Book Review

Book Review: Beginner Chunky Knitting Patterns

While I love knitting and helping run Warm Up Ohio, the local chapter of Warm Up America, I’ll admit that it’s hard for me to follow most patterns. I gravitate towards simple knitting projects because I love the meditative repetition. Also, I like to to multitask and knit while I’m watching TV, which really only works for basic patterns that require minimal counting. Because of this, I was super excited to read Beginner Chunky Knitting Patterns: 14 easy to knit patterns for women, babies, and the home.

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This book was written by Gina Michele, whose website has long been one of my favorite resources for craft ideas! This e-book is also a great resource. I love the variety of patterns here. Plus, they really are all for beginners. They’re easy to follow and knit up quickly since they use chunkier yarn and bigger needles. This is a fantastic book for those who are still learning to follow knitting patterns. I highly recommend both this book and Gina’s website! I’ve so enjoyed following her life journey with her blog (and it’s even inspired me to give a few vegan recipes a try!)

Thanks for reading,

Tiffany

 

Book Review

Book Review: Pet Sematary

I recently saw some previews for the new film adaptation of Pet Sematary and it made me realize I had never actually read it. I have a huge amount of respect for Stephen King and all that he’s done for the horror genre, but his writing style isn’t always my favorite, especially in his longer, more recent books. Still, since this one is Classic King, I thought I’d give it a try before seeing the movie!

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I truly believe that this is one of King’s best! It doesn’t quite reach the level of my top three favorite King stories: It, The Shining, and ‘Salem’s Lot – but it was still a very enjoyable reading experience. Generally, the premise is about a young family that moves to a small town shrouded in local legend about a Native American cemetery with powers to raise the dead. I’ll avoid giving too many details because I abhor spoilers.

Overall, this novel proves that King is a master of suspense and foreshadowing. Coming in at about 400 pages, this book was much longer than it needed to be (which is another trademark of Stephen King), yet just when the story was seeming to drag too much, hints of future horror were dropped in expert fashion. It was absolutely enough to keep the momentum and intrigue.

I was surprised at how long the buildup took before we got to the crux of the story. Much of the beginning half is devoted to intricate character development, which I did like (but which I know many will not). When we finally get to the story’s climax, the rest of the book felt rushed compared to the slow pacing of the beginning, but it still left me with that great eerie feeling long after the last page. Now, I’m super excited to see the two film adaptations as I know this plot really lends itself to a more visual medium!

I definitely recommend this one to readers looking for Classic King nostalgia (before his books became all 600+ pages) and to those who like moderately frightening horror with strong character development!

Thanks for reading,

Tiffany Renee Harmon

Personal, Update

Where I’ve Been/Where I’m Going

The most discouraging thing about writing is the feeling that my productivity needs to be consistent. I look at writers who are churning out at least a book a year, and I wonder “What’s wrong with me? I can’t even blog regularly anymore.” I’ve finally come to the conclusion that I’m just not the type of person who can always be productive because periodically I have periods of depression that require me to take a step back and recharge and hibernate. That’s where I’ve been this year so far – recharging, rediscovering, relearning. If you would like to learn more about how this feels, or if this is something you go through as well and you want to read something you can relate to, I would absolutely recommend the upcoming book The Radiant Midnight: Depression, Grace, and the Gifts of a Dark Place by Melissa Maimone. This book comes out April 2nd and offers a realistic insider’s perspective on depression.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I’m happy to say that, for now at least, things are feeling better. I’m starting to feel creative again, and I’m cautiously optimistic about the future. I’ve started writing fiction again, and I’m even sending out some short works. In fact, one of my stories “Appendix A” has been accepted for publication in Clever Magazine. I have a lot of things I need to work on both personally and professionally, but I can feel myself moving forward and that’s been really relieving.

So, where am I going? Forward into the unknown.

I’m going to try to blog more regularly. I plan on posting movie and book reviews soon. I want to continue writing and submitting short stories to journals. Maybe I’ll even pick up the novel and the screenplay I started last year. But I know better than to make lofty promises or outrageous goals, so all of this is going to go at whatever pace I can reasonably muster each day.

Thank you for following reading and following along on this journey!

-Tiffany Renee Harmon

 

Book Review

My Favorite Horror Novels

Halloween is about a month away. To celebrate, I’ll be doing a “31 Days of Halloween” series where I talk about my 31 favorite Halloween movies. Since that’s going to be taking up all of October, I thought I’d end September with mentioning some of my favorite horror novels:

 

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‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

This is King’s take on vampires, and it’s for sure one of his best works. I love that he took the traditional vampire mythos and allusions to Dracula while still putting his original spin on it. It feels very familiar to those who like classic vampires, but there’s still a whole second layer.

 

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Ring by Koji Suzuki

It’s commonly known that the Ring movie franchise was inspired by the Japanese movie, but that movie was actually inspired by a book series! This is the first in an excellent series of Japanese horror novels (which deviate quite a bit from the films). I just couldn’t put them down.

 

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We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

While this may not traditionally be considered horror, it talks about a realistic horror: school shootings. This is one of the most interesting books I’ve ever read, and it deals a lot with the psychology of evil, specifically nature versus nurture.

 

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The Ruins by Scott Smith

In this unique horror story, some vacationers encounter killer plants in the Mexican jungle. Yes, I admit that that sounds ridiculous, but this was actually a super interesting book about much more than external horror. It had a surprising amount of character development too.

 

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Help for the Haunted by John Searles

This book is classified as both mystery and horror. It’s about a girl named Sylvie whose parents were traveling paranormal investigators who helped spirits cross over. After their deaths, Sylvie copes with their loss as well as the loss of her own childhood. As she tries to come to terms with everything that has happened, she must discover whether her parents were truly gifted or were just clever con artists. Is she being haunted by something otherworldly or hunted by someone very much alive?

 

Well, I’ll be back tomorrow with the start of “31 Days of Halloween” so stay tuned for more spooky recommendations!

Thanks for reading,

Tiffany

Book Review

Book Review: Troubling Love by Elena Ferrante

I am a huge fan of Elena Ferrante, the Italian novelist whose true identity isn’t publicly known and who has written some of the most interesting pieces of contemporary domestic fiction. Ferrante is best known for her Neapolitan Quartet (which is fabulous and is being adapted by HBO). Recently, however, I had the opportunity to read one of her stand-alone novels Troubling Love.

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In Troubling Love, after a personal tragedy befalls the main character Delia, she returns to her native Naples to discover long lost secrets about her family. What follows is a fascinating self-discovery which explores the themes of love, loss, and the true meaning of family. I devoured this one in just two sittings (it’s only 139 pages long), but so much insight was packed into this thin novel. Between the heartbreaking emotions and the amazing setting details, this was such a richly rewarding book.

I am so intrigued by Ferrante and the mystery surrounding her. She’s been quoted, “I believe that books, once written, have no need of their authors.” Still, her anonymity combined with the power of her prose makes me want to know more about her as a human being. Maybe it’s because I’m also an author, so while I agree with her quotation, I also feel that there’s some inextricable bond between an writer and her words.

Book Review

Book Review: A Discovery of Witches

Autumn is coming, and with the cooling of the season comes the realization that Halloween is fast approaching too. This year, I plan on doing a “31 Days of Halloween” blog-a-thon where I’ll be reviewing a horror movie daily in October. But until then, I’ve been revisiting some of my favorite supernatural-themed books. One of my favorites is A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.

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A Discovery of Witches is the first in a supernatural trilogy that follows the witch Diana Bishop as she comes to terms with what she is and learns the history of both her family as well as other supernatural creatures like vampires and daemons. There are so many things to love about this book:

  • Diana is a fascinating main character. She has a lot of depth and is a very strong woman. Even though she falls in love (and there is some compromise in her relationship as there is in all relationships), she retains her agency. She’s even flawed in believable ways that makes her seem like a real person. Her growth throughout this book and the rest of the trilogy is compelling.
  • The romance here is bittersweet but satisfying. I dislike when a book’s romance feels too easy. Here, there are obstacles to be overcome, and both characters grow as the relationship develops.
  • There is some fascinating world-building in this book. From a supernatural perspective, the folklore here about witches, daemons, and vampires felt like a really fresh and unique take on creatures that are so common in fiction these days.
  • Harkness is a historian by trade, and it really shows. She’s an academic (as is her main character), and I loved the details about history, science, alchemy, genetics, and more. You can tell that everything in this book was meticulously planned and researched.

I absolutely loved this book (and the whole trilogy). I’m so excited that this universe is expanding and there is going to be another book about a supporting character – Marcus. That book is called Time’s Convert, and it comes out on Tuesday!! My copy has been pre-ordered since the announcement!

Have you read this book, or do you have a favorite supernatural book you want to share? Be sure to let me know in the comment section!

Thanks for reading!

-Tiffany

 

Book Review

Book Review: Aim True by Kathryn Budig

Sometimes, self-improvement books can be really frustrating. Often, they’re filled with bad advice or they just feel super impractical. However, every so often, I stumble upon a truly amazing one and then I just have to share. The most recent one I’ve been loving is: Aim True: Love Your Body, Eat Without Fear, Nourish Your Spirit, Discover True Balance! by Kathryn Budig.

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Like most females, I don’t always feel super positive about my body. Well, in this book, renowned yoga instructor Kathryn Budig delivers solid advice for loving yourself inside and out. She also has a lot of anecdotes about her own experiences with body image, mental health, and physical health. Her writing style is light and humorous, and it almost felt like I was reading a very long letter from a new friend than reading a book.

This book includes a lot: recipes, yoga guides, meditation guides, and self-care/homeopathy tips. But what I loved most was the personal, honest way that Budig shares her own journey. Even if you’re not in to yoga, I think this one is worth giving a try because it’s just so positive an uplifting.

I highly recommend this book for all women, but especially those who sometimes struggle with their self-esteem and body image.

Thanks for reading,

Tiffany