Monday, September 21, 2009


Yikes! Where does the time go? I fully intended on making regular entries here, but life has been chaotic. And then there was that movie shoot that took me away for 9 days. I'm only just now starting to feel normal and rested again. Time to jump back in!

The Halloween Spectacle
I received this first book as a complimentary preview. I'm glad I liked it, because I'm new at this and it would feel really strange to have to offer a negative review of something I got for free. But hey, I liked it! (Whew!) The Halloween Spectacle, by Lesley Hershman, is geared for elementary school ages (the young hero is in the 4th grade) and it's really sweet.

Jake desperately wants a very pricey store-bought costume, but money is tight. An older neighbor lady offers him some seeds with some very complicated directions, promising a Halloween spectacle. One thing I liked about the book is that it does not have a predictable ending. When I read that Jake's parents were having money trouble, I figured I knew exactly how the story would end. I was wrong. That's all I'll say, except that it was a pleasant change from the usual.

I identified with Jake, who was awkward and out of step. That was me all through school! I cringed for him when his crafty mom wanted to make his costumes every year, and they were kind of lame and sad because they were made from what was near at hand (and did not take his preferences or interests into account). That, at least, I didn't have to deal with. But I still felt for him. I'm a crafter, and learned long ago that not everything needs to be knitted, for example.

Black Plants
If you're a gardener who loves Halloween, check out the book Black Plants: 75 Striking Choices for the Garden by Paul Bonine. I have a copy and it's just gorgeous. (Also, some of the "black" plants are very deep purple or red, so they're quite striking without being actually black, if the thought of a black garden doesn't float your boat.)

Free books?
It's the time to start reading scary books! I have a collection of favorites that I return to when the mood strikes but, for the last year, I've also been trying to read some classics that I've not read before. Last year, just before Halloween, I read Dracula (for the first time!), among others. Earlier this year, when the mood found me, I enjoyed The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. For the current spooky season, I'm continuing that plan: I recently read Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and am currently reading The Turn of the Screw.

A great way to get your hands - quickly and cheaply - on new-to-you scary books is to download PDFs of books in the public domain (as many of the classics are).

I've recommended Google Books in the past, but really... I've had such spotty results (every book I've downloaded has been missing at least one set of pages), so I'd suggest moving them down your list. Instead, check out FeedBooks (link is to horror selection, naturally). If you have a Kindle, many of the books are available in a compatible format. The PDFs that I've downloaded so far are clear and easy to flip through. I linked to them here, regardless of my source.

Another way is to find free books is to use a site like Good Reads (which I use & love), and search for a book that interests you. If a preview or - even better - free download is available, a button is there for you to click. The bonus is that you can, at the same time, add the book to one of your "shelves."

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