Tuesday, 27 September 2011

A Fine and Private Place - a book and an anxiety attack, RIP VI reading....

A Fine and Private Place by Peter S. Beagle is not the normal sort of ghostie/ghoulie horror story that would incur a nightmarish anxiety attack.  But it did for me.  On the surface, this is a sweet ghost story - it's slow and meandering and wonderful to read on a warm autumn day with golden sunlight falling all around you.  It's the story of Michael Morgan, newly deceased and waking up as he is buried.  It's the story of Laura, who is buried two weeks later.  It's the story of Mr Jonathan Rebeck, who has hidden in the cemetery for almost 20 years, subsisting on food a raven brings him.  Rebeck is a living man, he can talk to the raven, and he can also talk to ghosts. Why he's hiding out, and what happens to him, is as much fun to watch as what happens to Michael and Laura as they share the experience of being dead together.  It's a sweet story full of love and gentle wisdom about death, and the more I read it, the more I enjoyed it. Except.......

Except I woke up the night that I finished reading the book, in a panic attack.  I'd had a dream that my eldest son was going on a trip to Thailand - a gap sort of trip - and I was worried about his job, if it would be waiting when he came back.  I woke up at this point and felt terror seize me.  I'm going to die and fade away like the ghosts do in A Fine and Private Place! I thought.  It's my worst nightmare, it's a fear that I've struggled with for many years while I searched out my spiritual faith.  For a moment or two I was frozen, seized with horror because I absolutely dread the idea that we don't exist after death.  I had to tell myself it was ok, that it's not what I believe - I believe we continue on in some way after death, that our spirit does come from something and goes somewhere afterward.  I will admit that in A Fine and Private Place, how the ghosts talk about how most of the dead simply go to sleep and drift away until nothing of them remains seems peaceful, and then I remember that it's one thing to read it in a book, it's another to contemplate as reality for you and me here.

In a funny kind of way, A Fine and Private Place helped me heal where I still had some work to do around this area. I have had incidents over my life that have shown me that there is a 'me' that goes on, and it was putting this belief to the test with the fear that made me realize that it's ok, that both beliefs can exist.  Some people think there isn't anything after death, that this is all, and then there is the long darkness.  Some people like me think that there is much more to life than this, that this is one important stage in life, but that the spirit exists beyond and through this, that the universe is spirit and that we do continue on after.

It's funny what reading ghost stories and horror can make one understand about one's self, sometimes!

And despite my waking fear, I really enjoyed A Fine and Private Place.  It's sweet and gentle, and filled with unexpected tenderness about life, and wondrous thoughts about how a ghost might want to try to remember what it's like to be alive.  It certainly makes me appreciate all I can do just by being here, in this moment, feeling the wind blow, waiting for the rain to come, enjoying the windows open on one of the (probably) last warm evenings of the year.  It's harder to warm up to Jonathan Rebeck - I really wanted him to stop being so afraid! - and wanted a little more of the raven, who was very interesting.  I really like how Michael and Laura fight to stay ghosts and not just dissipate into nothingness.  This is a very interesting ghost story with a philosophical bent, just like a conversation you could have if you found yourself wandering in a cemetary one day.  I really like it.

This is another book read for RIP VI.  I am over my total of 4 books to read for the challenge, and I have a whole pile of books to read yet!  Despite my anxiety, or in spite of it - I don't care, I'm reading horror still! 

So how about you, have you discovered any gems yet during this RIP read?

Two great bloggers wrote about horror reading.......
I am thrilled to announce that as well as Emily's wonderful post on why she reads horror, Geraniumcat has also joined in, and posted this last week: her  fabulous thoughts on why she reads horror.  I am excited that they took my questions and wrote about horror and ghost stories, that's part of what blogging is for me, sharing our thoughts and ideas about why we read, and about what we read.  They both wrote thoughtful, serious posts about horror.  If you have any thoughts as you go through Carl's challenge, please write about them - I would love to see why you read ghost stories/horror/thrillers, dear Gentle Reader. Or let me know in the comments if you are shy (and a surprising number of us are shy about why we like what we do).

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - RIP VI

Lately I have been having a little Buffy nostalgia.  "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" was one of my favourite tv shows in the 1990's.  My eldest son grew up watching it with me.  Every week we would wait for our next episode of what danger Buffy and the Scooby gang could get into, fighting vampires, demons, monsters, and the dangers of growing up in Sunnydale California.  I loved the mix of humour, teen angst, horror, scariness, and fabulous monsters week in and week out.  I enjoyed so much watching the characters grow and evolve, all the while facing dangers and temptation and learning about what they could do.  Buffy is one of the few tv characters I have dreamed about.  This is an awesome tv show, that even when I rewatch it, has aged  well - it's timeless, magical, scary fun.  With a group of friends who share the scariest moments in life:  Willow and  Xander, and Giles, Buffy's Watcher, and Angel, the vampire who is Buffy's love of her life.  Plus the adorable bad vampire frenemy Spike, who is so bad that he's good.  Yes, there were cheesy moments and so-so storylines, but on the whole the writing and dialogue were superb.  The acting was good, and sometimes the show could be dark and terrifying and haunting and beautiful. 

Imagine my surprise when I learned that there were graphic novels out now, with the approval and some assistance of the chief creator and writer himself, Joss Whedon. In 2009 I read vol 2 No Future for You, and vol 3 Wolves at the Gate.  In 2010 I read vol 4 Time of Your Life. I wondered, each time, would it be as good as the tv show?  Would the characters be true to themselves?  What were they doing,  after the 8th and final series ended on tv?

I have no fears now.  The graphic novels pick up from where the tv show ended.  All the characters are there, Willow, Xander, Faith, Giles, and Buffy herself.  At first it was odd seeing them on the page, after spending 8 years watching them on tv.  Then, magic happened.  I heard the snarkiness in Xander's voice, the softness of Willow as she screws up and saves Buffy in the nick of time, and most of all: Buffy.  Buffy, a little more grown-up, a little world-weary, and never ever giving up.  She's still feisty and running around saving everyone, still irrepressible and beautiful.

Peril the First
So for this year's RIP VI challenge I borrowed  another book in the series, Predators and Prey, from the library recently.   I read it this past  weekend, enjoying it immensely.  The art and the storytelling are prime Buffy writing, and the imaginative use of toy kitties is fun. They never will be quite the same for me, either.      Plus it has a monster that if ever brought to the screen I would have to run screaming from the room.  And it still manages to have tender moments, friendship, and humour. Amazing.  I think I might end up buying this series.
Verdict: I highly recommend this graphic novel series for anyone who is missing Buffy, or needing some fun and slightly creepy vampire novels to read. .

Perils of the Screen
That's not all - reading Predators and Prey vol 5 (which indeed features a scary monster that is nightmare -inducing) made me want to see some Buffy again. I happen to own the first four seasons, so I watched "Fear Itself", episode 4 of Season 4:  the Hallowe'en episode about trick or treating at a frat party.  Only it's not just a frat party, a monster has been summoned and the frat house turns into a house of fear for whoever enters.  Each of the Scooby gang have to face their own personal fear, before they face the monster at the heart of it all.  Very well done, and exactly right for RIP. It's a perfect mix of humour - Anya the demon dressed in a bunny costume is hilarious!  Oz as God!  - and the scenes in the house are delightfully shivery.  Next up:  "Hush", from this same season 4, which won Buffy the Vampire Slayer an Emmy award.  This episode is very frightening and magical and even funny at moments.  It is truly terrifying in the best way that fairy tales can be, very dark, very scary, and fabulous.  The episode says: " They are creatures from a fairy tale, first they steal your voice, then they start stealing hearts."  It's also perfect for RIP, and I'll write about it when I see it, hopefully by this weekend. 

apologies (blogger is being bad!)
I do apologize, Blogger is not allowing me to add any photos tonight, of Buffy or the Peril of the Screen photo.  I am sad, I love this photo and was looking forward to using it!  Next time then.....

Saturday, 10 September 2011

RIP VI - Anya's Ghost and The Thirteen book reviews, plus Under the Dome and The Strain

I am feeling so proud of myself:  I have already read two books for RIP VI, and I'm working on book #3!!  Plus, for fun, at the end, I'm going to throw in book reviews for two other horror books I read just before the challenge started.
Anya's Ghost - Vera Brosgol.
This is a YA graphic novel, newly published this year, and a terrific read.  It's about Anya, who falls down a well, and what she finds at the bottom.  It's about high school, and fitting in, and discovering that no one is exactly as they appear.  And it's about discovering that even ghosts aren't all that they appear to be, either.  The characters are all fun and wonderful, from Anya herself, a teen Russian emigre who has done everything she can to fit in, including shortening her surname to something pronounceable, to all the teens at the school - the author has taken the popular girl, handsome boy, gym class, and made them universal  figures: we all knew a girl in school like Elizabeth, beautiful and graceful, and her boyfriend Sean, good at sports and gorgeous, who Anya has a terrible crush on.  Anya's family - her round mother who feeds her and younger pest brother seem familiar, from the first page.  Yet, Anya's mother with her round smiling face and 'eat, you're too thin' jump off the page like concerned, loving mother she is.  They are real people caught on the page.   Anya's ghost is the other main figure, and it's so much fun to watch how the ghost moves around Anya, and what Anya learns from the ghost.  This is a little darker than you would expect, which makes it all the more believable and fun to read. Including myself, every teen I know comes up on the dark in their teen years, in themselves and in others. Anya's Ghost is a graphic novel about the truth behind the image, just like the ghost who is more than she seems.   Plus, it's a ghost story.  I really liked Anya, and I'm really glad she did what she did at the end. Lovely graphic novel, a little bit eerie, and very enjoyable. 4.7/5

The Thirteen - Susie Moloney
Susie Moloney has published three other horror novels:  Bastion Falls (which I haven't read yet), A Dry Spell (read quite some time ago), The Dwelling, and just this month, The ThirteenThe Dwelling scared me so much - a true haunted house story, with an ending that still bothers me (in the good way, that I'm still thinking about it) now, several years after reading it.  Susie Moloney is Canadian, and it's lovely to have a really good horror novelist in Canada.  That's not to say we don't have lots of short story writers in horror, we do, but a consistent good horror novelist - Susie Moloney is one of our best.  Plus, she shares my name, sort of (I've never been a Susie).  So, onto The Thirteen:
The premise of The Thirteen is that a circle of women have a made a deal with the devil in order to get all that they want.  Now, being someone who knows quite a few pagans, many of whom are practicing wiccans, normally I wouldn't give this book another look.  I get tired of the idea that witchcraft and wicca are 'bad' and evil.  Certainly you can use magic for ill, to harm another - and in a way, what these witches in The Thirteen find out is that even with the best intentions, if you make a bargain with something that is inherently evil, all your good intentions turn on you in the end.  The price they pay is high, and that's part of what makes this book so satisfying.  The other part is that the heroine, Paula Wittmore and her daughter Rowan go home because Paula's mother is in the hospital, and what they find in Paula's old childhood suburb Haven Woods, is anything but a haven.  This is a fun read, with magic shown properly - the bad uses of it, and the good. It's creepy, and it's fun too - Paula finds love in the most unexpected place, and in the end, it comes down to family.  Even the ending, which is a bit of a shocker, makes sense.  Very well done 'witchcraft gone bad' book, a lot of fun to read, and makes good use of those soulless places, the suburbs. I think this might be the most satisfying of all of Susie Moloney's books to read.  Highly recommended. 4.5/5

So, my two freebie reviews for this RIP VI challenge, are for two books I read just before the challenge started.  I couldn't wait!  One really good read, and one so-so.
Under the Dome - Stephen King.
Unputdownable.  This is the most recent of King's novels, a hefty 1,072 pages.  It is good.  One of his best novels, for me.  I loved his resolution - it sounds preposterous, and yet, who among us hasn't had that very same thought?  I can't reveal it for those who haven't read the book yet, but it's a thought I think everyone has had.  It's all to King's credit that he makes this a good horror novel from two angles:  from the mystery of the dome that is placed over the town, and if they can solve it, and from the townspeople themselves, especially the awful family of  Jim Rennie and Junior Rennie.  It even had moments that made me laugh out loud, in the midst of horror and nightmare scenes - pantries were never my favourite place to begin with, but now they will carry with them an unforgettable image of Junior and his girls. It's good to see black humour in a novel of Stephen King's, and Under the Dome has it.  Which didn't detract from the horror or the believableness of the book - I found the laughter good, like King had taken time to be with his characters and see that in the midst of terror, there can be moments of hilarity and humanness.  All of King's strengths are here:  his amazing realistic characters, the way a small town works - the power of the town council, how most people try not to think too hard about what's going on, about how terror can be used to control a population.  I found the last particularly satisfying given the last 10 years of Western culture and the feeling of terror that we've never managed to let go of (I have my own cynical reasons for why this has happened).  The heroes - Barbie, Julia, Andrea, Scarecrow Joe, Norrie, and all the one who act bravely and still die - they are ordinary people who could be any one of us.  That is Stephen King's greatest strength in his writing, his characters and how they talk, that they are just like you and me, caught on the page.  I started reading and I couldn't look away.  The horror is good, and creepy in places, though this is not a 'ghost story haunted house' book, this is about the horror that we do to one another when under stress. And that makes it one of his most frightening and realistic horror novels of all.  4.7/5 (because throwing in a haunted house would have been so cool! lol)

The Strain - Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan.

                       I wanted to like this book. I really did.  I picked it up with all good feelings, because Bride had bought it - she is usually a good judge of horror books.  The sequel is out in paperback too, so I thought cool, I could get in on the series.  Alas, I didn't find much that was believable in this vampire novel.  There are moments that are very good, and very eerie, and how the vampire plague spreads was quite good.  But the premise - that some old guy from ancient history revived itself during the Holocaust, and has somehow eluded any notice until a dead plane lands, with a mysterious big box aka the coffin, arrives and 'disappears' on video - and no one thinks, hmm, Dracula even - that bothered me.  Dracula and the box of earth have filled our literature since the beginning of the 20th century.  I'm not saying the old creature couldn't stay hidden, I just found the idea that someone else wanted him brought over in order to start a plague, a bit iffy, AND how did the vampire know to start a plague in New York City? Was he hired?  If so, what could a vampire possibly want that anyone human could offer him? (except the way over the ocean, but as Stoker showed, pretty easy to arrange.....)  So, I had struggles with this book. I kept seeing it as a movie, and I think that's exactly how it was written, as Guillermo Del Toro is a movie maker first.
     The characters are good, the setting - New York City - very believable, especially the infighting amongst who had responsibility for the flight, the bodies afterward, though why only four survivors - again, not explained.  If you need to escape completely for a day, this would be a good book to do it in, as it is well-paced and full of action.  Just not entirely believable.    I will say though, how the plague expands - that's the best part of the book, the horror part.  I wish we had more of the horror, the being stalked by the newly made vampires, that eerie feeling of being watched, and the slow realization that something is wrong, in your house, in your street, in your neighborhood.  Maybe Bk 2 will have it..... 3.5/5.

So, how has your RIP VI reading going?  Have you read anything good and satisfying so far?

If you are in the mood to discuss horror, Emily over at Telecommuter Talk has a post on why she reads horror, here.  She took it from my previous post with questions I asked at the end, of my thoughts on why I read horror, here.  Do you have any ideas about why you enjoy reading ghost stories or horror, that you are discovering while you make your way through this challenge?  Why do you look forward to this challenge so much?  What have been your favourite discoveries over past RIP reads?  Please let me or Emily know, we both love to discuss horror, as you can see!  (Thanks Emily, too, for doing a whole post on this subject!)

My favourite RIP reads
I've been a part of RIP for three years now.  I have read some really good ghost stories, been thoroughly scared, and discovered some very good novels.  In fact, one of my RIP reads became my books of the year:
Lonely Werewolf Girl(actual book review here) - Martin Millar - 2008.  I see that The Woman in Black - Susan Hill, and The Terror - Dan Simmons, and The Night Country - Stewart O'Nan, were all read that year.  No wonder I couldn't decide which to pick - in looking back, these all could easily be my books of the year.  In fact, I thought The Terror was,  I loved it so much also, for a separate year.  I think in my mind they are tied now, both are so good.  2008 was a banner year for me.  Coraline by Neil Gaiman - another YA horror book that lingers.  Tamsin by Peter S. Beagle.  They were all on my top 10 books for 2008.  I've linked to all my reviews in case you are looking for something to read for RIP, or just want to see what I thought about the books.  Those are all my favourite reads, too, now.  Books that are permanently on my shelf, along with The Unseen by Alexandra Sokoloff, and The Passage by Justin Cronin.  I couldn't wait for RIP to read the last two, but if I had, they would be part of this select group. 

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Last Friday I went book-shopping......

Last Friday I went book-shopping, specifically for a couple of books for RIP 6, and because it was one of the last days of my holidays and it doesn't feel like a holiday until I've bought some books - buying one in Montreal doesn't count as fulfilling my holiday book shopping! I did find what I was looking for, and whole lot more.  Pure pleasure.  I also discovered a bookstore that I have walked past for the past oh, 3 years at least, and never gone in.  I don't really know why, except I thought it was tied to the Canadian National Gallery across the road, since the book store featured a lot of Canadian art books in the windows.  When I decided to explore some of Ottawa's few bookstores I haven't been in, last week, I thought I would try Nicholas Hoare.  I was absolutely delighted and thrilled and felt right at home within minutes of walking in.  I only had 15 minutes and found 5 books in that time, though I had cheated and gone to their new online site, here and had a list of titles I was looking for already in hand.  Which is a good thing since I only had 15 minutes, and once I started browsing, I got immersed and had to keep reminding myself that I wanted to look at this and that, too.  Stuff dreams are made of, a book store where I could happily spend many hours discovering books only available in England, or featuring English and Canadian authors.  I intend to go back as soon as possible.  Unfortunately they close at 5:30, which is 1/2 hour before I get to their store from work, which is the top reason really that I've never gone in.  It's always closed when I go by!

So this is what I found last week:
-The Lore of Scotland - Westwood and Kingshill.  I've had my eye on this one for a couple of months, and finally I just couldn't resist it any longer!  It's a thick book, and looks well-researched, and covers so much myth, folklore, tales from Scotland.
-The Morville Hours - Katherine Swift - I bought it because Nigel Slater (my favourite English cook) couldn't resist reading it twice.  Ok, I'm only partly kidding!  I also bought it because it's the story of the house she comes to love, and the history she uncovers while she is gardening, of the people who lived there before.  Time and gardening, past and present, the hours of living - perfect for winter reading, I think.
-South Riding - Winifred Holtby - I hadn't even heard about it until finding it on Nicolas Hoare site.  Now I find it's been in print in England ever since it was published in 1936!  It's set in South Yorkshire, and is the story of a teacher who promotes modern ideas in the school she comes to teach in, and runs into the lord of the manor across the way, and of course they disagree on everything.  It's also one of the first novels to try to show how putting responsibility onto the local councils changed politics especially at the local economic level, in Britain.  Plus, it's set in Yorkshire, where I lived when I was there.  Since we have our own maddening city council here in Ottawa (guaranteed to put your blood pressure up every time they make an announcement these days it seems), I can also relate. It's sounds boring and political, and it's not.  The heroine is a woman fiercely determined to improve the lot of her students, and this is what gets her into the business of the local council and eventually to the landowner who owns everything. 
-The Dirty Life - A Memoir of Farming, Food and Love - Kristin Kimball - I love her sweater on the cover!  Really, I bought it because I love the idea of how the author meets her husband and leaves everything behind in order to start up an organic farm, selling locally.  They've made it work, and this is the story of how they did it, and what they learned.  In my wildest fantasies I run away to the countryside too and become self-sufficient on the land as well, and of course we've already been organic for over 20 years, so this book is like my alternate life if I had a husband with the least inclination to farm.  I don't, and he never will, whereas Kristin's husband is the one who was completely into farming which is how they met (she came to interview him for a magazine article) 
- and a Christmas present for my husband, which I can't list here in case he sees (but very British and appropriate for him!)

I still have a list of books I wanted to look at there, so the question is not if, but how soon I shall return......

I also made it to one of my regular and favourite independent bookstores on Friday, Collected Works.  They are in the midst of renovating, and are waiting for their Christmas stock to come in, so stock is a little bit low at this time, and I still managed to find two books! 
Anya's Ghost - Vera Brosgol  - thanks to Chris at Stuff Dreams Are Made Of, for his review here. For RIP VI
Woods Wolf Girl - Cornelia Hoogland - This is a book of poems, just out this year, by a Canadian poet.  It is a collection about - you guessed it, Red Riding Hood, The Wolf, and the Woodsman.  The poems are about all the ways Red Riding Hood walks into the woods, and what (who, the Wolf of course) she finds there.  It is also about how we are Red Riding Hood in our lives, and the places we might find the wolf lurking, and where the woods might be in our lives.  It looks fascinating, and I had to have it.  I'm on a fairy tale themed poetry reading kick right now, and this looks perfect. For RIP VI

Then, because this was what I set out for (and resigned to never finding a copy of the first book anywhere else in the city) I headed out to Smithbooks, a subsidiary of Chapters (our version of Barnes and Nobles here in Canada), to finally, finally, get my hands on a copy of:
Feed - Mira Grant.  For RIP VI.  Yes!  I was victorious! A  zombie book that I've been hearing about on and off for a year now.  Deadline is the sequel, out now, so if I like this one, I can see the sequel under my Christmas tree, possibly.....
As they had a buy 3-get 1 one free event on that weekend, I had to fulfull that promise and bought two more for me, and 5 books for the kids (not named here, all learning readers for them):
Magic Bites - Ilona Andrews - I keep seeing this written up in places, and it looks like an interesting and fun urban fantasy
Midnight Fugue - Reginald Hill.  I saw a review of this lately, considered one of his best ones in the Dalziel and Pascoe series, so when I saw it was out in softcover, I grabbed it.

Now I feel like I've been on holidays!

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Neil Gaiman story for RIP VI

All my plans for a lovely long post about all the books I bought on Friday (including 4  for RIP!) have been put aside until tomorrow.  My youngest son and I played Uno instead today, followed by bowling on Wii (until my injured knee started clicking, a bad sign) and then archery (no bending of said knee required).  Tomorrow is the first day back to school, and he is nervous - he and his sister are going to a new school this year.  Our daughter is currently in England attending a family funeral with her father, otherwise it would have been a family Uno game and Wii events.

Instead of books to drool over, I found something even better:  at Neil Gaiman's blog, back in July, he posted here about a collection of new short stories he and Al Sarrantino had coming out, entitled Stories (they are both editors of it).  His story in this collection, he says in this post, was also nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award at Readercon.  He won.  He invites everyone to go read it online, for free, here, at 52 Stories.  As we are now in RIP, this is like getting free candy for us horror fans:  a free dark short story (and not outright horror, no gore, so safe to read for the shy of heart), by the one and only Neil Gaiman, AND the story won the Shirley Jackson Award for best novelette.  So we get an award-winning dark  short story to read for RIP!  Let me know what you think, my Gentle Reader.

I've just finished reading it - entitled "The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains", and it is good.  Much better, and much more moving, and much more thoughtful than I would have expected.  Actually, I didn't know what to expect, which is good, because I have read Fragile Things, and Smoke and Mirrors, and I am happy to find I am still, always, surprised by his short stories.

While I'm on the topic of Mr Gaiman, I have to add that I have not commented on his Dr Who episode, "The Doctor's Wife", that aired earlier this spring here.  That wasn't because I didn't love it, on the contrary - it is an episode that the more it sits in my brain and heart, the better it gets, like there is old Dr Who and time travelling wisdom in this story that takes time to sink in.  The Tardis as a woman, ever so briefly, and the Doctor's true love.  An amazing episode, by an gifted writer, who can go from dark to funny to bizarre without really blinking at all. The episode is unlike almost any Dr Who episode ever, yet it is perfect for the Dr Who mythology.  In one fell swoop, we learn how the Doctor and the Tardis chose each other to run away with. It is romantic and beautiful and ethereal, like the most romantic part of the Doctor's soul has been revealed, the reason why we all love him so, because he is mad, and he does care, so very much.  

Enough of the fan-girl stuff, I have to go off to bed so I can be ready for the morning angst about starting a new school.  Fall is definitely in the air, it's school time again, and I have now read a short story and a book for RIP!!!!  Review of book to come.

Happy Labour day everyone! 

Thursday, 1 September 2011

RIP VI - Horror, ghosts, spookiness, my favourite time of year

It's here!  It's here, it's here, it's here!  RIP VI, the annual horror/ghost story/suspense reading challenge hosted by Carl over at Stainless Steel Droppings.  I am, you can tell, so very excited.  Not only that, but it's the angel from 'Blink', only one of my favourite Dr Who episodes, EVER!!!!  *happy sigh from Ottawa*

I do have to apologize, I meant to do at least two posts while waiting for RIP to start, but life got in the way.  It's been one of those years, I think, where I am barely hanging on.  I think about posting quite often!  I've started many in my head, on my way home from work.  Posts on books I've read, books I should have reviewed but didn't get around to, books I got out from the library, super reads.......one day they will get done. Right now, I'm reading, my way of keeping sane in a year that making me look at who I really am, and where I want to go from here. 

Before I post my list for RIP, I have to add this very short funny story:  I went to Montreal last weekend, a quick family get-away.  Because of my knee, which is still not healed all the way, I can only do short trips right now.  So off we went on the train for a weekend holiday.  Around the corner from our hotel, was a Chapters.  Convenient, you say? Yes.  Planned?  No, I did not know until after we booked it! At this Chapters, I discovered the Ellen Datlow ghost story anthology I have been looking for for almost a year: The Dark.

  A sign?  Yes, I think so.  I snatched it up and held it close to my chest.  It was the only book I bought last weekend, a rare event in my book-buying life.  So I am treating myself to a RIP book-buying binge quick trip at some of my favourite Ottawas bookstores this Friday.  A girl needs some good ghost stories/mysteries to cheer her up, right?

I have picked more mysteries this year, partly because they are all sitting on my shelves, partly because one of my reading goals is to get to 50 mysteries read this year. 

SUSAN'S RIP VI LIST  ***partial only, despite the long list
The World of Charles Addams - collection of Charles Addams illustrations
macabre drawings, creator of the Addams family, black humour that is witty
Kraken - China Mieville - Giant squid!  Just on that alone, I had to read this book. 
The Dark: New Ghost Stories - Ellen Datlow - see prev post.
Blackwater - Kerstin Ekman - a Scandinavian mystery that I keep hearing about, dark and terrifying, that took me several years to find.  I found it during my first visit to Book Bazaar, a second-hand bookstore here in Ottawa, last week. 
Birdman - Mo Hayder - another mystery I have been almost too scared to read.  Grisly is one word I keep coming across.  I will try it, anyway, though graphic descriptions are not what I find scary (and tend to bother me since I am a visual person).  The series is supposed to be very good.
Grendel - John Gardner - I've wanted to read this for a very long time.  From the point of view of the monster in Beowulf. 
The Surgeon - Tess Gerritsen - another creepy mystery thriller.  The first in the Rizzoli and Isles series.
Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror - Chris Priestley  - so many of you bloggers have enjoyed this one!  Specifically Chris at Stuff as Dreams are Made of.  The House With the Clock in Its Walls - John Bellair - I read Face in the Frost last year, and really enjoyed it.  This book is for children, and looks deliciously spooky.      
Chill of Fear - Kay Hooper - Just sitting on my shelf.  Spooky Crimes unit special, FBI plus heroine with psi powers. 
A Fine and Private Place - Peter S. Beagle - I have never read this classic ghost story by him. 
Tricks - Ed McBain - I know, this has been on my list for several years.  Now is the time! Set during Hallowe'en, it's perfect for RIP.....
Winter House - Carol O'Connell - a Mallory mystery, this one is called a family gothic.
Mallory is one of the most fascinating main characters in modern fiction.  I can hardly wait to read this one.  I'm two behind in the series, so this will start to catch me up.
Dark Harvest - Norman Partridge - Can't resist a book with a pumpkin on the cover!  Plus, Chris again recommended this one. 
The Keeper - Sarah Langan - her debut horror novel, by all accounts very scary.  The titular figure is also named Susan, so how could I resist?
A Dark Matter - Peter Straub - a horror story par excellence, about a ritual gone badly wrong many years ago and the hero's quest to find out what happened that night.
The Little Stranger - Sarah Waters - a classic ghost story, one I've been meaning to read, and I think it's time has come.  I'm the last person in the world to NOT have read this yet.
Midnight Riot - Ben Aaronovitch - he discovers he can talk to ghosts, and he is on the police force.  Recommended by Bride of the Book God. (Yes, the book has a different title over here than in England).
Manitou Blood - Graham Masterton - I wrote in my last post that I didn't know he had a vampire novel out.  I read his The Manitou years ago, and it was so frightening.  It was about the aboriginal spirits called Manitous, and if you can find it, it's worth it.  I'm hoping Manitou Blood will be as frightening.
this one a paranormal mystery complete with an 'entity' who means no good for our heroine.
Angel Cafe - Jill Morrow - another book lurking on my shelves,
Falling Angel - William Hjortsberg - a mystery that features voodoo, black magic, and murder.  Highly recommended when it first came out in 1979. About time I read it, right?
Every Dead Thing - John Connolly.  The first book in his Charlie Parker series, he sees ghosts.  Supposed to be gory too, certainly the description of the first bodies was. I tried to read it a few years ago, and stopped after a few pages.  I'm hoping this time it will go better, as the series does look really interesting.  Intense and terrifying is what I've heard about this book.  Have you read it?
Poltergeist - Kat Richardson - 2nd book in the Harper Blaine, PI, paranormal mysteries. She can see ghosts and spirits and the undead, all that hover between this world and the next.  I enjoyed the first one, Greywalker, very much. 

Have you read any of these?  What are you looking forward to reading this year?
I am going to be doing RIP the first, of course.  I'm also going to do RIP Screen, since I love ghost  and horror movies.  I am not sure yet what I will be watching for this challenge.