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Posts Tagged ‘Year of King’

What a gratifying reading month April was for me! I continue to choose stellar stories, making my bookish adventure this year all the more joyful. I completed eight books in the month of April, and as of today, I am eight books ahead of schedule. Woot-Woot!

Nonfiction Selection

I chose The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp (with Mark Reiter) for my April nonfiction selection. I had been wanting to read this book ever since Gretchen Rubin recommended it. At the library book sale, I attended with Michelle back in March, I snagged a copy for two bucks. Twyla Tharp is a dancer and one of the greatest choreographers in America who has created a plethora of dances since her career began in 1965. She has also received many awards and recognition for her contribution to the world of ballet. While many of her ideas about developing a creative habit stem from her experience as a dancer and choreographer, she has written this book for anyone who is pursuing a creative life as well as anyone who chooses a more traditional career path. Each chapter focuses on lessons Tharp has learned over her thirty-five-year career, along with 32 useful exercises, to help readers make creativity a part of their lives through developing a creative habit. This book was an enjoyable read. It is a terrific resource with plenty of exercises to help readers tap into their creativity. I gave it 4 stars!

#Read21in21 Challenge

I started April off reading a young adult short story horror collection, followed by four middle grade books. I read another Gordon Korman novel (no surprise), a mystery, and two selections in the horror category.

Slasher Girls and Monster Boys compiled by April Genevieve Tucholke contains 14 short stories that are all inspired by novels, short stories, songs, television series, or movies, but each one has its own unique twist. Some of the stories are creepy while others are more psychologically thrilling. My top five favorites are “Fat Girl with a Knife,” “M,” “A Girl Who Dreamed of Snow,” “Stitches,” and “In the Forest Dark and Deep.” I gave it 4 stars.

Unplugged by Gordon Korman was a terrific middle-grade read. Personally, I do not think anyone can go wrong reading Kormon’s books. Many of them are hilarious with heart at the core. And, Unplugged is no exception. Jett Baranov is a spoiled, rich kid who ends up at the Oasis in the middle of the Arkansas wilderness for the summer after pulling one too many pranks. His goal is to get thrown out; however, he quickly gets immersed in a mystery, develops unlikely friendships, and learns not everything is a joking matter. This is another 5-star read by Gordon Korman.

The Girl from Felony Bay by J.E. Thompson was a marvelous middle-school mystery. Abbey Force and Bee Force (no relation) become fast friends when Bee’s father buys Abbey’s plantation home near Felony Bay. Abbey is forced to live with her mean-spirited Uncle Charlie and his unsympathetic wife after her father falls into a coma, following an accident, and can no longer care for her. Abbey and Bee stumble upon a mystery at Felony Bay, involving Uncle Charlie and some other shady locals, and the girls work together to solve it. I enjoyed this debut novel and gave it 5 stars.

While Night of the Living Dummy by R.L. Stine is not my favorite book in the Goosebumps franchise, it was still entertaining and a good introduction to Slappy the dummy. Twin sisters, who love to compete with one another, soon find out their dummies have a sinister side. I am not a huge fan of dolls, dummies, mimes, or clowns because they are CREEPY, especially when they are possessed.  This was a 3-star read for me.

The Girl in the Headlights by Lindsey Duga is a ghost story with the right amount of creepiness for young readers. Briana Jensen moves in temporarily with her grouchy Uncle Shane on Shadowborn Road while her mother attends a training program. Shortly after arriving, Brianna encounters a ghostly young girl, who went missing on her way home from the town’s fall festival many years ago and uncovers the circumstances surrounding her murder. This middle-grade ghost story held my interest and earned 4 stars.

Chills, Thrills, & Kills Book Club

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill is a ghostly gothic horror novella that I absolutely adored from start to finish. Arthur Kipps, a young lawyer, narrates the story of the harrowing ordeal he experiences while staying at Eel Marsh House in the small town of Crythin Gifford. I found this atmospheric story riveting and spine-tingling. Hands down, it is a 5-star read for me, and I look forward to reading more of Hill’s ghost stories.

Year of King

April’s selection was The Dark Half. The story is about Thad Beaumont, a writer, who after struggling to achieve success under his own name, decides to write novels under the pen name, George Stark. While these novels are commercially successful, they are dark, violent, and bring out unsavory qualities in Thad. An unexpected turn of events prompts Thad to retire his pseudonym, causing dire circumstances to befall anyone connected to Thad and his decision to bury his dark half.

I had seen the movie back in the 90s, but I had never read the book. Boy, am I glad Kelsi and I chose this underrated gem to read for our Year of King. I thought it was gripping, chilling, and disturbing. It earned a 5-star rating from me. There were so many terrific scenes throughout the novel. The surgery scene is one of my favorites. While researching and taking notes on The Dark Half for my chat with Kelsi, I discovered a bunch of fun facts about psychopomps, where King got the idea for this story, and how King came up with the name Stark for his villain. We had an congenial conversation about The Dark Half on May 1st, discussing both the book and the movie. Dear reader, you can check out the recording on Kelsi’s YouTube channel (see below).

I would be remiss not to mention my failed attempt at participating in Kelsi’s April Readathon/Watchathon. I just could not fit another book into my already packed schedule. I really thought spring break would help, but I just had too many other activities and scheduled reading that I can only count three reads for the Readathon (Night of the Living Dummy, The Dark Half, and The Woman in Black) and three watches for the Watchathon (an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants and Goosebumps – “The Haunted Mask” as well as The Dark Half movie). Oh well, there is always next year.

May has officially begun, and it is Zombie Awareness Month! Therefore, I will be reading books all month that are related to zombies. I am currently reading Dead City by James Ponti for #Read21in21. My book club selection for April is The Serpent and the Rainbow by Wade Davis. It will also count as my nonfiction choice for the month. Pet Sematary is the novel Kelsi and I will be reading for Year of King. We will be chatting live about the novel and the two movies on Sunday, 22 May at 2:00 PM CT. May is going to be a zomberific 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!

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” ~ Charles W. Eliot

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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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