7 Books to Read (to help keep your spirits up)

Let me be clear, I’m a hardcore introvert. But these days I’m madly in love with people. I’m in awe at the good that so many are showing right now, in the big and small ways. I might like being alone, but in this time of chaos, I’m so grateful to be human. I’m also extremely grateful to the storytellers. In odd, scary, or hard times, I’ve always turn to books. Here’s what I’m currently reading (or re-reading) during this time. Hopefully you’ll find something here that catches your fancy and brings you some joy as well.

The Martian (Andy Wier): This is a love letter to human resilience, intelligence, and the way that people come together. It’s also a love letter to any geek, or any curious person out there. Reading about Mark and his potatoes on Mars always puts things into perspective for me.

Twilight (Stephenie Meyer): I won’t apologize for how much I love this book. Sometimes you just need some tragic, romantic, over the top melodrama in your life. Also, I’m totally in love with the writing style. For me, flaws and all, this book is pure escapism.

Clockwork Angel (Cassandra Clare): This is a superb story about Tessa who must come to terms with her life being torn apart. The book feels like a love letter to all of us who are a little odd. What’s even better is that you don’t have to be familiar with Clare’s other works to read this. It’s the perfect introduction to the Shadowhunters world.

Abarat (Clive Barker): Where do I start with this book? The paintings by the author are phenomenal, and Candy’s story is powerful. This book has gone so many places with me (literally!), and has helped me expand myself in so many ways. Adventure, resilience, and conquering fears/overwhelming uncertainty make this book an all time favorite of mine.

Job (The Bible): No matter your beliefs, the book of Job is a powerful one. Job is a man who has it all (literally) and loses it then becomes painfully, chronically ill. In a time where so many of us are struggling with health and doing our best to stay healthy, Job’s struggles still resonate deeply today. The themes of friendship and good and evil are also at the forefront. The book might be much older than any of us, but there’s no denying its power. Whenever I’m ill or feeling afraid, this book always comforts me.

The Lord of the Rings (J. R. R. Tolkien): I’m slowly making my way through this tome (after all, the three books are intended to be read as one), but it’s an absolute delight. The struggles Frodo and company face make mine feel much smaller in comparison. I love the extensive travel and world building. I feel much less confined after reading a chapter. For me this book slows me down, forces me to relax and enjoy the details. I’ve come to find that once I start looking for details in a book, it’s much easier to find small delights outside of them.

In the Wake of the Plague (Norman F. Cantor): This might seem a bit too on the nose, reading about the Black Death when we’re going through an epidemic/plague ourselves, but I can’t say how helpful it’s been for me to read about how humanity has overcome world wide illnesses before. This is hard to read simply because it hurts to read about people suffering, but this book has a lot to teach us. Both about the Black Death, and about the spread of modern viruses. It’s given me an even stronger respect for those who are on the front lines pushing towards a cure and for the health of the world.

Hopefully you’ve found a book or two that piques your interest. Whatever sort of thing suits your fancy, I hope you’re able to put aside the world for a little while and enjoy it. As for me, I’ll continue to read through my many books and of course, write. I’d love to hear what things you’re reading during this time (or anything interesting that you might be up to during all of this). May you and your loved ones stay healthy and safe.

Book Review: The Collector (and news!)

Before I get to the review, I have some news: It’s been long overdue, but I’ve started a newsletter. On the second Tuesday of the month, The Ghostly Tome will come to your inbox offering you a plethora of various exclusives including process insights, current projects, and excerpts, among other things.

Alright, enough of that, let’s get to the review shall we?

“As one, every doll along the hallway slowly turned its head to stare at me.” ~ The Collector

Synopsis: It’s not easy for Josie to move to her grandmother’s house in the middle of nowhere and start all over in a new school. Especially when her grandmother isn’t all there anymore, insisting that Josie and her sister follow three weird rules (no dolls, no open windows at night, and no playing near the house in the woods). The nightmares aren’t helping either. But things are made easier when Josie meets Vanessa. Impossibly cool and kind, Josie finally has a friend. Life is starting to feel a little more normal. But when Vanessa invites Josie to her house in the woods, Josie comes to realize that there’s more to her nightmares, her grandmother’s warnings, and to Vanessa. Unfortunately, Josie is short on time, and the woods are deadly and deep.

Thoughts: I work in an elementary school and a highlight of the year is the Schoolastic Book Fair. I love shopping in the book fair. It’s a great way to see what students are reading and support the school. But I had passed over The Collector a few times, even though my dark and morbid heart was drawn to it. I went to purchase two other (spooky) books. One of the parent volunteers asked if I had checked out The Collector. That sealed my fate. I turned around, got it and it became the third book I bought that day.

A couple of days later I started reading this book on my lunch break and nearly cried. Not only is Josie’s voice authentic, the pain she experiences (from being the new girl, and from trying to cope with understanding her grandmother’s Alzheimer) was treated so well. As someone who has been in both situations, I felt seen. To have that in a children’s book portrayed in such a real way was wonderful.

The fear factor of this story, for such a short story and one aimed at kids, was extremely well done. As an adult I was glad that I didn’t have any dolls around. The way the horror is woven into the every day lives of Josie and her family was thrilling. I flew through this book not because it was short (although as a children’s horror book it is on the slim side to be sure), but because the pacing and rising stakes made this an addictive read.

Despite its intended audience and short length, The Collector is a brilliant story about family and trusting in ones self that any horror enthusiast can enjoy. It really is a treat. But if you do decide to read it…you might want to get rid of your dolls first.

New Year, New Projects

I’ve never been a fan of the “new year, new start” mindset. It’s a holdover from when I was a child. Back then I believed that if you wanted to change something you should just do it. I still feel that way, although I’ve become a fair bit more lenient in this mindset. Sometimes, you really do need a marker of sorts to help you out. And sometimes, you just need a break (and to recover from a flu like illness).

For me it was certainly the latter. January/February have never been my favorite months, but I think I might have broken free from that this year. I’ve made a delightful amount of headway on a sort of secret project. Secret because I’m slowly releasing details, and not so secret because…well, the image is pretty self-explanatory. I recommend clicking the link to get the full view of the picture as it has more hints about the upcoming collection.

A blurred image of a sheet of paper on top of a magazine with a oxidized angel statue. The sheet of paper reads "Ghost/Haunted House Collection 1. The Copper Mirror"

While the full image shows 4 stories and their titles/working titles, I’ve actually gotten 7 out of the 15 stories planned. I’m currently working on the outlining process for those. When I had the idea for this collection, I was at work on my lunch break. I went to the recycling bin and grabbed a handful of paper. So I’ve been writing the outlines for horror stories on the back of unused first grade work sheets. Thankfully said sheets are firmly held on my clipboard, safe from innocent eyes.

While I’m loving this project, I’ve come to realize that I don’t quite know what I’m doing. I’m tweaking, and stretching, and squeezing the concepts I’ve come to love in my horror. This collection is pushing me in ways I didn’t realize I could, or would, push myself. I’m quite delighted by it, and in the coming months, as I release more details, I hope you will be too.

While I’ve seen a number of haunted house movies, few have stuck with me. And while I’ve read plenty of ghost stories, very few have actually been haunted house stories. I’m sure you see my problem.

But a good writing challenge always leads to a good “inspiration hunt” as I like to call it. Despite adoring the haunted house concept, my personal library is lacking in those kinds of books. I seriously have no idea how that happened, but thankfully it was something was easily mended! I’ve helped myself to two Darcy Coates books (The Haunting of Ashburn House and The Haunting of Rookward House), as well as going back to the classics and re-reading Poe. With that said, I would love to hear what sort of haunted house books (or movies!) you’re interested in! There’s a near endless amount of books out there, so there’s no way that any one person could know about them all. I love to discover what people are into, what stories make them question if that was their cat or something else in the house, only to remember they don’t own a cat, or any pet. Inspiration comes from all places and I will never say no to trying a new story. Especially a ghostly one.

While this collection won’t be released until 2021, I’ll still slowly be sharing the details. I’m looking forward to creating these stories and as much as possible, want you to share in that with me.

In the mean time, share your favorite ghost stories, especially those that take place in a house. I can never have too many haunted house stories!

A Letter to the Readers About NaNoWriMo and Works in Progress

The first time I won NaNoWriMo I learned that I could finish something. The second time I won, I learned that writing is not something one can do in isolation, not successfully at least. The third time, this time, I learned that I don’t have to give up on myself.

A blue, black, and gold banner that reads "National Novel Writing Month Winner 2019"

It used to be a defense mechanism. To give up on myself before someone else could. Perhaps it comes from being bullied frequently as a child, or being praised for things that were completely ordinary because I’m Hard of Hearing. Or maybe it’s just fear. No matter the cause, it’s not healthy. I want to be honest about it and hope that we can learn to be honest with ourselves together. Whatever my reasons, holding myself back is something I’ve held on to for years. But thanks to the support of some wonderful writer friends on Instagram, my friends and family, and the concept of NaNoWriMo itself

This year, for reasons I can’t quite find the words for, I knew it would shatter me as a writer if I didn’t hit that 50,000 mark. It probably would have wounded me more deeply than that considering the fact that I’ve been working on this particular story for 17 years.

I have to admit, I was at a total loss for a while there, wondering how I’d hit 50k. I was still over 10k behind on November 29th. November 30th came, I hit the snooze button more times than I should and dragged myself off to the local library. I found it very motivational to take breaks, browse the books and to pre-order myself a celebratory pizza for dinner. I rather tripped over 50k. I was writing, and then I hit the word count. I finished up my sentence and called it a day. My brain (and poor hands!) were fried.

But I can’t say that I wrote a book. I only wrote one fourth of a book. The book in question is House of Moons: The Phoenix Mirror, the first in a dark fantasy young adult series. This will be a four book series with a plethora of other surprises. So, on I write! But I will be slipping in some short stories and novellas as I continue to write the House of Moon series. Regardless, I’m beyond holding myself back thanks to this year’s NaNoWriMo.

I hate that I have to wait before I can let you read HoM book 1. I love this story so much and I’m eager to see people find themselves and their friends in the story. But I also want to give you an escape from the everyday, and some hope too.

Alas and alack! I can only write and edit so fast. But if you want to keep up to date on HoM you can check out my Instagram or Facebook, both of which will have goodies for the upcoming series. As of now, I can’t give you a promised ball park release date. I can only promise that I’m writing as fast as my fingers can tolerate on this and other projects.

January will undoubtedly bring more book reviews and more writing on my part. In the mean time, enjoy the holidays, but don’t forget to take some quiet time for yourself.

Of Growth and Noveling

In 2008, when I was some now forgotten grade in high school, I stumbled upon NaNoWriMo. If you haven’t the foggiest what that is, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), is a month long challenge where you try to write the rough draft of a novel (50,000 words) in 30 days. If you hit that word goal, you win serious bragging rights and have a finished draft of a novel. I won that first year, with a story I had been working on since I was twelve.

Fast-forward to now. I’ve been working on said story off and on for just under twenty years. Writing that sentence makes me feel much older than I actually am, which brings us back to NaNoWriMo.

A blue, white, and gold banner that says “NaNoWriMo 2019 Writer.”

This year NaNo (as we affectionately call it) turns twenty. It seems appropriate that I’m doing a story I’ve been working on almost as long as NaNo is old. It’s been delightful to watch NaNoWriMo become a world wide phenomenon, helping people put down that first draft and help them on their way to publication.

As NaNo has grown, so have I. Blessedly growth is inevitable over the course of seventeen years. And as I’ve grown, so has my story.

When I was twelve, I was idealistic and downright naive. I thought I could write a book that everyone would be allowed to read and want to read. I did my best to make the story a carbon copy of a bestseller-that-shall-not-be-named (brownie points if you catch the reference) and came close to succeeding. When I was thirteen I realized that was called plagiarism and I worked on making something unique. And here we are, sixteen years later. For the twentieth anniversary of NaNoWriMo I’m writing the start of a dark Young Adult fantasy series. A large leap from my typical, but I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited for a story as I am for this one.

Looking at the plot, the world building, the characters, I can still see some of that twelve year-old idealism. And frankly, I like that. There’s that pool of darkness, and within it there’s a drop of hope. That hope comes in the shape of diversity, magic and snark. And of course a fair dose of idealism on the part of some of the characters. But sometimes that’s what you need. A little bit of idealism, a little bit of hope.

That’s the spirit of NaNoWriMo after all. Setting a seemingly impossible goal, coming together, and doing your best. Win or lose (and trust me I’ve failed far more times than I’ve succeeded), the results are beautiful.

A square banner that says “Dedication: 1. What it takes to finish your novel. 2. The place where you’ll expect to see your name in your writing buddies’ published novels.”

By the time you read this I’ll be four days into the madness and joy that NaNoWriMo gives me. If you’d like to know more about what I’m writing and get cryptic hints, you should mosey on over to my Instagram or Facebook page. If you’re one of the many doing NaNo this year I would love to learn about what you’re working on and toss some encouragement your way! After all, learning about other’s writing projects is half the fun.

Whatever your goal is, to read more, to write a novel, or just survive the month, I’m rooting for you. We’ve got this.

Book Review: The Haunting of Hill House

“Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more.”

While moving a couple months back, my thoughts lingered on the types of homes we encounter in fiction. Some are wonderful places we wish we lived in, others are home to terror and pain. But perhaps no fictional home is as iconic as Hill House. I saw the 1963 movie The Haunting on Halloween years ago, and swore to myself I would read the book. Apparently this is a lucky October for me.

Synopsis: Hill House is a blight that holds nothing but terror, or so the legends say. An occult scholar, Dr. Montague, rents the house in hopes of discovering irrefutable evidence of a haunting. With him come three people, the charismatic and colorful Theodora, Luke, the heir to Hill House, and Eleanor, an outcast who sees her time at Hill House as her first real adventure. All are tied to the paranormal, but none have experienced it with such intensity. Hill House is watching them, and it is waiting.

Thoughts: The movie, while iconic, doesn’t hold a candle to the book. The Haunting of Hill House is a classic for a number of reasons. The characters, the writing style, and the setting are iconic. Those coupled with the pacing of the story makes for an intense and memorable read.

Eleanor is actually a shockingly sympathetic character in the book. For those of you familiar with the 1963 version of the film, you’ll no doubt recall that while the main character, Eleanor is hardly sympathetic. In the book her thoughts are fluid and coherent. She has been hurt by the world as many of us have been, and wants a better life for herself. She’s stubborn, whimsical, and curious. Ultimately she wants to be a part of something larger than herself. These things will eventually come back to haunt her (and the others), but that makes her and her relationships with the other characters all the more interesting.

While Luke, Dr. Montague, and Theodora are all interesting characters, aside from Theo, none of them interested me quite as much as Eleanor. Which is precisely the point of the book. Although the book starts from Eleanor’s perspective, and arguably remains from her point of view, as the story progresses we as the reader become more and more aligned with how the house sees Eleanor and her friends. It’s an uncanny experience and the core element that makes this book so frightening.

What makes the book so terrifying is the writing style. The writing style is somehow simplistic and yet beautifully detailed. Jackson has a talent for picking out the right details and weaving them in. Details that crop up at the start of the book find their way deep within the novel. The repetition of some things, and the lack of it for others, helps add suspense. One is never quite sure how something will come into play. The writing style, filled with shockingly long sentences and paragraphs, is unusual, but absolutely brilliant within the book. I don’t think many, if any, other writers could pull it off. In short, the long paragraphs and sentences add on to the suspense, forcing the reader down an odd rabbit hole, trying to absorb each detail.

And finally, the plot itself. I believe the beauty of the plot lies within its simplicity. Four strangers staying in a legendary haunted house. Each of them have some tie to the paranormal or the house itself, and yet each one has their own doubts. There are so, so many things that could go wrong with this scenario, and things do indeed go wrong, but none of it in the way one anticipates. And this is coming from someone who has memorized the 1963 film. The simplicity allows the reader’s imagination to run away with them, and be surprised and frightened over and over again.

This is one of those books where the cliche of “a beautiful and haunting book” is actually quite fitting. If horror is your thing, then you really can’t go wrong with Jackson’s masterpiece. If you’re a fan of classics, again, this is a solid book and worthy of your bookshelves. As a writer I found myself enthralled with the choice of words and the brilliant details. As a reader I was curled at the edge of my sofa, reading, trying to absorb and unravel each mystery presented to me. Jackson is truly a master of horror and has quickly made her way firmly onto my list of favorite authors.

Of Summer Heat and Surprises

July is simultaneously one of my favorite and least favorite months. For one, in the south, the heat is at its all time high, humidity is nearly a solid, and there is simply not enough ice to go into one’s iced tea.

But it’s not all bad. July means we’re deep into summer. I can finally start to relax. I find myself spending my evenings outside listening to the crickets and frogs, watching the stars and fireflies flicker together. There’s also a number of birthdays to celebrate during the month, mine included. While I’m hardly a party person, there’s something wonderful about being with loved ones and getting to celebrate them. And of course, there are those strange summer surprises that always seem to sneak up on me.

But you get surprises too! The first is a month long sale. From July 1st (today) until July 31st, Of Secrets and Sound is half off exclusively on Smashwords. Instead of $1.99 it’s now priced $0.99. Smashwords allows you to download e-books in a number of formats, including the formats required for Kindles and Nooks, so you don’t need to worry about compatibility with your preferred device.

The year is 1873 and society has no room for deaf Edward Rollin. Despite being a social outcast, Edward is desperate to help his friends Ambrose Walsh and Abigail Hunt stop a growing plague. As Edward and his friends hit more dead ends in their investigation, he decides to try a new method of searching. This brings him closer to a cure, but far closer to danger.
Told through both Edward’s letters and third person, Of Secrets and Sound is the long awaited sequel to Of Secrets, Letters, and Lions.

A number of other authors are also putting their books on sale, so browse a while and see what’s up for grabs. This is a brilliant time to support authors and find new books.

Tomorrow will hold another surprise in the form of a second post. I’ll be sharing a bizarre summer surprise life recently tossed me and address the frequently asked question of inspiration. Things will go back to normal in August, with only one post on the first Monday of the month.

I hope you enjoy the sale and find new stories to fall in love with. Life is full of surprises, but may you find the good in each of them.

Book Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses

“…I wish I had it in me to feel remorse for the dead thing. But this was the forest, and it was winter.” ~Fyere

I have no words for this book. The beauty, depth, darkness and light within it, all deeply moved me. Even so, I’ll do my best to review A Court of Thorns and Roses. After all, I’m the sort of person that when I fall in love with a book, I must talk about it.

A red and black book with silver text on it. On the left side of the book a young woman in a black dress stands, a black flowering tattoo on her arm. The text reads "A Court of Thorns and Roses" by Sarah J. Maas

Synopsis: Fyere is a 19 year old woman who kills a wolf in the woods to help provide food for her family. Her world is shattered when a powerful beast comes to claim her as retribution. Taken to the half of the world where no human has ventured and come back alive from, Fyere discovers her captor is none other than Tamlin, one of the immortal and exceedingly powerful Fae. But Tamlin and his companions hold secrets, secrets of a power that is slowly destroying the world of the Fae, and Fyere’s human world. As Fyere learns more about Tamlin, she starts to realize just how little she knows about her world, the Fae, and how little power she has to stop the rising evil.

Thoughts: I had a number of hesitations coming into this book. For one, while “Beauty and the Beast” is one of my favorite stories, it’s also one of the more popular retellings. Secondly, while Fae mythology has always interested me, I’m quite worn out from the watered down Fae. I was afraid that despite the hype surrounding the book, it wouldn’t appeal to me. So somehow, I began reading with high expectations, but low hopes. By the end of the first chapter I was enamored, and my love only grew as I read.

The first thing that captured me was the narration. Maas made a wonderful choice by telling the story from Fyere’s point of view. Fyere’s practical, stubborn, hurt, and yet she’s deeply loyal, desperately trying to hold on to what little beauty life has to offer. From the start, Fyere knows herself and her motivations are clear. As the story progresses and her world view is challenged, Fyere starts to question her motives. This is one of the driving forces of the plot. I personally loved this element because it lead to a lot of character interactions and each one of those pushed the plot forward, adding depth to the story.

It’s impossible to talk about Fyere without talking about the other characters. To go into detail about each one would make this post quite long, so I’ll simply summarize. As much as I enjoyed seeing Fyere and Tamlin’s growing relationship, I still felt that Tamlin was too distant overall. He was certainly interesting, but I still couldn’t fully get behind him. I have a feeling this is purposeful on Maas’ part. I do appreciate that the depth of his actions (or lack of actions) is clarified as the book continues. This leads to some lovely conflict and plot twists.

But it was Nesta and Rhysand that became out of the blue insta-faves for me. At the start of the book Nesta, the oldest of Fyere’s sisters, is cold, selfish, and yet she shows a shocking amount of love and loyalty to Elain, the middle sister. She mostly remains so, and yet she still shows a delightful amount of growth throughout the book. Her relationship with Fyere broke and mended my heart. And then there’s Rhysand. I was surprised with how quickly I fell in love with his character. Sassy, smart, always thinking a few steps ahead, Rhysand is shrouded in mystery. And for someone who is so mysterious, he still was an extremely fleshed out character, and a delight to read.

Of course, characters cannot exist in a void. The world building that went into A Court of Thorns and Roses is breath taking. It brings to mind the detailed fantasy worlds of Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter. Not because this book is anything like them, simply because the magic, the belief system, the politics, and the geography are all so well thought out. Even from the first chapter there is a darkness hovering. I wasn’t expecting a terribly dark book, but this book was darker than I anticipated on a number of levels and I loved it. This book also pulls on a number of fantasy tropes and is a fascinating take on the original “Beauty and the Beast” story. But there are also other faerie tales that are referenced in the book, which I found to be an absolute delight.

For a number of reasons this book broke and mended me. I can’t point to any one thing and say “This is what made me love this book.” All of the elements, the way they were woven together, made me fall in love. The elements all tied into the plot. Nothing was mentioned needlessly, and that will always win me over in a book. A Court of Thorns and Roses hits on everything I want in a fantasy book. It pulls on old troupes and transforms them into something formidable and unique. It has a detailed, character and world based plot, suspenseful plot twists and a plethora of other things. If you haven’t read this series yet and are looking for fantasy with an edge, I highly recommend A Court of Thorns and Roses. It’s a deeply immersive book that holds your heart and keeps you in its world long after the book is finished.

Dear Reader,

If you’ll give me a moment to be more honest than I’m comfortable being, I think you’ll find it worth your while. Especially if you’re interested in my writing and what the future holds in that respect. Even if you’re here mostly for the book reviews (and I won’t be upset in the least if you are! I would take it as a complement), I hope you’ll find this at the very least entertaining.

The name "A. E. Moseley" is written in a silver white text, tree branches coming from the "A", "M, and "Y". On top of the letters, in the center, is a crow.

As you can see I have new logo design. Obviously, I have to take this opportunity to show it off. I absolutely adore it and all its variations (FB , Twitter , and Instagram all sport the new logo). Whimsical, mysterious, and dark, it truly touches on everything I want and need it to. The team at Deranged Doctor Design did a brilliant job capturing the essence of my current work and long term creative goals.

But I digress. I promised to be honest and to talk about my writing.

I have always loved the darkness. Even so, it took time for me to learn that the darkness wasn’t to be feared. That it adds beauty to life. The darkness is our shadow, the shade of the trees. It helps the moon and stars shine more brightly, it lulls us to sleep at night. The darkness does not hurt us, it is what is in the darkness that is to be feared. If you have ever stepped on a Lego barefooted in the dark, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

But I was always encouraged to be interested in other things. Polite things, less morbid things. After all, as a child, and to this day, I’m a kind and optimistic person. My interests by and large clash with my personality, or so I’ve been told.

And when you are told things enough, lies or otherwise, eventually it becomes hard to ignore those words. And so I held back. And back. And back.

I’m quite done with all of that. I am no longer holding myself back. It is not fair to myself and it’s certainly not fair to my readers. After all, if I’m holding back, I’m limiting the stories that I can and want to tell. Considering the fact that I write to give back, to give back to the writers who have indirectly healed and helped me through their works, by writing my own stories so that others may grow and heal, well to hold back is unacceptable.

I still adore the stories I have written previously. They have taught me so much and I will certainly finish the Secrets of the Lion series (although if I’m honest, it’s giving me a bit of trouble at the moment, hopefully my other works will inspire the final story in that series). But, they only touch on what I want to explore.

For many years I have wanted to expand my writing. Go deeper, darker, edgier. Life is full of sharp edges and jagged rocks. It’s filled with seemingly bottomless pits and black nights. I want to explore that. Not for the shock value, but because that’s true of life. Jagged rocks can be gems, the bottomless pits do indeed end and lead to the most extraordinary of places. And of course, we all know that the darker the night, the brighter the moon and stars. There is a beauty in the darkness. I want to try to express that in my writing.

I’m so very excited for the future. I’m already working with close friends to expand what I bring to you, in both my stories and other outlets. The book reviews and blog posts are not going away. I will simply be adding on to what I already do.

I hope you take this as an invitation. I hope you decide the darkness is worth exploring with me, that through exploring the darkness we can learn to love the light all the more. Whatever the reason that brought you here, thank you. Thank you for your time and your curiosity. May we always find something beautiful and appealing, even in the darkest of moments. And may we never hold ourselves back.

Book Review: The Silence of the Lambs

“Problem-solving is hunting; it is savage pleasure and we are born to it.”

I adored the movie Silence of the Lambs when I first saw it years ago and have seen it many times since. I promised myself that one day, I would hunt down the book and read it. When I finally got around to reading it, I devoured the book.

Book cover with a woman's hand is held out and above it flies a yellow and brown moth with a human skull on its back. The cover reads "Thomas Harris, The Silence of the Lambs"

Synopsis: Clarice Starling is a bright young woman, a hardworking student at the FBI Academy. Thanks to her work ethic and skills she is asked to do a seemingly impossible task: go to a maximum security prison and talk to the renown serial killer Doctor Hannibal Lecter. Starling’s surprise success opens doors for her. But these doors lead to Buffalo Bill, a serial killer just as twisted as Doctor Lecter. Buffalo Bill keeps is victims alive for only a short time. His latest victim is the daughter of a powerful senator who is putting pressure on the FBI to work like they never have before. To save lives Clarice must make deals with a number of people, including Doctor Lecter, a man hellbent on regaining his freedom.

Thoughts: This book is everything I want in a mystery/thriller. It’s intricate, twisted, and dark. I found it delightfully easy to sink into the story.

This book is both strange and delightful. The characters, the setting(s), the underlying themes, all are deeply relatable, and yet seemingly removed from real life. I think a fair bit of this can be attributed to the writing style. It goes from past tense to present tense, but if you’re alert, you’ll catch on to where this happens and it’s easy to see why. It took a couple of chapters for me to get used to it, but I found it delightful overall. It added to the suspense and fast pace of the story.

If serial killers and psychology weren’t enough to capture my attention, the way that these topics and others were handled certainly did. While Harris brings up excellent points about how people treat one another through his characters, the book never once falls into the trap of preaching. Whatever is said is always tied into the plot. This was not only incredibly refreshing, but it also heightened the suspense.

One of the key elements in the book is trans-sexuality. There are very few, if any transsexual characters, but the topic is integral to the plot. I was happy to see statistics, acknowledgement of the struggles that those who transition go through, and how people stood up to protect their privacy. That is a huge and welcomed difference from the movie.

Speaking of the movie, if you’ve seen it but haven’t read the book, fret not. The book is hardly spoiled for you. Although I knew the ending, there were many more details and twists that I didn’t see coming. The ending is a fair bit different than how the movie portrays it to boot. I was delighted by the book’s ending.

From start to finish The Silence of the Lambs is an immersive book. The characters, even the most minor of them, are fleshed out, challenging topics are handled with grace, and the pacing is as close to perfection as one can get. This became an immediate classic when first published, and the book is certainly deserving of such praise. This became an instant favorite for me. No doubt I will enjoy reading it many times in the future.