Tag: halloween

Oct 31

Happy Halloween 2016

Holidays 10

Trick or Treat, Bookworms!

I just thought that y’all might enjoy seeing the ridiculousness of my costume this year. I cannot help but crack up every time I look at the thing- hopefully it has the same effect on you. BEHOLD!

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I’m a dragon, RAWR!

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No, NOT Barney. For heaven’s sake if you must make a comparison, I prefer Figment.

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I HAVE WINGS, YOU GUYS!

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Handing out candy at the neighborhood parade like a boss.

Happy Halloween!

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Oct 31

This Is Halloween

Personal 5

Happy Halloween, Bookworms!

If you weren’t aware, Halloween is kind of a big deal here at the Gingerbread House. We’re pretty into it. I thought you might want to see a sample of our decor. And no, this isn’t all of it…

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What are you doing for Halloween, Bookworms? Are you dressing up? What’s your costume? What are your kids’ costumes? Are you dressing up your pet? It’s not abnormal to have two separate Halloween trees, right? 

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Oct 27

Scary Books That Kept Me Up At Night

Top Ten Tuesday 33

Greetings Bookworms!

This week the folks at The Broke and The Bookish have graciously offered up a Halloween Freebie as a topic. In the past I’ve talked about cool literary costumes and the like, but today I thought it would be fun to talk about some books that scared me to the point that it affected my sleep. Nightmares, fear of turning off the lights, whatever. Of course, it should be noted (and has been several times) that I am a big giant chicken when it comes to scary books. Therefore, my definition of scary might not be the same as yours. Still. We’re going to talk about it anyway. Ready?

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  1. Bag of Bones by Stephen King: This was my first Stephen King novel and it freaked me out so badly it was a good 10 years before I read another one of his novels. It’s not even one of the super scary ones! I was 16 and had a wild imagination, okay? I seriously couldn’t look at refrigerator magnets for a while after I finished it. And the night I finished it? I was up until 3am because I was powering through the fear, only to be left too afraid to turn out the lights and close my eyes. When I finally fell asleep, I totally had nightmares. Because chicken.
  2. The Passage by Justin Cronin (review): In the years since I read that initial Stephen King, I’ve branched out and will read frightening books periodically. (As long as they don’t involve ghosts or evil spirits. I can’t afford to be afraid of inanimate objects.) I can’t think of a book that made my chest tighten in panic the way The Passage did. The unholy union of vampire lore and zombie apocalypse was intense and unequivocally terrifying. I had to switch to reading a classic for a while just to calm my nerves enough to sleep.
  3. World War Z by Max Brooks (review): I’ve been known to have the occasional Walking Dead inspired nightmare (and don’t even get me started on this week’s episode because I just CANNOT), but World War Z kicked those nightmares up several notches. This was another book I had to follow up with an innocuous book in order to fall asleep.
  4. The Stand by Stephen King (review): Since the Bag of Bones incident, I’ve tried to avoid any Stephen King involving ghosts and/or unsettled spirits. Luckily, that leaves plenty of novels for me to read, and The Stand is one of my all time favorite books. All time. Seriously. I’ve read a lot of books and it’s really high on the list. It’s about a super flu apocalypse and believe you me, that is some scary stuff. It wasn’t much of a nightmare inducer but it sure as heck kept me up late because I couldn’t put the darn thing down.
  5. The Road by Cormac McCarthy (review): Bleak bleak bleak! I had nightmares involving shopping carts and cannibals after finishing this one. Super good, and though not traditionally spooky, it’ll stick with you.

I’m going to tap out at five books this week because Hocus Pocus just came on. You can’t expect me NOT to watch it. While I’m running amok amok amok, why don’t y’all tell me about some of the scariest books you’ve ever read? What gave you nightmares, Bookworms? What was that last book you read that left you too scared to turn out the lights?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Oct 31

Blackout by Mira Grant

Frightening, Zombies 13

Happy Halloween, Bookworms!

I’m looking forward to trick-or-treaters tonight! It’s supposed to rain, so perhaps we won’t reach our record of 300 ghosts and goblins, but it should be fun regardless. Anyway, today also marks the end of my all-scary-all-the-time reading binge. I’m celebrating by discussing the final installment of Mira Grant’s Newsflesh trilogy, Blackout. 

blackoutAs I mentioned when we discussed Deadline, it’s impossible to discuss the final installment of a trilogy without spoiling things at least a little bit… Particularly in the case of these books. So, here we go again. SPOILER ALERT! IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE FIRST TWO BOOKS READ AT YOUR OWN RISK! SPOILERS ARE INEVITABLE. WARNING WARNING WARNING! I WILL NOT TAKE RESPONSIBILITY IF YOU DON’T LISTEN TO MY SHOUTY CAPITALS! 

When we left the crew, Shaun was holed up at Dr. Abbey’s lab- the renegade mad scientist studying Kellis-Amberlee. He’s recently been proven to be immune to zombie disease.  Too bad he’s still grieving George so heavily that he doesn’t want to poke dead things with sticks. But wait… What’s this? The plot THICKENS. It’s a veritable STEW right now! So the CDC is even MORE evil than we’d thought, because Deadline ends with George WAKING UP!

WTF? It turns out, George has been cloned by the CDC. Holy crap on a cracker! The girl has been friggin resurrected! Unfortunately, she’s also being held prisoner, and can’t get in touch with anybody to let them know she’s alive…Luckily, all evil organizations have their weaknesses, and the CDC has been infiltrated by another organization. George is confused about who to trust, and all she wants is to get back to Shaun.

Excitement and drama and conspiracies and zombies abound! And then… Mira Grant threw me a plot twist I wasn’t expecting. I mean, it was sort of alluded to, when I look back, but I’m still not sure I’m not bothered by it. I’m slowly coming to terms… But… Yeeeeeeeeeah… Still- I cannot get enough Mira Grant and I can’t rave enough about these books. Egads, just read them already! Read them! Best decision I made all Halloween season.

So Bookworms, who’s excited about Halloween? Who has mentally prepared for the idea that a zombie apocalypse might just occur during trick-or-treating?! 

If you’re interested in purchasing a copy of Blackout by Mira Grant, copies are available on Book Depository. If you order using this link, I will receive a small commission, which will most likely be invested into more books. Help me help you, y’all. 

Gratuitous Le Kattoo photo!

Gratuitous Le Kattoo photo!

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Oct 17

I Vant to Suck Your Blooood! (Dracula by Bram Stoker)

Classics, Frightening, Vampires 45

Greetings, Bookworms!

That’s right kids. In honor of my Halloweenie reading binge I finally got around to Dracula by Bram Stoker. I’ve had this book waiting around on my Kindle since I got a Kindle… 3 years ago. It was the very first book I downloaded, and it’s just been sitting there gathering digital dust while I read a zillion other things. I am proud to say that I conquered the grand-daddy of all vampire lore!

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Dracula is written in an epistolary format, meaning that it is composed completely of letters, journal entries, and newspaper clippings. (I don’t mean to insult anyone’s intelligence by defining “epistolary format,” but since I had to look it up for myself a while back, I figured I’d be nice and throw y’all a bone. Nobody likes to have to google things!)

Our hero Jonathan is sent on a business trip to Transylvania in order to instruct a wealthy gentleman (Count Dracula) on how to go about purchasing property in England. Unfortunately for Jonathan, the Count hadn’t planned on allowing his guest to leave the castle in possession of his vital fluids. Nevertheless, Jonathan manages to escape while his love Mina makes the trip to help him recover from his ordeal in a foreign hospital.

While Mina is away, her BFF Lucy has some wild times. At the age of 19, Lucy receives three marriage proposals in a single day. (Weird social convention alert: it used to be normal to propose to acquaintances on the regular, and 19 was “old” to have never received an offer of marriage. According to Lucy, at least.) Anywho, she has these three suitors, but only one of them sets her heart aflame. She lets the other two down gently enough that they’re still pretty devoted to her… Her fellows are in close proximity when Lucy comes down with a mysterious ailment. One of the suitors she spurned happened to be a doctor, so he recruits his former professor Dr. Van Helsing to come and treat Lucy.

After some sleepwalking and nightmares and the usual dastardly vampirey tricks, Lucy is in pretty dire straits. Events occur… Garlic, crucifixes, holy water… You know. The usual. Of course, it wasn’t the usual before this book was released. I had to keep reminding myself of how groundbreaking this novel was because this is the SOURCE of the lore. It’s all become so mainstream that it’s easy to forget how inventive Stoker was.

I was pleasantly surprised with the beginning of the book- I had expected it to be drier, but I had no trouble following it. I enjoyed the use

Some might argue Dracula is tragically misunderstood... (Image Source)

Some might argue Dracula is simply misunderstood… (Image Source)

of journal entries and letters in advancing the narrative. I loved the psychic connection Dracula was able to have with his victims, but toward the end, I found things dragging a bit. Mina spent an awful lot of time under hypnosis telling Van Helsing that all her Dracula brain could interpret was darkness and the sound of waves. I’m sure Stoker was trying to build the tension by giving the characters so much time to travel, worry, and be frightened before their final showdown with the Count, but for me? It didn’t build tension, just my desire to sleep. Don’t worry though, I muddled through. I don’t want to spoil things, but I put the proverbial nail in the coffin of this book. (I’m sorry, but I cannot stop myself from making terrible jokes. There’s a chance my mind is being controlled by the vampire formerly known as Dave Coulier.)

I always love when I get add a classic to the list of books I’ve read. I was pleased with Dracula on the whole, and found it a perfect edition to my Halloweenie reading list. What about you, bookworms? Have any of you read Dracula? Did you feel like you’d already heard it all before since the lore has become ubiquitous, or were you able to focus on Stoker’s ingenuity?

 

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Oct 07

The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor

Dystopian, Frightening, Psychological, Supernatural, Zombies 24

Muahahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaa Dear Bookworms!

I’m busting out my evil laugh to celebrate the fact that it’s October and I’m reading some scary books. Remember this summer when I went to BlogHer? One of the keynote speakers was Gale Ann Hurd- the executive producer of the greatest show currently on television, The Walking DeadSt. Martin’s Press was another of the BlogHer sponsors and they hooked up the attendees with a copy of The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga. FULL DISCLOSURE: I got this book for free. At BlogHer. Like I already told you. FULLER DISCLOSURE: I saw a Rick Grimes costume at a Halloween store today. I was sorely tempted.  

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If you’re not into zombies, you probably wouldn’t like The Walking Dead in any permutation: the comics, show, or novelization. If you do happen to be into zombies, you probably already watch The Walking Dead and YOU, my friends, are in for a treat. (New season starts October 13. Holla!) I’ve been holding onto this book since July because I wanted to read it in an appropriately spooky season. Now is the time!

Alright Walking Dead-heads. You know how The Governor was a super crazy bad guy? Ever wonder how he got that way? This book! It TELLS YOU! It starts at the beginning of the zombie apocalypse with Phillip Blake, his daughter Penny, his two high school chums, and his younger brother Brian. Their ragtag band is sweeping across Georgia, bashing zombie heads, and searching for a safe haven. Bashing zombie heads is not a clean business, so I’ll warn you that the language gets pretty gruesome. Blood and guts and gore. You know the drill. As we all know, it doesn’t take long after the dead begin to rise for the living to turn on one another. Plus, you know, living under the extreme stress of watching one’s friends and neighbors turn into blood thirsty un-dead monsters takes a toll on one’s psyche.

All in all, I found this book enjoyable. However. It’s clearly meant to be a companion to the show. From a narrative standpoint it could certainly stand alone, but I don’t think I’d have liked it as much if I weren’t already a fan of the show. I recommend this for all Walking Dead-heads for while the show is on hiatus. There’s a trilogy afoot, I might have to grab the next novel when I’m having my mid-winter withdrawals.

So Bookworms, tell me. Do you do anything to get yourself in the Halloween spirit? We haven’t yet watched Hocus Pocus or any of our Roseanne Halloween collection this year, but we DID watch Warm Bodies this weekend (which was oddly charming.) Scary movies, scary shows, zombies, witches, goblins! Let’s talk about them!

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Oct 22

Eventide by Kent Haruf (My Neighbors are STILL Cooler Than Yours)

Book Club, Contemporary Fiction 11

Happy Monday, Bookworms!

Did everyone have a lovely weekend? I got my Halloween cards ready to send out. I hear the Post Office is having money problems, but it’s not my doing. I send out greeting cards for a multitude of holidays, and some for no reason at all. (Except, you know, Grandma is a good enough reason to send cards on any given Tuesday.) I also made 300 trick-or-treat bags for the little ghosts and goblins that will descend on our neighborhood.

Hey Trick-or-Treaters! Bring it on! Also, I am bad at using my iPhone flash.

My weekend kicked off with another meeting of the neighborhood book club, affectionately known as Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons! (Could someone explain to me exactly what a bon bon is? If there isn’t chocolate involved, I’m going to have to rethink my naming strategy.) This month’s book selection was Eventide by Kent Haruf. This may sound familiar to regular readers because it’s the sequel to Plainsong which I already reviewed.

It’s funny, because they’re in rural Colorado. No “tides” where there are no major bodies of water. Hi, I’m Katie, and I’m overly literal. Let’s make jokes!

Eventide picks up 2 years after Plainsong left off. Possibly my biggest gripe with this book was that the last book ended with a cliffhanger of sorts… There was that awful redheaded kid whose family was going to sue his teacher. Since the teacher was a main character, I was all attached to him and concerned about how things were going to play out. You know how they played out? Neither do I. That asshole kid never showed up in the sequel. Guthrie was still teaching, so I can ASSUME that whatever went down went down in his favor, but I don’t like having to ASSUME things when there’s a perfectly good sequel that could explain them. Sigh.

Otherwise, I loved this book. I think I liked it even better than the original. Is that even allowed? Are sequels allowed to be better? Maybe not in Star Wars (ooooh burn on the pre-quels) but certainly in Holt, Colorado. For a small town, Holt sure has its share of heartbreak. Neglected children, orphans, ranch accidents. Honestly, I haven’t cried this much while reading since Beth March kicked it in Little Women. It felt like a healthy cry though, and I was quite pleased with the way things wrapped up for the residents of Holt.

Eventide shared the same beautiful simplicity of writing that Plainsong did. If you’re interested in an honest, somewhat bleak, but ultimately heartwarming view of small-town America, I recommend both of these books.

So Bookworms, are there any sequels (movies, TV, books, etc.) that YOU liked better than the original? Let’s discuss!

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Oct 19

Friday Fall Fun Swap

Blogging, Personal 31

Happy Friday, Bookworms!

A few weeks back, Joules at Pocketful of Joules had a most delightful idea. She thought, “Christmas is ever so far away, let us bloggers give each other gifts because it is fun!” And thus, the Fall Fun Swap was born. (Joules is secretly the Queen. Shhh, don’t tell.)

Her Majesty Joules arranged for a group of bloggers to swap gifts, Secret Santa style. Since it’s a fall theme, we’ll call it Secret Scarecrow style. On Wednesday, I came home to this:

It’s a box of MYSTERY!

I contemplated naming the box and making it my new pet, but Jim decided that he had a sharp key that could handle the packing tape… Inside we found… MAGIC!

Oh, you wanted close ups?

First, let’s talk about the NUTCRACKER that’s a SCARECROW! So THIS is what nutcrackers do in the off season! I worried that they suffered a high unemployment rates, but it seems they’ve got it all figured out. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were lifeguards in the summer. We’ve named him Reginald vel Johnson. Jim’s a big Family Matters fan.

Oh the pumpkin? Yes he’s delightful too, isn’t he? His hat is downright Suessian- whimsy goes with everything, I tell you. And the candle? The delicious Yankee candle? It smells like heaven a spice cupboard. Seriously, we burn through so many fall scented candles… Pumpkin spice, apple cider, autumn wreath… It’s like my Secret Scarecrow KNOWS me.

I’m sorry, did my gushing not sound sincere enough? Because I don’t know if you really understand how freaking much we love Halloween here at the Gingerbread House.

Yes. We are THOSE people.

If by “gaudy” you mean “tasteful and fun,” you’d be absolutely correct.

Reginald vel Johnson looks quite happy in his new home with the Disney Haunted Mansion memorabilia.

The Dr. Suess pumpkin seems pleased to be with his kinfolk and the Halloween Tree.

I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to my Secret Scarecrow! A secondary part of the Fall Fun Swap was to try and guess which blogger sent our gift. Utilizing exhaustive internet stalking techniques, I have come to the conclusion that my gift is from the lovely authoress from Life’s Too Short to Play Possum. (If I’m wrong, thank you Secret Scarecrow who is NOT the lovely authoress from Life’s Too Short To Play Possum!)

Unofficial poll for the bookworms- is anybody else out there THIS into Halloween?! We get between 250-300 trick-or-treaters every year… It’s pretty much the greatest thing ever.

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