Childhood FOMO Made Me Read Goosebumps

Everybody loves a good old FOMO sesh every once in a while, right? Just a gripping, sudden fear of missing out on anything and everything people have done and experienced that you haven’t yet?

Well, that’s exactly what led me to the Goosebumps series. Perpetually frightened child I was, horror books never particularly struck a chord with me when I was little. Even now, I tend to stray from them in favor of anything mysterious or thrillerish.

That being said, I have been catching up on some of the books I missed out on as a kid in the past few years. (The Chronicles of Narnia and A Series of Unfortunate Events are two of my particular favorites, but the amount of guilt I feel knowing I could have grown up with those books instead of reading them at the age of 20 or 21… Perpetual anger, I tell you.) Bottled up rage aside, or perhaps because of it, I gave the Goosebumps series a chance. And let me tell you, I was not disappointed.

For starters, it turns out R.L. Stine is a fantastic author. Goosebumps are kids’ stories, and that much is clear as soon as you start reading, but they’re written in such a way that they’re entirely readable, and not at all annoying, from the perspective of an adult. Though I tend to use the term adult very loosely when speaking of myself.

Beyond the writing, I have to say I really liked the story structure and the way it was written in such a way as to keep it lighthearted enough to not scare the daylights out of children, but spooky enough to actually give you a minor case of the creeps.

Don’t quote me on this because it was a while ago, but I remember watching an interview with R.L. Stine where he described how, as a child, he was afraid of literally everything. I think that comes across really well in this aspect of the books, where he is able to play to both the scary and fun aspect of a children’s horror series.

One part, in particular, I couldn’t get over was the excessive use of the word excellent by the children in the books. It’s absurdly funny to me to picture 10 year olds running around, yelling the word excellent to one another. But honestly, it just dates the series back to the 90s, which makes me love it even more.

I’ve only read a tiny portion of the series so far, but a few I would definitely recommend are: One Day at Horrorland, Stay Out of the Basement, and Night of the Living Dummy. And allow me to say, Mr. Wood is an absolute legend. The best and most offensive roaster of all time. 10/10 would walk out of a conversation with him with lowered self-esteem.

To sum it up, I don’t care about your age. Goosebumps is a must read. Need I say more?

P.S. Better Luck This Time is getting even closer! Ahh! Meet my sequel to The Half Theft on October 1st.

5 Books on My TBR List

With the stress of the election, and the fact that I’m currently sick and prefer to sleep the day away, I admitted have not been reading as much as I would like to. That means I do not currently have a book review for you.

But fear not! Because I’ve put together a short to-be-read list instead.

These are all books I hope to read in the near future. When exactly will that be? I’m not positive. But hopefully soon, since some have been lingering on my list for years.

1. Children of Dune by Frank Herbert

After finishing Dune and Dune Messiah, continuing the series is a no-brainer. The storyline is simply amazing. The characters are superb.

What surprises me most about the series is that I enjoy it despite it being classified as a sci-fi fantasy. I typically shy away from science fiction. Historically, I haven’t exactly loved the books I’ve read from the genre. In addition, fantasy isn’t usually my favorite. So the fact that I enjoyed Dune at all is enough of a miracle to keep reading.

2. The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan

Ah yes, Percy Jackson. Yet another series which I have begun and failed to finish. I can’t even remember the last time I read a series all the way through. I think I was a read-three-books-and-drop-the-series kind of gal straight out of the womb.

But this time, I vow to finish the “dam” series. Get it? The Titan’s Curse joke?

So, I’m posting this to hold myself accountable. Feel free to yell at me if I haven’t picked it up by the end of the year.

3. Clown in a Cornfield by Adam Cesare

Do I know this is absolutely going to scare the living hell out of me? Sure. Am I going to miss a week of sleep due to the lingering fear that a clown is somehow going to catch me in a cornfield? Sure. Am I going to read it anyway? Probably.

At this point, I’m banking on the fact that I’ve watched both It films and survived to tell the story. If I can watch those, I can read this, right? Who knows? But I’m so intrigued I have to at least give it a shot. What’s the worst that could happen?

4. How to Destroy America in Three Easy Steps by Ben Shapiro

Listen, Ben Shapiro and I have had our differences. I won’t deny it. But if anybody thinks that will stop me from reading his superbly written books, they’re dead wrong.

I recently read The Right Side of History and was absolutely blown away by his writing. Honestly, it’s fantastic and not at all what I was expecting. I know he’s intelligent and well-spoken, but that doesn’t always translate to the page for everyone. Fortunately for him, it does.

5. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I’ve heard this is one of the classics that is actually superb, so I am making a point to work it into my reading agenda. I’m not much for books that were written forever ago. I typically go for those that were penned in the more recent past, like Dune. This also doesn’t fit very well into the genres I most enjoy.

But I feel like it’s important to occasionally step out of the bookish world you know and love, in order to explore something new that you might end up loving just as much, or even more.

Comment and let me know a book or two that are on your to-be-read list!

Finally Fall Book Tag

More like finally doing this book tag. I mean gosh, it’s already snowed at my house! I better hurry up and do this before I run out of time.

Thank you to Cherelle the Bibliophile for the tag! I love how welcoming the book blogging community is. You’re all so great!

I don’t really know who to tag, so if you have a blog and you haven’t done this yet, please consider yourself tagged!

Now onto the good stuff…

IN FALL, THE AIR IS CRISP AND CLEAR: NAME A BOOK WITH A VIVID SETTING.

The Giver by Lois Lowry

I read this book forever ago for an English class—I believe it was middle school—and I absolutely adored it. The world in which it takes place is fascinating. The black-and-white versus color perspectives of the story are incredibly creative.

Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t somewhere I would want to live. But it was such a great read in an entirely intriguing setting.

NATURE IS BEAUTIFUL… BUT ALSO DYING: NAME A BOOK THAT IS BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN, BUT ALSO DEALS WITH A HEAVY TOPIC LIKE LOSS OR GRIEF.

Night by Elie Wiesel

I’m not much for sad stories, but I do remember reading Night back in middle school. It literally broke my heart. I still think about it. Often.

Despite how much I don’t like reading depressing books, this one was undoubtedly worth it. The holocaust is a topic about which I firmly believe we need to continue to educate ourselves.

FALL IS BACK TO SCHOOL SEASON: SHARE A NON-FICTION BOOK THAT TAUGHT YOU SOMETHING NEW.

The Right Side of History by Ben Shapiro

Ironic how I’m using this book under a category that deals with school… But I learned so much from it! Far beyond modern political stances, Shapiro spoke deeply about the ways in which religion and Western philosophy shaped the world as we know it. And it was deep, as in textbook-level deep, but I loved it. I learned so much about the ways in which different forces in the world work together.

IN ORDER TO KEEP WARM, IT’S GOOD TO SPEND SOME TIME WITH THE PEOPLE WE LOVE: NAME A FICTIONAL FAMILY/HOUSEHOLD/FRIEND-GROUP THAT YOU’D LIKE TO BE PART OF.

The Half Theft by Brooke Nelson (aka me, duh)

I promise I’m not about to lapse into self-promo, so hear me out. I wrote this book in such a way that I did what I had never seen another author do: create a friend group that I actually loved.

Charlie is just perfect and such a dork. And Maeve, the love of my life who makes me feel better about how clumsy I am. And…well, I won’t spoil anyone else for you.

FALL IS THE PERFECT TIME FOR SOME STORYTELLING BY THE FIRESIDE: SHARE A BOOK WHEREIN SOMEONE IS TELLING A STORY.

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

As I’ve mentioned in my previous posts at least a couple times, I adore these books. And the narration is one of the best parts!

They are so unique in the sense that they are told from the perspective of Lemony Snicket, a man who is documenting the Baudelaire children’s case in hopes of helping them reach safety.

THE NIGHTS ARE GETTING DARKER: SHARE A DARK, CREEPY READ.

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

Scary books are a big no for me! I’m not built for that.

That being said, The Woman in the Window is a thriller that I found super creepy and fun. For anyone who isn’t a fan of actual scary books, but loves a good mystery, I would highly recommend this. It was nicely paced and a fairly easy read.

The writing is simply superb.

THE DAYS ARE GETTING COLDER: NAME A SHORT, HEARTWARMING READ THAT COULD WARM UP SOMEBODY’S COLD AND RAINY DAY.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

This is one of the very few times I am actually going to say you need to read this! Especially if you’re a Christian, since the series is an extended metaphor for the Bible.

The stories are so heartwarming and beautiful. I really cannot believe it took me until 2020 to read this series. It’s only been sitting on my shelf for ages!

FALL RETURNS EVERY YEAR: NAME AN OLD FAVOURITE THAT YOU’D LIKE TO RETURN TO SOON.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Shoutout to my mom who, back when I was in middle school and I ordered this book from the library, kept returning it without my knowledge because she thought the plot sounded morbid. See, parents? That’s what you do if you don’t like a book. You don’t ban it. You repeatedly return it on your kids.

Fast forward to now, she’s just as big a fan as me!

FALL IS THE PERFECT TIME FOR COZY READING NIGHTS: SHARE YOUR FAVOURITE COZY READING “ACCESSORIES”!

My cats! Do they count? I would say my dog, but all he does it lick the pages, which is hardly helpful. My cats, on the other hand, are content to fall asleep on my lap or, on their more difficult days, fight on top of the pages.

Have you read any of the books on my list? What are your thoughts?

May The Unfortunate Events Begin

I recently began reading A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, after watching the Netflix series—I know, I should have read the series first! My bad! As I write this, I have just finished the first three books of the thirteen-installment series, and I absolutely adore them.

I truly can’t believe I’ve waited this long to give these stories a try!

The writing style is just otherworldly. Breaking the fourth wall is always very hit-or-miss with me. Sometimes it just doesn’t work, but other times it’s perfectly genius. The latter is how I felt in this instance.

The narrator, Lemony Snicket, a character who also happens to be the named author of the books, constantly interjects to inform the reader of something they may not know, in the most hilarious of manners. In the third book, one chapter even starts with a warning not to attempt to recreate any of the characters’ actions in real life, due to concerns expressed by his publishers.

Lemony Snicket’s sense of humor is like no other. I can’t get enough of his unique voice.

The use of repetition is hilarious—in most cases, telling us a character’s thoughts, then having them say almost the exact same words out loud.

The humor even holds true in his naming of various locations. For example, there is the Anxious Clown restaurant, which has thrown me into a fit of laughter more than once. Something about the name, combined with the neon lights and overly dull waiter gets to me.

Which leads me to the characters…

We have the most fantastic Baudelaire siblings as main characters.

Aside from the humor, A Series of Unfortunate Events is really a touching story of siblings taking care of one another under the worst of circumstances, which I can’t help but love.

Violet Baudelaire, the oldest daughter, is who I would consider to be a nearly perfect character. Not only is she smart, strong and innovative, but she’s also polite, kind, and feminine. (And no, this is definitely not one of those instances where I like a character because she reminds me of myself. I could only dream of being as classy as Violet!)

She loves inventing, which is not only a unique trait for a girl in a book, but it also comes in handy in the best of ways. If nothing else, I’ve learned this: an inventor is an absolute necessity in an unrealistic storyline.

Violet’s brother Klaus, the middle child, would be best described as a nerd—there’s a character trait I can relate to! Like Violet, he is incredibly smart and very caring, especially toward his sisters. Arguments between the Baudelaires are infrequent, which might seem unrealistic, but since when are these books supposed to represent real life?

Then comes Sunny, the youngest daughter.

I say this in the gentlest way possible: I am not a fan of small children.

But I was pleasantly surprised to find that Sunny is actually sweet and likable as can be. She is important to the story. She’s actually a contributing character, not just a child that has to be lugged around for plot purposes, like what happens to some poor kids in books. She also isn’t portrayed as being a genius—another pet peeve of mine. Sunny is just a kid—a very peculiar kid, but just a kid—and she’s a fantastic addition to the story.

Did I mention Count Olaf aka the Best Villain Ever?

What an absolutely weird and hilarious character! Of course, I won’t spoil anything for those of you who haven’t read the series yet, but he is everything I could hope for in a middle grade story villain.

His disguises? Fabulous.

His theater troupe? Funny as heck.

His commitment to his goals? An inspiration to us all. Really! If he had only focused all that dedication toward a higher goal, he could have done unimaginably horrible things on such a wide scale. He could have devastated the whole country, the entire world, with his schemes.

The Bad Beginning

Rating: 5 out of 5.

When I read book one in A Series of Unfortunate Events, I truly thought it could get no better than that. It’s just perfection. One of those books I can truly, wholeheartedly give five stars.

Whenever an author can make me laugh out loud through their writing alone, it’s an automatic win. But making me cry-laugh repeatedly, while simultaneously giving me a story and characters that I truly care about is something I rarely get to experience.

The Reptile Room

Rating: 5 out of 5.

You know what’s rarer than reading one five-star book? Reading two.

And you know what’s even rarer than reading two five star books? Having them come one right after the other, in the same series.

Just when I thought The Bad Beginning must surely be Lemony Snicket’s writing peak, he proved me entirely wrong. Somehow, despite my general aversion to snakes, this snake-centric story drew me in even more. If I could give it five-and-a-half stars, I probably would. Not only did the characters I know and love return, but I got an extra character that I adore. It’s my lucky day!

The Wide Window

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Now, don’t be alarmed when you see I went from five, to five-and-a-half, down to four stars. It isn’t what it appears.

Is The Wide Window a great book? Absolutely.

Yet I can’t help comparing it to its predecessors, which happen to be superior in my mind.

My main problem with this story is the additional character. Unlike The Reptile Room, we got a crappy one this time. The only word I can think of to describe her, though I wish I had a more descriptive one, is irritating.

Despite that, I did really truly enjoy the rest of the book. The story was witty and fit right in line with the previous two. The returning characters were still fantastic. The Baudelaires were as lovable as ever. I want to give them all the biggest hug! And I’m sure I’ll love the rest of the series as soon as I get started on the next installment.

What are your thoughts on the series, either the book or Netflix version?

Five Characters You Need In Your Life

At some point, you’ve likely read about a fictional character that captivated your heart. Perhaps they were so kind and gentle that you couldn’t help but fall in love, or maybe it was the way you saw yourself in them and their struggles. Whatever your reason, that character meant something to you. They hit a chord that their predecessors hadn’t, and you’ll never forget them. That is the very essence of this post. These are my characters, my game changers.

Lou Clark (Me Before You by Jojo Moyes)

She stole my heart approximately four years ago, and she still won’t give it back! There is something so moving, so incredibly lovable about a woman who is unafraid to be her own bright, kind, feminine self. From her flamboyant clothing to her constant gentle demeanor, even in the toughest of circumstances, Lou is nothing if not inspirational—and I don’t use that term lightly.

In a world of conformity, Lou is entirely her own woman, bending to no one’s will. She is anything but ordinary—yet she never feels the need to point out her uniqueness to anyone, she just is—and she remains a constant reminder that I don’t need to be anyone or anything but myself. And me is enough.

Coriolanus Snow (The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins)

Now, we shall head to the opposite side of the Gentle and Kind Spectrum. So, what draws me to Coryo? The moral ambiguity, for sure. Right off the bat, he’s got this fantastic bit of shadiness going on. Throughout the entire story, I could never place him as solely “good” or “bad,” which is a practice that should be employed a little more in real life, if you ask me.

Honestly, every few pages, I would think “oh, what a sweetheart” and then a couple later, “I trusted you—how could you?” That alone made for one of the most interesting reading experiences I’ve ever encountered. Despite finishing this book about a month ago, I still question whether I actually love him, or if my feelings are so confused that I merely think I love him to avoid further confusion.

Hercule Poirot (Hercule Poirot Series by Agatha Christie)

Step aside, Sherlock Holmes, there’s a new detective in town. (I’m kidding! I love them both.) Maybe I just have a certain bias toward peculiar men who solve mysteries, but Poirot has the same sort of effect on me as Holmes—with his intelligence, semi-cockiness, and all-around likability. He’s basically a more personable Holmes.

Despite the similarities though, I must note he does not at all feel like a carbon copy when I read the books. There is no one—I repeat, no one—I would trust more with my case than this man.

Violet Baudelaire (A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket)

Violet Baudelaire is a revolution in the female character construct. Essentially acting as the caregiver for her younger brother and sister, she endures hardship after hardship, but keeps her head up, knowing she must continue fighting to protect herself and her family. This may be one of those cases where I see some of her in me as I, too, would create a sketchy DIY grappling hook to retrieve my sister from a tower.

Speaking of which, one of Violet’s main talents is her ability to invent almost anything she sets her mind to. That’s right. She’s caring, and intelligent, and kind, and inventive. I know the series is written in an ironic, satirical light, but Violet is truly a character to remember. She gets my seal of approval!

Gurney Halleck (Dune by Frank Herbert)

When beginning a book, I usually have preconceived notions of what a character will be like. And, excluding the few outliers, I’m usually spot-on. Then, every once in a while, a character jumps so far out of my expectations that I don’t quite know how to react.

For example, when I started Dune, I found out Halleck was the main character’s weapons teacher. So, of course, I formed a general “tough guy” picture in my mind, no doubt enhanced by the choice of Josh Brolin to portray him in the upcoming film. (Quite frankly, I already liked the version I’d created in my head.) In one scene, he demonstrates how to use a knife in a fight—blah, blah, blah—and then suddenly, a scene or two later, he whips out a baliset and starts singing. If that sounds strange to you, I hear you. If that sounds strange and fantastic to you, we’re in the same boat.

Who would you add to your list of characters everyone needs in their life? Leave a comment and let me know.