Book Review: Witches, Stitches and Bitches

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I’m going to take a break from going through the list of 50 Scariest Books of All Time, and bring to you another review, just in time for Halloween!

Witches, Stitches and Bitches
Edited by Shannon Page

WS&B

Evil Girlfriend Media has published the first of their three little word anthologies. As you can guess from the title, each story has to encompass witches, stitches, and well…yeah…bitches! There are 16 short stories in total – some set in our world, some set in fantasy lands, all including stitches in vastly imaginative ways ranging from stitched up doppelgängers to a skin stitched from dogs. And the bitches…well you won’t be disappointed by them.

I’m going to reflect here my review from Amazon. I am a woman, but I tend to hate when too much “girl power” is thrown around.  It’s not like I want the man to oppress me, but I tend to be turned off by too much women’s lib as well. That being said, I was a bit apprehensive I was sitting down to potentially read nothing but a bunch of girls rule boys drool stories.

That is absolutely NOT the case at all. These are all fun and vastly different treats. I love short stories and found them all evenly paced and developed. These short stories are written by men and women with different styles – you seriously cannot go wrong.

Check out the EGM site for more about this fun little publisher, plus links to where you can buy the book. There are two more similar anthologies coming out in the near future!

The Curse

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Do you think there can be such a thing as a cursed novel?

I’m a big fan of Stephen King. When I was a Sophomore in high school I carried the brick that is The Stand around with me everywhere to snickers of my classmates, “You’re reading that…for fun?!?!?!?” like that was such a foreign concept. Yes, it is possible to read books that Mrs. Bishop hasn’t assigned, imagine that.

My love of Mr. King’s works stem back from when I was but a wee-tyke, seeing my mom and grandparents read his books. I had a sick fascination with horror that began around the age of 6, so by the time The Stand mini-series came out on TV when I was in the 4th grade, I had already been loving Carrie, IT, Pet Semetary, etc for many years.

All of this has led my husband to ask me just why haven’t I read any of The Dark Tower books if I love Stephen King so much? Well, I just didn’t have a good answer for that. Nothing other than I just haven’t gotten around to it. When I was a kid my grandparents didn’t own any of those books, and they were generally my source for all things Stephen King. That’s all fine and dandy, but there comes a certain point in a person’s life when they are master of their own book collection. It wasn’t as if I was avoiding the journey of the tower, it has been on my “to-do” list for years.

So it happened a couple of months ago, my husband thrust into my hands The Gunslinger, the first novel of The Dark Tower series. Read it, he tells me. And read it I did. As I neared the end I told him he had better find his copy of the second novel (The Drawing of the Three) so I could go straight into it. And through the second novel I told him to hunt down the third – The Waste Lands.

Then, I finished The Waste Lands, and my husband warned me about going into the fourth – Wizard and Glass. See, Wizard and Glass is a cursed novel in my husband’s eyes. One that took him several attempts to finish. The first time he was making his way through the book his parents lost their home (this was when he was younger and lived with them). They lost most of their possessions in one fell swoop.

The second time he attempted the novel, his father passed away.

He has since finished the book, and I think he did so without any further incident. But he did warn me when I began reading it, and I didn’t listen. Sure enough, the curse of Wizard and Glass passed down to me.

Two weeks ago today (which now feels more like two months ago) we got a call from our landlord, and without getting into gory details (there are several shows on TV about the subject) we were basically told that in a week we may lose our apartment. We spent a week frantic, terrified, nervous, sad, angry, frightened, distraught, worried, unsure…etc etc etc. The week went by and last Tuesday came and went without incident. With the help of several friends and my mother, we managed to do what our landlord asked, which secured our spot in our apartment.

This past couple of weeks has been a complete whirlwind. After all the drama with our apartment, we were scheduled to leave town the next day for a vacation with a bunch of friends. Which after all the stress was definitely well needed.

At any rate, Wizard and Glass now sits by my bed, around 100 pages from the end. And I’m terrified to pick it back up and finish. Will I just be tempting the universe to do something else to destroy our lives?

My husband has offered to just tell me what happens. I’ve also thought about reading the Wikipedia entry on it. I know this sounds weird, I mean really how superstitious can you get? But honestly, that is three times the book has been read by the two of us that something downright life altering has happened!

I’m still undecided on what to do. What would you do? Just laugh at the universe and pick it back up to finish? Get the synopsis from someone who’s already read it, like my husband? Would listening to the audio version be just as terrifying as reading it myself? I just don’t know…and until I figure out what I’m brave enough to do, I think Wizard and Glass is just going to have to sit there and wait.

Now that I think about it, this whole thing sounds like one crazy Stephen King novel…

Seriously…I’m Kidding

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Sunday I finished reading Seriously…I’m Kidding by my BFF Ellen DeGeneres. That leaves me today and tomorrow to read one more book in order to have read 10 books this month! *Runs off to find a Dick and Jane book* Phew, I’m back.  I got this guys, I got this.

I love Ellen, so much. I watch her show like it’s a religion. I own box sets of her sitcoms, I own her books, and every day when I step out of my shower I wipe my feet on her face! (Well, my shower mat is Nemo and Dory from Finding Nemo). She’s so funny! I love reading her books too, because it sounds like what the inside of my head sounds like.

Here’s the description from Amazon.com:

I’ve experienced a lot the last few years and I have a lot to share. So I hope that you’ll take a moment to sit back, relax and enjoy the words I’ve put together for you in this book. I think you’ll find I’ve left no stone unturned, no door unopened, no window unbroken, no rug unvacuumed, no ivories untickled. What I’m saying is, let us begin, shall we?
– Ellen DeGeneres
Mostly, it’s like 241 pages of delicious creamy monologue from her show. Well, maybe creamy isn’t the right word, that makes it sound kind of gross. Anyway, you get the point.
Here are a couple of my favorite excerpts:
Way, way back in the day, like in the 1990’s, if you wanted to tell everyone that you ate waffles for breakfast, you couldn’t just go on the Internet and tweet it out. There was only one way to do it. You had to go outside and scream at the top of your lungs, “I ate waffles for breakfast!” That’s why so many people ended up in institutions. They seemed crazy, but when you think about it, they were just ahead of their time.
And:
There’s a very easy way to save water. Take group showers. It’s fun. It’s friendly. At first, my house-keepers were resistant to this idea. But luckily my landscaper talked them into it.
– Ellen DeGeneres
Oh that Ellen, she does go on, and on, and on… she’s so funny! I mean, it’s no wonder she’s my BFF for life! If only we could meet, so I could let her know about us being BFF. I’m sure she’d see it too, that we were separated at birth or something. Nevermind she’s older than my mom, that doesn’t matter. Pfft. Logistics and stuff, I ain’t about being logical!
…Maybe I shouldn’t have tried writing when I’m sick and surely under the influence of NyQuil. That stuff will whack a girl up – yo. Oh yeah I was talking about Ellen. This book is full of useful stuff, like how to save water, short short stories, haiku, practically anything you’d want to read while imagining Ellen’s voice the whole time. And if you get tired of reading, you can just turn to the front cover and get lost in her Cover Girl blue eyes. Such….pretty………eyes.
Ok I’m going to bed. Read Ellen’s book!

The Hellbound Heart

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At around 4 o’clock this morning I finished book 2 in my pursuit to read 10 books this month. The Hellbound Heart is a novella (at 164 pages) by Clive Barker. The movie Hellraiser, which was also written and directed by Clive Barker, was based on this novella.

I really enjoyed the synopsis as it is written on the back of the book:

The Hellbound Heart is one of his best, a nerve-shattering novella about the human heart and all the great terrors and ecstasies within its endless domain. It is about greed and love, lovelessness and despair, desire and death,  life and captivity, bells and blood. It is one of the most dead frightening stories you are likely to ever read.

That description really sums up the novel. At its core it is about a woman, Julia, who is beyond disgusted with her husband. She constantly lusts after her brother-in-law Frank, who she had an affair with days before her wedding. Frank will do anything to fulfill his sensual needs, including reaching into the depths of Hell. Then, the cenobites appear.

Yes, I have honestly had nightmares about Pinhead!

The thing about Clive Barker is that no matter what terrifying thing he is describing, he does it with such beauty. As I was reading this I commented to my husband that this truly would be a novel that students study in class, if it weren’t just a tad “R rated”.  Here is an excerpt that I’ve found myself re-reading, for its beauty:

The seasons long for each other, like men and women, in order that they may be cured of their excesses.

Spring, if it lingers more than a week beyond its span, starts to hunger for summer to end the days of perpetual promise. Summer in its turn soon begins to sweat for something to quench its heat, and the mellowest of autumns will tire gentility at last, and ache for a quick sharp frost to kill its fruitfulness.

Even winter – the hardest season, the most implacable – dreams, as February creeps on, of the flame that will presently melt it away. Everything tires with time, and starts to seek some opposition, to save it from itself.

So August gave way to September and there were few complaints.

-Clive Barker

What a way to say summer changed into fall! It would be one thing if the entire novella was written in this flowery language – that could become overwhelming. This novella is not entirely composed of such descriptions. But every now and then a gem like that would pop up causing me to pause, re-read, and whisper “wow” to myself.

If you are a fan of the movie, one thing that will become apparent is that the Julia’s husband in the movie is different than Julia’s husband in the book. Her husband Rory in the novel is not Kirsty’s father like her husband Larry is in the movie. I’m not sure why there was such a change. In the book Rory and Kirsty are friends, while in the movie Larry and Kirsty are father and daughter. I will say though that since Clive Barker was both the master of word in print and on film that he made that change for a reason, and that both relationships work out just fine.

I give The Hellbound Heart 5 out of 5 stars. I’m a lover of horror in general, but when a novel leaves you thinking about it long after you’ve finished reading it, you know you have a good one no matter the genre.

So in closing, I leave you with the trailer for the original Hellraiser movie, which other than the Rory/Larry switch-up, really does stay true to the novella.

Extras

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I’ve been planning to read 10 books in the month of January, as sort of a personal goal for myself. I do read a lot anyway, and almost always have a book in progress. Sometimes my progress is slower than it should be though. I go to the bookstore and I always have to buy books if they are on sale, it’s like a sickness! I do buy books faster than I can read them, though, and I think that fact is about to drive my husband to insanity!

At any rate, I thought it would be fun to challenge myself to read 10 books in one month. That’s definitely a lot more than I normally read. Depending on a book’s length, and my attention span at the time, I usually get through 1-2 books a month. Sometimes more if I just absolutely can’t put the book down (Harry Potter and The Hunger Games both come to mind).  Also, there are some other folks over at the Limebird forums trying this challenge. There is still time if you decide you want to be crazy and read 10 books in 1 month with me!

Today, after only starting it about 23 hours ago, I finished book 1 of my 10 – Extras by Scott Westerfeld. I wanted to find a synopsis of the book that didn’t give away the preceding three novels in the series (Uglies, Pretties, and Specials). This is what Goodreads says about the novel:

The world has become a different place since Tally Youngblood upset the Uglies, Pretties, Specials applecart. What it’s like? Well, visualize an all-day, everyday version of American Idol, where everybody’s a contestant and there are cameras everywhere. In this constant competition, teenager Aya Fuse ranks as a nobody; 451,369 to be exact. Of course, such obscurity has its small rewards, all of which have now become endangered by her friendship with the Sly Girls. Another futuristic thriller by Uglies trilogy author Scott Westerfeld.

This novel takes place three years after the Specials ended. The protagonist is Aya Fuse, a 15-year-old girl who wants nothing more in life than to rise from the ranks of a nobody to join the world of the famous.  To become famous, she needs to find the most amazing story ever and reveal it to her city. Without her knowledge, she uncovers a truth so big that it will change the world forever. Little does she know that revealing that truth to her city will get her into a lot of trouble with some really scary people that appear to want to hurt her.

Even though this book is different than the first three, in that Tally isn’t the main character, she does show up toward the last third of the story tying this story in with the previous three. While this novel is part of the same series, and same world, it is different than the others making it difficult to really compare this to the other three. It really is a story on its own, simply set in the same world as the other novels.

I give it 4 out of 5 stars. It was fun and exciting enough to keep me reading so much that I managed to finish it in 1 day. I definitely say if you have read the other three novels, to pick this one up as well. If you haven’t read the other three novels, I suggest you pick it up if you enjoy futuristic/dystopian/sorta sci-fi-ish/action adventure-ish type novels.

Now, I’m off to do more reading!