Monday, December 5, 2016

Holiday Reading Recommendations (if you like your holidays to be dark and scary)

It's been a while since I posted so I thought I would complie a list of some great books to read over the upcoming Holidays. These are not all new, but ones that I have always found entertaining, creepy, witchy, or just downright gross. So, let's get started shall we:

Let me just start by saying that these are no way in alphabetical order so don't get your hopes up that this might be an organized list..

Bentley Little--I have 2 recommendations by Mr. Little today, not that I recommend you stop at 2, but these happen to be my favorite.
The first one is The Association. Let me just say I won't ever live in a neighborhood with HOA's, EVER! If you do, you might rethink it after this...
The second one is The Summoning. I have read this one several times. It's really good..who knew there were chinese vampires? What??? You say. You'll see.

Brooks Stanwood--The first time I read this one I was about 12 I think. Stolen copy out of my moms bookcase..isn't that the way we all started reading something?
This book is called The Seventh Child. It's an older book (obviously) but still reads well and very interesting. Move to a new town, mysterious painting and family, talk of a child coven a hundred years ago, wax won't be able to put it down.

Jonathan Barry and Whitley Strieber--Most of you probably know Whitley Strieber from his work regarding alien abduction. None of that here, just a healthy dose of straight up witchiness. I actually had no idea what Cat Magic was about when I bought it (again, many years ago) but I really came to love this book. It's different, that's for sure, but if you are into witches (not the creepy, moley kind) I think you would find this a great read.

Katheryn Meyer Griffith--The title pretty much gives this one away, the subject anyway.
Witches...that is the title. This book has become one of my favorites over the years. It involves a family of witches (3 sisters) and an unexpected journey back in time. Sounds kind of hokey, but it really isn't. I really wish there would have been another book, although I have heard rumors that there may be one in the works.

Robert McCammon--Although he has so many fabulous books, the one I am going to focus on here is Swan Song. This was actually the first Robert McCammon book I ever read, and given the size, it was quite an undertaking. I fell completely in love with this book and all of it's crazy, creepy, weird characters. If you've never read Swan Song it takes place in a post nuclear war America and it's just one of those novels that draws you in. So snap to it!

Dean Koontz--Ok,OK, I know many wouldn't call Dean Koontz dark and scary (maybe dark and scary lite) but I have one book that I really love. It may not be super scary but I'm going to add it here anyway because it's my list and I there.
Anyway, the book is Twilight Eyes. It has some of my favorite elements in it, runaways, carnies, dark scary mines, murder (say that last one with a british accent). Just give it a try.

Paul Tremblay--Well what can I say here, he's just a magnificent writer. When you are recommended by the King himself i'd say that's pretty high praise.
A Head Full of Ghosts--I initially got this from the library. Then I bought it. It was that good. It's one of those that keeps you thinking long after you are done reading it, about lots of things.
Disappearance at Devil's Rock was the second book of his I read. It's distinctly different, but very good in its own right. Definitely worth a read.

Dathan Auerbach--I think Penpal is one of those you either love or hate. Many people knew it from Reddit. I'm not a Redditer so I didn't. I personally thought it was pretty damn creepy. It's not super long, so it would be a pretty quick read. I'm not always looking for Shakespeare. Sometimes I just want something to keep me entertained and this did the trick.

Mark Danielewski--House of Leaves I'm going to be blunt here. I tried to read the ebook version and I got completely lost. I'm going to have to get the actual book version to figure out what is going on. Given the fact that it is huge, I just don't think the ebook version can do it justice. I promise to do a better review once I am actually through the real book.

Stephen King--The Master Himself....yeah, I'm not really going to give any recommendations because you can pretty much pick up anything and just go for it. I guess if you want to start soft and move your way up, go for The Green Mile or Different Seasons. If you just want to kick it in the balls and go for full on King, jump right in with IT, or The Shining, Pet Sematary. Those are some good starters. If you are already familiar with King, well then you know what you love. Grab it and read it again.

Joe Hill--I can't very well go and leave the Master's progeny off the list now can I? First will go with a semi-Christmassy themed one N0S4A2. Really good book and Charlie Manx reminds me just the tiniest bit of Leland Gaunt...cousins perhaps?
My favorite Joe Hill is Horns. This was the first book of his I ever read and it just blew me away. I mean really? Waking up with horns, knowing what people are thinking? A gift or a curse?

Brian Keene--Can't very well leave him off this list. I rediscovered my love for Zombies because of Mr. Keene, as well as did a host of others I'm sure. So, my first book of Brian's is The Rising. Zombies yes, but a story line as well. Just some damn good writing. The second book is actually the 2nd book of his I read which was Dark Hollow. No zombies, and it was definitely not what I was expecting; However, it is a really good book and I recommend you check it out.

Carlton Mellick III--Zombies and Shit I'm not even sure how I found this book. I do remember looking at the cover and knowing that I must read it. It's not super scary..honestly it's not scary at all. It does have have the ick factor though, and some very interesting characters. I thought it was a really fun read.

I love werewolf them. I'm going to finish this up with a small list of my favorites:

William D. Carl--Bestial:Werewolf Apocalypse
Al Sarrantonio--Moonbane
Ronald Kelly--Moon of the Werewolf
Ray Garton--Ravenous and it's follow up Bestial

Please let me know what you think. I would love to hear suggestions. I'm always looking for new reading matterial.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Hi, my name is..

This is a new kind of post for me. I haven't ever really spoken out about the fact that i have a mental illness. Why decide to do it now? I don't know really--maybe I'm just tired of hiding it behind a smile. There will be (I hope) people who read this and have no idea who I am and some who will know me as a friend or family member. Either way, I hope this helps someone understand what it's like to live with a mental illness or that someone in a similar situation can relate.

In 2003 I was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, type II to be precise. Type II is depressive bi-polar disorder and people with this tend to have more depressive episodes and their manic episodes are not as high as someone with bi-polar I. To be diagnosed at the age of 30 was a shock. It wasn't what I expected but it certainly explained certain behaviors, ways of thinking, etc. Various medications were tried until the right combination was found that worked for me and life went on.
Fast forward a few years, I have now moved and no longer see a psychologist or psychiatrist. My medication is being monitored by a small town MD. Not the best situation, but it was the one I had.
Fast forward a few more years, the medication is no longer working. I am having depressive episodes and see the local Nurse Practitioner where I am told that the only thing I probably need is a bump in dosage of one of my medications. At this time the only two medications I am taking are Topamax and Wellbutrin.
Fast forward to 2014. I am a wreck. My mental health has been on a steady decline for quite awhile although I have managed to keep it hidden from most. When I am having a bad day, meaning so depressed I physically can't get out of bed, I call into work with a migraine. Better than calling in crazy--at least that's how I looked at it. My job, which I had enjoyed is driving me insane. I come home everyday depressed and angry. I am working towards a breakdown and have no idea.
My husband gets a job offer which will move us about 60 minutes away. It didn't take much convincing. Anything would be better than the way life was going at that time. Unbeknownst to my husband, I had considered suicide more than once. Having experienced the loss of someone close to be by that means and knowing how it would affect my family kept me from it, but that is how bad it hurt.
I continued to work for the same place-from home and commuting until the end of 2014 when I had to tell them I was done. Not long after that I had what I would consider a mini breakdown. I couldn't, physically couldn't, get out of bed for at least a week. Ewww you say..well I did get up to go to the bathroom and take a shower about every other day, but I barely ate and would just go right back to bed. I was physically and mentally exhausted. I was so sad, but I couldn't tell you why. I cried all the time. I was so sad it physically hurt. I wish I could explain it better.
Eventually the fog started to lift a bit and I began to rebuild my life, but first I had to try to explain to my kids what the hell had just happened. My 14 year old daughter was terrified. She thought I had cancer or something because all she knew was I didn't feel well. I tried to explain the best I could, but it's hard to explain a disease you barely understand yourself because you have never really allowed yourself to admit that it is there. I decided it was time to go to the doctor. I went to a local GP, but thankfully she told me she was in over her head and referred me to a local mental health clinic.
I now see a psychiatrist and psychologist. My meds are checked every month and go to counseling twice a month. The difference is massive. Don't get me wrong, I am FAR from better. I was re-diagnosed. This time as Bi-polar I, Major Depressive Disorder, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I take 6 medications every morning to get me through the day. I am unable to work because of social anxiety among other things. I wish that I could say that my illness was a fluke, and that the likelihood of my daughters ending up with some form of mental illness was small to none. However, I come from a family where mental illness seems to be the norm. That is a guilt that is hard to take.
Everyday is a struggle because you never know how it is going to go. I could wake up and have a semi-normal day or I can wake up and have a day from hell. I rarely leave the house and when I do it is very rarely by myself. Even to go to the grocery store, I will wait for my youngest daughter to get home from school so she can go with me. Social anxiety is a killer bitch. School programs or other social events can be so stressful they require extra anxiety medication or can result in stress migraines.
The illnesses I live with suck. But I am very lucky because I have a supportive family. My husband is amazing. He tries as hard as he can to understand and doesn't judge.
I think people are so afraid of discussing mental illness because they only one side of it. People see the news where there is a discussion of a mentally ill person committing a crime; murder, rape, etc.. We throw around words associated with mental illness like they are nothing and they lose their meaning. "He must be crazy" "She must be crazy" "I swear she's bi-polar" "That person is totally schizo" It's so frustrating, and it hurts discussions about mental illness. We need to stop hiding in the shadows. People with cancer don't hide in the shadows. People with diabetes don't hide in the shadows. It's time that people with mental illness came out of the shadows as well. So here I am. Hi, my name is Krista and I have a mental illness.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Witches: Salem, 1692

"It began in 1692, over an exceptionally raw Massachusetts winter, when a minister's daughter began to scream and convulse. It ended less than a year later, but not before 19 men and women had been hanged and an elderly man crushed to death."

This book only has a 3 star rating on Amazon but as I am obsessed with all things Salem I definitely wanted to read it. Stacy Schiff is an interesting writer. This is the first book of hers I have ever read so I don't know if her other books are the same but I would assume so. Her writing style is a mix of great research and a bit of imagination. There are quotes from papers I had never heard, but also talk of rain on certain days or people flying on brooms. She doesn't just focus on the accused, but also on the accusers and the judges as well which some may not find as interesting. I can see how people could get bored as she is a very detailed writer, however some of those details I found most interesting. No eyeglasses in 1692 Salem--as an extremely nearsighted person I can't imagine living like that. Reading some of the cures that the "doctors" used to treat their patients, you wonder how they survived the hysteria unscathed. Then there is the accounts of the torture the girls supposedly went through. They are almost unreal to read and even more unreal to know that people went to their death because of them. Because of the times and their beliefs (there was always an omen, bad luck or sickness was almost always a curse, etc..) you can almost forgive those who believed (not those who accused) but you have to wonder how so many people became the pawns of those little girls and the others who played their parts in this historical tragedy.

If you are looking for fiction, this book isn't for you. If you are looking for a factual account (mixed with a little speculation) of Salem in 1692, then I recommend this book.