninspired. Even to the point of not really reading books as much as I used to. I haven’t finished a novel since moving in September. That’s scandalous!

My theory is that my work schedule has changed. I work at the computer for 10 hours a day, 4 days a week. So when I’m not at my computer, I don’t want to look at it at all! I haven’t even played WoW (yeah yeah nerd alert I get it!). My point to all this is, I’m here, I’m just uninspired. I haven’t done much writing, much reading, not even researching odd ball things that I usually like to waste time on. I don’t know what’s wrong with me!

I’m trying to pull myself out of this unimaginative uninspired rut that I’m in, I really am. It’s funny, this time last year I really felt fulfilled when I was writing, blogging, reading, etc. But my life then was in a sense in shambles. (Not my marriage or my job, just my life) My life today isn’t in much better shape, but my surroundings are so in a sense I’m happier. But I’m not feeling as fulfilled. Does that make any sense whatsoever?

I know the simple solution you’re all thinking. “Durrr Laura just sit down with a pen and paper and write something. Grab your book and read.” I tell myself that all the time, then I manage to wander off and do something else….which is….? I don’t even know. Watch TV is that what I spend my free time on? Probably. I do love television, I majored in it for Christ’s sake.

Ok well this got really rambly and pointless. I will try to make more of a point next time. I’m thinking of focusing my blog on more of one topic and less of a mishmash. Not sure what though. Movie reviews? Book reviews? (that’d be easier if I’d actually read, right?) A blog about my cat? I don’t know. I just don’t know! Ok.

In other news, I’ve joined the local YMCA and now go swimming at least 3-4 times a week in an attempt to not have my own orbit from being so big.

Harlan

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The year was 1984, and there on a cold wintry morning I took my first breath of Harlan county USA air, thick with coal dust as it was.  You see, I come from that place they portray on the TV show Justified. It’s really real.

Harlan_Kentucky_Aerial_view

Picture from Wikipedia

I had an odd childhood, not unlike many kids of my generation I suppose. I really “came” from two places. I have two “homes”. One was mom’s house where I did most of my living. The other was dad’s – Harlan.

The funny thing about Harlan is, as much as I loathed the place growing up, it holds my go-to memories of childhood. Why is that? From the time I was 3 until I left for college at 18, I mostly lived with mom. Harlan to me was every other weekend and half the summer. There’s just something about Harlan that is hard to shake.

The town of Harlan is a small place, population 2,000, nestled in the mountains of southeastern Kentucky. It is very much cut off from the world. It’s at least an hour, if not a little more, away from the nearest interstate.

I honestly don’t know what it is about the place that holds me so deeply. I think back to my memories of growing up in Harlan probably 5 times for every 1 time I think about growing up at my mom’s – which in all fairness is where I did most of my growing up. Maybe it’s not the town itself that holds me so, but the powerful memories of my grandparents. I think about those two daily, and dream about them almost as often. I know everyone loves their grandparents, but those two were definitely special to me in ways that no one else ever will be. I can still hear my Granny say “Hey girl” as she did every time I called or walked through her door…and it kills me inside to know I’ll never hear her say that again.

Granny, Pap, and me -- sometime in the 80's.

Granny, Pap, and me — sometime in the 80’s.

I didn’t mean to get off on a tangent about my grandparents, this post began as a look at that odd, quirky, drug-laden, poor little community that almost holds an odd mystery to it for both people there and on the outside.

Maybe I’d be more willing to make a trek back to my homeland, if Timothy Olyphant were actually the US Marshall there…a girl can dream!

And no…. I never heard of anyone firing off rocket launchers…but I wouldn’t be surprised!

Blog of the Year 2012

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I’m blushing here. Kourtney over at Kourtney Heintz’s Journal  has given me the Blog of the Year 2012 award! HUZZAH!

BotY

Well, I’m honored! Thank you so much Kourtney. I suggest everyone follow her blog. This minute! The second she posts a new story about her Grandma, you won’t be sorry!

Hmm, who should I pass this onto……oh DUH how about my fellow Limebird Writers friends! That sounds like an excellent idea, if I do say so myself. 2012 was my first full year of blogging, and Limebird has surrounded me with the best blogging friends a girl could ask for! Hey, while you’re at it why don’t you go check out Limebird, too!

In no particular order whatsoever –

Conversing With Novels – Amber sometimes talks to her novels, sometimes she writes stories that scare her friends to death…

Continuous Strings – One can never go wrong with the writings of Cat!

Dennis M Lane Publishing – Dennis is the resident Limebird sci-fi guru.

4 a.m. Writer – Kate gets up….at 4 a.m…..to write! Gotta love that dedication!

The Short and the Long of it – Folks submit 3 words…and Neeks writes short stories featuring them! How cool is that?!

Vanessa-Jane Chapman – Vanessa writes about the things that matter most in life, like your uvula! And if you like sweets and treats, she has a blog dedicated to that!

Living in a Tampon Commercial

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Let me set the stage for you.

It’s the Saturday before Christmas. My family has come together under one roof, as we always do every Saturday before Christmas. My cousin’s and I are all range from our mid to late 20’s to early 30’s. Some of them have kids which are all under a year old to 3-4 years old in age.

In short, chaos has ensued.

Everyone’s bellies are full. The crumbs of pies and cookies still litter the table(s).

For some reason when people have kids, they like to ask those of us who don’t when we’ll be joining in their misery. I can’t remember how this particular conversation began that I’m about to regale you with, but lets just pretend it began after someone was asked for the 800th time when they will be blessing this world with a snot-nosed creature of their own.

The following is a real conversation between myself, my cousin and my sister. Also, my grandfather is Daddaddy. That’s how it came out of my mouth before I was capable of proper thought, and that is what he remains to this day.

Cousin: My periods have been irregular lately.

Daddaddy walks up behind us and hands us our Christmas cards with money, seemingly out of nowhere. Has he been a ninja all my life and I never knew?!

Cousin: And we’re not going to talk about that now.

I burst into uncontrollable giggles, the “adults” (because obviously at 28 years old I’m NOT an adult!) look at me like “what’s up with this crazy person, oh wait that’s just Laura.”

Daddaddy exists stage left, at which point I turn back to my cousin.

Me: Oh my gosh me too! That’s so weird.

My Sister: You guys should try Mirena. (a type of birth control)

That was it, that did it. I lost it, I laughed until I cried, I couldn’t breathe, my stomach hurt.

I tried several times, but failed, to say “Oh my gosh guys we just did that thing they do on commercials! It really DOES happen!”

You know the type of commerical…ladies sit around moaning about that time of the month and then decide that if they use the latest birth control/maxi pad/tampon/Midol/etc that everything will be fields of daisies on a pleasant spring afternoon.

Not sure of the type of commercial I mean? Here, take a look at this old gem I found on YouTube.

Ah, well, you know what they say. Nothing like Christmas to bring cousins and sisters together to talk about period irregularity and birth control.

TMI? Oops oh well I should have warned about that in the beginning, eh?