Category Archives: Writing

Um, in Poltergeist the house at least had the decency to implode on itself.

76. The Graveyard Apartment – Mariko Koike

Okay, so, I don’t always get the suspensefuls while reading horror novels and just HAVE to finish – but this one I did. The last time I remember staying up later than I should have to finish a book because I got said suspensefuls was when I read My Best Friend’s Exorcism and I finished that well over a year ago. So…yeah, this freaked me right out like the Blair Witch in the 90s. The fact that I’ve experienced one hell of a hateful basement can’t have anything to do with that. Not at all. It wasn’t an apartment basement.

Anyway, one of the things that bothers me and keeps my imagination spinning about Japanese ghost movies I’ve seen- all two, and I’ve also seen their U.S. equivalents- is that the ghosts were the winners. There’s a neverending cycle happening and no character gets out of being freaked out. That does not leave one settled at the end. And the stress that’s depicted here is hellish. So hellish. Also familiar from my basement experience. Also hellish.

Horace has helped many guinea pigs and me with being frightened of things in basements or otherwise; I really wished he was around while I was reading this.

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This was published before Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors” came out. Missed title opportunity.

1. The Seeing – William P. McGivern & Maureen McGivern

Orphan poet psychic Jessica Mallory has quite the story. After her parents die in a plane crash that she “sees” via colors, her social worker (a wearer of “durable double-knit” pantsuits “in subdued colors”) attempts to find her next of kin. They turn out to be a racist anxiety-riddled Aunt Maud and biological Uncle Eric the alcoholic gambling addict…but they want nothing to do with her – Phew. Jessica gets adopted and ends up living at a huge estate in Ireland. Unfortunately, Uncle Eric sees her in a magazine about horse racing because the Irish estate she lives at has horses- which is what many preteen girls want. She also has access to a priesthole and a cove and a dog AND a parapsychologist who she has a weird relationship with. He’s testing her for years and listening to her poems and then he goes to California to do some academic thing. Note: she’s underage.

When her benefactor dies her villainous aunt and uncle show up with New Jersey gangster dudes in tow and appraise the crap out of the art objects in the house, drink the good wine and whiskey, murder one of the servants, then slap Jessica around and plot her murder, to be delayed only until she predicts which ponies will win. It’s nice when relatives reconnect.

Little Orphan Poet Psychic Jessica has some friends to help her out though. One is an elderly Irishman who has magical praying powers in addition to being as psychic as her. Another is that Dr. Julian who went to California, he’s recalled by a poem in which Jessica essentially predicts their being together just like Dr. Whatshisface and Michelle of Michelle Remembers, which is pretty creepy to read. Note: she’s underage. Like so underage she can’t even drive. She barely knows anybody who doesn’t work for the estate, she never quite got to boarding school- this isn’t cool, not even for the late 1970s. The weirdest part of that is he never arrives. The book ends and Dr. Julian Future Statutory Rapist hasn’t even shown up. He somehow managed to charter a military plane and he still never gets there. The elderly Irishman does get there and manages to inadvertently kill the New Jersey gangsters. He also invokes the old gods and a variety of Druidy things to make Jessica super psychically powerful for a hot minute. Helpful.

Peregrine and Merricat survey their domain from atop the pumpkins. They see all.

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“Tonight the stars shine favorably over the gallows’ hill.”

7. Devil’s Call – J. Danielle Dorn

This is how you write a fantastical western. The head we’re in is a totally different kind of heroine, she’s not well liked, and yet, she’s making things happen. She’s taking revenge seriously, she’s got some drunk in the cart with her like a fun western version of Arya and the Hound’s road trips, she’s pregnant but she’s not soley defined by that, the villain in the story is a horrorshow but also decently defined, the stakes are very high, and frankly, this was just a seriously excellent read.

It’s an unpleasant metaphor for how much women really do and how badly they can be treated in relation to what they know, their choices, and who they are by those who represent the status quo and other monsters.

Murderface would like the author of Unbury Carol to read this and take notes for any future western outings.

 

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I always thought when you mix Satan and wizards you get Electric Wizard albums.

60. You Should Have Left – Daniel Kehlmann

A mere 111 pages- You Should Have Left is written as though you’re reading the notebook of a screenwriter trying to work on his latest project while in a vacation house with his wife who makes him feel inadequate and his daughter Esther who is very young and loves television.

It’s a weird conceit, being a notebook; but it works pretty well in this story. There’s one scene with the general store proprietor that could have been outside the notebook and of course that’s the scene in which we get the most information. There’s also a phone call with the general store proprietor that’s similar. Why does the main character get a little plastic triangle ruler? Because the angles don’t match up.

Apparently Satan and a wizard argued over the land where the vacation house now stands. Satan built a tower, the wizard didn’t like the tower because he was not a Satanist wizard…highjinks ensue every time something else is built on that land.

This book manages to feel complete and not at the same time, which is quite a feat to me.

Salem’s checking out all the angles. He’s prepared for anything.

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“Girl, you don’t need make up.”

56. The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo – Amy Schumer

I have to say, I really liked Amy’s show and this book more than I like her stand up. Her show was just awesomely clever. Her stand up seems to have an edge to it like she wants to be who she is, but she’s intimidated by who she has projected at the same time and doesn’t want that to get through. The book though, it reads much more realistically for the most part.

There’s a lot more vulnerability in her book than I expected and that is what’s missing from most of the living celebrity books I’ve read. So many of them just skip over anything difficult like “Well, I got through it, so whatever” instead of realizing that’s where the story is. Amy Schumer didn’t do that as much. There’s a lot of difficulty that I respect her for discussing and some parts that maybe didn’t need to be there, and that seems as much like a life metaphor as anything else so it’s totally fine.

Pickles just got back from the Museum of Boyfriend Wardrobe Atrocities. She’s hiding from the psychic wounds braided belts inflict.

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Pizza Hut date!

38. Back from the Dead – Carol Gorman

I have liked every book by Carol Gorman I’ve read thus far and this one was no exception. It’s got lots of fun stuff to work with: popular teens who are total dicks and burn down a cabin with an unpopular teen inside, intriguing investigations taken on by the honorable girls of the school newspaper, mystery solving via breaking and entering to look for a typewriter (basically), and the hysterical popular girl – Nikki – who acts just like all actual mean popular girls trying to cover up a murder. One thing I realized as I was finishing it though, I recalled that Heath had no dental records and was not the real murderer (spoiler alert) or a ghost murderer, but I’m not sure it was ever truly established that he was definitely dead. Perhaps this imaginary town elected a coroner with no medical training.

Murderface knows you have to dig to uncover the real truth and Pickles will follow her to the end.

Mixtape:

1. You Want the Candy – The Raveonettes
2. It’s a Party – The Subways
3. When the Stars Begin to Fall – Tomahawk
4. Mile Markers – The Dead Weather
5. Leather Feather – Torche
6. Neat Neat Neat – The Damned
7. NARC – Interpol
8. She’s Lost Control – Joy Division
9. Neighborhood #2 (Laika) – The Arcade Fire
10. You Could Never Tell – The Horrors
11. I Don’t Know – Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats
12. Crypt Key – Windhand
13. Rough Detective – The Dead Weather
14. Christine – John Carpenter
15. She Bangs the Drums – The Stone Roses

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30 Helens agree.

27. The Man in the Woods – Rosemary Wells

It’s easy to get jaded when reading YA as a cynical adult, so whenever I read a YA novel that was published in the YA version of the trade paperback format that has a really good story, I get confused. The Man in the Woods has a good story, solid characters, a thorough characterization of a town, and was written by an author whose children’s books involve guinea pigs! Sometimes!

One thing, this is the first book I will be covering this summer that involves solving a mystery of who is being threatening by finding a typewriter, which seems weird, but, also okay as I do like typewriters and have now learned that I should never type threatening letters on a distinct one. Done.

Anyway, Helen is a fun character to follow while she tries to solve the mystery behind an accident she witnesses, navigate the horrors of joining her new school’s newspaper, and make decent friends while basically ruining the town’s legacy. It’s not very easy.

There were no typewriters under the blankets. Twiglet’s search continues.

Mixtape:

1. Almanac – Widowspeak
2. Until the Night Is Over – Timber Timbre
3. Far from Any Road – The Handsome Family
4. Wither – True Widow
5. Old Shoes (and Picture Postcards) – Tom Waits
6. The Argus – Ween
7. Woke Up This Morning – Abner Jay
8. For the Love of Ivy – The Gun Club
9. Ceremonial Secrets – Glitter Bones
10. Bedlam – Gallon Drunk
11. The Apple & the Tree – Graveyard
12. A Thousand Years – Gallon Drunk
13. Light Into Dark – Windhand
14. Rope on Fire – Morphine

 

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Young’uns. They exist.

21. The Nightmare Man – Tessa Krailing

The protagonist in this extraordinarily short novel is extremely young. SO young. So it doesn’t read like other Point Horror and the title is more like “I need a nightlight because I’m 10 and scared” nightmare than like mind-ripping teenage brutality… because that’s what all the other Point Horror novels are like, mind-ripping teenage brutality. This reads like some kids snuck into a movie they were too young to see, but, not really because it’s just a fine little story about ghosts and taxidermy and a pond set in the UK.

“I believe I was promised mind-ripping brutality.” – Duncan

Mixtape:

1. Bakom Varje Fura – Finntroll
2. A Stroll through Hive Manor Corridors – The Hives
3. They Only Come out at Night – Dance with the Dead
4. The Light at the End (Effect) – Uniform
5. Cold, Cold Rain – Danzig
6. Bottomless Pit – King Dude
7. New Dawn Fades – Joy Division
8. Still Evolving – Josh Freda
9. Sister Doom Face – Harglow
10. Sons of Thunder – High on Fire
11. Midnattens Widunder – Finntroll
12. That House – Dance with the Dead
13. To Here Knows When – My Bloody Valentine

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“It would be easier to stop Karswell’s demon than a woman with her mind made up.”

36. The Crush II – Jo Gibson

Carla, main narrator, would like you to know that she is plain. So plain. She has glasses! How astonishingly plain of her.

Anyway, now that we know that Carla is plain, we should talk about psychopath killer Judy and popular musician Michael. Oh, and this is the second book and I haven’t read the first, but I get the impression they might just follow a bit of a formula. You see, every girl that dates Michael gets killed – by Judy, the Cupid Killer. But! At the beginning of The Crush II, Michael gets out of protective custody at the hospital and doesn’t invite Judy to his welcome home party so she drives off a cliff after leaving a letter explaining that she is the Cupid Killer and Michael isn’t. Very clever, Judy.

This book actually was pretty amusing, you see all the main kids work at a teenager music bar that serves fruit drinks (mmhmm) and it’s a really easy place for Michael to realize he loves plainass Carla, but then go out with Heidi and her showbiz connections instead. And then, when Carla takes off her glasses for a movie part and starts wearing flowy separates because of the same movie part, Michael realizes he loves her again, and then allows himself to be nearly date raped by Vera. When Carla rescues him from that situation, sort of, he realizes he loves her again – only to have his childhood best friend show up and seduce him! Of course, Miss Showbiz and Vera have been killed at this point by Judy’s ghost? A copycat Cupid Killer? Nope. It all becomes clear after childhood best friend turned seductress gets murdered and Michael gives his class ring to Carla! Plain old, unmurderable Carla. Well, she gets stabbed – Judy killed a hitchhiker and stuck her in her car, but she lives so she and Michael can be “engaged to be engaged.” Barf. Put your glasses back on Carla, then Judy won’t recognize you when she inevitably escapes from the mental hospital.

Ozma is the Michael of my herd, she’s like, so popular with the boys. So popular.

Mixtape:

1. Temptation – New Order
2. Empathy Boxes – All of Them Witches
3. Heart On – Eagles of Death Metal
4. Garbage City – Hanni El Khatib
5. The Cardinal Sin – Dead Can Dance
6. You’re Toast – Electric Six
7. Don’t Ask Me to Love You – The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster
8. We Hit a Wall – Chelsea Wolfe
9. Funtime – Iggy Pop
10. March to the Altar – Terrortron
11. Monday Hunt – Carpenter Brut
12. Dressed to Kill – Dance with the Dead
13. Future Persuasion – Electric Citizen
14. Down with the King – Midnight Force
15. Rats in Paradise – The Birthday Party
16. Whorehoppin – Eagles of Death Metal

 

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Holding cells are where the Halloween magic really happens.

35. Amy – Samantha Lee

British book about US Halloween, excuse me, the States’ Hallowe’en, bring on the yokel language and stuff that doesn’t happen! Follow that up with words we don’t use and more hick language, add one ghost, and you have Amy. It’s short. And kinda sad. For every biscuit (cookies are a bad idea to give out for trick or treat, they crumble and nobody said they were little packs of Oreos when they were walking around carrying cookies in their sheet-based outfits) and holdall that don’t work, there’s a “Land sakes!” that made me laugh. Also, like every imaginary small town story, there’s just one big area for the holding cells that need to, um, hold, the biker who comes through town to solve mysteries, the town drunk, and not the perpetrators of evil dressed as vampires – twin teen boys… or the person who really is responsible for the drowned ghost running around in a sheet full of cookie crumbs.

Pickles would’ve been all right if they gave out cilantro on Halloween, but no one does that either.

Mixtape:

1. Lone – Chelsea Wolfe
2. All Hallows’ Eve – The Heartwood Institute
3. Pursuit – All of Them Witches
4. Hear the Sirens Scream – Electric Wizard
5. We’ve Seen the Blood – The Mangled Dead
6. Bride of the Devil – Electric Six
7. Revenged – Repeated Viewing
8. A Face in the Fog – Joel Grind
9. Blue Harvest – All of Them Witches
10. Get Out – Wojciech Golczewski
11. Walkin’ on the Sidewalks – Queens of the Stone Age
12. Hexagram – Graham Reznick
13. Diablerie – Windhand
14. All Hallows’ (Epilogue) – Ogre & Dallas Campbell
15. Two Spirit – Chelsea Wolfe

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