My Review of The Amityville Horror…Sort of

I don’t even know where to begin. I fear this may be a long, chaotic mess of thoughts, so please bear with me, or skim, or totally ignore.

I’ve always been fascinated with the occult. The Exorcist (both the book and the movie, RIP Mr. Blatty) scared the hell out of me, pardon the pun. It still does. Every. Single. Time. And I love being scared. I love horror movies, haunted houses, Ouija boards (even though my husband forbids them), and Halloween. I love Halloween so much it’s my wedding anniversary.

My freshman year of college, I was a moron. I had an English Lit class where I had to write a basic research paper on anything I wanted. I chose exorcism. Why? Moron.

Fascination is one thing; belief is another. I didn’t actually believe all this stuff; I just liked reading about it. All my research during that semester long assignment pointed to one book, Hostage to the Devil: The Possession and Exorcism of Five Contemporary Americans by Malachi Martin. I was nineteen. This was before the internet and Amazon. I actually had to check books out of physical buildings called libraries. I had to find Hostage to the Devil…and I couldn’t. It had mysteriously vanished from every library within 100 miles of my college. My dad happened to find a copy in some little secondhand bookstore, and when he told the bookseller who it was for and why, the guy actually tried to convince him not to buy it.

But I’m stubborn, and my dad knew, one way or another, I’d find it. He bought it anyway. At the risk of unintentionally reviewing Hostage too, I’ll just say…I kind of wish he would have listened. That book messed me up. I didn’t sleep for weeks. I was on edge. Things happened in my college apartment I couldn’t explain. I managed to turn in an incomplete paper, and my professor took pity on me. He gave me a “B” and told me to get some sleep.

Why am I telling you this? I have absolutely no idea. I guess because it’s been on my mind lately, reading this book, and then yesterday with the death of William Peter Blatty and this oddly timed report on Father Martin.

For at least a decade after that taxing English Lit class, I wouldn’t go near this stuff. But time has a way of minimizing even the most frightening memories, and looking back, I’m convinced I was just sleep deprived and hormonal.

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So here we are. I read Jay Anson’s  Amityville, finally. And not just any old Amityville, but a used battered paperback that looks like it holds its own demons. Was it scary? Not particularly—at least not when compared to The Exorcist. Plus, to be able to read the faded print, I had the room lit up like noon in August. Was it good? Definitely. And for someone interested in the occult, it is, in fact, fascinating. If you look at the reviews, it seems the people who believe the Lutz’s account rate it much higher than the people who don’t. I went into this thinking I’d be impartial; I’d just rate it as a work of fiction and leave it at that. Easier said than done, because the entire way through, I questioned everything. Did this stuff really happen? If they were lying, what was their motive? How do you explain the testimony of respected corroborating witnesses like Father Mancuso and the local police force? It was impossible for me to read this simply as a work of fiction, and to review it, I had to look at it from all angles. The writing, the storytelling. Fact vs. fiction. The phenomenon, the controversy, the legacy. As a whole, it’s kind of brilliant.

Should you read it? If you’re into this kind of stuff? Absolutely! I wanted to go big, thus the creepy looking paperback, but if you really want to be scared…read the e-book version. Alone at night. With the lights out.

Oh, and sweet dreams.

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MY 2016 TOP TEN!

When it comes to books, the harder I cry, the higher I rate…usually. My perfect reads have high angst, high swoon, and high heartbreak, and they also end with an HEA…usually.

I LOVE these books in no particular order. Except for the first one. It’s pretty solid at #1.

Suanne Laqueur’s The Man I Love. This is the book that captured me, but the entire series is pure brilliance. You don’t read this series, you experience it, and if you skip Give Me Your Answer True, you can’t fully appreciate the magic that is The Fish Tales. I know it’s hard to resist jumping ahead to Here to Stay, because technically you can, but don’t. Just trust me on this. My review.

Also from Suanne Laqueur, An Exaltation of Larks. I was lucky enough to get an ARC of this one and I devoured it! It’s an epic tale of love and loss told in Laqueur’s wonderfully unique style. Clear your calendar. It’s big and it’s unputdownable. My review.

Full Tilt by Emma Scott. This one killed me, broke my heart into a million pieces, but left me oddly motivated and inspired. Expect a good cleansing cry and some self-reflection. Full Tilt is part of a duet, and you’re going to want to read the second book, All In, immediately following. I apologize in advance…and you’re welcome 😉 My review.

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Wolfsong by TJ Klune. My friend Fabi recommended this one, and I’ve been high on candy canes and pine cones ever since. It’s different from anything I’ve read. It made me feel more than anything I’ve read. Every possible emotion—relief and fear, excitement and dread, joy and agony—all at the same time. Its genius is in its simplicity. And yet, it isn’t simple at all. Confused? I thought so. My review.

One True Loves and Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid. The woman is a one stop sob shop. All of her books are amazeballs. ALL OF THEM. But if you are a TJR virgin, I recommend starting with After I Do or Forever, Interrupted before diving into these. Why? I think Reid took a risk with One True Loves, and from what I’ve seen, readers who start here are less likely to “get her.” And Maybe in Another Life is what I call TJR-Light. Don’t get me wrong, it will still knock the wind out of you, but if you’re considering reading her, you’re probably a masochist too. Start with the hard stuff! My review of One True Loves. My review of Maybe in Another Life.

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Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum. I bought Hausfrau on my friend Amy’s recommendation. Then, after her incessant badgering (jk lol), I finally gave in and read the stupid thing. Dear God, what on earth was I waiting for? This book is perfection. My review.

Before We Were Strangers by Renee Carlino. I read several of her books this year, but Before We Were Strangers was by far my favorite. It’s classic Carlino, riddled with angsty, swoony goodness. This one hurt me in the best of ways. I didn’t really review this one. I wrote this instead.

Amy Harmon’s From Sand and Ash. Originally, I had Colleen Hoover’s It Ends With Us on this list, but after finishing this one in December, I had some serious thinking to do. Bottom line: From Sand and Ash is perfect just the way it is; I wouldn’t change a single thing, and I can’t say that about It Ends With Us. Plus, it’s like The Thorn Birds set during the Holocaust. “Hello, Robin? Amy Harmon here. I want to write a book for you. What would it take to rip the still-beating heart from your chest? Ralph de Bricassart? Anne Frank? Ok, I think I’ve got something. Stay tuned…”

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Never Stop Falling by Ashley Drew. As with most of my favorites, it’s high angst, high swoon, and it chips away at your heart slowly and steadily. But what sets it apart is the OMG WTF moment that sneaks up on you when you least expect it. The heroine is51U82VevACL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_ flawed, which is refreshing, and the hero is one of the best anti-alpha/boy next door heroes I’ve read. It made me laugh as much as it made me cry, and it doesn’t get any better than that.

But, there’s another reason this book is so special to me. It introduced me to its author. Who knew beta reading for some random chick on Goodreads would change MY life? 2016 was a good year for me, and the biggest reason was her. I ❤ you, Scissorhands.