What’s Ashley Reading?: The Forbidden Forest Read-a-thon Week One

It has been just over one week since the start of the Forbidden Forest Read-a-thon here at the library. And boy has it been one heck of a week. You do not realize the pressure you are under when you are given a set number of books to read in just a month! It is a little intimidating.

Going into the challenge I figured that this would be a piece of cake. I have already read over 100 books this year. Twelve books should be easy right?! I have finished three at this point which is a fairly good place to be but they were the shorter ones. Several on my list are hovering around five hundred pages. Yikes! Maybe I was overly ambitious but I am determined to finish this challenge.

So far I have finished reading A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (we own the movie but not the book) and The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite by Gerard Way. Each has had their ups and downs but I would say my favorite so far has been The Umbrella Academy graphic novel. I have even read book two and have three on my desk for later.

The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite by Gerard Way

First line: It was the same year “Tusslin’ Tom” Gurney knocked out the space-squid from Rigel X-9…

Summary: At the exact same moment forty-three babies were born to women who had previously not been pregnant. Of the forty-three newborns born, seven of them were adopted by the eccentrically wealthy Reginald Hargreeves. He knew that there was something special about these children. For years they lived quietly hidden away in his mansion until one day when they reappeared in order to save the world. They called themselves The Umbrella Academy.

My Thoughts: I am not one that is much interested in graphic novels but they are slowly growing on me. I have now read a handful and started to enjoy them. The Netflix show based on the graphic novels is why I chose this book for the reading challenge. There are many similarities between the two but lots of differences as well. Each stand well on their own. The art is very interesting to look at. It is not realistic but it is not too cartoonish.

I liked the story because it is dark and imaginative. The authors create such an interesting world that it is not hard to get sucked into it. One of the characters, Number One or Luther, is part man and part ape. He is gigantic and spends quite a bit of his youth on the moon. Who thinks this stuff up? It is different which makes it fun. I am looking forward to book three and on.

FYI: There is a lot of violence which did not affect me at all but it may be too much for younger readers. This is book one in the series.

What’s Ashley Reading?: The Haunting of Hill House

I have decided to do something different with my weekly blog post.  Rather than just a book review, I am going to tell you about what I am reading, watching and loving or not loving this week.  There is so much here at the library to enjoy and I want to share it with you!

I have been struggling to find something to read that completely captures me.  I go through one or two of these slumps every year when I am anticipating the next in a series or on a book hangover from a great novel.  I have tried several books lately and just had to put them back on the shelf.  Does this happen to you?  Any recommendations?  Please!

I just recently finished reading The Haunting of Hill House.  I have loved the fall weather so I figured creepy books were in order.  In addition, this will soon be a series on Netflix!

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

First line: No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream.

Summary: Hill House, a place that the locals will not go near, is going to be the home of four strangers for the summer. They believe they are going to encounter a few bumps in the night but the house has something even more sinister in mind.

Highlights: I was pleasantly surprised by this tiny novel. I remember seeing the movie (starring Catherine Zeta-Jones) years ago but I could not remember the details. For a tale of haunting it is a very slow burn. The chills come from the atmosphere of the story. An old house in the middle of nowhere with a dark and deadly past. It has many rooms and doors that will not stay open. As the doctor described the house and its construction, it reminded me of the Winchester Mystery House in California.

All of our characters have their own reasons for being there but Eleanor is the one we mainly focus on. Eleanor slowly becomes susceptible to the darkness of Hill House. As the reader, we see her changing moods and thoughts as the narrative progresses. Being inside her head made me nervous for our other characters.

I was a little surprised by the ending.  It was very abrupt but also satisfying.  I was not disappointed.  I had to stop and think for a minute about how I felt.  I would say that this is a marker of a good book.  It makes the reader think and was enjoyable at the same time.

Lowlights: The “witty banter” between the occupants of Hill House started to drive me a little nuts. I think the author was trying to lighten the mood at times with nonsense conversations but I found it annoying. I would much rather have had more insights into the characters and the history of the house.

FYI: Do not try to read this at night! Too creepy.

P.S.: Last night I watched the 1963 movie, The Haunting.  There is something about a horror movie filmed in black and white.  I kept all the lights on in the living room while watching it and I think that this was a good idea.  It was creepy and fun at the same time.  I loved the sound effects and the old house.  There were several changes from the book but for the most part it followed the story very well.  Definitely check it out!