Books, Thoughts

Bookmark Monday (IV): Leather, oh my!

I was processing some donated books for work the other week & amid the ephemera tucked between the pages were two leather bookmarks. This was completely new to me; I’ve never really seen these kind, much less commemorative ones for a specific place.

Church & State

I’m not saying that leather is a poor choice for a bookmark; it just seems that with the finish & the embossing, the end product seems nicer & little pricey for just being left in a book that destined for the bargain bin.  No one’s come to claim them either; they’ve been sitting in the lost & found since.  Kinda sad, but then I’m prone to caring about things as if they were people.

And I must admit, considering that these are from a church & a military school, there’s a perverse part of me that wonders if its meant to do double-duty as a penance tool.

(Bookmark Mondays originated from Guiltless Reading.)

Guiltless Reading


Brigid of Ireland from the Haindl Tarot, designed by Hermann Haindl

Hail to the Lady on her day.  Bless us with peace & patience.  Bless us with breath & poetry.  Bless our hearts that thaw with healing time & turn to the sun.

Books, Thoughts

Off the Shelf: Fog (Losing Christina #1)

Fog (Losing Christina, #1)Fog by Caroline B. Cooney

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Christina is leaving her island home off the coast of Maine for mainland school. But she has hard lessons to learn when she discovers her headmasters have a singular focus on isolating & emotionally breaking down her friend Anya.

I loved this series as a kid & I picked it back up from my library after recently having a couple of sick days where I didn’t leave my bed. Cooney is fantastic with atmosphere & dramatic details that kept younger me reading. But the thing that was enjoyable to rediscover this time around was how horrifying certain parts of the story really were. I don’t mean the weird pain vampires & the spookies that accompany them; the process that Christina goes through having her world change as she grows up is heartbreaking. This protected kid who thinks her life has been full of wonder & adventure learns very quickly about poverty, group-think, conformity, & adult manipulation. It is easy to substitute the Shevvingtons’ supernatural motives into some other kind of exploitation or sociopathy & get thoroughly creeped-out as a result. Some of the usual rules of teenage love triangles & simplified prose style still apply, but there are some fascinating parts here.

Recommended for readers who like classic YA horror & those who’ve read the story before & are curious if it still holds up.

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Reverie, Jan 2018

The wistfulness of lying awake & seeing the world enliven around you.  The lightening of the violet-blue sky into the foggy slate of a rainy winter morning.

The trembling branches heavy with water & shaking off a spatter of drops with a shiver of wind.  The dark branches cracking the sky behind the double lattice of window screen & window pane.

The tinny warm noise of the radio near you that seems to mirror the weak familiar street lamps fading in the dawn.  A pop song you’d laugh at in the bright day suddenly hopeful & vulnerable, like those fluorescent lights that have held back the shadows all night.  A passing car muttering to itself as it leaves for errands work travel.

Looking down & into the world at the height of two stories and feeling everything is so fragile so fragile & in this moment you’re safe & your heart is open & the world is finally catching up to you, the one up since 2am waiting for some strange permission to be up & about like a normal person.  You feel the static of your thoughts fill with the morning & you say to yourself remember this remember.

Your mind tries to obey & shows you other mornings like this, mornings you hadn’t even tried to keep for the future.  Christmas mornings when the light on the ceiling reflected off of the blue-white of the snow outside; dark fall mornings in your grandmother’s house as she made coffee in a kitchen that seemed in another world & you contemplated dressing in the dark; hazy amber mornings where you stared at the mysteries of the townhouse parking lot & forgot what you did to yourself hours ago with a bottle of vodka & a pocketknife.  No no, you gently protest against the images, remember this morning outside the windows.

& as you try to redirect, as you try to make room in your heart for a shining puddle, a dark window breathing pale curtains, the pleasurable luxury of this bed & this moment to yourself, you forget to hold onto the waking world & drift into sleep.

Books, Thoughts

Off the Shelf: Paperbacks From Hell

Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror FictionPaperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of ’70s and ’80s Horror Fiction by Grady Hendrix

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I came across this book on display at a local Barnes & Noble & immediately swooped it up. I had just spent the afternoon at a nearby used bookstore taking pictures of weird & retro sci-fi covers–how could I not check this collection out?!

Author Grady Hendrix was merely another curious browser in dusty old book stores, trying to find the weirdest, most lurid forgotten paperbacks until his innocuous habit became a full-blown obsession with cataloging the explosion of horror novels from the 70s & 80s. His timeline kicks off with the publication of Rosemary’s Baby & ends with Clive Barker & the brief explosion of teen horror luminaries like R.L. Stine & Christopher Pike.

Hendrix is having way too much fun with this book, exploring the social anxieties of the decades & making a bunch of silly running jokes about how skeleton doctors are the worst doctors with equal enthusiasm. And if you are curious about his focus & are game to play along, you’ll have fun while reminiscing about some of those same mass market covers you probably saw in the supermarket while tagging along on your parents’ errands. In all seriousness, some of the books/authors that Hendrix outlines will tease you just enough that you’ll find yourself making a reading list against your better judgement. He’s convinced this reader to give V.C. Andrews a chance & to cause me to look at William Johnston’s Westerns with a skeptical glance. (I see you, weirdo, with your supposedly milquetoast jacket descriptions.)

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