Rescue Cat Wednesday!

While reading is my oldest love, I am also very passionate about animals. I volunteer twice a week with a wonderful Toronto-based charity called Action Volunteers for Animals. They rescue homeless cats from all around Ontario, as well as run Trap-Neuter-Release programs to help control the population of homeless cats. Every week, I plan to post pictures of some of the delightful kitties currently staying with us at the local adoption facility.

If you or anyone you know is interested in adopting a rescue cat, you can find out more at actionvolunteersforanimals.com

For those of you who have been following on Facebook, we have a surprise return guest this week!

 

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Scar has returned to AVA! He was adopted just in time for Christmas, but was having a lot of trouble getting along with the other cat in the house. He was becoming stressed and aggressive, so his owner thought he might do better in another home. We now think Scar will be best as the only pet in the house, since he needs to know that he has all of your love!

For those that don’t know, Scar was brought to AVA in September after being rescued as a stray. He had lived rough on the streets for four years as a tom, and has the rakish appearance to prove it! Scar has made great strides since his first arrival. He loves wands and laser toys, but enjoys spending most of his days snoozing in a cat perch, preferably one near a window.

Scar likes to be petted and scratched, but can become overstimulated which causes him to occasionally swat or bite. We are training him to act out this “attack” behavior on his favorite stuffed animal instead of hands. With some love and patience, Scar will make a great addition to a quiet home with no young children or other pets. His donation fee is $175.

All three of our orange brothers found their forever homes this week. Sweet Philip went to a home to be a companion to another young cat. Eric and Rudy were adopted together to a very experienced couple who will work to make them feel comfortable in their new home.

 

 

There are four new cats (and one surprise guest) to introduce this week!

 

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Ginger and Rose were adopted from AVA as kittens. Now two-and-a-half, they were unfortunately surrendered when their owner could no longer take care of them. They are a sweet and gentle pair who are bonded and must be adopted together. Ginger (the orange one) has been a little braver so far, coming to the front of the cage for pets and scratches. Rose has preferred to hang out in her comfy cat box and observe for a few days. The donation fee for Ginger and Rose is $300.

 

 

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This gorgeous long-haired orange tabby came from a cat colony in Bobcaygeon, Ontario. Hidden behind him is his friend, an equally stunning female Siamese mix. Due to a clerical mixup, we don’t know their names or ages quite yet. I’ve temporarily dubbed them Aladdin and Jasmine, since they’ve spent all their time cuddled up on a rug. Both cats are quite shy, though Aladdin likes to be gentle petted as long as you move slowly. We hope to adopt them together, since it would be helpful to have a friend when they move to their new home. The donation fee would be $175 for one cat, or $300 for the pair.

 

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Felicity and Sadie are now bunkmates but they could be mistaken for mother and daughter! Both love playing with wands and getting head rubs. Sadie is beginning to become your typical rambunctious kitten. I think she’ll be venturing out of her cage soon!

 

 

You can see more photos of our wonderful rescue cats, learn more about AVA, and become involved as a volunteer by visiting actionvolunteersforanimals.com

Book Review: Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer (1996)

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Review 2.6

In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, a party of moose hunters found his decomposed body. How McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild. [Source]

 “I now walk into the wild.” – Christopher McCandless

The story of Christopher McCandless has become something of an urban legend crossed with a cautionary tale. I’m sure parents have warned their children that if they aren’t careful they’ll end up “dying in a bus somewhere in Alaska”. When I mentioned to my husband that I was reading this book, he scoffed and muttered something about idiot kids and white privilege. For some, McCandless is a cultural admonition about the foolishness of youth. For others, he is a symbol of wanderlust, that powerful urge to explore the wild places of the world and reconnect with nature that exists somewhere within all men.

It’s easy to write McCandless off as just a spoiled boy from an affluent background who got what he deserved when he walked into the Alaskan wilderness with no supplies. It’s easy to say that he was mentally ill, or suicidal, or just plain crazy. What Krakauer has done with Into the Wild is to tell the harder story, one of a charismatic and talented young man whose obsessive desire to connect with nature ended up costing his life.

“At long last he was unencumbered, emancipated from the stifling world of his parents and peers, a world of abstraction and security and material excess, a world in which he felt grievously cut off from the raw throb of existence.”

Last year I read Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven, which chronicles the violent history of the Mormon faith and how it led to the death of an innocent woman and child. Krakauer has the remarkable ability to write nonfiction as if it were fiction. He weaves his plot and characters together with meticulous attention to detail and exhaustive research. Reading Into the Wild, it is obvious that Krakauer was profoundly moved by the death of McCandless. The book represents an homage of sorts, a chance to tell Christopher’s story in a way that makes him look brave but naive instead of just incredibly stupid. Krakauer brings a sense of tragic nobility to Christopher’s life and death while trying to explain what drove him to venture alone into the wilderness. He looks at journals, interviews friends and family members, and ultimately journeys to the hollowed out bus where McCandless’ body was found.

I am writing this review more than five days after finishing it, and I can’t get Christopher McCandless out of my head. At random times of the day, when I’m washing dishes or marking homework, the image of a lonely boy dying in a lonely bus in a cold, lonely forest comes into my mind. I had before heard the story of the idiot kid who died in the wilds of Alaska. Now I feel like I actually know the story of McCandless’ life. This book was amazing.

My rating: 5/5

You can find Into the Wild here on Amazon or here on Book Depository. In 2007 it was adapted into a film starring Emile Hirsch and directed by Sean Penn.

Happy reading everyone!

Rescue Cat Wednesday!

While reading is my oldest love, I am also very passionate about animals. I volunteer twice a week with a wonderful Toronto-based charity called Action Volunteers for Animals. They rescue homeless cats from all around Ontario, as well as run Trap-Neuter-Release programs to help control the population of homeless cats. Every week, I plan to post pictures of some of the delightful kitties currently staying with us at the local adoption facility.

If you or anyone you know is interested in adopting a rescue cat, you can find out more at actionvolunteersforanimals.com

 

We had four adoptions this week at my local animal shelter, and it’s great seeing all the cats find their new forever homes! Among the adopted cats was one that I featured last week:

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Cuddly Theodore found a new home with his sister Buffy. It’s great when we get to keep siblings together, however they still have one littermate who needs a family.

 

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This is Sadie. She has come so far in the short time she’s been with AVA. Originally she was very hissy and did not like to be petted at all. In one short week, she’s discovered that she loves pets and scratchies although she still gets really scared if you try to pick her up. Volunteers are working to help Sadie become a true lap cat! Her donation fee is $200, and she needs to be adopted with a friend or to a home that already has a young cat.

 

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Simon is new to AVA this week, and is still getting used to his temporary home. He is a recently neutered tom who would probably do best as the only pet in the house, although he may become better with other cats once he is less nervous. He loves being petted and stroked, but can become overwhelmed at times and try to bite or swat. Simon would do well in an experienced home with no young children. His donation fee is $175.

 

eric

Eric was rescued from a cat colony near Durham, Ontario with two other orange tabbies who may or may not be his brothers. Eric is still very shy, but is beginning to explore his cage and interact with the volunteers a little more every day. He likes to play with wands, and can be petted for short amounts of time. Eric would do best in a home with other cat friends to make him feel comfortable. His donation fee is $200.

 

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Tabitha didn’t want to come out and play this week. Instead she enjoyed cuddling up with her favorite stuffed snowman.

 

You can see more photos of our wonderful rescue cats, learn more about AVA, and become involved as a volunteer by visiting actionvolunteersforanimals.com

 

Book Review: Pointe by Brandy Colbert (2014)

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Review 2.5

Theo is better now.

She’s eating again, dating guys who are almost appropriate, and well on her way to becoming an elite ballet dancer. But when her oldest friend, Donovan, returns home after spending four long years with his kidnapper, Theo starts reliving memories about his abduction—and his abductor.

Donovan isn’t talking about what happened, and even though Theo knows she didn’t do anything wrong, telling the truth would put everything she’s been living for at risk. But keeping quiet might be worse. [Source]

*Warning: This Review Contains Mild Spoilers*

Theo is having a rough year. She’s traveling into Chicago three times a week for ballet rehearsal, with the auditions for professional companies looming ever closer. She’s haunted by the ghosts of her eating disorder and her time spent in a rehabilitation clinic. Her former best friend has just been found after being abducted four years ago, and it turns out his abductor is her ex-boyfriend

If Pointe had chosen any one of those subjects and focused its plot solely on Theo overcoming that obstacle, this novel might have felt less scattered. Instead, Theo’s life is a tragedy gumbo, with a new secret or disaster looming on every horizon. No wonder she’s falling apart; I felt my blood pressure going up just reading about it.

It was disappointing that a book entitled Pointe seemed to focus so little on ballet. Author Brandy Colbert obviously did quite a bit of research into the technical aspects of the dance, but the emotional power of ballet is often lost. Professional dance demands a level of passion and dedication that a very, very talented few possess, and Colbert does not adequately convey Theo’s love for ballet. She claims to want to be a professional ballerina, and yet she smokes cigarettes and marijuana as well as regularly drinking alcohol. More importantly, she takes no happiness in it.

One thing that I could appreciate in Pointe is the realistic and modern approach to teenagers and high school life. It’s tricky for adults to write about juveniles; too often we either trivialize or hyperbolize their struggles. While Colbert does tend towards the dramatic, she does so in a way that feels authentic more often than not. I could feel Theo’s exhaustion, that feeling of utter emptiness that can accompany depression. The dialogue of the various high schooler’s is also natural and unforced, which again is easier said than done.

I won’t say much about the abduction storyline except that its inclusion in the main synopsis is a red herring. I think the publishers wanted to keep the true focus of their novel under-wraps, so they pitched it as a mystery/kidnapping story when in reality the themes are much darker in nature.

This novel was too much of a downer for me. No life, no matter how tragic, is without it’s tiny moments of joy;  but that’s how Pointe often felt. I sympathized strongly with Theo as she battled her various demons, but it all just became too much.

My rating: 3/5

You can find Pointe here on Amazon or here on Book Depository.

*This novel may be triggering to survivors of rape, kidnap, eating disorders, or sexual abuse*

Happy reading everyone!

Book Review: The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X. R. Pan (2018)

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Review 2.4

Leigh Chen Sanders is absolutely certain about one thing: When her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird.

Leigh, who is half Asian and half white, travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. There, she is determined to find her mother, the bird. In her search, she winds up chasing after ghosts, uncovering family secrets, and forging a new relationship with her grandparents. And as she grieves, she must try to reconcile the fact that on the same day she kissed her best friend and longtime secret crush, Axel, her mother was taking her own life.

Alternating between real and magic, past and present, friendship and romance, hope and despair, The Astonishing Color of After is a novel about finding oneself through family history, art, grief, and love. [Source]

Depression is such a tricky subject to write about. It’s so mercurial in nature, so difficult to define and diagnose and treat. The Astonishing Color of After triumphs as a portrayal of depression from all perspectives. The repercussions of Leigh’s mother’s suicide reverberate down the plotline when Leigh becomes convinced that her mother has transformed into a bird. Fearing for her mental state, Leigh’s father sends her to Taiwan to visit her grandparents for the first time. Once there, Leigh begins the long, slow process of healing.

The Astonishing Color of After blew me away with its depiction of depression and the effect it can have on a family. Instead of focusing on Leigh’s mother as she battles her inner demons, the perspective is Leigh’s, which helps to convey the constant stress and strain that mental illness places on family members. Humans can adapt to almost anything, and it’s sad that the warning symptoms of suicide can be overlooked because we see a person as always being “up and down” or just “having a rough patch”. For Leigh, her mother’s depression was just another part of life until it wasn’t.

Leigh’s adventures in China add a welcome lighter tone to the story. All the descriptions of the Mandarin language and culture and food made me miss my days spent living there. One scene set in an outdoor night market was particularly vivid, I could almost taste the stuffed bao buns and room temperature beer. For Leigh, the trip to Taiwan offers a chance to grieve her mother while learning more about her childhood and the circumstances that drove her to cut off all contact with her family.

The Astonishing Color of After evoked a stronger emotional reaction than I had anticipated. The combination of magic realism with the themes of loss and grief was a heady mix, and I found myself ugly crying towards the end. But it was a cathartic, healing kind of cry. The kind you didn’t know you needed until it’s over.

My rating: 4.5/5

You can find The Astonishing Color of After here on Amazon or here on Book Depository.

Happy reading everyone!

 

Book Review: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (2018)

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Review 2.3

 

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the alluring mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When the Richardsons’ friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town and puts Mia and Mrs. Richardson on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Mrs. Richardson becomes determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs to her own family – and Mia’s.

This novel is proving difficult to review because it’s about so many things. The relationship between mothers and daughters. The close-mindedness of so-called progressives. The risks that are taken when one chooses the road less traveled; and the risks that are taken when one chooses the road well paved. Little Fires Everywhere is multi-faceted and nuanced. It takes the time to set up its characters so that their actions feel rooted in real world consequences. There is no outright antagonist in this novel, each of the characters follows their own course with a series of small actions, each of which lights a small spark that eventually build into an inferno with the power to change lives.

How much time has to pass before a time period can be considered historical fiction? This novel, which is set in the mid 1990’s, often felt like a time capsule. The whole world sat perched on the edge of a technological whirlwind which was about to change how we communicate, travel, work, and live. The setting does not play a major role in the proceedings except perhaps to show how much the attitudes of middle class white families have changed over the past twenty years, but the occasional references to President Clinton and outdated technology were kind of fun.

Little Fires Everywhere‘s plot does not move at a breakneck pace; instead it settles in for the long haul and prefers a story well told. Celeste Ng is an author who cares very deeply for her characters, and this love and attention to detail comes through in her writing. I felt a strong emotional bond with Izzy, who is struggling so hard against the regulations of her parents. I also identified with Pearl; I was often the new girl at school and it’s never easy. I admired her easy self-confidence as much as I understood her desperate need to be part of a group of friends.

I really enjoyed this novel. It was surprisingly funny and occasionally heart-warming. I think that it could have many interpretations based on where a person is in their life.

My rating: 4.5/5

You can find Little Fires Everywhere here on Amazon or here on Book Depository.

Happy reading everyone!

Rescue Cat Wednesday!

This is the very first segment in a weekly post I hope to start this year. While reading is my oldest love, I am also very passionate about animals. I volunteer twice a week with a wonderful Toronto-based charity called Action Volunteers for Animals. They rescue homeless cats from all around Ontario, as well as run Trap-Neuter-Release programs to help control the population of homeless cats. Every week, I plan to post pictures of some of the delightful kitties currently staying with us at the local adoption facility.

If you or anyone you know is interested in adopting a rescue cat, you can find out more at actionvolunteersforanimals.com

 

theodore

Theodore is three months old, and is still getting used to people. He’s discovered that he loves treats and pets, but can be easily startled. With love and patience, he has definite lap cat potential. Theodore needs to be adopted with another kitten or to a home that already has a young cat.

tabitha

Two-year old Tabitha is shy, but becoming braver everyday. She is very curious about life in the shelter, and has been venturing outside of her cage to investigate the other cats. She has done well with the other cats in the shelter, and could make an excellent companion to a home that already has a cat. She is probably not great with dogs.

 

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Felicity is also two years old, and she has made so much progress since first coming into AVA’s care a few months ago. She is still shy, but now enjoys being petted and scratched. Felicity suffered an illness or an injury that left her partially blind in one eye, but all her other cat senses are keen. Felicity would enjoy a quiet home, preferably with another feline friend.

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Philip is six-months old, and has earned the affectionate nickname of Snaggletooth, due to the canine that sticks over his top lip. He is the bravest of his brothers, and is becoming more and more comfortable being petted and handled. He needs to be adopted with another kitten, or to a home that already has a young cat.

 

oakey

Don’t let Oakey’s grouchy face fool you, he is a total sweetie! Oakey was found badly injured, and the scars have left him with an adorably rakish appearance. Oakey loves to eat, he has put on weight in the shelter and could definitely use some exercise! He loves to play with feather wands and laser pointers, and would make a great cat on his own or with a friend.

 

If you want to learn more about these kitties or any of the other cats available for adoption, find out more at actionvolunteersforanimals.com/

 

 

Book Review: Willow by V.C. Andrews (2002)

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Review 2.2

Wealth. Extravagant parties. Celebrity status. These are things Willow De Beers could only dream of until now. After discovering deep family secrets in her adoptive father’s journal, Willow bids farewell to her North Carolina college town and sets out in search of her birth family amid the ritzy glamour of Palm Beach

In my childhood home, like so many in the mid 90’s, there was a dusty shelf on the bookcase filled with old V. C. Andrews paperbacks. My parents were extremely strict about policing what I watched on T.V., but were much more casual about what I read. When I was around ten or eleven years old, I picked up Flowers in the Attic, and my eyes were opened. It was my first encounter with a book that dealt with overtly sexual themes such as incest and rape, and I had no idea what was happening in the more “adult” scenes. Nevertheless I found that I enjoyed the high melodrama and the continuous cycle of betrayal and forgiveness. All through high school, while I was taking AP Literature and preparing to begin my degree in English, these books were my guilty pleasure.

This past Christmas I had the chance to spend the holidays with my family back in the States for the first time in many years. While I was sitting and catching up with my parents I took a glance at the family bookcase and there they were. The same tattered V. C. Andrews paperbacks I had read and re-read so many times. They had dwindled in number over the years, no doubt lost to garage sales and thrift stores. I was immediately hit by a wave of fond nostalgia, and when I returned to Canada I decided I wanted to revisit V. C. Andrews by reading one of her books that was new to me. On a whim, I chose Willow, which is the first novel in the five-book De Beers series.

Why is any of this important? Because the nostalgia factor here is very strong, and definitely swayed my opinion on the book. If a person who was not previously familiar with V. C. Andrews read Willow, they would probably see it as the most ridiculous and silly kind of smut. But for me, going back into that world was so relaxing. It was like taking my brain off at the end of a long day.

Willow has all of the trademarks that make V. C. Andrews the bestselling author of trashy family dramas. The title character suddenly finds herself dealing with the ritz and glamour of Palm Beach high society. The upper echelons of the upper class are pictured here as if they have been drawn by someone who had only the rudimentary idea of what wealth is. I’ve certainly never run in those circles, but somehow I find 6:00 am beluga caviar feasts as people toast themselves and how fabulous they are a bit far-fetched. Such though is the charm of V. C. Andrews, whose books have always focused on the super-rich and their dazzling lifestyles. Even though this novel is set in 2002, the characters behave as if they are perpetually trapped in some long ago era. The women are shallow and ornamental, the men strutting and arrogant. It’s all just so deliciously silly.

I haven’t said much about the plot, but that’s because the plot is largely inconsequential. What matters is that Willow De Beers is suddenly transported to a life of fabulous wealth and dangerous secrets. How and why she got there aren’t treated with any great importance.

Books like these are impossible to review. Objectively, Willow is terrible. The characters are paper-thin, there is virtually no plot. It’s mere window-dressing, but sometimes the window-dressing can be a lot of fun. I doubt I’ll read the other four books in the DeBeers series, but I’m glad to have read Willow.

My rating: 2.5/5

You can find Willow here on Amazon or here on Book Depository. And on dusty bookshelves in Midwestern households everywhere.

Happy reading everyone!

 

Book vs Film: The Martian

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This is one of the very rare instances where I prefer the film to the book. In no specific order, here is why. Spoilers abound.

The basic plot: Astronaut Mark Watney has been left for dead on Mars after an accident occurs during a sandstorm. He must rely on his wits and ingenuity to survive, while back on Earth a team of scientists work together to find a way to bring him home.

1.) Ridley Scott can be very hit-or-miss, but he is a genius when it comes to science fiction. I say that in full recognition of the lukewarm Prometheus and the oddly disjointed Alien: Covenant. The future presented in The Martian isn’t as high-tech and gloomy as Alien or Blade Runner, instead it deals with technology that is probably not that far off, as well as plenty of tech will be familiar to the average viewer. Scott incorporates the scientific and technical elements seamlessly into the plot. At one point, when Watney is building a hexadecimal communication system, the mathematics takes a running jump to the level that only a computer engineer could understand. Scott wisely decides not to spend too much time explaining how this system works, instead relying on the trusty science fiction fallback of “it works because science”.

Ridley Scott has long ago mastered the art of using practical effects as much as possible, and when he does resort to CGI he deploys it with a skill and grace that other directors should aspire to. After this year’s overly frantic Ready Player One and the abysmal Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, it was a pleasure to watch someone use special effects to enhance a well-told story.

And, oddly enough for Ridley Scott, this film almost has an upbeat feel. Most of which is due to the soundtrack. Speaking of which…

2.) It’s one of my all-time favorite soundtracks. Full disclaimer, I’m currently listening to Earth, Wind, and Fire while drinking a glass of wine on a Saturday night. I have a thing for disco. That said, the disco music, which is mentioned in Weir’s novel as the only thing left for Mark Watney to listen to after his team’s departure, is an inspired choice. The combination of the desolate Martian landscape, the lone and lonely figure isolated on a foreign planet, and the cheerful tunes of ABBA is perfect. I was reminded of Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, another film which uses peppy, upbeat music as a background for rather depressing events. Because of this The Martian maintains an optimistic tone despite it’s admittedly bleak subject matter.

3.) Ridley Scott attracts some of the most talented people for his films. Star Matt Damon carries the film on his back. His delivery of Mark Watney is funny and sad and scared and cocky all at once. He definitely earned his Best Actor nomination. Filling out the cast are talents such as Jeff Daniels, Jessica Chastain, Kristin Wiig, Michael Pena, Sean Bean, Kate Mara, and  Donald Glover in a small but hilarious role.

4.) I haven’t talked much about the book yet. This is because, for me, the book didn’t have as great an impact as the movie. I enjoyed the novel, but it was a more straightforward science fiction story. The movie brought a sense of comedy and levity to the difficult proceedings that is lacking in Andy Weir’s novel.

I also feel that technological and mathematical concepts presented in The Martian are more easily understood in a visual format. The novel often feels bogged down in mathematics, and I occasionally struggled to picture what was actually happening as Mark Watney improvises different ways to stay alive on a lifeless planet.

I can’t think of more than ten instances where I’ve truly preferred a film adaptation over the original novel. Even though I have to admit that this is one of those cases, it is only because Andy Weir gave the filmmakers such a great concept in his novel. While I truly enjoyed Weir’s The Martian, I absolutely love Ridley Scott’s film interpretation. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go listen to more disco.

Book Review: Haunted Nights edited by Ellen Datlow and Lisa Morton (2017)

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Review 2.1

Sixteen never-before-published chilling tales that explore every aspect of our darkest holiday, Halloween, co-edited by Ellen Datlow, one of the most successful and respected genre editors, and Lisa Morton, a leading authority on Halloween. 
In addition to stories about scheming jack-o’-lanterns, vengeful ghosts, otherworldly changelings, disturbingly realistic haunted attractions, masks that cover terrifying faces, murderous urban legends, parties gone bad, cult Halloween movies, and trick or treating in the future, Haunted Nights also offers terrifying and mind-bending explorations of related holidays like All Souls’ Day, Dia de los Muertos, and Devil’s Night.

 

A book of short stories, all of which center around Halloween and its traditions, may seem like an odd choice for holiday reading. I had originally earmarked this collection for part of my Booktober horror-novel marathon, but the wait list at the library was a lot longer than I had anticipated. Instead I got to enjoy these stories under the glow of my Christmas tree, and it ended up being the first novel I finished in 2019!

Haunted Nights was published by Blumhouse Books, which some horror fans may recognize as the production company behind many popular horror movies such as Grave Encounters, Insidious, and Get Out. All the stories center around some aspect of Halloween or one of the other holidays associated with death and the spirit world. As in any short story compilation, Haunted Nights has its highs and lows but overall, I felt that most of the stories hit their mark and delivered upon the atmosphere that editor Ellen Datlow was striving for.

Ranging in length from twenty to forty pages, the short stories in Haunted Nights are great for a short reading session. The stories vary from the bleak and depressing “All Through the Night” to the delightfully creepy “Sisters”. My favorite was probably John Langan’s “Into the Dark”, which reads like the script for one of the found-footage horror films I’ve come to love and expect from Blumhouse.

Halloween is my favorite holiday, and I read scary novels all year round. I would definitely recommend Haunted Nights as a kick-off to the Halloween season. This would be a great book to curl up with on a windy October night while you’re home alone.

My rating: 3.5/5

You can find Haunted Nights here on Amazon or here on Book Depository.

Happy reading everyone!