Ten Books I Plan to Read in 2017

My last post like this was all the way back in 2015, and it’s funny because I still haven’t read most of those books. But this year will be different, I say, for the fourth year in a row.

Image result for the winds of winter

1) The Winds of Winter, by George R. R. Martin.

That’s right, I’m calling it. This book will be published this year. I know I said this last year and the the year before that, but I mean it this time. I mean, he has to finish it eventually, right?


Image result for perks of being a wallflower
What a boring cover

2) Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky

I pick this book because it’s short, it’s supposed to be great, as well as an easy read. That’s what I love about YA books: they’re all quick to read, even when they’re bad. Plus, Emma Watson was in the movie adaptation, and come to think of it, I haven’t seen her act in anything since Harry Potter, so I hope to watch it after finishing this. 

Image result for extremely loud and incredibly close3) Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathon Safran Foer

I remember seeing the trailer to this movie and thinking, “I don’t know what this is about, but I like it.” I never got to see to see the movie, but I heard the reviews for both it and the book were very divisive. It was either the most beautiful, heartwarming novel you’ve ever read, or a three hundred page piece of trash that belongs in the depths of hell.

I will get to decide which it is.

Image result for the kite runner

4) The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

Fun fact, I actually read the first fifty pages or so, and found it fascinating. Sure, the main character was kind of a jerk to his friend, but I assume he’ll grow out of that. Plus I really want to learn more about the history of the middle east. The gist of what I know is this: Afghanistan got fucked over real bad in the 1970s, and I’m pretty sure the Russians were responsible, because the Russians are sort of awful like that. Although I’m sure the U.S. was also at fault in one way or another, because at one point in the novel Henry Kissinger was mentioned, and that guy’s famous for being a bit of a war criminal. Either way, I doubt this book has a happy ending.

Image result for the road book

5) The Road, by Cormac McCarthy

I also read about 80 pages into this book, and I loved every moment of it. Although I do find it kind of arrogant of the author to just ignore the rules of punctuation. “Pff, I don’t need commas or quotation marks,” I can imagine him thinking. “My story is just that powerful.

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6) Doctor Sleep, by Stephen King

I know, I know. It’s been over three years and I still haven’t read this book. However, I recently started getting back into King’s Dark Tower series, after putting it aside for a long time, so I think I’m ready to go back into his work. 

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7) The Price of Salt, by Patricia Highsmith

It’s a romance novel about two lesbians in the fifties, which was recommended to me by Engie from Musings from Neville’s Navel. While I wasn’t a fan of The Maze Runner, I do tend to love most of the books she recommends me. Like A Game of Thrones, or Between the World and Me, or The Miseducation of Cameron Post. Or V for Vendetta.

So intend to get around to reading this book, and the pages will be soaked with my heart-shaped tears.

Image result for life the universe and everything

8) Life, the Universe, and Everything, by Douglas Adams

This is the third book in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, and if it’s half as funny as the first two, I will be in for a good time. 

Seriously, though. You know how rare it is for me to laugh out loud when reading a book? Usually I just smile, or exhale out of my nose, but Adams sends me into fits. And then I find myself thinking about scenes from the books months afterwards and I crack up again, and then I have to explain to people why I just started laughing for seemingly no reason.

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9) I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson.

I remember seeing the Will Smith movie adaptation for this, and thinking, “meh, seven out of ten.” But apparently the book is completely different? Also, the book is currently sitting on a shelf in my basement, and no one knows how it got there, which adds quite a bit to its mystique.

10) Maggie Stiefvater’s new book, whatever it is.

Stiefvater’s become one of those authors whose books I would immediately buy the moment they were released. Other authors include John Green, Markus Zusak, George R. R. Martin, and Suzanne Collins. If any of them publish a new book this year, I guarantee I’ll be buying it, no matter what the circumstances.

So what are you planning to read this year? And if you’ve read any of the novels above, feel free to share your (non-spoilery) thoughts. Oh, and Happy New Year!

Something that Happened Years Ago That I Need to Get Off My Chest

Okay, so this is something that I never really talk about, because no one ever believes me when I tell them. I’m starting to doubt if everything went down exactly as I remember it, but I know that something definitely happened and I can’t quite explain what it was. Even all these years later, I still think about it at night when I’m lying in bed. I keep trying to make sense of it all; to find a rational, scientific explanation for what happened to me, and every single time I fail.

I don’t remember how old I was when this happened. It could’ve been anywhere from five to eight. It’s strange how I remember that night so well but I can never quite place it within a specific year of my life. Memory is weird like that.

Up until I was twelve or so, my family didn’t have an upstairs bathroom. If I ever needed to go in the middle of the night, I’d have to walk downstairs, through the dark, empty kitchen and into the dark, empty living room. 

There was a glass door in the living room I’d always have to walk by, that lead out to the side of the house. Usually the curtains were covering it but sometimes they weren’t, and because I always turned the lights on with every room I walked into, I could never see if anyone was outside, peering in through the glass door. All I could see was the reflection.

Those walks to the bathroom in the middle of the night were some of the most nerve-wracking moments of my childhood. I rarely heard noises, but I always had this feeling that someone was downstairs with me, like someone would be hiding behind the couch in the living room, or someone would be waiting outside the bathroom door when I came out.

When I was finished I’d have to walk all the way back, turning the lights off behind me as I went. I’d try to keep calm but once I reached the staircase I’d always break into a sprint, and I wouldn’t feel safe again until I was back in my bedroom with the door closed shut.

The walk got easier during the Christmas season, because that was when the decorations were always up. We had a Christmas Tree covered in lights in the living room with stockings set up around the fireplace. We had this weird toy with a foot-tall plastic Santa Clause, whose head moved around when you pressed the button on his leg. I think he was supposed to talk, too, but he never did.

It was the night before Christmas Eve when I woke up again, needing to pee. I turned on the lights as I went downstairs and walked into the bathroom in the living room. The curtains to the side door were closed this time, so I didn’t have to worry about anyone looking in. 

The bathroom had a fan that turned on automatically with the lights, making it so it you couldn’t hear anything going on outside. That’s the only good explanation I can think of for why I didn’t notice any noise. If it wasn’t for the fan I probably would’ve locked myself in that bathroom for rest of the night.

Instead I walked out of it, as usual, and I immediately noticed a few things were off. It seemed colder than it had been just a minute ago, and the curtains to the side door were no longer drawn. They’d been shoved to the side, away from the handle, and in the reflection of the door I saw something moving around in the kitchen. I saw the light of the refrigerator turn on and heard the sound of glass clinking, and when I looked in closer I saw a man in a large red suit.

I thought I’d be excited to see something like this. I’d been one of those kids that loved the Christmas season and whole-heartedly believed in Santa, but seeing his back as he rummaged through the fridge sent nothing but doubts down my spine. I think it’s because, for all my willingness to believe in him and for all the arguments I’d gotten in with classmates over his existence, deep down I knew that Santa Clause wasn’t supposed to be real. At the very least, you weren’t supposed to see him. 

I watched as he took some orange juice out of the fridge and chugged it straight from the carton. He gasped for air when he was finished and wiped his mouth, and when he walked over to the trash to toss it out he glanced at the side door and stopped in his tracks, and I realized right there that he had seen me through the reflection. It was the longest moment of my life. He stared at me through the door and I stared at him. He lifted his finger to his mouth and smiled.

He continued searching through the fridge and eating our food. As I watched I realized he wasn’t as old as Santa Clause was supposed to be. From his face he seemed younger than my parents, now that I think of it, and his eyebrows didn’t match his beard or his hair.

After a couple minutes he walked into the hallway, out of view. I heard a door close, and footsteps going downstairs into the basement. 

I ran back to my room. I wanted to wake my parents and tell them what happened, but I didn’t know what I’d say. I didn’t think they’d believe me. And most of all, I didn’t know what to think of the man who’d just rummaged through our kitchen. I kept going back and forth from ‘he’s Santa, he’d never harm anyone,’ to ‘he’s an intruder dressed up as Santa and he’s going to rob us and kill us in our sleep.’

I don’t remember sleeping that night. I remember sitting up in my bed and listening to the noises from downstairs. Occasional bumps and mutters, the creak of the side door sliding open and closed, and at one point I heard the sound of slow, heavy footsteps making its way up the stairs to the upper floor. The steps grew closer and closer, until I saw the shadow of the man from the light under my door.

For a moment, I heard nothing but the man’s breathing. Then he started yanking the door handle. Violently, up and down. I kept expecting the door to swing open at any moment, but it never did. He just kept shaking the handle. I sat perfectly still, terrified to move or to make a sound, and it’s at this point that I should clarify that none of this happened, and I’m just messing with all of you. I know that if I were to come across this post, the first thing I’d do is scroll down to the last paragraph to make sure this wasn’t a joke story, so I’m just going to continue from here as if these last two sentences were never written: after who knows how long, the handle stopped shaking and the shadow disappeared, and I listened through bated breath as the footsteps shrunk in volume and the man descended down the stairs. I heard the side door open and close again, and the house was silent for the rest of the night.

Nothing was missing the next day. Even the orange juice carton was back in its place. The curtains were drawn again, and everything in the basement was exactly how it had been the day before. I told myself the whole thing was just a dream, because I didn’t know how else to deal with what I saw. The whole memory’s been tearing at me ever since, and I’m glad I have an outlet here for me to get this off my chest. If anyone has any similar experiences, or they can think of an explanation for what happened here that would put my mind at ease, please comment below.

Books and Spells—Because I Don’t Talk Enough About Books Already

By the way, that title above is not sarcasm. I should really talk more about books on this blog than I already do. My book-related posts get twelve BILLION more views than my non-book-related posts. Coincidence? Maybe.

I first saw this on Musings From Neville’s Navel, and thought, “I should do a post about this.” I then proceeded to completely forget about that decision until I stumbled across A Mirror Made of Words, and now I’m writing this as fast as I can so I don’t forget about it later.

Fixes damaged objects

A book that needs some serious fixing: The Fifth Wave, by Rick Yancey. This book switched between a total of four point of view characters, and I thought only two of them were necessary. One of them actively ruined my enjoyment of another character’s POV just by existing. Also, the obnoxious romantic subplot was obnoxious, and Ben Parish could use some flaws besides being “too caring.”

Creates a narrow beam of light

A book that deserves more attention: The Underland Chronicles, by Suzanne Collins. Second best children’s series I’ve ever read, and the final book was particularly amazing.

Counters the effects of Lumos

An overhyped book: Would I get attacked if I said The Lord of the RingsAdmittedly, I read the book a long time ago, and it wasn’t until I was about 65% through The Fellowship of the Ring that I finally got hooked into the story. And even still, the descriptions were way too much. While I loved the next two books, but no book should take over two hundred pages to get a reader invested in the story, and I don’t want Tolkien to get away with it.

I plan to read TLotR again some day, and I’ll probably enjoy it much more than I did the first time.

Summons an object from a significant distance

A book you’re anticipating: George R. R. Martin’s The Winds of Winter. It doesn’t seem to be coming out any time soon, but I’d rather have him take his time than write a rushed novel with plot holes and inconsistencies. As long as he doesn’t die first, I’ll be fine.

Opens unlocked doors, unless bewitched

A book you want to be more open about: I guess I’d pick Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West, not because I feel uncomfortable about it, but because more people should be aware that there are concentration camps in North Korea where people are forced to live in Holocaust-esque conditions, and no one is doing anything about it. (I don’t think I answered this question correctly.)

Expecto Patronum
Conjures an incarnation of positive feelings.

A book that made you cry, or at least want to: The Book Thief. I love how the summary of this book and movie trailer makes it sound like a happy story of a girl learning to read in Nazi Germany. And then you read it and realize that this is a tragedy you’re reading, and the summary lied to you, that manipulative bastard.

Conjures the Dark Mark

A book you wish to mark as one of your favorites: I can’t say The Book Thief? I guess I’ll go with To Kill a Mockingbird, because it proves that classics can be both thought-provoking and fun to read.

Petrificus Totalus
Petrifies victim.

A book you wish to keep forever: Paper Towns, because I love that book for reasons I myself am not even sure of.

Used against a boggart

A book with a deceiving synopsis: Bridge to Terabithia.  I thought it was a fantasy novel about two kids discovering a secret fantasy world and having a bunch of fun adventures. It turned out to be a contemporary novel with a tragic ending, and it had the same plot as a certain John Green novel, but for kids! Not that I blame it for having the same plot as the JG novel, because that novel (not naming it!) came out years later.

Lacarnum Inflamarae
Shoots fireballs

A book you wish to burn out of your mind completely: John Green’s Paper Towns, so I can experience it again without any idea of how much I’d end up liking it.

Wingardium Leviosa
Levitates objects

A book you wish to reread: Stephen King’s The Shining.

Avada Kedavra
Causes instant death

Worst book EVER: The Scarlet Letter. Burn in hell, Hawthorne, or at least get a better editor.

Puts victim in an unconscious state

A book with a chapter you couldn’t seem to get over: The Purple Wedding in Storm of Swords. Joffrey was such a great king, he didn’t deserve to die… *cries*

Causes befuddlement or forgetfulness

A book that generally confused you: The Gunslinger, by Stephen King. I loved this book (#lifechanging) but the transitions between scenes were sometimes confusing, and I couldn’t go a paragraph without bumping into a really long word I’ve never heard of.

Inflicts unbearable pain

A book that was a pain to read:  A Storm of Swords, by George R. R. Martin, in the best way possible. This was a cruel, mean book. Even more so than its predecessors, considering all the hell he put his characters through. There were characters that you just wanted to stab repeatedly in inappropriate areas, who never seemed to get any comeuppance. That is, until the last third of the book or so, that is, when Martin decided to finally give the good guys a break.

I should also mention that A Storm of Swords is the my favorite fantasy novel I’ve read so far. Over a thousand pages long and not a single paragraph was dull.

Heals relatively minor injuries

A feel good book that you enjoyed: An Abundance of Katherines. Despite my complaints about it, I still thought it was a fun book to read, and it had a mostly uplifting ending. Though to be honest, I would’ve picked Paper Towns already but I’ve already mentioned that a bunch of times.

Impedes target’s progress

A book that kept you up all night reading: The Hunger Games, and Gregor and the Code of Claw. Suzanne Collins is just really good at writing suspenseful novels.

Immediate silencing

A book that left you speechless after you read it: The Running Man, because there was a twist near the end that I certainly did not see coming. I think I actually gasped, which is not something I usually do. Ever.

Allows you to delve into someone’s mind

A book with well-developed characters: A Song of Ice and Fire. With the exception of some in AFfC, every single POV character has felt like a real person. There are very few characters that have matched the complexity of Tyrion Lannister, a very, very flawed man who I just can’t help but root for.

A spell that turns you upside down

A book that changed your mind about a character from its prequel: My opinion of Severus Snape changed completely in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. In just one chapter, Snape went from a character I detested to one of my favorite characters in the whole series.

Used to hide memories

A book with a story you can’t remember: Junie B. Jones (the whole series). I remember loving these books as a kid, but I don’t remember anything about them now. The only thing I remember is when Crybaby Will ended up being amazing at pull-ups in the field day one.

Peskipiksi Pesternomi
Useless spell

A boring book that had absolutely no effect on you: The Scarlet Letter. I don’t even remember what the book was about, but I do remember thinking “wow, Hawthorne uses a lot of commas.”

Breaks through solid objects

A book that convinced you to reconsider a certain genre: The Walking Dead: Volume 1: Days Gone By. This book reminded me that comic books exist. I was never the type of guy to be all “Oh, I don’t read comics. They’re too juvenile.” (That was an actual quote from someone in my school, believe it or not.) But I was never really into them either. UNTIL NOW.

Tickling spell

A book that made you laugh: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Need I explain why?

Offensive spell that violently wounds the target

A book that may have scarred you for life: The Stand (Unabridged Version), by Stephen King. I read this when I was eleven, going on twelve. And there were some scenes here definitely not appropriate for someone my age.

That being said, I’d still gladly give this book to an eleven year old, because I’m a terrible person.

Makes you dance uncontrollably

A series finale that made you feel giddy: The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang. Wait, I can’t talk about TV shows? Well, then. I guess it’ll have to be the final Chronicles of Narnia book. The seventh novel was the most exciting, in my opinion, even if the whole Christian metaphors were a bit heavy handed.

Bombarda Maxima
Causes an explosion that breaks through obstacles

A book that made you explode with feels: I am the Messenger. The first 90% of this book was amazing, almost rivaling The Book Thief. The last ten percent? Not so much.

Finite Incantatem
Nullifies other spells

A book you thought you’d dislike but ended up loving: A Feast for Crows, by George R. R. Martin. I’ve heard a lot of complaints about how the book was so boring and that nothing happens, which wasn’t true. I didn’t exactly love it, but it was much better than I expected it to be.

To end this post: I will ask if any of the readers here are planning to do Camp NaNoWriMo next month. If your answer is yes and you would like to be cabin mates (because who wouldn’t?) please comment with your username.

Also, if anyone has a Words with Friends account, please play a game with “mbswizzle42.” Warning: I tend to gloat when I’m winning.

The Walking Dead Season 4b: Hopes and Predictions

I’m sure this post will alienate a lot of my readers because not a lot of them appear to be fans of The Walking Dead. In this part of the blogging world, Doctor Who and Sherlock** seem to be where it’s at. I do have at least three followers who do like TWD, however, so at the very least I should get a comment or two.

If you haven’t watched the last three and a half seasons of The Walking Dead, and plan to, I suggest you click away, preferably to this page, because shameless self-promotion is the way I roll.

I will look back, because I am a rebel.

So here’s what I know about season 4b so far:

  • The first episode will be heavily centered around Carl. I hope he doesn’t talk throughout the entire episode. I think Chandler Riggs is a great actor—when he’s not talking. When he’s keeping his mouth shut I think, “Man that’s a pretty badass kid. Killed his own mother, no big deal.” But once words start awkwardly sputtering from his mouth I think “Someone kill it with fire!” Okay, Carl’s been great so far this year and the actor’s certainly competent in the roll, but I keep expecting him to say something cringe-worthy like, “Dad, I’m not a kid anymore!” which seems to be the number one thing annoying kids say in TV shows.
  • Michonne will show even more emotion this season than she ever did before. Not sure how this is possible, considering the wide variety of facial expressions she made in season 3 (ranging from “extremely pissed off” to “slightly less pissed off,”) but I can’t wait to see it.
  • It’s supposedly going to be the best half season yet. Of course, they say that every year, but I’m willing to believe them this time.

Here are some my hopes/predictions from these next eight episodes.

  • The pace will speed up a bit. I loved the first half of season 4; two of my favorite episodes (The Internment and Too Far Gone) aired then, but I felt like the pace in certain episodes were too slow for its own good. I was okay with this, considering that it made just about all the characters more three-dimensional than they’ve ever been so far. But I hope the pace increases just like it did in the second half of season two.
  • I hope the show develops a kind of Game of Thrones–like feel to it. Where each episode follows the characters in different situations that occasionally intertwine. They will all only meet up some time in the last two or three episodes.
  • I kind of hope Morgan never comes back. He’s like The Weeping Angels—the more we see him, the less effective he’ll get. I assume.
  • I want Glenn and Maggie to stay apart for a long time. I like Glenn, and I like Maggie, but I’m getting tired of Glaggie. The two of them have gotten boring over the last season or so.
  • I hope Beth gets some time to exercise her singing voice over the next few episodes. She has the diaphragm of an angel.
  • I hope Judith is really dead. As harsh as this sounds, having to carry a baby around on an open road in the middle of a zombie apocalypse is too much of a burden, and the show will probably suffer for it.
  • I think the characters most likely to die are Glenn, Bob the Alcoholic, one of the two survivors from the Governor’s army, and Tyreese’s sister. Everyone but Rick, Carl, and Daryl are at risk as usual.
  • Carol returns, and hooks up with an unknowing Tyreese, who falls in love with her. Seeing how happy Tyreese is with her, Rick and Daryl decide not to tell him about the whole “killing your girlfriend” thing.
  • I was kidding about that last one, but I would mind if it actually happened.

**Sherlock season 3 was wonderful, by the way.

Stephen King Book Recommendations

When people mention Stephen King, this is the first thing I think of.

Since Halloween is right around the corner, I thought now would be a good time to dedicate a post to one of the best horror writers of all time.

No, I’m not talking about H.P. Lovecraft, or the not-really-scary-at-all Edgar Allan Poe, but about Stephen King, as you probably already guessed from looking at the title. So for those of you who haven’t read Stephen King but are thinking about trying him out, this is the post for you.

(Keep in mind, I haven’t read all of his books yet, so feel free to recommend some of his novels not mentioned here if you like.)

If you don’t actually like horror, you may enjoy Different Seasons, a collection of novellas, the best of which were Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption and The Body. The former is an inspiring story of hope, and the ending is so powerful that if I were a doctor, I’d prescribe this story in the place of antidepressants, and I’m sure my patients would thank me for it. The latter’s a beautifully written coming of age story, filled to the brim with almost too much nostalgia.

If you like romance, I’d suggest 11/22/63. This book is a love story disguised as a time travel novel, and the ending made me shed a heart shaped tear.

If you like vampires, you’ll love Salem’s Lot. Admittedly this book starts out slow, since it takes a while for the vampires to truly become a threat, but trust me when I tell you that it pays off well. These vampires are nothing like the ones in Twilight—they are vicious, horrifying creatures that are almost impossible to kill.

If you like not being able to sleep at night, then I’d suggest reading The Boogeyman: a short story in the collection Night Shift (I’ve only read a couple of those stories so far), which caused me to check my closet before going to bed each night. Then there’s It, which is about a crazy creature, usually taking the form of a clown, that comes back every twenty-seven years or so to feed on innocent children. His (though it’s actually a her) picture is shown above. Lastly, there’s The Shining, which is one of the few books to actually make me sweat while reading.

If you like suspense, but not the type that keeps you up at night, then my first suggestion would be The Gingerbread Girl, a short story in the collection Just After Sunset. It starts with the feel of a soap opera, but quickly turns into a action thriller when a psychotic killer kidnaps the main character and she then tries to escape. Then there’s The Running Man, a dystopian story not unlike The Hunger Games, where a man is being hunted down by an entire nation for the sake of entertainment.

If you enjoy thought-provoking novels, try Sometimes They Come Back, which is a bittersweet short story about someone with post 9/11 survivor’s guilt. There’s also The Stand, if you don’t mind the length.

If you like fantasy, try out The Dark Tower series. I’ve only read the first three novels in the series, but they were terrific. The Gunslinger was a strange, beautifully written story about the main character Roland, who’s basically a more badass version of Clint Eastwood. The Drawing of the Three was just a set-up book, but it was the best set up book I’ve ever read. The Waste Lands was simply terrific, and the ending hung on the biggest cliff of all.

If you like children’s books, you may like The Eyes of the Dragon, a light fantasy book King wrote for his young daughter. There’s some parts in the novel that aren’t exactly child-friendly, but for the most part the content stays PG level.

If you like young adult fiction, (as in, the main characters are teenagers), you might enjoy Carrie, which is a lot like a John Green book, except not at all. There’s also The Long Walk, in which a hundred teenage boys compete in a competition where you must out-walk everyone else. But here’s the kicker: the moment you slow down under four miles per hour more than three times, you get shot down. This book makes you feel physical pain.

Have a nice time developing mental scars, everybody.