Monday, October 29, 2018

Week-in-Review-- Disneyland Vacation!

It's been an uber crazy October with our trip down to California! We got it all in from Disneyland, Mickey's Halloween Party, California Adventure, LegoLand, the beach, and Universal Studios! It was a zany, fun, stressful, memory-filled 10 days. I also brought along my aging parents so they could experience Disneyland and a good vacation one more time before they're too elderly to really enjoy it.

Like all vacations we had highlights and some major lowlights like when the key to our rental van gave up the ghost and the alarm was set off with no way to disarm it! Our first day to Universal Studios was ruined but we relaxed the rest of the day and took a Pokemon walk to Angels Stadium and made the best of it. We got a new car and by the next day we were set to see Universal Studios! They were very nice when we explained out situation and they gave us free express passes for all the rides! It made the best day ever for us and we had a wonderful last day of vacation.

We learned quite a few things about what our limits are and what we'd do differently if we come back in a few years. Legoland is off our list since G will definitely be too old for it and it would be out of our way.

Mickey's Halloween Party was amazing and if we come back during October that is the only way we'd see Disenyland....

All in all despite some of the setbacks, we all had a wonderful time and so many memories were made!

And now all the pics...it's long. More at the bottom on how this last week of recovery has gone and my reading and watching updates and Halloween progress!

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1st Day at Disneyland!


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2nd Day with my parents. We even rented them scooters!


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Halloween Party was amazing!


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I absolutely adored all the Lego figurines and cities and buildings. Worth a visit no matter what your age!


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Balboa beach was so pretty!


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Last day for Disneyland at California Adventure. Lots of waiting in lines...


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Visited the second largest Lego store in the country!


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Harry Potter! Hogwarts! I'd go back again to explore more!


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We met the Scooby Gang! So fun! Velma even found my missing earring for me.


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I met with the Gods!


Books Finished: 

The Changeling by Victor LaValle, Scream All Night by Derek Milman, The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson, The Beanstalker and Other Hilarious Scary Tales by Kiersten White, Spirit Hunters by Ellen Oh, and PenPal by Dathan Auerbach.

Books I'm Currently Reading:

Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cartero, Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl, and More Bones: Scary Stories from Around the World by Arielle North Olson and Howard Schwartz (reading with G)

Books Acquired: 

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury, Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert M. Sapolsky, The Existentialist's Survival Guide: How to Live Life in an Inauthentic Age by Gordon Marino, Ph.D, Italian Folktales by Italo Calvino, The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa, Belly Laugh: Scary, Spooky Halloween Jokes for Kids by The Sky Pony Press editors, Boy's Life by Robert R. McCammon, Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters by Mark Dunn, and We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations that Matter by Celeste Headlee

Listening to: 

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, the podcasts Spooked Season Two from Snap Judgement and Lore. 

Watching: 

I finished up The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix and oh boy, that is such an amazing series. They did an excellent job of making the story their own and incorporating Jackson's novel on a metaphorical level. I cannot sing the praises of this show enough. Also it was as scary as hell! I had at least one or two bad dreams from this!

I also just finished Making a Murderer season 2. While not as good as season one, I was impressed by the defense attorney's attention to detail and just a look at how one goes about getting new evidence introduced. It's a tough criminal justice system. 

I am still working on Maniac on Netflix...

And I'll be starting The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina probably tonight! I've heard all the good things about this one.

Making: 

I will be making chili, tortellini soup, corn bread and honey butter, mulled wine and cider, jelly shots, and other treats for Halloween night! It's my one big night that I don't mind going all out and getting a bit crazy!

We also made spooky candles and carved our pumpkins this weekend!

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Looking Forward to: 

Halloween, of course! My favoritest night of the year!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Cat Halloween Thursday-- October 11, 2018


Happy Halloweeny Cat Thursday! hosted by Michelle at True Book Addict.

Here's a cute story from The Dodo about a cat in New Zealand named Mischief who refuses to use the cat door when people are around because "...(they've) realized he's too precious and doesn't like squeezing through unless it's necessary."

They originally thought he was too fat to fit through the door but they would leave him outside and he would be back in the house when they returned. They set up a video camera and finally caught the bugger going through the cat door! He is too precious!

Check out the videos of Mischief at The Dodo. He is adorable!









Scream All Night by Derek Milman

Publisher's Summary:

Dario Heyward knows one thing: He’s never going back to Moldavia Studios, the iconic castle that served as the set, studio, and home to the cast and crew of dozens of cult classic B-horror movies. It’s been three years since Dario’s even seen the place, after getting legally emancipated from his father, the infamous director of Moldavia’s creature features.

But then Dario’s brother invites him home to a mysterious ceremony involving his father and a tribute to his first film—The Curse of the Mummy’s Tongue. Dario swears his homecoming will be a one-time visit. A way for him to get closure on his past—and reunite with Hayley, his first love and costar of Zombie Children of the Harvest Sun, a production fraught with real-life tragedy—and say good-bye for good. But the unthinkable happens—Dario gets sucked back into the twisted world of Moldavia and the horrors, both real and imagined, he’s left there.

With only months to rescue the sinking studio and everyone who has built their lives there, Dario must confront the demons of his past—and the uncertainties of his future. But can he escape the place that’s haunted him his whole life?


My Thoughts:

I absolutely loved the setting. Eastern European old castle. Old studio horror films with old studio actors living in said castle. There are a lot of references to the classic horror Italian film directors and their movies. So great setting. There are some fun characters that seem unreal and are a hoot. Like Dario's brother who's supposed to be in his late 20s but seems like he's 15 or the father who decides to be buried alive for his funeral.

But the story was clunky and not edited well. The story felt more like an actual screenplay turned into a novel. It makes me wonder if Milman wrote the screenplay first and tried to get it sold but then went with a novelization. Scenes sped by like I was watching it on a movie which for a movie is great but not so much when you're reading a book.

Overall, I liked it but it wasn't as good as I was hoping.

*read for R.I.P. XIII and FrightFall challenges.



Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Horror Movie Wednesday-- Malevolent and Pet Sematary...

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It's time for another round of horror movie reviews!

First on the list:

Malevolent (2018): It's another Netflix original with big ideas! It started off great with two siblings working together as a paranormal investigator team...except they're con artists and prey on people's grief. It's pretty despicable but as we go along we realize the sister can actually see dead people and when they're called into get rid of a group of ghosts in an old estate in the middle of nowhere where girl orphans were brutally murdered...well, things get pretty dicey.

There is a lot of great set up and creep things that go bump in the night. I loved the Scottish castle setting. I liked the sister but the brother was awful. And the ending fell apart completely. But overall it's not a bad way to spend an evening with friends, popcorn and wine!



Pet Sematary (1989): There are so many great elements in this adaptation. The setting is pretty solid. The old guy Jud brings a great twist to the setting. He's a bit eccentric and creepy but you're not sure if he's friend or foe in the beginning. But the best thing about the whole movie is the cat Church, a blue Russian, and the three-year-old Gage, played brilliantly by Miko Hughes.

It's got some great scares and enough cheese factor to keep you jumping and laughing at the same time. It is one of the better King adaptations. I am looking forward to the new adaptation coming out next year!





Into the Dark: The Body (2018): This is a new anthology series from Hulu. Each month will feature a new movie based on a classic holiday of that month. This month we get The Body. A hitman hides a body when everyone thinks the body is apart of his costume. It's pandemonium as he picks up a budding serial killer as his partner and three other people from a Halloween party. Can he get away with it? Does the killer fall in love? It's a bit cheesy but I liked the humor and feel of the movie overall. It was a great little movie to watch for the Halloween season. I do look forward to the other movies over the next year!




*watching for R.I.P. XIII





The Changeling by Victor LaValle

Publisher's Summary:

Apollo Kagwa has had strange dreams that have haunted him since childhood. An antiquarian book dealer with a business called Improbabilia, he is just beginning to settle into his new life as a committed and involved father, unlike his own father who abandoned him, when his wife Emma begins acting strange. Disconnected and uninterested in their new baby boy, Emma at first seems to be exhibiting all the signs of post-partum depression, but it quickly becomes clear that her troubles go far beyond that. Before Apollo can do anything to help, Emma commits a horrific act—beyond any parent’s comprehension—and vanishes, seemingly into thin air. 

Thus begins Apollo’s odyssey through a world he only thought he understood to find a wife and child who are nothing like he’d imagined. His quest begins when he meets a mysterious stranger who claims to have information about Emma’s whereabouts. Apollo then begins a journey that takes him to a forgotten island in the East River of New York City, a graveyard full of secrets, a forest in Queens where immigrant legends still live, and finally back to a place he thought he had lost forever. This dizzying tale is ultimately a story about family and the unfathomable secrets of the people we love.


Victor LaValle has written something special here. It's a book that haunts you well after you're done reading it. He manages to combine all the elements of a truly brilliant story all into one. It's a fairy-tale retelling; it's a horror novel; it has a moral; it deals with class and race; and post-partum depression and the ways in which the world sees women or doesn't; and all the ways we love and hurt those we love.

It is a wild ride from the moment we meet Apollo's parents to the very end. There are so many twists and turns throughout the book I could never guess what would happen at the end. What happened with Apollo's father? Does he have something to do with his son Brian? Is his wife crazy? Is his child truly dead? So many questions and Apollo takes us with him through it all.

The characters are well-rounded; the creepy villains all have motivation and humanity. Not everyone is all good or all bad. Sometimes we don't know who to root for! I had so many emotions while listening.

Here are some great quotes:

"A bad fairy tale has some simple goddamn moral. A good fairy tale tells the truth."

"'And they lived happily ever after...' 'Today, she said. And they lived happily today.' 'Is that enough he asked...' 'That's everything, my love.'"

"When you have to save the one you love, you will become someone else, something else. You will transform. The only real magic is the things we'll do for the ones we love."

I also enjoyed listening to the audio version. I was a little unsure in the beginning with the author reading his own book. That can go badly very quickly. But he grew on me and there were moments you could tell he was affected by his own writing. He added the right kind of gravitas needed for this book.

*read for R.I.P. XIII and FrightFall






Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday-- 10 Longest Books I've Read

hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl
1. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (1,143 pages). I read this one for fun in high school! HA!

2. It by Stephen King(1,169 pages). This was a slog last summer and early fall but it picked up towards the end!

3. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (1,024 pages). I loved this book at the age of 14 and read it multiple times throughout that year. But I have not wanted to reread this one....

4. The Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan (1,011 pages) (his books are huge in the Wheel of Time series; I'll put no more on this list).

5. Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley (896 pages). This is a sequel to Gone With the Wind...yikes; it's terrible. But it was a good bodice ripper! ha!

6. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling (870 pages).

7. Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer (756 pages). Oh Twilight series...

8. Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet by Dan Vogel (744 pages).

9. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski (736 pages)

10. Angels & Demons by Dan Brown (736 pages)


Wednesday, October 3, 2018

September wrap-up and Week in Review

Where did September go? Well, I made it through 30 books in September! There were only 2 days where I used the books I had finished that day as my count. And I read a couple of tiny children's books when I was down to the wire and really tired at the end of the day. But overall, I felt I gave it a good go to spice it up and read some different things like memoirs, self-help and some kids selections.

Here's how I read:


graphic novels and comics: 10

children/juvenile/young adult books: 19

non-fiction: 16

mystery/thriller/horror: 5

fantasy: 5

My favorites of the month:


1. The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

2. Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce

3. On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder

4. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

5. All of the March books by John Robert Lewis

6. The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury

7. The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

I think I could do it again next year as long as I kept the same idea and maybe even allow myself to finish 30 in September rather than one each day. Thanks to Stacy for starting the tradition and look forward to next year!

Another great week with Fall in the air! This last weekend DH's friend from Taiwan came in for some work training and stayed the weekend. So we took her out to a dueling piano bar called Keys on Main and the a beautiful Fall hike on Sunday morning!

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Books Finished: See above! I did it! I done did my challenge like an adult.

Books I'm Currently Reading: The Devil in the White City: Magic, Murder, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson. This is my third time starting the book and I can safely say I will definitely finish it soon! Scream All Night by Derek Milman. And I just started The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero. It reminds me a bit of The House of Leaves book by David Mitchell.

Books Acquired: Daughters of the Lake by Wendy Webb, Easy Soups from Scratch with Quick Breads to Match by Ivy Manning, The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Saez, Swing Time by Zadie Smith, and American Like Me by America Ferrera.

Listening to: The Changeling by Victor LaValle, the podcasts Spooked Season Two from Snap Judgement and Lore. I'm hoping to start NOS4A2 by Joe Hill this week too.

Watching: I watched Mandy, and am working on Maniac on Netflix and more horror movies to come this month!

Making: More crocheted f-bombs! I think I finally have a pattern that works well for me. I'm also working on some hats and a little crocheted Frankenstein's monster!

Looking Forward to: Finishing up the Halloween decor for the porch and the final touches on my costume. And we may hit Oktoberfest in our area on Sunday. One of the local breweries makes a pumpkin beer on nitro and it is fabulous. I've been wanting to get up there just for that!

Monday, October 1, 2018

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

Publisher's Summary:

One postwar summer in his home of rural Warwickshire, Dr. Faraday, the son of a maid who has built a life of quiet respectability as a country physician, is called to a patient at lonely Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for over two centuries, the Georgian house, once impressive and handsome, is now in decline, its masonry crumbling, its gardens choked with weeds, the clock in its stable yard permanently fixed at twenty to nine. Its owners—mother, son, and daughter—are struggling to keep pace with a changing society, as well as with conflicts of their own. But are the Ayreses haunted by something more sinister than a dying way of life? Little does Dr. Faraday know how closely, and how terrifyingly, their story is about to become intimately entwined with his. 

My thoughts:

I've been wanting to read a Sarah Waters book for a few years now. I watched Tipping the Velvet a few years ago and I absolutely adored it. So I jumped at the chance to read The Little Stranger when I saw it at my library's book sale and saw that it was a historical fiction haunted house story! I love haunted house stories. There's something especially horrifying about them. Is it that the home has usually been the domain of women and once those are haunted it's a metaphor for the haunting of women?

Waters delves into the historical aspect of post World War Britain and how the old gentry families were changed after the war. They had a hard time catching up with modernity.

Dr. Faraday visits Hundreds Hall on a house call for the Ayres' servant Betty. He hasn't been at the house since he came with his mother when he was a small boy and she was a servant at Hundreds Hall. He's been fascinated with it ever since. He soon becomes involved with all the Ayres, Roderick who was injured during the war, Caroline who is unmarried and becoming a bit of a spinster and Mrs. Ayres who is struggling to go on after the war and who is also continually grieving her lost daughter. Shortly after Dr. Faraday's first visit strange occurrences begin at Hundreds Hall. Is it the work of a ghost, Mrs. Ayres' dead daughter or something more malevolent?

It's a slow burn but all engaging. It's a great gothic story that tells more than just ghosts in a big house. As the family's fears are laid out to bear, we are left with an agonizing feeling of what the hell is going on? How reliable is our narrator? The whole story is dark and moody. Waters does a brilliant job letting the house take on a dark persona all its own.

I thoroughly enjoyed the journey and recommend it for anyone who loves a good historical gothic mystery.

*read for R.I.P XIII and FrightFall reading challenges.




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