Ten Great Mysteries by Edgar Allan Poe

1153622Ten Great Mysteries by Edgar Allan Poe
Publisher/Year: Scholastic Inc., 1989
Format: Paperback
Pages: 210
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐



The Pit and the Pendulum…The Purloined Letter…The Tell-Tale Heart…A Descent into the Maelstrom…and six other choice chillers by the acknowledged master of mystery, fantasy, and horror.

These ten absorbing stories, selected by a famed anthologist of science-fiction and the supernatural, prove that even after a century Poe’s imagination still works its macabre magic.


What I thought

Update – 2018

Since this was a re-read for me, I don’t have too much to add on top of my original review. I will say that this little collection of stories has become one of my favorites, and it does contain a good handful of my favorite Poe stories. While it pains me that it seems like a lot of people are quick to dismiss Poe’s verbose writing, I will say that his writing does get heavy after a while. I do think this collection is the perfect size to get a feel for Poe and appreciate his words without getting bogged down. With the gloomy, chilly, rain-filled fall we’ve been having here, this was just the right time to re-read this one. If you’re looking for a good introduction to Edgar Allan Poe’s prose, this collection would be a good place to start. Plus, look at this creepy vintage cover–I just love it!

Original review – 2010

I can be an atmospheric reader. Certain books should be read in a certain setting. Thoreau should be read on a stump in the middle of the woods. Jane Austen should be read curled up in bed with a cup of tea in the middle of winter. Twain should be read lazing under a tree in the grass in the middle of the summer. And Poe should be read in late fall, somewhere around Halloween.

Well, as I just found out, he makes for excellent campfire reading, as well.

For me, Poe is the ultimate of suspense. As a reader, it is evident just how haunted of a man Edgar Allan Poe really was. This makes his writing quite effective and allows the reader to become pleasantly creeped out. I love his writing and adore immersing myself in his words. An absolutely classic author, I dare say.

What’s unique about this edition is that it goes to show that Poe writes more than just horror–namely suspense and science fiction (and don’t forget poetry and romance, even though they don’t appear here). I also enjoyed this little edition because even though it includes Poe classics like “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Pit and the Pendulum,” it also includes less well-known stories.

Overall, not a must-have for Poe enthusiasts (as this is just a little snippet of his total works), but recommended for those who would like to become better read in Edgar Allan Poe or who would like to see what he is capable of.



A Young People’s History of the United States: Volume 1 – Columbus to the Spanish-American War by Howard Zinn


112592764370385.jpgA Young People’s History of the United States: Volume 1 – Columbus to the Spanish-American War by Howard Zinn (adapted by Rebecca Stefoff)
Publisher/Year: Seven Stories Press, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 212
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐




We all need heroes, people to admire, to see as examples of how human beings should live. But I prefer to see Bartolomé de Las Casas as a hero, for exposing Columbus’s violent behavior against the Indians he encountered in the Bahamas. I prefer to see the Cherokee Indians as heroes, for resisting their removal from the lands on which they lived. To me, it is Mark Twain who is a hero, because he denounced President Theodore Roosevelt after Roosevelt had praised an American general who had massacred hundreds of people in the Philippines. I consider Helen Keller a hero because she protested against President Woodrow Wilson’s decision to send young Americans into the slaughterhouse of the First World War. 

My point of view, which is critical of war, racism, and economic injustice, carries over to the situation we face in the United States today. 

–from the Introduction

Howard Zinn’s A Young People’s History of the United States is a retelling of U. S. history from the viewpoints of slaves, workers, immigrants, women, Native Americans, and others whose histories are rarely included in books for young people. Volume One begins with a look at Christopher Columbus’s arrival through the eyes of the Arawak Indians and leads the reader through the protests against imperialism during the Spanish-American War.


What I thought

I am a history nerd, through and through. This small volume is a great read that I would very much recommend, if you are looking for an alternative viewpoint on U.S. history.

This book was adapted from Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States to make this history more accessible for younger readers. While I haven’t read Zinn’s original classic, I will attest to the fact that this book was easy to read and easy to comprehend. I would say this book is suitable for middle grade or high school readers. The history isn’t dumbed down, but rather it is simplified without expounding details to the umpteenth degree. The only thing I will say is that I wish there was more flow between chapters, but then again, I think that is just a consequence of condensing nearly 400 years of history into a 200-page book. I also think this book is sorely missing any citations of source material. Give young readers some credit–at least give them a bibliography!

As for the elephant in the room (Zinn’s bias), I won’t try to say it isn’t evident. I do think it is important to view history from various viewpoints, and Zinn’s is definitely an interesting one. This book would be a great teaching/learning tool for young historians, if approached with caution.

Overall, this little volume was an excellent summary of the beginning of U. S. history, told from an alternative view of the usual history textbooks. I would definitely recommend this to history lovers, young & old!

Not Just Voodoo by Rebecca Hamilton

33980880Not Just Voodoo compiled by Rebecca Hamilton
Publisher/Year: 2017
Format: E-book
Pages: 487
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟


Summary (from Goodreads)

To celebrate the release of Something Like Voodoo by New York Times bestselling author Rebecca Hamilton, we’ve put together this paranormal fantasy collection of short stories that include works from some of her favorite authors!

Most of the stories in this specially curated collection are brand new, exclusive content–never before distributed anywhere else and yours for the taking!

If you’re in the mood for unique magic and familiar creatures, this anthology is sure to add spark to your day!


Margo Bond Collins – Major Arcana
When a teenage fortune teller in a traveling carnival meets up with an attractive townie, she finds new magic in her tarot cards.

Erin Hayes – I Wish I Weren’t A Djinni
A djinni who is summoned by a young man has the power to grant any of his wishes, he simply has to believe her enough to ask.

Aileen Harkwood – Splintered Magic
Though Saige McMullins may feel like nothing more than a half-witch freak, when evil with a nasty appetite threatens the beach town of Lost Cliff, she knows she’s the only one who can stop it.

L. C. Hibbett – Wicked Witch
Destiny isn’t a good witch. She lies, she cheats, and she dances on the dead. But Destiny has a secret that might just change everything…

Megan J. Parker & Nathan Squiers – Journal of Abigail DiAngelo
As a hunter in training and high school student, Abigail DiAngelo would much rather live a normal life than fight monsters with her father, but when an unexpected chance for change arises, it’s up to her to take charge…

Katerina Martinez – The Witch and the Thief
When Nicole Harriman receives an urgent prophetic vision, it’s up to her to protect what is hers.

K. N. Lee – Awakened
A young witch betrays her darkest secret and risks her crown, life, and soul for the love of a human.

Nicole Zoltack – Gavin’s Gamble
Gavin thinks nothing can be worse than having a witch hunter for a father until he experiences possibly magical phenomena…

Debbie Cassidy – Deadtown
A pocket of crazy, a town hostage to magic, and a mysterious warlock boss equal a recipe for disaster.

Alicia Rades – Visions Among Frost
Crystal Frost can see ghosts and predict the future, but when her friends pull out a Ouija board at their sleepover, it’s up to her to clean up their mess.

Monica Corwin – The Dying of the Light
When Charity dies on the first day of her new job, she rallies with the help of her new reaper partner, and her eight remaining souls, to take down the criminals responsible.

Jasmine Walt – Tested by Magic
Shifter and bounty hunter Sunaya Baine would much rather chase after hardened criminals, but when a child goes missing in her magical city, she’ll stop at nothing to find her before she falls prey to the real things that go bump in the night.

Thea Atkinson – Reaper’s Redemption
A grim reaper’s next fare might be her last.

Rebecca Hamilton – Leaves Like Magic
A young witch joins forces with a shapeshifting ally in a race against the clock to save her best friend from vampires.


What I thought

I’m going to intentionally keep this short. I don’t want to review each story, but I did keep track of what I’d rate each of them, which I’ll list later. As a whole, I liked this collection, hence the 3 stars. While I really liked some of the stories (4 stars), there were quite a few that I simply liked (3 stars) or thought of as just okay (2 stars). I admit that I didn’t find this to be the strongest anthology, and even though it took me a million years to read, I didn’t have a bad time reading this one. Actually one of the things I enjoyed most was just trying out new-to-me authors. I do think this collection would be more accurately named as a “sampler” because most of the stories were prequels. Overall, while this might not have been an all-time favorite for me, I am glad to be walking away with some new authors that I want to check out!

“Major Arcana” by Margo Bond Collins 🌟🌟🌟🌟
“I Wish I Weren’t a Djinni” by Erin Hayes 🌟🌟🌟
“Splintered Magic” by Aileen Harkwood 🌟🌟🌟🌟
“Wicked Witch” by L. C. Hibbett 🌟🌟🌟
“Journal of Abigail DiAngelo” by Megan J. Parker & Nathan Squiers 🌟🌟
“The Witch and the Thief” by Katerina Martinez 🌟🌟🌟🌟
“Awakened” by K. N. Lee 🌟🌟🌟
“Gavin’s Gamble” by Nicole Zoltack 🌟🌟🌟🌟
“Deadtown” by Debbie Cassidy 🌟🌟🌟🌟
“Visions Among Frost” by Alicia Rades 🌟🌟🌟
“The Dying of the Light” by Monica Corwin 🌟🌟
“Tested by Magic” by Jasmine Walt 🌟🌟🌟🌟
“Reaper’s Redemption” by Thea Atkinson 🌟🌟
“Leaves Like Magic” by Rebecca Hamilton 🌟🌟

Cross Country by Brian Herberger

41487914Cross Country by Brian Herberger
Publisher/Year: Birch Cove Books, 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 371
Rating: ⭐



Having her father away in Vietnam wasn’t easy for Bets, but she soon discovers having him back home comes with its own set of problems. When a letter from her friend Emmie arrives along with a ticket to the Woodstock Music Festival, Bets has a tough decision to make. Should she stick it out back home or leave her problems behind for cross-county adventure?

There’s a lot happening in 1969, and figuring it all out is complicated. The people Bets encounters all have their own perspectives, each changing the way Bets thinks about the war in Vietnam, the problems America is dealing with, and her own problems back home.


What I thought

Oh my goodness. At this point, I feel it’s safe to say that Bets has made it onto my list of all-time favorite literary characters. After having read Miss E., I was thrilled to see that there would be a follow-up story. And now here I am, I loved Cross Country so much, I’m hoping for more again!

What it comes down to is that Mr. Herberger just has a way with words, simply put. He has a way of describing things, places, people, feelings, etc. that, as a reader, you just get it. It helps, too, that these stories take place during a time period that I wish I could have experienced so much so that I feel almost nostalgic for it. I also really loved how relevant Bets’ coming-of-age feels today. Even though she grew up during a totally different time period, young adults (and grown ups) will find a lot of lessons to take away from this book, especially with everything going on in the world today.

Serious stuff aside, Cross Country is also a great adventure story. Who hasn’t dreamed about just picking up and driving across the country? Bets has some pretty epic adventures along the way–some fun, some not so fun–with a wonderful cast of characters I won’t soon forget. I love when even the secondary characters come to life, and Mr. Herberger didn’t let me down.

All in all, I loved Cross Country just as much, if not more than Miss E., and I know that I will read anything else Mr. Herberger publishes. Between all the times this book made me stop and think and all the times it was just plain fun, Cross Country brought Woodstock to life. I am always up for a story from Bets’ point of view, and this one was a pure delight to read!