Friday, October 21, 2016

Trick or Treat - Gothics and Beyond

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I have my daughter to thank for this topic. She is a makeup blogger (I should say "vlogger" since she mostly focuses on videos these days), but for a change of pace she did a post on her favorite spooky books. Here's her video:



I've read a lot of the books she mentioned, and I agree with her comments. The first really scary book I remember reading was THE UNINVITED by Dorothy Macardle.

Around the same time - I was in high school - I discovered the gothics of Victoria Holt, books like MISTRESS OF MELLYN and BRIDE OF PENDORRIC. I also enjoyed Anya Seton's GREEN DARKNESS, many of Phyllis A. Whitney's and Dorothy Eden's books, and everything by Mary Stewart. Soon I added more authors to the list: Evelyn Anthony, Velda Johnston and a few male authors, like Edgar Allen Poe. Stephen King later joined my list of favorites, even though sometimes his books were too scary - books like CUJO and PET SEMATARY weren't for me, but I loved THE STAND, FIRESTARTER and the short story collection, NIGHT SHIFT.

I like suspense and thrillers but not gore or horror. I'm a huge fan of mystery and suspense short stories. I'd barely hit puberty when I discovered Alfred Hitchcock's short story collections, as well as Twilight Zone and Outer Limits anthologies, and Ray Bradbury's short stories. Bradbury's The Ravine is one of the scariest short stories I ever read, up there with Bradbury's The Wind.

Pretty much any Alfred Hitchcock anthology will have a few real chillers. One of my favorite collections is ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS: STORIES MY MOTHER NEVER TOLD ME. I remember "The Man Who Sold Rope to the Gnoles" gave me nightmares. I can still remember the opening lines (and/or the last lines) of some of my favorite spooky short stories. What I can't remember and what is driving me NUTS, is which anthologies these stories were in. I'm not great at remembering titles, either. I kept a lot of my old books but nowhere near all of them, so whenever I find a vintage paperback with mystery short stories, I add it to my collection.

In between reading and re-reading my favorite spooky and/or suspenseful mysteries, I'll try to squeeze in a few of my favorite mystery movies, too. A campy old favorite, THE LAST OF SHEILA, is now available on DVD and on YouTube. It's been a long time since I've watched THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH and - talk about campy! - MURDER BY PHONE (aka THE BELLS).
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Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Reading Binge Continues...

The only writing I've accomplished this year has been a couple of posts for Romance University, one for The Contemporary Romance Writers Online Chapter and, oh yeah, my mom's obituary. I'm considering doing NaNoWriMo this year - I've skipped it since I moved to Chicago a couple years ago, but I might be ready for a month of November writing insanity.

In the meantime, I've spent many joyful afternoons playing with my granddaughters. My free time - as in, not watching the girls or fixing dinner or doing all the usual things - has been spent reading. I'm back to my old, pre-grandkids, pre-move, pre-writing book-a-day binge reading. I reread all the J.J. Marric Gideon books, discovered and read all the Kerry Greenwood Phryne Fisher mysteries, reread almost all of my beloved Mary Stewart books, and I'm currently bingeing on Susanna Kearsley's wonderful books. I discovered them a year or two ago and read three of the books in succession, and then switched to lighter fare. I reread THE ROSE GARDEN and remembered why I love this author so much. Next I read MARIANA - another one for the keeper shelf - and I just read SEASON OF STORMS. I have two or three more books of hers in my to-be-read pile, but I have a seriously huge pile of new additions I picked up at the local annual book sale two weeks ago.

I'm probably missing a few books, but here's the latest addition to What Becke's Been Reading:

THE WOMAN IN CABIN 10 by Ruth Ware

THE MAGNOLIA STORY by Chip and Joanna Gaines

THE TROUBLE WITH MISTLETOE by Jill Shalvis

PICTURE ME AND YOU by Susan Sey

THE ONE YOU REALLY WANT by Jill Mansell

The Jacqueline Kirby books by Elizabeth Peters:

THE SEVENTH SINNER

THE MURDERS OF HENRY III

Books by Susanna Kearsley:

THE WINTER SEA

THE ROSE GARDEN

MARIANA

SEASON OF STORMS

More of Everything Else

DO YOU WANT TO START A SCANDAL? by Tessa Dare

OUT OF THE BLACKOUT by Robert Barnard

NIGHT OF THE TWELFTH by Michael Gilbert

FACES IN THE POOL by Jonathan Gash

THE PERKS OF LOVING A SCOUNDREL by Jennifer McQuiston

THE STORMY PETREL by Mary Stewart

THE CAMELOT CAPER by Elizabeth Peters

A MEDITATION ON MURDER (A Death in Paradise Mystery) by Robert Thorogood

The next binge is probably going to be Elizabeth Peters. I met her in person at the Malice Domestic conference about a year before she died. I'd read all of her Barbara Michaels books but only one or two of her Elizabeth Peters books. She got her doctorate at the Oriental Institute, just a few blocks from my home, and I've been a fan of her books since I was in high school. I made a quick (second) stop at our local book sale an hour before it closed, when you could get a bag of books for $4, I managed to find about a dozen Elizabeth Peters books - yay! I'll still need to fill in some blanks, since I want to read them in chronological order.

I have several new books waiting to be read, too. We're having a beautiful autumn so far but they're predicting a very nasty, very cold winter. At least I'm not likely to run out of books to read!