Books & Brews Review: The Devil Crept In

I came up with the idea of pairing two of the things I enjoy most in this world, books & beer, for my Instagram account to have more pictures to post during the week. I’ve decided to begin a Books & Brews series in addition to my monthly hobby as well. Every book I read I’ll feature a beer and post a review of both once I’ve finished reading the book. The first review will be of Ania Ahlborn’s latest novel, The Devil Crept In & the featured brew is Roak Brewing Company’s Devil Dog Oatmeal Stout.

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Books & Brews are consumed on separate occasions

I received a copy of this book in The Nocturnal Readers box, which is a really awesome monthly book subscription box for lovers of horror, sci-fi & fantasy novels.  This was the first box I received & it is worth the $30 a month. Evil Husband said I could try out 1 month &  to cancel if it sucked, but it doesn’t. So I’m keeping it until Evil Husband cuts me off.

I hadn’t heard of the author, Ania Ahlborn, before getting her book in my subscription box. The Devil Crept In is her most recent novel, and she has several other horror novels to her name that all have decent ratings & reviews on Goodreads. I’ve added a few of her other novels to my “to read” list as I was equally entertained and creeped out by The Devil Crept In.

The novel is set in Deer Valley, Oregon, a small town filled with mangy stray cats, and oddly, no one town seems to own a dog. Stevie Clark is a 10-year-old boy with a speech impediment,  and has no friends other than his cousin and “best friend” Jude. Stevie calls Jude his best friend, but it doesn’t seem like Jude is all that nice to Stevie. Neither is Stevie’s abusive step-dad or older brother. The two boys hang out in the Oregon woods in their fort, but after Stevie returns home, he later learns that Jude has gone missing. Police believe Jude ran away, but Stevie knows better. He begs to help out with the search party & is rebuffed. Stevie’s mom makes him stay inside for fear he could go missing too. Stevie does what any other 10-year-old boy would do: he sneaks out and investigates on his own. He learns of the strange things that have happened in Deer Valley over the years and the other boy who also went missing a few years back.

As the novel progresses through Stevie’s eyes, we also are privy to a sort of flash-back, side story that fills in the gaps of Stevie’s “story.” There are times when I thought the story could have picked up the pace a bit, but the times when I thought I had figured out what was going on, she throws in twist that kept me entertained from beginning to end. Any horror fan should definitely add this to their “to read” list.

Devil Dog Oatmeal Stout is from a local brewery, Roak Brewing Company in Royal Oak, Michigan. This is actually the first beer I’ve had from this particular brewery, & it was decent. If you’re a fan of dark beers, oatmeal stouts are fantastic. This brew in particular has hints of chocolate, coffee & toasted oats, but I didn’t realize the ABV on this bad boy when I bought it. At 8.5%, it was definitely a one and done beer. I realized this half way through number 2.

I am a big fan of supporting local businesses and craft beer. Some of the brews I feature will be local to me, but I will also mix it up with more widespread national brews as well. If you’re interested in finding a great oatmeal stout near you, here’s a list of the top rated oatmeal stouts by Beer Advocate.

For the Love of Books

I’ve been an avid reader my entire life. My earliest memories of childhood reading hundreds upon hundreds of BabySitters Club, Nancy Drew & Fear Street books. At 10 or 11, I began sneaking my mom’s Stephen King books. IT & Skeleton Crew among my first. I became a life long King fan from that moment on.

Over the years, however, my love for books and reading has occasionally been pushed to the back burner. There were years I maybe read only one or two books throughout the year. But it is the one hobby I never gave up on. And it’s because I found ways to challenge myself and make reading a little more interesting. For me, my passion for reading was reignited because of a Goodreads account.

If you don’t have a Goodreads account, make one. Every year they have an annual reading challenge where you can set the amount of books you want to read in a year. I found that setting a goal helped push me on those days I really didn’t want to read. I also joined reading challenge groups on the site that had silly “challenges,” like the “Alphabet Challenge,” where you read a book that starts with each letter of the alphabet. I also find lists from Goodreads or BookBub Blog helpful. My next reading challenge will to be to work through some of my saved lists on Pinterest.

My current reading challenge is to read through Stephen King’s entire bibliography in order of publication. I’m about 11 novels down and around 50ish to go. It’s been an interesting journey seeing King’s writing style develop over the course of time. It’s something I probably would have never noticed had I not gone back and started from the beginning. Several of his earlier books I had not read, and I’m beginning to see his characters & worlds intertwining. Reading through your favorite author’s bibliography is something I highly recommend.  I do break it up every few novels by reading something else, so I’m not entirely overwhelmed.

Another fun way to kind get back into the reading habit is book hoarding, hunting, at used book sales at local libraries. I discovered this obsession hobby of mine as we decided to begin collecting all of Stephen King’s novels, which was my inspiration for my reading challenge.

Book Sale Finder is an awesome site for finding local used book sales put on by local organizations or local libraries. Most sell hardcovers between $1-2 and paperbacks are even cheaper. We tend to hit up two of our local libraries on the weekends, and usually get in trouble by the husband for the amount of books I bring home. $10 usually goes a long way at these sales. My local library has a “red dot sale” that is $2 a bag full. I crammed 9 hardcover & paperbacks into a plastic grocery bag & even my husband was impressed. He thinks I won’t ever get around to reading them all, but he underestimates my passion.

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”
George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons