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March brought Daylight Saving Time, spring, and a rewarding reading month for me. I completed six books in the month of March, and as of today, I am seven books ahead of schedule. Go, me!

Nonfiction Selection

Life is Messy by Matthew Kelly was my March nonfiction selection. I received this book as a Christmas gift from the administration of my school. Last year, I finally got around to reading a couple of Matthew Kelly’s books, which I had received as gifts from my church parish over the years, and I really enjoyed them. The messages in his books are comforting and inspirational, instead of being preachy, and Life is Messy is no exception. Kelly’s inspiration for this book stems from three years of intense struggles in his own life that he documented in his personal journals. Kelly explains, “It’s what we do with the mess that determines everything.” Life can be messy; however, it can also be filled with joy if one seeks to fill one’s life with goodness. This was an enjoyable 4-star read.

#Read21in21 Challenge

I kicked off the month of March reading a middle grade horror book (or so I thought) and then switched to middle grade realistic fiction for the remainder of the month. I read another Gordon Korman novel because I love his writing, and I was not at all disappointed with my choice. Korman is fast becoming one of my favorite middle grade authors.

The first book was Creep by Eireann Corrigan. I expected a horror novel, but I ended up reading a mystery/thriller novel with a splash of drama. So, needless to say, I was a little disappointed. A new family moves into a house that was vacated by the previous family under unusual circumstances. The family discovers someone is watching them when they receive ominous notes shortly after moving into their new home. A few of the storylines running through the book could have been eliminated, so other storylines could be fleshed out a bit more. Overall, it was a decent read. I gave it 3 stars.

The second book was Ungifted by Gordon Korman. What a funny and heart-warming story! The characters are endearing. I love how the chapters are written in alternating perspectives of the characters. Basically, the main character, Donovan Curtis, accidentally destroys school property at his middle school, setting off a chain of events that lands him at another school for gifted students. Hilarity ensues along with touching moments and a clear message of acceptance at the core of the novel. I had no trouble giving this literary treasure 5 stars.

The third and final book was Rules by Cynthia Lord. Rules was another enjoyable read; however, it has a more serious vibe to it than Ungifted. The main character Catherine is trying to lead a normal life even though she considers her family circumstances not so normal. Her brother has autism, and her parents lean on Catherine a great deal to help with her brother when they work, or she has a social event. Two new people enter her life, and her world becomes complicated. Soon, she learns the pitfalls of not being honest, the true meaning of friendship, and the importance of acceptance. This tender-hearted story easily earned 5 stars from me.

Chills, Thrills, & Kills Book Club

March’s selection for my book club was the The Troop by Nick Cutter. Oh, my! This book was horrifying, disturbing, and at times, heart-wrenching. Five teenage scouts and their scoutmaster head to Falstaff Island to spend the weekend camping in the wilderness. Shortly after arriving on the island, an emaciated man with a rapacious appetite wanders into their camp, exposing the troop to an unseen threat that soon turns their enjoyable camping trip into a nightmare and a desperate fight for survival. The Troop is one of the best horror novels I have read in quite a while. It is definitely a must-read for horror fans. However, be warned that body horror runs rampant throughout the novel, and children behave brutally towards humans and animals. It is a 5-star read, hands down!

Year of King

March’s selection was The Langoliers. It is one of the four novellas originally published in King’s Four Past Midnight collection. Even though I watched the made-for-tv mini-series back in the 90s, I had never read the novella. Basically, ten passengers and a black-bearded man on Flight 29 from Los Angeles to Boston travel through a time-rip to the past where they encounter the langoliers. They must race against time to survive the menacing timekeepers.

I really enjoyed The Langoliers. It earned a 4-star rating from me. I love a novel with a plethora of characters who have interesting backstories. Stephen King does a fine job with character development. The mini-series sticks pretty close to the novella. There is dialogue in the movie lifted straight off the page. Kelsi and I had a terrific time chatting about The Langoliers and laughed quite a bit. If you were unable to watch us live on 27 March, dear reader, you can check out the recording on Kelsi’s YouTube channel (see below).

That’s all she wrote for March, dear reader. It was another productive and fun month of reading. I recommend all of the books I read in March, especially my 5-star reads.

April starts tomorrow, and I am currently reading Slasher Girls & Monster Boys compiled by April Genevieve Tucholke for #Read21in21. My book club selection for April is The Woman in Black by Susan Hill. The Dark Half is the novel Kelsi and I will be reading for Year of King. We will be chatting live about the novel and the movie on Sunday, 01 May at 2:00 PM. Finally, for my nonfiction choice, I will be reading The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp (with Mark Reiter).

Last but certainly not least, I am also attempting to participate in Kelsi’s Old School April Readathon & Watchathon. I presently do not have a TBR list for the readathon; however, I know I will be reading Night of the Living Dead by R.L. Stine. It will be my Goosebumps book. April is going to be a busy but exciting reading month for me. To see my current book reviews or books I have read in the past, follow me on Goodreads at Katherine Loyacano. Happiness!

“Reading brings us unknown friends” ~ Honoré de Balzac

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February may have been a short month, but it was a productive reading month for me. I completed seven books in the month of February, and as of today, I am four books ahead of schedule. Woot-Woot!

Nonfiction Selection

Even though I absolutely adore reading horror and thrillers (my favorite genre), I also enjoy reading realistic fiction, fantasy, science fiction, nonfiction, and a good mystery. The only genre I am not a huge fan of is romance. Therefore, each month, I plan to read at least one nonfiction book in addition to everything else I have slated for the month. Back in January, my book club chose a nonfiction book, so I did not choose a separate title in that category like I did for February.

Laundry Love: Finding Joy in a Common Chore by Patric Richardson and written with Karin B. Miller was my February nonfiction selection. I received this book as a gift from mon frere Simon. I never in a million years thought I would read, much less enjoy, a book about laundry. It is a delightful read about how to properly take care of laundering any textiles that you own. Richardson gives you lists of necessary supplies for washing clothes as well as for removing stains. There is a section devoted to types of stains and how to treat them. Another section lists various textiles and how to clean them. In addition, he claims a dry cleaner is no longer necessary, even if the tag on the article of clothing states “dry clean only.” While Laundry Love is technically a resource guide on how to properly take care of laundry, it is written with humor and more like a story than a reference book. An appendix with recipes from the women influencers from his Appalachian upbringing is included in the back of the book. This was a pleasurable 5-star read for me.

#Read21in21 Challenge

As I mentioned last month, this daily reading challenge is devoted to children’s literature which I adore just as much as horror and thrillers. Last month, I did focus on middle grade horror selections. However, for February, most of my selections were middle grade realistic fiction with the exception of my first read being middle grade horror. I fell in love with every one of the main characters in the books I read this month, especially Ollie in Small Spaces and Hope in Hope: Project Middle School.

The first book was Small Spaces by Katherine Arden. It is a terrifically well-written middle grade ghost story that takes place on a farm with a creepy past, a deadly secret, and the Smiling Man. Ollie and her two classmates work together to save themselves and the rest of their class in this spine-tingling adventure. It is the first book in the Small Spaces series. I gave it 5 spooktacular stars.

The second book was The Unteachables by Gordon Korman. This tender-hearted story is about redemption and not giving up. It has well-written, likable characters and lots of humor. Each chapter is designated to a character in the book giving his or her viewpoint. It was an entertaining 5-star read for me.

The third book was Firegirl by Tony Abbott. I have been wanting to read this short book for quite some time. It is a moving story about accepting others, the power of friendship, and having the courage to get to know someone who looks differently than you. This is a wonderful coming of age story that is worthy of receiving 5 stars.

The fourth book was Saving Winslow by Sharon Creech. Another heartwarming story about a young boy named Louie who decides to nurse a sick donkey despite his unfortunate attempts at helping critters in the past. This story shares a beautiful message of empathy, compassion, and the meaning of love with its readers. I also gave this literary gem 5 stars.

The fifth and final book was Hope: Project Middle School by Alyssa Milano and written with Debbie Rigaud. It is not surprising that this was another fantastic 5-star read for me. I absolutely adore the main character Hope and her story about navigating through her first year of middle school. Hope is smart, friendly, confident, loves animals, and wants to save the world. It is the first book in the Hope series.

I look forward to reading more great stories from these authors and continuing the series featuring Ollie and Hope. Reading middle grade books brings me lots of JOY.

Chills, Thrills, & Kills Book Club/Year of King

February’s selection for both my book club and Year of King was Gerald’s Game by Stephen King. This was a reread for me; however, it had been so long since I read it that I could only remember that Jessie and her husband Gerald go away to their lake house for a little hanky-panky. Soon after they arrive, Jessie is handcuffed to the bed, and Gerald suffers a heart attack and dies. Therefore, I felt like I was reading Gerald’s Game for the first time. Basically, Jessie is left all alone to face the demons of her past and her present fears that threaten her future. Personally, this was a hard book to read because of content. King tackles sexual abuse, abused women, as well as female inequality in Gerald’s Game and does it in a respectful way. Like Misery, there is no supernatural element, but there are human monsters, and sometimes they are scarier than the boogyman. I gave Gerald’s Game 4 stars, not because it was poorly written, but more or less, I think it could have been condensed in parts, especially those pertaining to the sexual abuse and the length of time it took Jessie to take some action in saving her own life. I was also a little disappointed with the mysterious presence in the bedroom and would have liked that element to have played out differently.

As for the movie adaptation of Gerald’s Game, well…it was okay. I rated it 3 stars. I think I would have rated it higher if I had not read the book. After watching the movie, it made me appreciate the novel more, and it also made me realize the slow pacing of the novel may have been mirroring how Jessie was feeling during her horrific ordeal, exhausted. I found it exhausting to read at times. Mike Flanagan did a fine job directing this film, considering I never imagined it could be done since so much of the story takes place in Jessie’s mind. There are significant differences between the book and movie. While the cast was chosen well overall, their portrayal of the characters was unlike the book. Gerald is attractive and more understanding in the movie than in the novel, suggesting a different perspective of what really happened between the Burlingame couple at the lake house. Kelsi and I had an interesting chat about Gerald’s Game and discussed it more in depth along with tidbits surrounding both the novel and the movie. If you were unable to watch our live chat on Sunday, 27 February, you can check out the recording on Kelsi’s YouTube channel (see below).

That’s my reading round up for February, dear reader. I am super proud of the amount of reading I did throughout the month. I recommend all of the books I read in February, including Gerald’s Game. However, if you have never read a Stephen King novel, I do not suggest starting with Gerald’s Game. Misery would be a better first read in my opinion.

March has officially started, and I am currently reading Creep by Eireann Corrigan for #Read21in21. My book club selection for March is The Troop by Nick Cutter. The Langoliers is the novella Kelsi and I will be reading for Year of King. It is part of my Four Past Midnight collection. We will be chatting live about the novella and the mini series on Sunday, 27 March at 2:00 PM. Finally, for my nonfiction choice, I will be reading Life is Messy by Matthew Kelly. To see my current book reviews or books I have read in the past, follow me on Goodreads at Katherine Loyacano. Happiness!

“There are many little ways to enlarge your world.  Love of books is the best of all.” ~ Jacqueline Kennedy

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As I mentioned earlier in the month when I announced all of my goals for the year, I joined the 2022 Reading Challenge on Goodreads. My goal for this year is 50 books. I completed five books in the month of January, and as of today, I am one book ahead of schedule. Go me!

Even though reading is one of my absolute favorite ways of spending my time, I have to make reading a priority. Therefore, setting a yearly reading goal, adding books to seasonal fun lists, buddy reading with Kelsi, and participating in a book club as well as a daily reading challenge ensure I will not only make time to read daily, but I will also reach my goal on Goodreads.

Chills, Thrills, & Kills Book Club

Kelsi and I formed the Chills, Thrills, & Kills Book Club in the spring of 2021. Our members nominate books each month which Kelsi and I narrow down to four choices; then, everyone votes on a selection.

Our January book was nominated by Rachael and won the majority of the votes. Kelsi asked for nominations that had a wintry vibe to it, and Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident by Donnie Eichar definitely fit the bill. It was our first nonfiction selection, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I gave it 4 stars and had a great time discussing it with my book club. The story captivated my interest immediately. I love a good mystery, especially if it is a true story with unsettling circumstances.

Nine young hikers die in 1959 on a hiking expedition to Otorten Mountain in the Northern Urals of Russia. The author, Donnie Eichar, stumbles upon this riveting case while researching for a scripted film project. He is so captivated by the mysterious case and its eerie circumstances that he ventures all the way from the United States to Russia to determine the true cause of the hikers’ demise that fateful night in 1959.

#Read21in21 Challenge

I know that we are in 2022 and Gretchen Rubin’s #Read21in21 is finished, but I enjoyed this challenge so much last year that I decided to do it again this year and kept the hashtag. Last year, I used the daily challenge to read nonfiction. This year, I am reading Children’s Literature which I adore to a great extent. I read three books this month, all middle grade horror selections, for my daily challenge.

The first book was Haunt by K. R. Alexander. It is a good middle grade ghost story worthy of earning its 3-star rating. It’s a fun and fast read.

The second book was Spirit Hunters by Ellen Oh. I love this delightful book which is also a ghost story with lots of suspense and chilling moments mixed with cultural identity and well-developed characters. It is the first book in the series. It was a 5-star read for me.

The third book was Hide and Seeker by Daka Hermon. Another 5-star read for me. It is creepy, suspenseful, and has an awful monster called the Seeker who turns a popular kids’ game into a nightmare.

Year of King

Kelsi and I are spending each month of 2022 reading a novel, novella, or short story written by Stephen King. Afterwards, we will watch the screen adaptation or adaptations, if there is more than one. Each month, we will have a livestream chat to discuss what we read and watched with tidbits about King’s writing process, the actors, and more.

January’s selection was Misery. It was actually a reread and a rewatch for me. However, it had been a good while since I had read or watched Misery, so it was almost like reading it or watching it for the first time with fresh eyes. Also, I am a good bit older than my first experience with the material. Perspectives change and scenes are long forgotten. Kelsi and I chose Misery because the story begins in the winter. In fact, author Paul Sheldon actually crosses paths with the peculiar Annie Wilkes in the midst of a blizzard.

I really, really, enjoyed Misery. It earned a 5-star rating from me. It has so many awesome scenes in both the novel and movie. Anyone who is a horror fan and has not yet read Misery, should definitely give it a whirl along with watching the movie. James Caan does a terrific job in the role as Paul Sheldon, and Kathy Bates does an outstanding job as Annie Wilkes. Bates’s portrayal of Paul’s number one fan earned her an Oscar. Kelsi and I had an absolute blast chatting about Misery. If you were unable to watch us live on 23 January, dear reader, you can check out the recording on Kelsi’s YouTube channel (see below).

That’s a wrap of the books I read this month. I think January was a fairly productive reading month for me. I am currently reading Small Spaces by Katherine Arden for #Read21in21. My book club selection for February is Gerald’s Game by Stephen King. It also happens to be the novel Kelsi and I are reading for Year of King in February. I know, I know, we are double dipping. However, it did get the majority of the votes in our poll. And yes…Kelsi and I nominated it. To see my current book reviews or books I have read, follow me on Goodreads at Katherine Loyacano. Happiness!

“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” ~ Richard Steele

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As you may already know, dear reader, I am a HUGE fan of Stephen King’s extraordinary storytelling. The “Master of Horror” made an indeliable impression on me way back in the 8th grade when my Uncle Robert’s girlfriend at the time gave me her paperback copy of The Stand. Stephen King caught my attention and captured my heart with his character-driven story set in a post-apocalyptic world. Since then, I have read at least 40 of his novels (some of them more than once) and several of his short stories.

Therefore, it should be no surprise that Kelsi and I decided to spend each month of 2022 exploring King’s extensive body of work by reading a novel, a novella, or short stories written by him, then watching the screen adaptation of it afterwards. Subsequently, we will host a monthly livestream on Kelsi’s YouTube channel to discuss our thoughts on both the written work and the movie. Back in October, Kelsi and I had one of these chats where we discussed Cycle of the Werewolf and Silver Bullet. We had a blast!

Our January selection is Misery. I am more than halfway through reading this incredible novel and will be watching the movie later this week. Our livestream for Misery is scheduled for Sunday, 23 January at 2:00 pm CT on Slime and Slashers – A Nostalgia & Horror Channel.

For those of you who are interested in joining Kelsi and me on our journey through Stephen King’s universe throughout 2022, I have created a list of our selections for the entire year. We will encounter fanatical fans, menacing monsters, ghastly ghosts, the devil, and so much more, making this year frightfully fun.

Year of King Schedule

  • January: Misery
  • February: Gerald’s Game
  • March: “Langoliers” (Four Past Midnight)
  • April: The Dark Half
  • May: Pet Sematary
  • June: “The Mist” (Skeleton Crew) and “1408” (Everything’s Eventual)
  • July: It
  • August: Cujo
  • September: “Lawnmower Man,” “The Mangler,” and “Graveyard Shift” (Night Shift)
  • October: Needful Things
  • November: Dead Zone
  • December: The Shining

Needless to say, dear reader, #13 on my 22 for 2022 list is not going to be difficult to accomplish this year. Let me know if you are a Stephen King fan or may consider joining us on this literary adventure. Happiness!

“Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.” ~ Stephen King

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Congrats to me, dear reader! I surpassed my 2021 Reading Challenge on Goodreads. My goal for this year was 50 books, and I read a total of 52 books. I think my reading success this year is attributed to developing a daily reading habit, creating a book club, participating in a Halloween readathon, and adding books to my thematic fun lists.

I participated in Gretchen Rubin’s #Read21for21 challenge, and I am amazed by how many books I read this year just by reading for 21 minutes every day. Establishing a daily reading habit and sticking to it has been an eye-opening experience. According to Gretchen Rubin, “If you read for 21 minutes per day for 365 days, that’s 7,665 minutes, or almost 128 hours of reading. You can read a lot of books in 128 hours!” And, she was correct. I read a total of 24 books. With the exception of The Money Tree, a fictional story implementing the steps to running a successful business, the books chosen for this challenge were nonfiction selections. They fell into the following categories:

autobiographies/biographies

  • The House of Kennedy by James Patterson and Cynthia Fagen
  • I Can’t Make This Up: Life Lessons by Kevin Hart with Neil Strauss
  • Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer

self-help

  • Atomic Habits by James Clear
  • Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
  • The Money Tree by Chris Guillebeau (business parable)
  • High Performance Habit by Brendon Burchard
  • Joy at Work by Marie Kondoand Scott Sonenshein
  • Fish by Stephen C. Lundin, Ph.D, Harry Paul, and John Christensen
  • How to Be Everything by Emilie Wapnick
  • The Art of Work by Jeff Goins
  • Refuse to Choose! by Barbara Sher
  • Joyful by Ingrid Fetell Lee

improv

  • Improv Wins by Chris Trew and Tami Nelson
  • Improv Nation by Sam Wasson
  • How to be the Greatest Improviser on Earth by Will Hines

inspirational/spiritual

  • Rewriting A New History by Havilah Malone
  • Resisting Happiness by Matthew Kelly
  • Everyday Grace by Marianne Williamson
  • The Wisdom of Sundays by Oprah Winfrey
  • Rediscover the Saints by Matthew Kelly
  • Perfectly Yourself by Matthew Kelly

writing/literary criticism

  • You Are a Writer (so start Acting like one) by Jeff Goins
  • How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster

I enjoyed the majority of these books and found some value in all of them. Reading the books on my list taught me some interesting facts, provided me with new strategies and resources, inspired me to take action in different areas of my life, and exposed me to new ideas and ways of looking at the world.

In addition to my daily reading challenge this year, I co-created the online Chills, Thrills, & Kills Book Club with my friend Kelsi. We scheduled a meet-and-greet with members in April where we voted for our first book club pick. In May, we met for our very first book club meeting to discuss our first selection, Later by Stephen King. No thanks to Hurricane Ida, I did not finish A Deadly Education. I am half way through it and plan to finish it (more like reread it) some time in 2022. And, as you can see from our list of reads this year, we opted out of reading a club selection in December since the holidays can get pretty hectic for everyone.

  • Video Night by Adam Cesare (June)
  • Children of the Dark by Jonathan Janz (July)
  • Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (August)
  • A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik (September)
  • The Halloween Tree by Raymond Bradbury (October)
  • The Reckoning by Ruby Jean Jensen (November)

We chose some terrific books this year. I enjoyed all of the ones I read; however, my favorites were Later, Mexican Gothic, and The Halloween Tree.

Reading is one of my absolute favorite activities, and I am grateful to have such a wonderfully rich reading life. I am looking forward to continuing my daily reading habit of 21 minutes per day; however, instead of using that time to read nonfiction selections, I will be reading children’s literature. This will allow me to read quite a few books I already have stacked up in piles waiting to be cracked open to take me on new adventures. I will also participate in the Goodreads challenge. For those of you who like to read, please follow me on Goodreads @ Katherine Loyacano. I would love to see what you are reading. The Chills, Thrills, & Kills Book Club will resume in January. Our January selection is Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident by Donnie Eichar. It is our first nonfiction book club choice.

And, last but not least, Kelsi and I will be engaging in the Year of King in 2022. We are SUPER excited about this literary adventure. A couple of years ago, I did a Summer of Poe and spent the entire summer reading as many short stories, poems, and one novel written by Edgar Allan Poe. It was a wonderful experience. So, why not spend a year reading my favorite author? Kelsi and I have decided that we will devote each month to reading either a novel, a novella, or short stories written by Stephen King. In addition, we will watch the movie or television adaptations of the literary work chosen for the month. Towards the end of each month, we will do a livestream together discussing both the book and its screen adaptation. To kick of the new year, we have chosen Misery for January. We would love it if you would join us, dear reader. What’s more enjoyable than reading a book? Talking about it with others. Happiness!

“A book is a gift you can open again and again.” ~ Garrison Keillor

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My Halloween Fun List this year included a thematic ReadaThon which I hosted with Kelsi. The ReadaThon turned out to be a spooky delight. Kelsi and I chose books and short stories focused on attributes of horror movies. Originally, each one of my prompts was assigned its own selection. However, with the unexpected surprise of landing a role in a local play, I had to adjust my original Readathon choices, so I could complete the activity. Basically, I re-shelved all three of the short stories I had selected from Night Shift by Stephen King as well as the novels, Thinner by Richard Bachman, Spirit Hunters by Ellen Oh, and Night of the Living Dummy by R. L. Stine.

I kept the other selections from my original list and added “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving. While I am not a stranger to the movie, Sleepy Hollow (starring Johnny Depp), or the television show, Sleepy Hollow (starring Tom Mison), I had actually never read the gothic short story. In my opinion, it is the perfect spooky read for an October evening, especially one that is chilly enough to situate you in a comfy chair while reading the mysterious tale near a toasty fire. Ichabod Crane brings you on quite an adventure in the valley of Sleepy Hollow where he encounters the infamous Headless Horseman.

My favorite new read for the season is The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury. My book club unanimously voted to read it for October, so I added it to my ReadaThon (helped me double dip on two prompts). What an absolutely delightful piece of literature! It is a wonderful treat filled with beautiful imagery, mesmerizing characters, and a breathtaking journey through the history of Halloween. It is another perfect read for the Halloween season. My friend and fellow blogger Rita wrote an awesome review about the book that aligns with my own feelings about the book.

One of my favorite stories to read in the month of October is The Widow’s Broom by the wonderful Chris Van Allsburg. I adore picture books, and this one is an incredibly enchanting story about a widow who discovers the merits of a magical broom. Van Allsburg’s illustrations are captivating and whimsical. I saved it to read on Halloween night. It inspired me to make mini broom treats with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and pretzel sticks. Yum!

I chose two enjoyable short stories from A Newbery Halloween. This is a charming collection of endearing stories from exceptional Newbery Award-winning authors. The first story, “The Magic Ball” by Charles J. Finger, involves a “cold-eyed witch” who practices strange magic with the help of a magic ball. The second story, “The Man of Influence” by Paul Fleishman, includes a struggling stone carver, an affable apparition, and a surprising twist at the end.

The other books included in my ReadaThon were not October or Halloween related per se, but they fulfilled the remaining prompts on the list and added a spooky element to the season. As I mentioned in a previous post, My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix was wonderful. It was my first book by Hendrix, but it will definitely not be my last. Cabal by Clive Barker reminded me how much I enjoy his writing and swayed my initial feelings for the film adaptation of the novel which goes by the title, Nightbreed. The middle school book, Fear Zone 2 by K. R. Alexander, was a spooky enough sequel to Fear Zone and featured a creepy clown. Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King did not disappoint. It is a short book packed with action and terrific illustrations. Kelsi and I did a livestream chat comparing it to its film adaption, Silver Bullet.

Kelsi and I had an October Reading Wrap Up chat to discuss some of the books and short stories we read for our Halloween Horror Movie Mania ReadaThon. It includes our stats, such as the total number of pages read for the month. Books mentioned in the chat include: Cabal, My Best Friend’s Exorcism, Autumncrow, Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Halloween Tree, Cycle of the Werewolf, and more. Additionally, we had our friends Melanie, Melissa, and Rachael weigh in with their thoughts on The Halloween Tree. Please check it out, and let us know what you think about our book selections, our ReadaThon, and our chat in general. We welcome your comments, suggestions, and ideas for future ReadaThons and chats.

Dear reader, I hope you also had an enjoyable spooky season. I plan to publish a few more posts about the other activities I participated in throughout October. I am a tad bit behind with my writing because of performing in The House on Haunted Hill (fabulous reason), recording video chats with Kelsi (always time well-spent), and living life in general (several added commitments that have seriously enriched my life). They have all been wonderful experiences, and I am so grateful for them. And, I am grateful to you, dear reader, for stopping by and reading my blog. Happiness!

“Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.” ~ Joyce Carol Oates

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Ghastly greetings, dear reader! I am pumped because its finally October, the spookiest month of the year, and I am all about spooky. Since last year’s Halloween Fun List was such a spook-tacular success, I decided to create another eerie-sistible list for this year which will include thematic clothing and accessories, fang-tastic food and drink, bone-chilling books, montrous movies, and so much more.

My work wardrobe will be accessorized from head to toe with Halloween/Fall earrings, pins, infinity scarves, and socks. I may even acquire a Halloween t-shirt or two for my creepy collection. Additionally, I will be adding some Halloween decorations in the reading area of my bedroom and on my front porch, mixing them in with the fall decorations already on display. Kelsi and I have planned a couple of days to hang out together, so I am hoping we will conjure up a thrilling treat or two while celebrating this enchanted month.

BOOKS/SHORT STORIES

This Halloween, Kelsi and I are participating in a Readathon that we created together. It is the first time that we are doing this type of reading activity. Our book and short story selections are based on horror movies. I have listed my terrifying TBR choices for the month below.

  • Cabal by Clive Barker
  • Thinner by Richard Bachman
  • Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King
  • My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix
  • Night of the Living Dummy by R.L. Stine
  • Spirit Hunters by Ellen Oh
  • Fear Zone 2 by K.R. Alexander
  • The Widow’s Broom by Chris Van Allsburg
  • ”The Mangler” by Stephen King (Night Shift)
  • ”Jerusalem’s Lot” by Stephen King (Night Shift)
  • “Sometimes They Come Back” by Stephen King (Night Shift)
  • “The Magic Ball” by Charles J. Finger (A Newbery Halloween)
  • ”The Man of Influence” by Paul Fleishman (A Newbery Halloween)

In addition to the Halloween Readathon, I will be reading The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury which was chosen by the mesmerizing members of the Chills, Thrills, and Kills Book Club (book club that Kelsi and I started back in May 2021). Also, I will be finishing up the spine-tingling short story collection AutumnCrow by Cameron Chaney which I started on the first day of fall.

MOVIES

October would be totally boring if it did not include a few hair-raising movies, so I decided on 20 movies for the Halloween season. A couple will provide lighthearted entertainment while others are guaranteed to raise goosebumps and inspire nightmares. Two of my movie choices are based on books, which will be enjoyable to compare/contrast and to discuss with Kelsi. Nightbreed is based on Cabal by Clive Barker, and Silver Bullet is based on Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King.

EERIE EXTRAS

There are two additional aah-inspiring activities that I would love to include on my list if my schedule allows, weather permits, and COVID restrictions relax. First, I would love to see the play, The House on Haunted Hill, I auditioned for at the Columbia Theatre back in August. Second, Barry and I would enjoy shuffling in the 2021 New Orleans Zombie Run. It is a two-mile run/walk/crawl that begins and ends at Lucy’s Retired Surfers Bar & Restaurant on Tchoupitoulas Street. Of course, in the event any other Halloween or fall-related activities are lurking in the shadows this month, I will add them to my already unBOOlieveable list. Lastly, if the weather is pleasant on Halloween night, I will be handing out candy to trick-or-treaters.

There was a certain crispness to the early morning air today, dear reader. October has arrived and is making sure we take notice. What are your plans for the month of October? Whatever you decide, have a howling good time. Happiness!

“There is a child in everyone of us who is still a trick-or-treater looking for a brightly-lit porch.” ~ Robert Brault 

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Autumn has officially started which means the month of October is just around the corner. Last year, I created a Halloween Fun List with all sorts of fun and spooky activities. Reading books, short stories, and poems was one of my favorite activities on the list. This year, Kelsi and I thought it would be fun to create a readathon with prompts based off of horror movies. We created a video explaining the prompts and announcing which books we will be reading for the readathon.

PROMPTS

1.“You know it’s Halloween. I guess everyone’s entitled to one good scare…” – Halloween

Read a book set on or around Halloween.

2. “Nothin’ can call it off.” – Pumpkinhead

Read a book with a pumpkin on the cover.

3. “Whatever you do… don’t fall asleep.” – Nightmare on Elm Street 

Read a book at night or in the dark to elicit nightmares! 

4. “Who ya gonna call?” – Ghostbusters

Read a book featuring ghosts or ghostly beings. 

5. “Being normal is vastly overrated.” – Halloweentown

Read a more innocent (but still spooky-themed) book geared towards kids, middle graders, or young adults.

6. “Wolfman’s got nards…” – The Monster Squad 

Read a book featuring any kind of monster…vampires, mummies, werewolves (because…nards), blobs, sea monsters, gremlins, aliens. Any monster or creature would be fang-tastic!

7. “Ding dong, you’re dead.” – House

Read a book or story featuring a haunted house, hotel, apartment, or any place that’s haunted. 

8. “If you believe in God, then you gotta believe in the Devil.” – The Last Exorcism (BONUS)

Read a book that features an exorcism or some kind of possession. 

9. “Susie, do you know anything about… witches?” – Suspiria

Read a book that features witches, wizards, or any kind of magic/black magic.

10. “What do you look like? It depends on who is looking…” – The Mothman Prophecies 

Read a book or story featuring something unexplainable, mysterious, or eerie.

11. “This one night changes everything for me.” – House of the Devil 

Read a book/story set in the 80s, published in the 80s, or a book that has an 80s feel/vibe. OR Read a book having to do with cults or devil worship.


12. “It will consume you.” – Color Out of Space

Read a book with a bright or neon-colored cover.

13. “You gotta see the shape of this fn’ guy that just walked in.” – Terrifier 

Read a book with creepy clowns, menacing mimes, or dangerous dummies. These are supposed to make you laugh, but some end up trying to murder you instead! 

Kat’s Picks

Kelsi created a bingo-style card (featuring a visual of the horror movies to accompany the prompts) for anyone who wants to join us in our spooktacular reading adventure. The card includes a bonus square for overachievers like Kelsi and me.

The terrific part of this fang-tastic readathon, dear reader, is you can tailor it to fit your reading needs. You can read novels, novellas, graphic novels, short stories, or poems. You can read something different for each of the squares or one selection could be used for multiple squares. And, you are under no obligation to choose every square…just pick and choose which prompts appeal to you. This readathon is designed for all of us to add a little more thematic fun during the Halloween season. Happiness!

“Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and caldron bubble.” ~ William Shakespeare, MacBeth (more…)

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Happy New Year! It feels wonderful welcoming in a new year after living through a year of disappointment, turmoil, and unpredictability. While there were aspects of 2020 that I am grateful for, I am happy with moving on from that chapter of my life and currently focusing on the next chapter with the anticipation of new opportunities to learn, grow, and increase my joy factor.

FOCUS is my word for 2021. I’m choosing to focus on my health, my home, my happiness as it relates to my career (focusing on creating a new career I have wanted for many years), and my hobbies. My 21 for 2021 list will FOCUS on these four areas.

Kat’s 21 for 2021 List

  1. Manage time.
  2. Maintain a regular fitness regimen.
  3. Create weekly meal plans.
  4. Eat more vegetables.
  5. Try intermittent fasting for one month (Clean & Lean).
  6. Declutter and organize each room in my house.
  7. Write a will.
  8. Try one NO spend month.
  9. Revisit A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle.
  10. Complete The Four Tendencies course (Gretchen Rubin).
  11. Read Atomic Habits by James Clear.
  12. Read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.
  13. Create a vision board.
  14. Take a WordPress Blogging course.
  15. Take a WordPress Podcasting course.
  16. Purchase podcasting equipment.
  17. Complete Write a Bestseller course (Jeff Goins).
  18. Try 12 new restaurants (one per month).
  19. Take Becky Higgins Classroom: Photo Tips + Work Flow.
  20. Scrapbook at least two times per month.
  21. Learn how to use my Cricut Maker.

During the month of January, I will focus on managing my time. I want to establish a better daily routine, create schedules for decluttering, housekeeping, working on my courses, and self care, as well as continuing to participate in improv and RCIA. Essentially, I want to use my weekly 168 hours more effectively. I also want to try to break down the remaining 20 items on my list into the four quarters of the year to make accomplishing them more manageable. Naturally, several of my items are designed to run throughout the entire course of the year which is also totally fine. I’m excited about all the possibilities this new year has to offer and look forward to the journey through 2021.

Other Plans for 2021:

  1. On Goodreads, I joined the 2021 Reading Challenge, and my goal is to read 50 books again this year. 
  2. I am participating in Gretchen Rubin’s #Read21for21 challenge. Basically, you read for 21 minutes every day in 2021. While I do read a great deal, I don’t necessarily read for pleasure every day. I’ve also decided to read specific books during my daily 21 minutes to see how many books I read throughout the year just in that daily timeframe. According to Gretchen Rubin, “If you read for 21 minutes per day for 365 days, that’s 7,665 minutes, or almost 128 hours of reading. You can read a lot of books in 128 hours!” 
  3. This year, I also plan to keep a TA-DA list for 2021. Many times I accomplish goals that are not included on my list, and I should be celebrating those accomplishments, too. 
  4. Hopefully, I will be attending my annual scrapbooking convention with my gal pals in June. We didn’t get to attend last year because of the pandemic, so I REALLY hope and pray we can get together this summer. 

What do you have planned in 2021, dear reader? Have you made some resolutions or a 21 for 2021 list? If you could choose a one-word theme for this year, what word would you choose? Let me know what your plans are for 2021. Happiness!

“Focus is the key to accomplish what is necessary – easy word to spell, it contains only five letters but it is probably one of the most powerful words there are in order to move forward with confidence and with the expected results.” ~ Bryan Pulsifer

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Autumn officially commenced on Tuesday and brought cooler temperatures with it. While the summer of 2020 was not how I originally envisioned spending my break, thanks to COVID-19, it turned out to be fairly pleasant. Back in June, I created a list of acceptable activities I could participate in while following the constraints mandated as a result of the pandemic. With the exception of planting new flowers in my garden (still weeded and watered existing plants), I participated in all of the activities on my list and added some additional ones. 

Bushwacker

Bushwacker

Social distancing limits socializing with people “in person” which is difficult for me because I greatly enjoy socializing with people in person; however, I did get to spend some “in person” time with my parents and a few friends. My hubby and I had a couple of drink nights with Shelly, her hubby, and additional guests (her mom, Mr. Mike, and our friend Karen). In June, we drank bushwackers (not a new cocktail for me, but new for my hubby) which are super yummy because they contain ice cream.

Jaguar Juice

Jaguar Juice

In August, we had two drink nights which featured two new cocktails, a Strawberry Cream Martini and Jaguar Juice. In addition to in person hangouts, I attended quite a few virtual improv hangouts this summer. And, thanks to my friend Brian, our improv group recently had two celebrity guests attend our hangout for Q and A sessions. One Tuesday night, Greg Proops hung out with us. The next evening, Jonathan Mangum joined us. Both have appeared on Whose Line Is It Anyway? and shared so much terrific information and encouragement with us.  

I scrapbooked a fair amount this summer on Andrew’s Ireland scrapbook. I have some journaling to complete on a few of his Ireland pages as well as his Wales pages, and then I can move on to his adventures in London.

Rock of Cashel

As I wrote in my last post, I enjoyed my “Summer of Poe.” Even though I didn’t get to read Poe’s entire body of work this summer, I plan to read the remainder of it in the near future. 

Chicken TaquitosChicken QuesidillasI did try my hand at some cooking this summer. I made chicken quesadillas, baked chicken bacon ranch taquitos, cranberry pecan chicken salad, crispy air fryer chicken tenders, and meatloaf with brown gravy. Yes, I know…lots of chicken. The recipes that I tried are basic (not many ingredients) because I don’t really enjoy cooking. Also, whatever I cook needs to also appeal to Andrew’s taste buds. Thankfully, he is not as picky as he used to be as a youngling. Out of everything I tried, he did not like the chicken salad which Barry and I absolutely loved. Since the summer is over, I have no desire to try any new recipes for the remainder of the year. 

Chicken Salad

As for exercising, I stuck with walking all summer. Rain or shine, I have not missed one day since I started back in March and hope to continue my streak. As for my weight loss journey, I wound up not taking it, even after all the preparation to start on June 1st and attempting to recommit in July. I also haven’t done much running. I dropped the ball, and I have had to reconcile myself with the fact that it may not happen this year. I’ve felt fragmented since all this COVID stuff has started, and I haven’t been able to focus on any one area for any length of time. I have too many irons in the fire, and I know I need to schedule my time better in order to get to everything I want to accomplish both personally and professionally. But, we all know, dear reader, that time management is my kryptonite. In fact, instead of taking items off of my plate and putting them on the back burner for a little bit, I have added more items which requires more time.  In addition, I’m not doing so hot on my 20 for 2020 list. Although, I still have a glimmer of hope that I can knock a few items off of my list in the remaining quarter of this year. We’ll see what the next three months have to offer. 

Despite not seeing friends I usually see, not doing activities I normally do, or not meeting goals I generally meet, I am grateful that I still had a summer break. My summer was different, dear reader, but much of it was also restorative, relaxed, and simple. And, sometimes, that is the blessing. Happiness!

“When summer gathers up her robes of glory, and, like a dream, glides away.”     ~ Sarah Helen Whitman

Kentucky

at my Uncle Manuel’s home in Nicholasville, Kentucky

 

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