RIP Tuesday Update: The End of the Line, This Year!

Holy cats, guys, RIP is over! This day always comes too soon every year, although really I get my RIP on year-round because creepy books are always awesome, so. The point is, I handed out a crap ton of candy last night and now October’s over! What do November and December have going for them, except, like, holidays and ALL THE FOOD and actually reasonable temperatures in Florida?

Oh, right.

Anyway, let’s look back over the spooky awesome I’ve consumed since my last update post!

RIP XI artwork

Reviews
I’ve finally reviewed The Family Plot, which has a great premise with a haunted house temporarily inhabited by pickers, which, yes, but which falls down a bit on the ending. I’d still totally recommend this, but maybe just skip the last several pages?

And, though it’s not really an RIP book, I want to give a shoutout to Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore because it’s delightful and has a mysterious cult at its center, so it kind of counts? I just really liked it, is all, and it bears repeating!

Reads
I finally finished Mostly Void, Partially Stars, the first collection of episodes from my beloved podcast Welcome to Night Vale. It turns out that Night Vale and I need to be in a small-doses relationship, but that worked out okay because it meant I could read a few of these episode scripts here and there throughout most of RIP, while listening to current episodes, which, interesting. More on this, after traffic.

I am also reading A Darker Shade of Magic, which I picked to be my very last book read specifically for RIP and at halfway through, I think it was a pretty good pick!

Watches
I would swear I mentioned here that Agents of SHIELD is back, but apparently I didn’t, so, hey, it’s back! It’s… not great, unfortunately, I think because they’re trying to do this lead-in thing to Doctor Strange that I know and really care nothing about. At this point, I just really miss first-season SHIELD and its relatively movie-free existence.

Also back and also apparently forgotten on this blog is Elementary, which is definitely better than SHIELD right now, though it is also not as great as its own first season. Come on, television, get it together! There is some good stuff going on this season, though, with just enough simmering background mystery behind the murders of the week and Sherlock’s self-indulgent crime-solving. I like it!

Listens
Well, Welcome to Night Vale, of course, as always, but mostly I’ve been listening to decidedly non-RIP books in the form of memoirs and nonfiction, so I have clearly been failing in my RIP duties here. I’ll do better next year?

Plays
Another play of Betrayal at House on the Hill this week, as the featured game at my library game night. I had to miss the very end of the game, but I enjoyed my time exploring the house and attempting to solve riddles in the haunt (which was, I think, much better written than the last one we played!). Also great was introducing three new people to the game, which is always fun. “Wait, so, we just explore the house and roll a bunch of dice for an hour and then the game starts?” Well, yes. Yes you do.

It has been a fabulous couple of months for imbibing peril and I look forward to doing it all again next year! Or next week! Or tomorrow! What have you guys enjoyed lately that I need to put on my list?

RIP Sunday Update 6

It’s looking more and more like fall in Northern Florida… I’ve switched out my tank tops for short sleeve shirts on my morning runs and rides, and I have been wearing sweaters to work, even though it’s a little too warm when I come home. I do not care! It is sweater season and you can’t stop me!

It was also my birthday this week (is mah birfday!) and I weathered the well-wishes and ate lots of delicious foods and left work early on Friday because happy birthday to me! I also bought, for myself, four months ago, a fantastically perfect RIP-style present, which I will talk about shortly. To the week in review!

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Reviews
I came home from my hurrication with no focus and a huge backlog of comics, so I read a bunch of them outside in the awesome weather. Beyond Belief was as delightful as anticipated, and Goldie Vance, while not quite what I was expecting, was pretty darn okay!

Reads
Aside from the comics, I’ve been plodding through that Welcome to Night Vale volume I mentioned last week. I did not realize it would be such slow going when I checked it out, but I am loving revisiting these episodes and catching things I might have missed the first time around.

Listens
Another episode of Welcome to Night Vale, of course, which is fun to listen to while reading the old ones and seeing how the show has pretty much stayed its weird old self all this time. I also listened to part of the first episode of the Night Vale crew’s new podcast, The Orbiting Human Circus (of the Air), since it was in the Night Vale feed, but it was sadly not my style. I’ll wait around until season 2 of Alice Isn’t Dead for my Night Vale-adjacent fix.

Plays
Finally! As promised at the beginning of RIP, I have played a game of Betrayal at House on the Hill, with the new expansion that I bought four months ago and picked up when it released on Friday! If you haven’t played it, check out the Tabletop episode of it. Super fun! My friends and I have a weird relationship with Betrayal — we love the exploring and collecting and stat-boosting bits, but once that haunt comes around it’s hit or miss. It doesn’t help that we keep finding out we’re playing it wrong… after several games where the traitor seemed wildly overpowered, we realized we had misread the rules and were giving the traitor too many turns. When we played with the new expansion this week, the traitor seemed not to understand the core concept of his mission which was partly because his rulebook should have told him better what to do but also because the explorers didn’t wait until he got back to do some stuff, so he didn’t notice it had been done, and of course didn’t ask what was up with that. He still got to be killed by a pirate, though, and ended up winning like crazy, so I don’t think we messed up his day any!

What spooky things are on deck for you this week?

RIP Sunday Update 5

This has been a very weird and weirdly RIP-appropriate week for me. Hurricane Matthew came tearing, literally, up the coast of Florida and at first I was like, oh, great, this’ll be like Hermine and we’ll get a day off of work and I will read ALL THE BOOKS. And then it was decidedly not like Hermine and I got three days off of work and also I made my husband and kitties evacuate with me to the Florida Panhandle and we spent time minigolfing with friends instead of reading books. But now I’m home again, with a happily intact house and my regular weekend of reading ahead of me, so that’s definitely a win!

Aside from watching Matthew on the Weather Channel, let’s see what RIP goodness I’ve encountered this week:

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Reviews
My review for The Trespasser is finally up, and it is such a good book, guys. You should go read it immediately.

Reads
I had meant to read the first Welcome to Night Vale compilation book, Mostly Void, Partially Stars as my hurricane read, but it turns out short podcast scripts that I’ve already listened to, while absolutely delightful, are not the engaging sort of read you need to ignore natural disasters. More on this when I’ve actually finished it, but so far it’s lovely.

Watches
Just the Weather Channel, here, but let me tell you, these guys know how to talk up a hurricane!

Listens
Another episode of Welcome to Night Vale graced my feed this week, and I was like, hey, is that Felicia Day guest starring? And it was. Excellent all around!

Less excellent was my attempt to listen to the radio adaptation of Neverwhere, which I got seven and a half minutes into and had to shut off because it’s kind of terrible. I couldn’t follow what was going on even when I stopped trying to fit it to the book, and it jumped around way too much to try to listen to while doing anything else, which is the only way that I listen to audiobooks. On the plus side, I got to use Audible’s Great Listen Guarantee and I was able to return it to obtain a credit for something better!

What creepy things are y’all up to this week?

RIP Sunday Update 4

Ermergerd, it’s October! Fall is thinking about peeking in here in Florida… the other day I walked home with a cool wind at my back and the sounds of marching band floating over from the high school, but during the day it’s still shorts and flip flops weather while I’m wearing work clothes, so. Thank goodness for RIP and the excuse to pretend there’s real fall outside!

After a slow start to the week, as I found myself stuck in a book that wasn’t working for me, things picked up in a whirlwind when an unexpected hold came in and dominated my reading time for a couple of days. What is that, you ask? Read on!

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Reads
I’ve been putting all sorts of RIP-worthy books on hold lately, knowing full well that I probably won’t end up reading them due to my giant stack of unread library books, physical and virtual. But thank goodness I did, because The Family Plot, by Cherie Priest, showed up on my Kindle right when I needed anything to read that wasn’t the book I had started earlier in the week. I balked at first at the writing style, which is just over my line for “flowery”, but the ghost story plot is solid and, as I said on Goodreads, sufficiently creepy that I had a hard time taking a shower the morning after I started it. If you’re looking for a quick RIP read, this is a good addition to your list.

Reviews
Also this week I finally got around to reviewing the latter half of Locke & Key, though by “review” I mean “gush incoherently about” because loooooove. I’m hoping I can get around to the audiobook before the month is out, but it might end up waiting for a November road trip. Either way, you’ll hear about it here!

Watches
I managed another episode and a half of The Killing, season two, this week, and I am to the point in this season where everything’s gone completely off the rails and I have no idea how we’re going to get back on track. Or how they’re going to stretch this out to four seasons.

Speaking of four seasons, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is back and weirder than ever. Two episodes in, I’m sad about the apparent loss of all characterization, but this Ghost Rider business is intriguing, so… yay?

What sufficiently creepy things are y’all imbibing this week?

RIP Sunday Update 3

A quick post this week as I have been weirdly busy and/or unable to consume as many delicious RIP goodies as I want and/or need. Let’s have at it!

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Reviews
Hey, there’s that review of Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d that I promised! As I said, it’s better than the previous book, but boy, I don’t know what to do with Flavia, or Bradley, for that matter. Keep reading books that drive me crazy, I guess?

Reads
Speaking of, can I count my reading of Arcadia, by Lauren Groff? The end of that book is certainly terrifying (a character slowly dies of ALS, probably not a spoiler), but the rest of it is just blaaaah. After finishing it, I’ve had a hard time getting into anything else, but I’ve got some delightful non-RIP picks on the horizon that should make life better. But that won’t provide fodder for these posts, so we’ll have to rely on…

Watches
The husband and I continued our venture into Penny Dreadful this week with three more episodes, and, um, I don’t know what is going on here. There’s some Frankenstein’s Monster fun times, which is great in its way; wolves and vampires; a séance that goes rather awry; awkward sexy times; and a full episode on the History of Vanessa, which includes further awkward sexy times and a story that just doesn’t quite make sense with what I know so far. The husband seems to be at least enjoying this, so we’ll probably watch a little more, but unless it gets much better I might have to quit.

Tell me what you’re consuming, so I can live vicariously!

RIP Sunday Update 2

Well, after last week’s post chock full of RIP goodness, I hit a bit of a wall in the “reads” department of RIP. I’m in the midst of a decidedly not creepy book for book club that is taking forever to read, and so that has taken all my reading time. On the plus side, I’ve gotten some excellent TV-watching in. Let me tell you all about it!

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Watches
The Killing
On Monday I found myself with a day off from work and a desire to do very little except catch up on chores, so while I folded laundry and swept and such, I watched, um, eight episodes of the second season of The Killing. If you haven’t heard of this, it’s a crazy-pants remake of a Danish crime drama. In the first season, we meet almost-retired cop Sarah Linden, who picks up “just one more” case before she leaves the Seattle PD for a life of love and wine in Sonoma. Of course, that’s not how it goes and instead Linden finds herself working a weirdly impossible-to-solve murder of a teenager, a case with potential ties to politics and the mob and danger in general.

This is one of those shows that probably could (should?) have been one season and done (I’m looking at you, The Following) — the first season finale could have gone either way to end or continue the show — but I think so far they’ve done a decent job on the storyline in the second season. What wins the show for me, though, is Linden — she’s kind of a terrible person and terrible parent and sometimes a terrible cop, but in general she tries hard to get the job done right and I am very much interested in seeing her find the killer. Knowing that this series goes for four seasons, though, I do wonder if we’ll ever get that payoff.

Penny Dreadful
My husband is not as obsessed with crime dramas as I am, but he likes to watch TV with me, so we’ve been picking at various shows on Netflix until real TV comes back soon. I saw Penny Dreadful on a list of must-watch shows and I figured, well, if I must, and we watched the first two episodes the other night. It was… good? It doesn’t seem to want to have a plotline outside of “There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio”, but, I mean, I like a good vampire fight as much as the next person, so. I liked the first episode quite a bit, but the second episode made me fear that this show will be the Once Upon a Time of horror, introducing way too many characters to no good purpose. But the way that second episode ended, man, I’ll be back for more.

Listens
More Welcome to Night Vale this week, with a weird headphones-preferred episode that I thought mayyyybe they’d do a little more with but hey, still delightful.

Also, I haven’t listened to it yet, but after Kailana recommended it last week I did pick up the audio version of Locke & Key, and I just need to say how super excited I am about this. Now if I can just clear my podcast feed so that I have time to listen to audiobooks, I’ll be set!

RIP Sunday Update 1

As I said on Friday, I’ll be stopping in here on Sundays to talk all things creepy and kooky for RIP. Let’s get started!

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Reviews
I didn’t read them for RIP, but I have posts up about sufficiently RIP-y things!

At the beginning of September I posted about The Spire and MaddAddam, one a fantasy comic book about the dangers of prejudice and isolationism and the other the end of a trilogy of speculative fiction about a post-apocalyptic world. Both were pretty excellent.

This week, I posted about Neverwhere, and although I was kind of down about it in the review I ought to say that I did enjoy it, and am very much looking forward to listening to the radio adaptation.

Reads
For RIP, I’ve been a busy reading bee. So far this month, I’ve read six books, and five fit into RIP perfectly. I’ll have full reviews of these later, but here are some preliminary thoughts:

Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d, by Alan Bradley — The latest in the Flavia de Luce series of mysteries involving a precocious young chemist.
I have a love-hate relationship with Flavia that’s mostly been hate as of late, but I can’t help myself requesting the advance reader copies and then devouring them in hours. This one comes out on September 20, and the only spoiler I’ll give is that I was right; it could only be better than the last one.

Locke & Key, Volumes 4-6, by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodríguez — The latter half of an all-too-short comic series.
Guys, this series is just so good. And now I’ve finished it. And it was really good. I promise to have better words when I actually write this up.

The Trespasser, by Tana French — The new Tana French novel, obviously!
I basically never post a review on Goodreads before I post it here, because I like to give books time to simmer, but I couldn’t help myself giving this book a review of “!!!”. Yeah. This one comes out October 4 and I am so sorry you guys have to wait that long to read it.

Listens
No big thoughts here, but I have been listening to my favorite podcasts. The first of the month brought the most recent episode of Welcome to Night Vale, which was delightful as always. I’ve also been playing catchup on the episodes of Thrilling Adventure Hour from after its “ending”, which was clearly not an ending and I’ve been tricked. Regardless, “Beyond Belief” (which got waaaaay better after my first post about TAH) continues in the snarky horror tradition and I love it. And Paget Brewster. Mostly Paget Brewster.

I’ve just realized that most of my podcasts these days are about books or from NPR or both (!), so if y’all have any fun RIP podcast suggestions send them my way!

RIP XI

I was trying to be so on top of things, you guys. I’ve missed posting with the official start of RIP for the last few years and I swore I was going to get it right this year and post on September 1st and get “fall” (still in Florida, still summer) started the best way and then Hermine came and got me all confuzzled and then it was Labor Day weekend et cetera et cetera excuses excuses.

ANYWAY I’M HERE NOW LET’S DO THIS THING.

RIP XI artwork

Ah, yes. Much better.

So, as you may have guessed, Carl is back this year with RIP XI, the latest installment in my yearly reminder that I am getting older and also that I should read more creepy books. Let’s be honest, mostly the first one.

RIP is all about reading those fall-appropriate books — mysteries and horror stories and weird fantasy novels and everything that is best read with all the lights turned on and a mug of hot chocolate close to hand. Sure, I read those all year long, but they’re really just better this time of year.

As usual, I will be taking on several of Carl’s “Perils”, and as in recent years, I’ll be stopping in on the blog on Sundays to chat about them. These Perils cover books, short stories, movies and TV, and this year, to my great excitement, BOARD GAMES. You can bet I’ll be writing up a game or three of Betrayal at House on the Hill during this challenge.

Got any ideas for what I should be reading/watching/playing? I don’t have anything particular in mind, so I am open to all suggestions!

Welcome to Night Vale, by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor

Welcome to Night ValeI have mentioned before in this space my love of Welcome to Night Vale, the super weird and wonderful podcast that takes place in a subtly Lovecraftian world where the weirdest and creepiest of things are just another boring day in Night Vale.

If you’ve also been listening to this podcast, even on just a semi-regular basis, you will definitely enjoy this book. If you haven’t been listening, but you like stories that are bizarre and a little creepy and that seem to pluck new details out of thin air, both the podcast and this book are worth a shot.

I think the biggest draw of this book for podcast listeners is that while Cecil and his radio show make appearances in the story, the narrative is led by two Night Vale residents, Jackie and Diane, and we actually get to follow along in their adventures rather than just hearing about how everything was solved during the weather break. Jackie is a 19-year-old pawn shop owner, and has been for decades, and Diane is an office worker and mother to a shape-shifting teenage son. So, completely normal by Night Vale standards.

What is strange for Night Vale is the presence of the man in the tan jacket, who has made appearances on the podcast in the past and who is impossible to remember. But in this story, Diane does remember him, or at least a version of him, and Jackie can’t help but remember the name of his town, King City, which has been written on a note that Jackie is incapable of dropping or even destroying. Also weird is the reappearance of Diane’s ex-boyfriend, Troy, in several places around Night Vale, and his reticence to talk to either Diane or Jackie. Diane is curious and Jackie is obsessive about both Troy and the King City note, and they end up working together to find out what the heck is going on.

I enjoyed reading this book quite a bit, primarily because so much of it has subtle or completely blatant callbacks to the podcast, and because I got to see what the people of Night Vale think of the radio show that I enjoy so much. It’s cute and fun and there’s a whole scene set in the library, the most dangerous place in Night Vale, and how can I not love that? Impossible.

It does get a little slow in places, which is to be expected, I guess, when you turn a half-hour radio show into a 400-page book, but these slow parts had enough bemusement density to see me through. I’m not sure a person brand-new to the show and its concepts would be able to make it quite so easily. But who knows? Stranger things certainly happen in Night Vale.

Recommendation: For fans of the show and of slow-burning Lovecraftian horror.

Rating: 7/10

Ghostly, ed. by Audrey Niffenegger

GhostlyUm, ghost stories? Audrey Niffenegger? I was so obviously sold on this collection, even after I realized that Niffenegger didn’t actually write all the stories in it. There’s one of her stories tucked in there, and she wrote the introduction, and some shorter introductions before each ghost story, so there’s a lot of her in the book, but it’s possibly more awesome that my attachment to Niffenegger has now led me to some other amazing authors.

Now, Niffenegger makes a point at the beginning of the book that it is not diverse or representative but just full of stories that she thinks are cool, which, I mean, okay, I guess, but it’s kind of weird you brought it up, you know? I have not checked the diversity credentials of the authors in this collection, but when it turns out it’s all white dudes and chicks I will not be surprised. If you’ve got a more diverse collection of ghost stories for me, let me know!

But I can see why Niffenegger thinks these stories are cool. The first story in the book is “The Black Cat”, by one Mr. Poe, which I have read several times for fun and school, but every other story in the book was completely new to me. There are some classics, including the Poe and “They”, by Kipling, and then some newer works by Kelly Link and Neil Gaiman. They all have ghosts in common, or sort-of-ghosts, though the best ones, in my opinion, make you sort of doubt whether there are ghosts at all. Uncertainty is weirdly terrifying.

My favorites of the collection: “The Beckoning Fair One”, by Oliver Onions, in which a writer decides to move into part of a strange old house and finds that his writing is completely stymied and his friendships falling apart, and also there are some strange things happening inside the house but surely that’s just a coincidence. Also “Playmates”, by A.M. Burrage, in which some weird dude adopts an orphan as, like, a social experiment, and is kind of disappointed when she makes friends with ghosts, and “The Specialist’s Hat”, by Kelly Link, in which some kids learn the difference between playing Dead and, well, you can probably guess.

I was actually not that excited about Niffenegger’s own story, “Secret Life, with Cats”, but it was one of the ones that lacked any sort of questions or ambivalence, so if you like your ghost stories wrapped up nice and neat you will probably like it very much.

Overall, this is a solid collection, and I will definitely be on the lookout for more from these authors, like that young upstart Poe but also like Link and Onions. I wish my reading experience hadn’t been tainted by that note on diversity, but on the plus side it will make me seek out the collections that have it. There’s still time for more ghost stories this year, right?

Recommendation: For fans of ghosts and stories.

Rating: 7/10