There Might Be Cupcakes and Books

Creator, producer, and voice of the There Might Be Cupcakes podcast. Bluestocking. Writer. Virginian. Mountain dweller. NetGalley reviewer. Librarian of The Dollop podcast

There Might Be Cupcakes Podcast: Episode 59: Commingled Gloom and Grandeur

— feeling amazing
The Complete Stories and Poems - Edgar Allan Poe

In which I read a lesser-known short-story of Edgar Allan Poe's: "The Oval Portrait".


There Might Be Cupcakes Podcast: Episode 58: Terra Incognita

Untrodden Peaks and Unfrequented Valleys - Amelia B. Edwards A Thousand Miles Up the Nile - Amelia B. Edwards The Phantom Coach: Collected Ghost Stories - Amelia B. Edwards

In which Carla explores a favorite horror author of Victorian England, and finds an marvelous polymath, an LGBTQ icon, and a woman who rescued ancient Egypt and explored terra incognita.


Show Notes:

Story read: “The Phantom Coach”, Amelia B. Edwards

Recommended Reading:


Referenced episodes:



Egypt Exploration Fund:

Historic England: Amelia’s gravesite

University of Pennsylvania: 1 and 2

Brown University





Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl - Jesse Andrews This is how you overcome the Manic Pixie Dream Girl
Trope. A character can be dying and be unpleasant, be difficult, and even be uninteresting. Some people come into your life and suck. *That* is how real life works.
A Mercy - Toni Morrison

I have a question about the interpretation of the denouement, of Florens’ denouement.



I interpreted the violence between The Blacksmith, Florens, and Malaik as:


Florens attacked The Blacksmith, lashing out at him and wounding him with his tongs, and then attacked Malaik and killed him. Malaik, taking her place (in her eyes), was the symbolic stand-in for her brother, so she destroys him this time. The Spark Notes for A Mercy, however, state Malaik lived. ?

Picnic, Lightning (Pitt Poetry Series)

Picnic, Lightning (Pitt Poetry Series) - Billy Collins I adore poetry, and am a long-time reader of verse, but I guess I simply do not understand the national love for Billy Collins. Emperor, clothes.

The End of Temperance Dare: A Novel

The End of Temperance Dare: A Novel - Wendy Webb 3.5
This novel read like a mystery from the sixties, almost like a grown-up Nancy Drew, finding her way in the world...I mean that in the best way: the ambiance, taking breakfast and tea in the winter garden while sorting out clues, not a swear word to be seen, dressing for dinner...

There’s only one oddity. So, in this universe, ghosts can eat and drink, or is that a continuity error?

Lisey's Story: A Novel

Lisey's Story: A Novel - Stephen King “...the yellow thread of memory...”: very sharp foreshadowing

Note for myself: “Sh-Boom” was written and recorded by The Chords; the white versions that did well were the covers by The Billy Williams Quartet and The Crew-Cuts

The reason it took me so long to finish this book, after a couple of starts and much time, was my misreading of Lisey. The beginning of the novel reads, to me, like a famous widow’s bragging to self-soothe through grief: that’s right, he was *my* man, the world was jealous. But it’s a false facade if you hang on...and if you pay attention to details, such as how very difficult Scott actually was as a spouse...and the much more subtle fact that Scott and Lisey appear to have no friends outside of each other...
Then it becomes another, richer novel entirely.

A Discovery of Witches

A Discovery of Witches  - Deborah Harkness Strangely uneven, with a couple of small continuity errors. Also, there’s the feminism thing I noted: Diana is always being hovered over or scooped up in someone’s arms or watched over or protected or ordered about...
It’s five stars in some places, for I love a historical mystery, set at a prestigious university for bonus points! But then it’s three or even two stars in some places, for the above strange misogyny and the peculiar coy attitude towards sex.
Will I read the sequel? Yeah, probably. Eventually.

Charmer: The True Story of a Ladies' Man and His Victims

Charmer: The True Story of a Ladies' Man and His Victims - Jack Olsen Minus one star for the misleading (and arguably offensive) title and subtitle. The only way "Ladies' Man" applies is if you are looking at the "Charmer" as an incel pickup artist. Which may be the point--I don't know. He's a scam artist, a profligate user of young women, and a rapist/murderer. So perhaps the title and subtitle are in supremely bad taste, or just ironic. I know that if the man in question had raped or used me, or murdered someone I love, I would not be pleased with such irony. This guy is a fast-talking charmer in the fact that he got his own ways for so long--but still. As the victim of sexual and domestic violence myself, it just sticks in my craw. I'm usually not so sensitive to such things, so when something like this really does bother me, I pay attention.

The 5th Wave (The Fifth Wave, #1)

The 5th Wave (The Fifth Wave, #1) - Rick Yancey Won’t be finishing it. I can’t. I am so interested in the story, but it’s one rule I hold firm: I don’t read books that frame coercion as sexy or romantic. That one scene and now I feel sick.

Flight Behavior

Flight Behavior - Barbara Kingsolver Transcendent. A novel about biology, ecology, geology, psychology and even “family life” science. But not just. Never just. Enchanting.

Obeying Evil: The Mockingbird Hill Massacre Through the Eyes of a Killer (True Crime)

Obeying Evil: The Mockingbird Hill Massacre Through the Eyes of a Killer (True Crime) - Ryan  Green The author did an incredible job getting into the head of the father-killer in this almost inexplicable crime. This unique approach to true crime enhanced the story.

Review: Gosnell: The Untold Story of America’s Most Profilic Serial Killer

Gosnell: The Untold Story of America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer - Ann McElhinney, Phelim McAleer

This book is not for everyone. The authors are very honest about what Kermit Gosnell, and what Gosnell did went far beyond abortion. He murdered and decimated. If you are uncomfortable with Ed Gein’s story, do not read this book, for Gosnell was the same type of hoarder.

This book was finely investigated, so I only deduct one star for these reasons:
* the unnecessary, in my opinion, long chapter lecturing the reader on proper journalistic practices. It’s near the end of the book, so by the time it is reached, I as the reader have the full picture of the bizarre news dodge of this story. I don’t need a mini journalism class to drive it home.
* the occasional use of “pro-abortion” in place of “pro-choice” in general (the only person I have run across who is truly pro-abortion is Dr. Gosnell, for pro- implies enthusiasm, gusto); and, in companion with this, the introduction written by a member of the Duck Dynasty family. This case is so vile, it didn’t need to be politicized at all, in any way. Just tell the reader what Gosnell, his wife, and his staff did. You’ll probably change a lot of minds on abortion. I think these leans of bias make the annoyance of the lesson of the unbiased Fourth Estate stronger. To truly make this point, the book should have carried absolutely no agenda—including no biased language (a no-no in basic journalism) and no biased celebrity endorsement.

I can’t say this enough: this is an important case, and, despite its above flaws, an important book. But I am going to type a phrase below that was in the crime scene report about Ed Gein, and please let it be your litmus test for whether or not you should read this book.

That phrase is: cup of noses

Review: Ghostland: No Man's Land

Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places - Colin Dickey Lily Dale: The True Story of the Town that Talks to the Dead - Christine Wicker
— feeling shocked

  I was quite excited to spend my monthly Audible credit on this book; what a fascinating idea--reframing American history by examining our relationship with our landmark haunted locales.


I, unfortunately, have returned it to Audible.


Each house is well-chosen: the Lemp mansion, for example, as a haunted touchstone in American history and culture...

and then debunked as an actual, or at least a full as-known haunting by the author. Chapter after chapter.


I hung on through the underlayer of smugness until the author stated repeatedly that Spiritualism didn't last, it was dead, it was no longer a thriving practice in the United States. Then I stopped reading. Why? I had reached the intolerable level of poor scholarship and research. There is an entire town of Spiritualists who live and work as such, in plain sight, and have done so for years: Lily Dale. Both a documentary and a book are available about Lily Dale, New York, and both are easy to find:


Lily Dale: The Town That Talks to the Dead * Christine Wicker


HBO Documentaries: No One Dies in Lily Dale


Side note: The author was also treated well by the Lemp Mansion's hosts, taken on their Haunted Tour, and given the choice room--one that is on the tour because it is reported to exhibit so much phenomena. His entire account of his Lemp tour and stay was mocking, in my opinion, disdainful of staff, location's history, and even his fellow tour group members! I feel as if I have been subjected to a history book written by a hipster: "Look, we're supposed to be enjoying this. OMG, all these people are really enjoying this! I cannot wait 'til I return to my cocktail and typewriter." Combined with the shoddy research, and some debunking claims without citations, this book is disappointedly unprofessional.


Also posted at The Dollop: American History Podcast

A Mother's Reckoning: Living in the aftermath of the Columbine tragedy

A Mother's Reckoning: Living in the aftermath of the Columbine tragedy - Sue Klebold I have decided to not finish this book for many reasons, but the final straw was this thoughtful and heartfelt essay written by Dylan’s English teacher, the one who received the eerie short story he wrote:
I read almost half of this book, trying, trying, understanding that she was a mother above all. But she minimized and deflected, and retold incidents that had several witnesses—like the time at the river with friends when Dylan accidentally got wet and tantrumed-raged-because he was embarrassed.
In this book, Dylan is this family-centered, amazingly sensitive boy who makes his bed every morning, as if good people—or people with good traits—cannot do horrible things.
And then this article. Mrs. Klebold changed many significant details about her and her husband’s meeting with Dylan’s teacher about the school shooting fantasy short story. In Klebold’s version, they were told little, knew less, and were instructed not to worry. I can’t continue listening to her read her words and tell her journey on this audiobook, because that is a significant lie. I trusted her to share her heart truthfully. She didn’t do so, so I have to walk away from the dialogue and not continue reading. Which, on the 20th anniversary of Columbine, breaks my heart a little. Because I wanted to feel for her. Her true story is so painful; it doesn’t need to be embellished. And if she so fears still being judged, perhaps a memoir was not for her.
And shame on the publisher: this information specifically about this meeting with the teacher is in the FBI files, testified to under oath. Klebold’s manuscript should have been vetted more carefully.

Blatty, Kinderman, Merrin, Karras, and Regan

The Exorcist - William Peter Blatty Legion - William Peter Blatty

William Peter Blatty, one of the few authors to create a before and after in the American cultural psyche, died yesterday at the age of 89. The Exorcist and its companion novel, Legion, are not given enough credit for being not just horror novels, then movies, but also mirrors held up to human nature--as seen in this passage from The Exorcist.



The very best horror serves this or similar purposes: grotesqueries or terrors as mirrors. The Exorcist and Legion made us face our fears of bad things happening to good people, of the looks of innocence masking evil, and of our inner sanctums, our homes, not being safe after we lock the doors at night.


Thanks, Mr. Blatty. Rest.

Currently reading

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