Posted in Reviews

Review: A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
Verdict: hella good horror, even for folks who don’t usually love horror!

Recommended: yes!
For folks who don’t usually love horror, for an insiders view of a faked (maybe?) possession, for psychological horror where you don’t really know what to believe or who to trust

Summary

The lives of the Barretts, a normal suburban New England family, are torn apart when fourteen-year-old Marjorie begins to display signs of acute schizophrenia.

To her parents’ despair, the doctors are unable to stop Marjorie’s descent into madness. As their stable home devolves into a house of horrors, they reluctantly turn to a local Catholic priest for help. Father Wanderly suggests an exorcism; he believes the vulnerable teenager is the victim of demonic possession. He also contacts a production company that is eager to document the Barretts’ plight. With John, Marjorie’s father, out of work for more than a year and the medical bills looming, the family agrees to be filmed, and soon find themselves the unwitting stars of The Possession, a hit reality television show. When events in the Barrett household explode in tragedy, the show and the shocking incidents it captures become the stuff of urban legend.

Fifteen years later, a bestselling writer interviews Marjorie’s younger sister, Merry. As she recalls those long ago events that took place when she was just eight years old, long-buried secrets and painful memories that clash with what was broadcast on television begin to surface—and a mind-bending tale of psychological horror is unleashed, raising vexing questions about memory and reality, science and religion, and the very nature of evil.

Thoughts

This book is absolutely fascinating. I am not a fan of horror, whether in movies, games, books, or anything else, really. But this book recommended to me was a captivating winner! So I recommend it for folks who don’t usually like horror, but DO like a story that makes you question everything over and over again, and analyze all aspects from a million angles. It’s a bit of a who-dunnit in that you just don’t know what to trust.

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Posted in Book Talk

Top 5 Books with ‘Wind’ in the Title

As a voracious reader, I am always looking for ideas of what to read next even when my list is already hundreds of books long. 🤣 Today I chose a random word — wind — and searched it in Goodreads’ database to see what the top 5 recommended books related to the word wind would be. Most of them include the word wind as the force of nature, but one included it as a sense of a twisting or turning motion. Here’s a quick look at what the top 5 were!


1. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Top 5 genre tags for this title:
Classics, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Romance, Historical

2 Sentence Summary:
Scarlett O’Hara, the beautiful, spoiled daughter of a well-to-do Georgia plantation owner, must use every means at her disposal to claw her way out of the poverty she finds herself in after Sherman’s March to the Sea. (Goodreads itself only had one sentence so that’s all I’ve got!)

Have I heard of / read this before?
Yessss, I have heard of this one! Although I’m aware of the movie, I’m not totally sure I knew there was a book.

Do I like the cover?
Not really! 😂 Since this is an older book, it really shows. It looks like something I would borrow from my grandma when I would run out of books to read while visiting when I was younger.

Will I read it?
Probably not. Western-based stories with cowboys and train heists don’t usually interest me much.

Continue reading “Top 5 Books with ‘Wind’ in the Title”
Posted in Book Talk

Books to make you laugh

One of my reading goals this year was to seek out books that would make me laugh. Not just a smile, or a flash of amusement, but an actual out-loud guffaw, chuckle, giggle, or other form of chortling. Even if this isn’t one of your goals, everyone could use some laughter in their day! Especially with the given state of the world at the moment. (If you’ve got any books that have made you laugh, please let me know so I can add it to my TBR!)

So I can’t promise that you’ll also find these books funny, because maybe we have different senses of humor. For example I dislike Will Ferrel and Tina Fey, so if those are your go-to’s, we may be at opposite ends. Nonetheless, I’ve grabbed a relatively wide range of books for you here, from fiction to nonfiction, from middle grade to adult, and from parody to memoir. Which means there should hopefully be something you’ll enjoy. 😁


Nonfiction

I typically laugh most at nonfiction works, probably because due to their very nature the authors are more able to make jokes and write conversationally. Humor lends itself to nonfiction. Here are some of my favorites!

A Lawson two-fer

Ok, so if you follow this blog there’s a high chance you’ve seen me talk about at least one of these books before, but there’s a reason for it. The reason is that they absolutely make me cackle. These are the books I read when I feel the worst, for any reason. They’re completely absurd and hilarious and I greatly enjoy Lawson’s voice. Note however that they do also address mental illness like depression, so they’re not 100% lighthearted.

Type of funny:
Unexpected situations, familial banter, thought trails that wander off as you might when you’re falling asleep, questions you never thought to ask

A drunken bet, a fridge, and Irish folks

Please note that this is not written by Tony Hawk, the professional skateboarder, but by Tony Hawks, a British Comedian. The premise of this is probably pretty clear from the title, but it’s the story of him hitchhiking all the way around the coast of Ireland, with a minifridge. I feel like the humor writes itself. Besides the laughs, I also loved the people he meets during the journey, and they were so many kinds of wonderful. This is also very feel-good to read.

Type of funny:
situational humor, misunderstandings, interpersonal moments, observational humor

Stories from humans

People are funny. Probably every person, even if they don’t realize it. Some people just need some help shaping their humour, and the crafters at The Moth are professionals at doing just that. The result is genuine stories from people who just learn how to tell it exactly right. I do recommend listening to the original recordings of any that you particularly enjoy, because the voice aspects can really enhance a story. Still, this will be filled with stories of many kinds and many emotions, but plenty to make you laugh.

Type of funny:
varies by story/person but generally relatable humour, a warm interpersonal humour like laughing with friends about something silly that happened

Take her advice, just… later

This one relays a woman’s journey to push herself to be more than her job (or jobless) self. To RSVP yes to friends and actually follow through, to face all her fears, and to figure out how to make friends as an adult. Personally, I saw so much of myself reflected in her, and I think most people would. How DO you make friends as an adult?? I admired her bravery and candor and, okay, I admit it: I also felt somewhat inspired. Maybe not ready to do standup comedy yet, but improv classes perhaps!

Type of funny:
watching someone try doing things they’re bad at/ new at, situational humor, laughing at actual jokes (as she does stand up routines), trying to find answers to awkward questions


Fiction

While I don’t get guffaws from fiction quite as often, there are certainly some that are written just right to coerce a cackle from me!

The pre-teen awkwardness

Chances are high that if you’re reading this, you’ve been through puberty or are currently going through puberty. And that can be hella awkward at the time, and hella funny looking back. This graphic novel about a mean girl who only just realized she was a mean girl takes an unusual look behind the curtain of popularity and cliques to a perspective not often given. The artistic delivery is absolutely perfect, too, and captures the mind and tone of a middle school girl very well.

Type of funny:
relatable, artistic punctuation of moments, situational

Culture clash is a beautiful thing

Okay, admittedly, this one has some extra impact for me since I lived in Korea for a while and absolutely fell in love with the country and people and culture and FOOD. 🤤 But with that said, I’m confident that this story will be funny to people without that experience too, maybe even more so since the confusion the reader has will mirror the confusion Merri feels.

Type of funny:
cultural miscommunications, Korean cliches that look wildly out of place in U.S. high schools

Meta-art and character humour

While this overall address racism and stigma and the micro-aggressions that can be so common, it’s done in a remarkably light yet accurate way. This is another graphic novel, and Craft makes use of the character’s artistic ability by including some of Jordan’s drawings and interpretations of events in the story. Combined with the way Jordan and others use humor to cope, there ends up being a lot of moments that make you laugh out loud even as you’re rooting for the good guys to come out on top. Pop culture parodies are sprinkled in to give this a very modern feel, as well.

Type of funny:
humor from reactions, witty comebacks, wry artistic wit

A surprise gem

This one I found completely by accident and ended up loving its elements of parody and warping of the traditional epic-adventure genre. This one could admittedly read as lazy orr tiring to some people, as it’s very similar to so many other plot lines we see. The key difference is in the skewing of the values of the world, the authority of the authority figures, and the truth behind “the chosen ones.” Imagine a caricature of Lord of the Rings combined with The Hobbit and you’ve just about got it.

Type of funny:
parody, extreme exaggeration, slapstick-esque, absurdity, twisting of tropes

Sweet and sour laughter

This is a manga that will crack you up and warm your heart. The part with the frog? I laughed very hard. And re-read it multiple times immediately. It’s not all fun and games, as there are certainly some dark moments in here, but there’s a lot of comic relief. Based on the Japanese stories of animals with special spirit powers and duties to the gods, this is a classic story of a villain who is forced to change his ways, whether he wants to or not.

Type of funny:
events that don’t end as expected, characters that contrast with each other, a general playful art and story style


What books have made you laugh?

Please, help me with my goal for the year! If you have any books that have made you laugh, let me know what it was in the comments so I can add it to my list. 😁

Alliterative ways to say “it made me laugh:”

  • charmed a chuckle
  • elicited a laugh
  • got a guffaw
  • coerced a cackle
  • gave a giggle
  • choked a chortle
  • triggered a titter
  • set up a snigger
  • beget busting a gut
  • kindled a crack-up
  • manifested much mirth