Livin’ On The Edge

Right here, right now I am sitting on bleachers not watching the girls basketball team play.

I am instead writing this blog post. We are here to watch my youngest son play and his game hasn’t started, so I’m trying to see how much I can get accomplished before his team is up.

Side note: There are some obnoxious women seated to my right who are hollering like it’s the NBA, or the WNBA. Anyone who knows me, knows I don’t randomly scream out at sports teams (in part because I don’t know all of the specific calls, etc). I will cheer for my children or others that I know, but I don’t just scream out during the game. A random, “ Bull crap!” was just yelled out. Y’all, it’s fifth grade. It’s not offensive or anything, just red-neck as all get out.

Back to talking books.

Tonight is the second post of October’s last theme week of:

Last night started us off with, Misery, which is near and dear to my heart because it’s such a great storyline.

Before I talk about tonight’s book, I have a question for you:

If you could be two people, not split personalities, but lead two different lives, would you live one different than the other? Or would your “two” people be more or less the same?

Weird question, I know. I’m not sure what I would do. I’m not itching to go on a crime-spree or anything of that nature, but I do think I would do things different in one life versus another. Maybe travel the world or something like that? The caveat being, one life knows about the other. If you had children (as I do), could you not have them, but know you do in the other life, or have another whole family altogether? It kind of makes my mind tangle up just thinking about it all.

The Dark Half by Stephen King is about one such story. The Amazon synopsis is below:

• Thad Beaumont is a writer, and for a dozen years he has secretly published violent bestsellers under the name of George Stark. But Thad is a healthier and happier man now, the father of infant twins, and starting to write as himself again. He no longer needs George Stark and so, with nationwide publicity, the pseudonym is retired. But George Stark won’t go willingly.

And now Thad would like to say he is innocent. He’d like to say he has nothing to do with the twisted imagination that produced his bestselling novels. He’d like to say he has nothing to do with the series of monstrous murders that keep coming closer to his home. But how can Thad deny the ultimate embodiment of evil that goes by the name he gave it-and signs its crimes with Thad’s bloody fingerprints? •

Now what? I think it sounds really interesting. Since it’s SK, you know he’ll throw in some twists you never saw coming (right, Julie?). His talent with words can make you feel crazy when you’d swear you are most definitely sane. When a writer can can make you feel, you know you’re in the midst of true talent.

Besides being a fan, another reason I chose to feature SK is because if someone hasn’t read him before, they usually have a strong opinion. As in, “not interested in horror,” or “he’s just not my thing.” The thing is, if you haven’t tried something, how do you know? His books have always made me think, which is one of the main reasons I keep coming back. They definitely have a creep element, which I also love-and you may not. I will say, despite that, his books have never scared me.

What I’m trying to say in all of this jibber-jabber is this: be open to giving a new-to-you genre or author a chance. Even if it’s not SK, give someone new a chance. Live on the edge, you might just discover a whole new world opening in front of your eyes.

“But writers INVITE ghosts, maybe; along with actors and
artists, they are the only totally accepted mediums of our society. They make worlds that never
were, populate them with people who never existed, and then invite us to join them in their
fantasies. And we do it, don’t we? Yes. We PAY to do it.” -Stephen King, The Dark Half

“…he was after all, a novelist…and a novelist was simply a fellow who got paid to tell lies. The bigger the lies, the better the pay.” -Stephen King, The Dark Half

PS. It’s National Cat Day or so I’ve heard, so Brontë, as well as her bony dark half were such convenient fits for tonight’s post 🐈

I Do Wish I Could Stay & Chat Longer, But I’m Having An Old Friend For Dinner.

Happy Friday!

The sky is dark and the rain is pouring down. Short of booming thunder and lightning splitting the sky open, I can’t think of a better evening to end this week’s theme of:

As I’ve mentioned, Lecter is my favorite villain. I mentioned in my first post of the week that I find villains far more interesting than heroes.

Villains are usually more complex than heroes. They have a more interesting, albeit darker, history. One of the reasons I am so taken with Hannibal is his intelligence and use of language. The fact that he tortures those in adjoining cells, not with any kind of weapon, but rather in what he says is (of course creepy) horrifyingly amazing. High intelligence in itself is sometimes a frightening thing. It’s basically being a savant in one area while incredibly lacking in another or several areas ( ie. empathy, a conscience, etc. in Lecter’s case).

And just for the record, you or I can find something fascinating without wanting to emulate it.

Before we talk about the final book in this series, I just want to remind you or anyone new that Fridays on this blog are for celebrating my three favorites:

1. Books

2. Desert

3. Drinks

So let’s go!

The Book:

Hannibal by Thomas Harris is the fourth book in the Hannibal Lecter series. It was written third, but should be read last.

This story begins with Hannibal back in the world as a free man. Not from being released, but from having escaped custody. He has been out for seven years, savoring everything he holds dear.

There are a few side stories in this novel. One is Clarice Starling from the previous book, The Silence of the Lambs. She still remembers (obviously) working with Lecter and somewhat holds these memories dear. While working with him to find serial killer Buffalo Bill, her and Lecter found and formed a connection. I feel like this novel opens with the idea that Lecter is searching for Starling, not to cause harm, but simply to find her.

Another story is that of Mason Verger. Verger was Lecter’s sixth victim, but he survived. Except his survival is one that exists from a bed and if I’m remembering correctly, a ventilator. He wants vengeance.

There’s also word of Lecter residing in Europe, so the police, FBI, and now Interpol are involved in finding him.

I absolutely will not tell you how this book ends. I will say the ending is one that I just read for the sake of reading every now and again because it is so visual to me. It’s only a few pages, but it’s so well done.

Hannibal is my favorite book of the four. It scared me the most, made me think the most, and just got to me on so many levels. I’m not sure I want to know where or how Thomas Harris conjured such a creature as Hannibal Lecter, but I’m glad he did, because it/he makes for some great reading.

Another thing, which is so rare- in fact, I can’t think of another example. The Hannibal books, movies, and NBC TV show featuring Mads Mikkelsen are all great. Typically when a different actor portrays the same character, something is lost. For some reason Anthony Hopkins as Lecter in the films works a little too well (I think he will forever be known for this role) and Mikkelsen in the TV role is also done quite well. My only complaint, although I do like her as an actress, is Juliann Moore. I wish Jodie Foster had continued on as Agent Starling in Hannibal rather than Moore. But it’s a minor blip in the whole scheme of things.

The Dessert:

These are Keto Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cookies and are delicious. I found the recipe on Pinterest:

Combine: Set Oven to: 350

1 cup almond flour

1 cup stevia

1 cup pumpkin purée

1 egg

2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

2 tsp vanilla. I used Pumpkin Pie syrup by Jordan’s Skinny Syrups

1/2 cup Lily’s chocolate chips

1/4 cup pecans

Combine all in one bowl. Place small balls of mixture on to a parchment paper covered cookie sheet. Flatten the balls out a bit.

Cook for at least twenty minutes, depending your oven, they may require more or less time. I made 26 cookies with this recipe. A little over I net carb per cookie.

The Drink:

I’ve had Carnivor wine before. It’s a Cabernet Sauvignon from California that suits Dr. Hannibal Lecter quite well. Another option is to pair it with fava beans while having an old friend for dinner.

Cheers 🍷

“In the vaults of our hearts and brains, danger waits. All the chambers are not lovely, light and high. There are holes in the floor of the mind, like those in a medieval dungeon floor – the stinking oubliettes, named for forgetting, bottle-shaped cells in solid rock with the trapdoor in the top.” -Thomas Harris, Hannibal

Hello Clarice.

October is a time for cozy sweaters and pumpkin-everything.

It’s also a time for for posting creepy, strange books and pictures with blood spatter. I happen to love blood spatter, in case you haven’t noticed. In another life I would love to be a blood spatter analyst, à la Dexter.

Of course all the blood in my pictures is non-toxic paint (just in case *anyone cares).

*I happen to know there are actually a shit-ton of people out there who have some serious opinions about paint. But that’s another story for another day 🎨

Moving on.

If you’ve been following my blog this week then you know I’ve been posting theme weeks throughout the month of October.

The theme this week has been:

He just happens to be my very favorite villain. Tonight’s post is about The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris. This is probably the most well-known book in the series and the accompanying movie is nothing short of phenomenal. Scary as hell, but phenomenal.

SOTL was written second, but should be read third-according to me. You can read these books in any order of your choosing. I prefer to read things in an orderly timeline if at all possible, which is why I begin with the book written fourth (Hannibal Rising) because it is about Hannibal as a child.

This story follows another serial killer, Buffalo Bill who is abducting women. An FBI trainee, Clarice Starling, is sent to meet with Dr. Lecter to once again request his help, this time in the Buffalo Bill case.

From the beginning Lecter is very taken with Agent Starling. As she begins to question Lecter, he begins to analyze her. His intrigue with the vast and deep corners of the mind (which he calls his Memory Palace) lead him to ask questions about Sterling’s personal life and childhood, which Starling is hesitant in responding to, especially at first.

As time goes by, Lecter does provide help in profiling what type of person Buffalo Bill is. As he answers Starling’s questions, she begins to open up about herself. Starling is drawn more to Lecter as time goes by. Not in a romantic way necessarily, but in more of a mental stand-off. Although they exist on opposite sides of the law, there is a strong mutual respect of one another. The complexities of their relationship is fascinating. It seems almost unfathomable that a relationship and even a friendship of sorts could even exist.

Tomorrow’s post featuring the fourth Hannibal book concludes this week’s theme. I hope you have enjoyed this week’s posts, because I have enjoyed writing and photographing them for you. It’s always fun to visit old, creepy favorites, especially in the spookiest month of the year 🎃

Like the previous three Hannibal books, the creep factor is high- deliciously high. It’s this factor alone, which should spur you to read it all the more.

“Good-bye Clarice. Will you let me know if ever the lambs stop screaming?” -Thomas Harris, The Silence of the Lambs

Then, That Boy Named Hannibal Lecter Grew Up

When someone is really good at something like playing a sport or instrument they are amazing to watch. Even if you yourself are not in to that particular thing, usually an exceptional talent has the ability to draw you in.

If their skill or talent is up your alley, then at the very least it’s easy to become mesmerized.

And what about when you want to learn about something you aren’t familiar with? Then, you seek out the professional, or someone who is pretty good at the skill set you are interested in, right?

That’s what I would do.

And that very idea leads in to the second book concerning this week’s theme of:

Monday’s book, Hannibal Rising, is about Hannibal’s childhood and although it was written fourth, I feel it should be read first.

Red Dragon by Thomas Harris was written first, but it should be read second. This book is about a serial killer who brutally murders families in their homes. When the police continue to struggle with this case, retired FBI agent, Will Graham who has a special talent for catching serial killers comes out of retirement to help. Graham was almost killed in the process of catching his last serial killer, Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Although Graham and Lecter have a violent history that put Lecter in prison, Graham reaches out to him for help with this current case.

So, just because someone is good at something doesn’t automatically mean that something is a good thing. But it also doesn’t mean you can not learn from them.

Red Dragon is the first book to explore Lecter not only as an adult, but also as an important, highly intelligent resource. What makes Lecter so dangerous is that he knows how intelligent he is. Due to this, his manipulations and charismatic characteristics flow almost seamlessly in to every conversation and situation almost effortlessly.

Well bookworms, we are now halfway through the Hannibal Lecter quartet. Stick around for the rest of the week, each book only gets better!

“The very air had screams smeared on it. He flinched from the noise in this silent room.” -Thomas Harris, Red Dragon

“Don’t think you can persuade me with appeals to my intellectual vanity.” -Thomas Harris, Red Dragon

Once Upon A Time There Was A Boy Named Hannibal Lecter

It’s been rainy and dreary today, which is perfect for sitting under a blanket with coffee and a book.

But not so perfect for driving to work, running errands, or walking the dog. The first two were done in the rain and the rain had let up when I started walking, so I decided to chance it.

The odds were not in my favor.

By the time we got home we were both soaked. Not exactly the cozy, rainy-day scenario I had mind. More often than not I live vicariously within the scenes I create in my head. I picture myself holed up somewhere amazing (like a huge comfy chair) reading for hours undisturbed. These thoughts alone can be relaxing in their own right, which I guess is the next best thing to actually getting to do them.

So here we are bookworms- in the fourth week of October. Each of the previous weeks of this month have been themed.

Week 1:

American Horror Stories, which featured all of Lisa Genova’s books.

Week 2:

True Crime

Week 3:

Witches

Before I share this week’s theme, I want to tell you something about me. I like villains. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to be a villain. I just find them fascinating in literature. They are more complex and hands down more interesting than heroes. Like real life criminals, I want to know what makes them tick. What events came together so horribly perfect to create such a being?

That being said, this week’s theme belongs to my favorite villain in literature:

Many years ago I watched the movie, The Silence of the Lambs and was eerily sucked in to the world of Dr. Hannibal Lecter.

When I found out there were books, I devoured them. At the time there were only two books. In all there are four and they are amazing.

This week I am going to post about each of them and I am posting them in the order I think they should be read. Hannibal Rising by Thomas Harris was actually written last, but it should be read first.

Each of us is a map. We are where we are because of all of the stops along the way. Each stop has shaped us, some in big ways and others might barely be noticed. I think most people even when going through something bad or sad usually come away from it stronger and have learned something from it (which helps when dealing with other hard things that come along).

The cliched saying, “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger,” does hold truth. However, there is a flip side to this statement. I think people sometimes have experiences so horrible that the mind sort of cracks (for lack of a proper medical word) apart. Those people then walk away with the damaged parts being strengthened rather than being properly helped and repaired.

Often these bad events occur in childhood. What children see and experience, they believe wholeheartedly and indiscernibly Their innocence is easily manipulated and ultimately destroyed.

Hannibal Rising is the story of Hannibal’s childhood. This prequel gives you the starting point as well as the first few stops on the map of Hannibal’s life. That’s really all you need to know going in to this story and in to the story of his life in its entirety.

This book, like the three others that follow are disturbing. But to leave them at that would be an injustice. They are intriguing, intense, intelligent, and Hannibal’s story is one of a kind.

So what do you think, are you ready to take a trip? Let’s get out the map of Hannibal Lecter’s life and get going. But, it’s getting darker earlier these days and I think you’d like some extra light for this journey.

“Just before nightfall, Hannibal approached Lecter castle through the woods. As he looked at his home, his feelings remained curiously flat; it is not healing to see your childhood home, but it helps you measure whether you are broken, and how and why, assuming you want to know.” -Thomas Harris, Hannibal Rising

“Spaces devoted to Hannibal Lecter’s earliest years differ from the other archives in being incomplete. Some are static scenes, fragmentary, like painted attic shards held together by blank plaster. Other rooms hold sound and motion, great snakes wrestling and heaving in the dark and lit in flashes. Pleas and screaming fill some places on the grounds where Hannibal himself cannot go. But the corridors do not echo screaming, and there is music if you like.” -Thomas Harris, Hannibal Rising

A Witch’s Brew For Tonight’s Crew

Books, dessert, wine, and Friday.

If you are among any or all of these things, you are among good company. Add in some comfy pants and you might just be in heaven. This week has been pretty good on my end, how about yours? Anything exciting? Along with working on blog stuff this week, i have been reading a book that got a lot of acclaim and even-gasp-won the dreaded Pulitzer,

Tangent alert: (I swear I don’t hate the Pulitzer. It just always puts me in to a state. As in, if the book isn’t amazing I start wondering what the hell the PP committee was thinking when they chose it over so many other more deserving books, and then I think literary prizes are just all going to hell in a hand-basket. Overly dramatic, I know).

Anyway I’ve been reading this book and I completely love it. What’s interesting, at least to me, is that two people who I feel not only are wonderful friends and also huge bookworms with great taste, have professed their profound dislike of this book. I almost put it in my trade pile (without reading it) because of their opinions. There really is only one reason I decided to give it a try, but I’ll get to that in a future post, so keep your eyes out for it some time in November.

When Friday rolls around it’s time for my favorite posting of the week. Every Friday on themostconstant I post a book, a dessert, and a drink.

So far for the month of October I have had a weekly theme.

Week 1: American Horror Stories

Week 2: True Crime

and

Week 3:

Ending this week’s theme is:

The Witches- Suspicion, Betrayal, and Hysteria in 1692 Salem by Stacy Schiff. When I first heard of this book I knew I wanted it. I came across this wonderful trade copy at a used book store out of town. It was in such good condition and such a beautiful book that I paid $12 for it. That’s high in my book (no pun intended), but sometimes you do what you gotta do.

This comes in at just under 500 pages and as of yet I’ve not read it. The Salem witch trials and all of the chaos surrounding that time is almost unbelievable. Below is the Amazon synopsis:

• 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.

The panic spread quickly, involving the most educated men and prominent politicians in the colony. Neighbors accused neighbors, parents and children each other. Aside from suffrage, the Salem Witch Trials represent the only moment when women played the central role in American history. In curious ways, the trials would shape the future republic •

Next up, dessert:

This is one of my old faithfuls. I wanted to make something new, but time did not permit this. These are my Almond Butter Blondies. The only sad part is now I am officially out of the almond butter I use for these. I use Trader Joe’s almond butter and the closest TJs is an hour away. I usually buy 7-8 jars at a time, and because I’m a bit of a hoarder when it comes to this stuff (and books). The recipe is posted on another post of you are interested.

Last, but certainly not least, the wine:

I chose this dark red called Black Forest by Cupcake because the Black Forest part made me think of the Salem witch trials for some reason. The bottle is empty, so I do recommend it. Add a few frozen berries and you will be good to go!

Bonus Book:

A sweet friend, who knew about all about the witch theme this week brought me this book tonight, so I had to share it with you all! It sounds great to me!

Here is the Amazon synopsis:

• In this tale of passion and obsession, Diana Bishop, a young scholar and a descendant of witches, discovers a long-lost and enchanted alchemical manuscript, Ashmole 782, deep in Oxford’s Bodleian Library. Its reappearance summons a fantastical underworld, which she navigates with her leading man, vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont •

One of the reasons I chose the witches theme is because, other than The Witching Hour by Anne Rice, I am not familiar with good books in this genre. I spent the last two weeks looking up books to post to you. In all honesty I had a book and picture ready to post yesterday and after really reading about it I realized I wasn’t as in to it as I had thought.

I am not opposed to posting about books I have read and subsequently did not like, but I am not going to post books I haven’t read that don’t fully grab my attention. Did I say that right?

Well it’s late and I’m tired, but I’d still like to eek out a few minutes of reading before I hit the hay.

I wish you all a goodnight and even better weekend. Check back for a new theme next week 📚

“I’ll get you my pretty, and your little dog, too.” -The Wicked Witch of the West, The Wizard of Oz

A Bewitching Duet

Happy Hump Day!

How has your week be so far? Mine has been decent, busy, but not bad, if that makes sense?

I meet up with my book club pals this Friday and I have been struggling with the book we selected for October. It’s The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. I was really excited when we chose this book, yet I can’t seem to connect with it. Have any of you read this? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Continuing with this week’s theme of

I have selected two books for this evening’s post. Part of the reason I selected this theme is because I’d like to dive in to some great stories about witches. They kind of fascinate me. Not necessarily the Wicked Witch of the West type with green skin and striped stockings, but more along the lines of the Mayfair witches from The Witching Hour (Monday’s post).

Tonight’s first book is:

White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi. With this story Oyeyemi has been compared with the gothic style of Shirley Jackson, which is no small feat.

This story, like The Witching Hour follows several generations of women living in England.

Since I haven’t read it, I’ve provided the Amazon synopsis below:

• There’s something strange about the Silver family house in the closed-off town of Dover, England. Grand and cavernous with hidden passages and buried secrets, it’s been home to four generations of Silver women—Anna, Jennifer, Lily, and now Miranda, who has lived in the house with her twin brother, Eliot, ever since their father converted it to a bed-and-breakfast. The Silver women have always had a strong connection, a pull over one another that reaches across time and space, and when Lily, Miranda’s mother, passes away suddenly while on a trip abroad, Miranda begins suffering strange ailments. An eating disorder starves her. She begins hearing voices. When she brings a friend home, Dover’s hostility toward outsiders physically manifests within the four walls of the Silver house, and the lives of everyone inside are irrevocably changed •

It sounds just real enough to be creepy, which is about my favorite recipe when it comes to books that hang out a little on the dark side.

The second book about witches is:

The Winter Witch by Paula Brackston. If she sound’s familiar, especially in this genre, it’s because she’s written several stories about witches. One of her more popular books is The Witch’s Daughter.

I hadn’t heard of The Winter Witch and when I read the back I thought it sounded good and worth sharing with you.

Below is the Amazon synopsis:

• In her small early nineteenth century Welsh town, there is no one quite like Morgana. She is small and quick and pretty enough to attract a suitor, but there are things that set her apart from other girls. Though her mind is sharp she has not spoken since she was a young girl. Her silence is a mystery, as well as her magic—the household objects that seem to move at her command, the bad luck that visits those who do her ill. Concerned for her safety, her mother is anxious to see Morgana married, and Cai Jenkins, the widowed drover from the far hills who knows nothing of the rumors that swirl around her, seems the best choice.

After her wedding, Morgana is heartbroken at leaving her mother, and wary of this man, whom she does not know, and who will take her away to begin a new life. But she soon falls in love with Cai’s farm and the wild mountains that surround it. Here, where frail humans are at the mercy of the elements, she thrives, her wild nature and her magic blossoming. Cai works to understand the beautiful, half-tamed creature he has chosen for a bride, and slowly, he begins to win Morgana’s affections. It’s not long, however, before her strangeness begins to be remarked upon in her new village. A dark force is at work there—a person who will stop at nothing to turn the townspeople against Morgana, even at the expense of those closest to her •

This one sounds like it has a bit of a love story at the heart of it, which is different than White is for Witching. This book by Brackston rates just slightly higher than her more popular The Witch’s Daughter, four stars for TWW versus 3.9 stars for TWD.

So what do you think-do either of these books sound good, have you read them?

Do you have a favorite story about witches, if so, please share it with me!

“Are you a good witch or a bad witch?” – Glinda the Good Witch, The Wizard of Oz