Mel’s Readings: August – September

SIGNS OF THE GODS?
Written by: Erich von Däniken
Read by: Peter Berkrot
Notes: A lot of what was in this book they’ve talked about in Ancient Aliens, but it was a fun read nonetheless. Crazy as all hell, but interesting.
Score: 8/10

SERIAL KILLERS: TRUE CRIME ANTHOLOGY 2014
Written by: Various, including Peter Vronsky and RJ Parker
Read by: Me
Notes: Enjoyed this one much more than the 2015 one, but that’s just because I didn’t have to listen to that droning voice reading it.
Score: 8/10

MAYA TO AZTEC: ANCIENT MEZOAMERICA REVEALED
Written by: Edwin Barnhart
Read by: Edwin Barnhart
Notes: Awesome, awesome, awesome! If you have even only a passing interest in the Mayans and/or other Mezoamerican cultures, I highly recommend this set of lectures. It was over 23 hours, but I absolutely inhaled it, and got sad when I had to turn it off.
Score: 10/10

DEAD EVER AFTER
Written by: Charlaine Harris
Read by: Me
Notes: So I finally got around to reading the last of the Sookie Stackhouse books (that’s the books that True Blood was based on… in the beginning, anyways). And it was a fine conclusion to the story, all ends neatly clipped and taken care of. While she didn’t end up with the person I’d hope she’d spend her life with in the end, I can’t dislike it just for that (like I’ve read from other readers).
Score: 8/10

DEAD ICE
Written by: Laurell K Hamilton
Read by: Kimberly Alexis
Notes: Finally, a strong entry from the Anita Blake series. The series, now at 26 books, has been in steady decline, but looks like Hamilton is finally listening to her readers, and took Anita’s head out of her ass, and gave her stuff to do other than complain and have power-gaining orgies. In this book, Anita goes back to her roots, and Hamilton delivers a fine book filled with zombies, magic, and crazy bad guys. It would have had a perfect score, but Hamilton tends to repeat herself… a lot. A good 2 or 3 hours could have been shaved off the 20 hour reading time easily, I’m sure, and we’d have lost none of the current story.
Score: 8/10

GREAT PHARAOHS OF ANCIENT EGYPT
Written by: Bob Brier
Read by: Bob Brier
Notes: A little disappointed with this one, not because it’s uninteresting, but because it’s an almost word for word redux of certain lectures from his The History of Ancient Egypt, which I’d already listened to. Still gets a perfect score, though, because it is still an excellent set of lectures.
Score: 10/10

THE VIKINGS
Written by: Kenneth W Harl
Read by: Kenneth W Harl
Notes: Awesome beginning, meh middle, good end. The middle was meh because they went on and on about the Viking’s conversion to Christianity. The first lecture about it was fine. But then there were more; how Sweden converted, how Finland converted, how Norway converted, how Iceland converted, how… we get it, they converted, move on. And the, um, lecturer, uh, always seemed to, uh, need to, um, search for his, er, words. I got used to it, but it was annoying at first. There were also people occasionally heard in the background, and there was a constant humming sound, like he was right beside an AC or something.
Score: 7/10

THE HISTORY OF ANCIENT ROME
Written by: Garrett G Fagan
Read by: Garrett G Fagan
Notes: I really want to give this one a perfect score, cause it was so very interesting, but I can’t. Not with this lecturer. I did finally manage to get used to his way for speaking, but it took me half the course. He’d pause right in the middle of……. a sentence, for a real long time sometimes, too. But the course was so amazing that I’m only going to knock him half a point for it.
Score: 9.5/10

LOST WORLDS OF SOUTH AMERICA
Written by: Edwin Barnhart
Read by: Edwin Barnhart
Notes: Not quite as good as Maya to Aztec, but still very, very good. You can almost never go wrong with The Great Courses.
Score: 10/10

RED LAND, BLACK LAND
Written by: Barbara Mertz
Read by: Lorna Raver
Notes: Absolutely stunning portrayal of life in Ancient Egypt, told with perspective and humour. Excellent!
Score: 10/10

THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING
Written by: Stephen Hawking
Read by: Michael York
Notes: Excellent, but rather repetitive if you, like I, have already read A Brief History of Time. Still, the man is brilliant, no denying that!
Score: 9/10

Books I’ve Read: June and July

History of the Ancient World
Written By: Susan Wise Bauer
Read By: John Lee
Notes: First of 3 books, which I absolutely inhaled. Amazingly written and read in such a way that it never got boring, which happens all too often with history books. Years spanning from about 12,000 BC to about 300.
Score: 10/10

History of the Medieval World
Written by: Susan Wise Bauer
Read By: John Lee
Notes: Second of three books, just as good as the first. Years spanning from about 300 to 1100.
Score: 10/10

History of the Renaissance World
Written by: Susan Wise Bauer
Read By: John Lee
Notes: Third of three books, just as good as the others. Years spanning from about 1100 to 1450.
Score: 10/10

Notes on all three: The only thing I’d have to say about the books besides I loved them, is that since it’s a world history, not enough time is spent on individual subjects. But I guess it would have to be the case, otherwise the books would be waay too long. Listening to all three already took about 70 hours. Also, I really hope Susan Wise Bauer writes another for the years spanning 1450 to the present. Or at least to 1900. That would be awesome. And maybe concentrate on more than just wars, cause really, these books left me little hope for the future of the human race. Such a disgusting, violent species we are…

The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America’s Favourite Planet
Written By: Neil DeGrasse Tyson
Read By: Mirron Willis
Notes: Fun book, but I really don’t understand why they don’t get Dr T to read his own books. He’s got a great voice!
Score: 8/10

Serial Killers: Up Close and Very Personal
Written By: Victoria Redstall
Read By: Drew Campbell
Notes: Great, if very disturbing, book about serial killers, a lot of it in their own words. Should have actually read this one, though, the narration was simply awful. Second book I’ve listened to by Drew Campbell, and it’ll be my last. I’ve found that a very lot of serial killer books are badly narrated, forcing me to start buying them in book form instead. I like reading, but my hands don’t always want to hold a book for very long, which is why I started audiobooking in the first place!
Score: 8/10 for the book, 3/10 for the reader.

Don’t Know Much About Mythology
Written By: Kenneth C Davis
Read By: John Lee
Notes: Unfortunately, I’d just read a whole book on Egyptian Mythology, and one on Greek, so there wasn’t a whole lot new for me in this book. Still very well written and read though.
Score: 9/10

Chariots of the Gods
Written By: Erich von Däniken
Read By: Me!! hehe
Notes: I didn’t like the sample I listed to, so I went and bought the E-book instead. But what can I say about this book? It’s a whole bucket of crazy! And yet somehow, sometimes, I found myself nodding my head to what was being said. I like all this stuff, and recently got addicted to the show Ancient Aliens. They’re all completely mad, of course, yet I find it super interesting nonetheless. And who knows? Maybe they’re right!! :-p It was well written, too, so maybe I’ll go check out his other stuff as well. Because ALIENS!

Serial Killers True Crime Anthology 2015
Written By: Many, including Peter Vronsky and RJ Parker
Read by: Don Kline
Notes: Another great book with awful narration. I had a ton of books in my to-buy list narrated by this dude, but I’ve taken them all off and bought the E-books instead (thankfully they were on sale at 99 cents. I’ve got a lot of real reading to do! hehe).
Score: 9/10 for the book, 1/10 for the reader.

Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution
Written By: Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Donald Goldsmith
Read By: Kevin Kenerly
Notes: Great book, well written, but nothing really new to me, who’s read so many of these books, on top of all the shows I watch on Discovery Science and History and H2 (oh, and don’t forget Netflix). I’ve watched so much universe stuff (as I call it), that the only way to get new stuff, I think, would be to take Cosmology at school!! :-p
Score: 9/10

M.

Top 10 Horror Novels of All Time

I love to read. I always have, ever since I was a little kid. At school, my teachers would always be exasperated with me for reading in class. They didn’t want to be too harsh, because reading is good, but at the same time, I was supposed to be paying attention. Which I never did anyways, even when I wasn’t reading, hehe. Even from a very young age, I always preferred horror novels. My earliest recollection of novel reading has me going through the Fear Street and Goosebumps series of teen horror by RL Stine, and the horror novels by the likes of Christopher Pike, Richie Tankersley Cusick, Caroline B Cooney (I absolutely LOVED her vampire series!), and Diane Hoh, among other teen horror writers. I practically inhaled everything I got my hands on. Some kids bought candy with their hard-earned allowance; mine went almost exclusively to building my library, as I called it (and still do, actually). Soon, I’d “outgrown” the teen books (at the ripe old age of 13), and wanted something better. So my mom introduced me to Stephen King and Dean Koontz. It was a match made in heaven (or is it hell? :-p). These books were considerably more expensive than the teen paperbacks, but the good news was that my mom already had quite the library of her own, and, since she read the books too, she bought her own copies, so I didn’t have to. I’ve read almost every single book either author has ever written, except for the new stuff of the past few years. I’ve been reading less and less lately, not sure why. I still love it, but I seem to be less motivated to read. Or it’ll come in waves. Maybe I’m watching too much TV, and my brain is starting to rot out. What? *shrug* It could happen!

Anywho… For this post I’ll be listing down the top 10 horror novels of all time, in no particular order (since asking me to actually pick an all time favorite would be like asking a momma squid which of her babies she likes best. Momma squid have about 20000 kids at a time, in case that was too vague for y’all :-p) I’ve set a guideline for this list, to make it even easier for me to pick favorites. This list will be for single books only, no series. I’ll make another post with my favorite series’, but for this one, singles only. I’ve also kept my list to modern books. We all know that Dracula and The Picture of Dorian Gray are masterpieces, so they don’t really need to be in the list, where their place could be taken by something a little less obvious. So, without any further to-do, here’s my list of favorite horror novels!

 

Swan Song by Robert R McCammon

Swan_song_cover

I think if I did absolutely have to pick an all time favorite, this would be it. This book is so amazingly good, it’s almost unreal. I think it’s the one single book that I’ve read the most times. I don’t often re-read books. It happens, but not very much. I’ve read a few of the Anita Blake books twice, and maybe a King or Koontz book or two, but that’s it. This book, however, I must have read cover to cover at least 5 times. And there are lots of pages between those covers, over 1000 if I’m not mistaken. I’ve also bought more copies of this book than any other. I’ve bought it 3 times, I think, because I keep loaning it out to people who don’t give it back, and then, ultimately, I forget who had it. The story is simple enough at face value; the world has effectively ended after a world wide nuclear war. Survivors band together and try to rebuild a semblance of life. But they aren’t alone on the planet anymore, something evil now stirs. People’s faces are being engulfed by a scab-like mask, and when then finally break open, the truth will be known. Such a great book. I haven’t read it in a long time, I think maybe I’m due for another visit….

 

Faerie Tale by Raymond E Feist

faerie tale

I read this one a very long time ago, so a lot of the books details are lost somewhere in my memory. But while I don’t remember the exact story, I do remember the effect it had on me; it scared the pants off of me, and filled me with a wonder that lasted long after the details were forgotten. I couldn’t tell you more than the very basic premise of the book right now, but I can tell you that I adored it and it’s still one of my very favorites. How do I know if I can’t remember the story? Cause I remember the feeling I had while reading it, and that’s the most important part. But here, give me a second to go read up on the book so I can give you a clear synopsis… *brb* … Well, that didn’t help much, but here’s what I got. The Hastings family, mom, pop, twin boys and a teenaged daughter, move to a new house surrounded by wilderness. At first they’re thrilled, but something appears to be wrong in the woods, and the children are afraid of “the Bad Thing” living under the bridge… I’m really going to have to reread this book. I want to remember exactly why I love this book so much! hehe

 

The Witching Hour by Anne Rice

TheWitchingHourCover

Alright, I know I said that this list is exclusively for single books, no series. But hear me out: I haven’t read the whole series, and since book 2 was pretty much a disappointment, especially after the perfection that was this first book, I probably won’t read the rest. So I can treat this book as a single book. Rowan Mayfair is a young woman who was adopted as a child, and knows nothing of her birth family. But, as she’s about to find out, she was born into a long line of witches who, as a birthright, are the guardians of a manipulative spirit called Lasher. When Rowan’s birth mother dies, and she becomes suddenly haunted by this spirit, she’s contacted by an organization called the Talamasca, and with their help she’s able to learn about the spirit, and her own heritage. Beautiful writing, but a word of warning: if you don’t like history, I wouldn’t recommend this novel. Rice is very wordy in this book, and she puts a very great deal of information in her descriptions. As a history buff, I loved it. But non-lovers of the subject will likely find the novel long-winded and boring.

 

Mystery Walk by Robert R McCammon

mystery walk

Yes, another one by McCammon. He’s an incredible writer, and so under-rated. I always hear people talking about Stephen King or Dean Koontz, but I rarely hear this man’s name, and, really, he should be mentioned in the same breath as the other two. I’ve read this one two or three times as well, and I’d be due for another reading soon, as a lot of the details have faded from my over-saturated mind, hehe. The story’s a little complex, but at the core it’s 2 young men with unique gifts; one talks to the dead, one heals the living. Both are being influenced by outside sources, and the demons growing within need to be fought. Such a great story, with a great message too: just because something looks beautiful and pure, doesn’t mean it is.

 

The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub

the talisman

Another multi-reading novel. This one I’ve read 4 times, I think. Twice when I was a kid (cause, truthfully, I didn’t get it the first time round), then again in my early twenties, then again late twenties. It was such a good story that even with multiple readings, I still stayed as interested. It’s strange, I can watch movies or shows over and over, dozens of times, sometimes more, and if it’s something I love, I’ll never get bored. But books, generally, I’ll only read once, no matter how good it was. There are exceptions, of course, like the few on this list, but mostly I read something only once. I guess with the sheer amount of stuff there is to read still, that’s a good thing, after all! Young Jack Sawyer discovers that he’s able to “travel” to a parallel universe. He goes on a quest through this strange, new land to find a cure for his dying mother. It’s also first of two books, but it was a single book for a very long time, so I think it deserves to be here anyways. The sequel, Black House, is good, but doesn’t quite reach the same calibre as this one.

 

The Bad Place by Dean Koontz

The Bad Place

Here’s another book that I don’t remember the details of, but I remember that I adored it. If people ask “what’s your favourite Dean Koontz book?” I’ll usually answer with this one, even though I don’t remember it. At all, actually. I’m actively trying to remember it right now, and I’m drawing a complete blank. But, whatever, I remember I freaking loved it, lol. Goodreads says that it’s about a man, Frank, who seems to have some serious sleepwalking issues, waking up with blood on his hands and other bizarre things in the genre. Two men are hired to keep an eye on Frank, but real help comes in the form of a boy with Down’s Syndrome. I should really reread this book if I’m going to keep it on this list. I should be able to tell people what my favourite books are about without checking online, after all! :-p

 

The Stand by Stephen King

the stand

Another Stephen King, but solo work this time. I was hesitating which King work to include in the list, going back and forth between this one and It. I decided, in the end, on this one, just cause the flying turtle with the tongue-biting and joke-telling from It was always a bit silly for my taste, while The Stand is all terror, no silly. The story is epically simple; a man-created super-virus accidentally escapes a military lab and proceeds to kill 90% of all humans on earth. The survivors band together on separate sides of the country, where depends on who they dream of. Those who dream of Mother Abigale, a frail 106 year old black woman, are called to Boulder, while those dreaming of the dark man, Randall Flagg, congregate to Las Vegas. The ultimate showdown between good and evil is brewing in the wastes of America. As good as the mini-series they did for TV was, it only got part of the story, so if you’ve only seen that and not read the book, you need to rectify the situation, pronto! There’s also a collection of graphic novels based on the book, I’d really like to check those out sometime, too.

 

The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

the exorcist

Most people are shocked to find out, but yes, The Exorcist was a book before it was a movie. I’d like to be all cool and say I read the book before the movie came out, but I’m not old enough to be able to make that claim. The movie came out in 1973, 8 years before I was even conceived, so alas, I can’t say that. But, I can still say that I read the book FIRST, before I watched the film. My mom was pretty lax on the rules about stuff I could watch and read. I started in the horror genre young, and she’d tried to stop me at first, but after realizing that I was going to keep watching and reading no matter what she said, and also seeing that I didn’t get the nightmares she’d threatened me with, she generally left me alone to chose what I wanted to read and watch. Except where The Exorcist was concerned. She didn’t want it in her house, and I figured she was already super nice to me about all the crap I watched, I could obey this one rule, so I didn’t see it until I moved out at 17. But the book I read (in one intense sitting) when I was 15. It was so good, so gripping, that once I picked it up, I didn’t put it down, not for a moment. I brought it with me everywhere that day, dinner table to toilet. It scared the crap out of me (not an easy feat, even back then) and made me cry like a baby at the end. A sure sign of a job well done. The story is famous, I don’t really need to do a synopsis, do I? Well, for the three or four people out there who don’t know, it’s the simple story of a child possessed by the devil, and the two priests who are trying to save her. Charming, no?

 

Sur le Seuil by Patrick Senécal

sur le seuil

So this is the first, and only, french entry on this list. Actually, this is the only french author that I read at all. I’m generally not a fan of french writing, either from France or Quebec, I don’t like their particular styles. It’s like french film and TV, there’s not much of it that I like, especially the stuff from here (Quebec). But I found, like with most rules, there was an exception. I started reading him purely by chance, but he hooked me from the beginning. I was on my way to meet my boyfriend (now ex) at his work. As I was on my way, he asked me to stop by the book and magazine shop at the subway station and by the latest book by french author Patrick Senécal, called Oniria. I did, then hopped on the train to go meet him. When I got to the café where he worked, though, his boss apparently had no intention of letting him go as planned. After much yelling, they agreed on an extra hour, as I pouted prettily in the corner (:-p). So armed with a free Italian soda, I flopped down into a seat to wait, and stared at the book in my hands. I shrugged, opened it up, and started to read. What followed was some of the weirdest crap I’ve ever had the pleasure to read, but it was good weird crap. I was hooked. After I was done that one, I went and bought all his previous books, and that included this one, Sur le Seuil. The story is pretty complicated, but it begins with a famous writer trying to kill himself by cutting his fingers off then throwing himself through a window. As that’s as close to normal as this world gets. I’m not sure if his work is translated in english, but if it has, or even better, if you can read french, I highly recommend this author, and this book first. Don’t be tricked into watching the movie first, though. It’s not bad, but really crappy in comparison to the book.

 

Winter Moon by Dean Koontz

winter moon

When it came to making a list of my 10 favourite horror novels, the first 9 just came flowing out no problem. But then I came to write down the title of the tenth and final book, and a I drew a complete blank. I stared at my little paper for a while, humming and hawing. There are a lot of books I’ve loved, but which ones along with the ones already on my list are the most memorable? So I thought for a while, going through some others that could have easily gone here; a few by Koontz, a few by King, The Amityville Horror by Jay Ansen, The Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko. In the end, I decided to go with another by Koontz, this time it’s his take on the vampire genre. And now that I’m sitting here thinking about it, I realize that’s all I remember from the story. How bad is that!! LoL But I remember that I was nicely creeped out while reading it, and I remember saying for months after how awesome it was. So I guess that means it was! One of these days I’ll read through all the books on this list, just to make sure they all still belong here. I’m not worried though. I’m sure they do.

And there they are, my top 10 horror novels of all time. Hope you enjoyed it, take care till next time! 🙂

M.