Thursday, 31 October 2019

The Many Mistakes I Made in October

I didn't actually realise that it was the end of October until a notification for someone else's wrap-up dropped into my inbox.

And that's just one mistake I made in October.

News from the Reading Front

I smashed my Goodreads reading challenge this month.

I read eight books, which is a lot more than I thought I'd read. How were these all this month? Time somehow feels both incredibly fast and impossibly slow.

This month, I read...
News from the Writing Front

They've changed the NaNo website. I will proceed to be deeply uncomfortable about this throughout November.

Another mistake I made this month is not preparing for NaNo at all. I'm going to be honest. What made up my mind about not taking part in Inktober this year was when it hit the third of October and I realised that, A, it had been October for three days, and, B, I hadn't drawn anything.

But I can't not do NaNo.

The project I'm working on already has over 78,000 words on it, but I think it has 50,000 left in it and, if it doesn't, I guess I'll just write horror short stories until I make it. 

How was your October?

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Classics Summed up in One Sentence 2: The Thrilling Sequel

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Do not look for sense, you will not find it here.

Measure For Measure by William Shakespeare

All women want marriage, even if they've spent the whole play insisting that they're going to be a nun.

Good Wives by Louisa May Alcott

Growing up will destroy your dreams and dance on the broken pieces.

The 39 Steps by John Buchan

The country is the one true damsel in distress. 

Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemmingway

The Daily Mail's idea of "millenials" in the 1920s.

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Literally nothing happens.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

The most eligible bachelors imprison their wives in their attics.

 The Monk by Matthew Lewis

Always have a spare love interest - you never know when you might need one.  

If you have a classic you would like to be passive-aggressive about, by all means drop it in the comics.

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

The Good Place Book Tag

Since my Friday evenings are currently consumed by the AGONY of reaching the end of a new episode of The Good Place only to remember that I will now have to wait another week to find out what happens next, today I'm doing The Good Place book tag. This tag was created by Laura @ Bookies and Cookies, and Caitlin @ Book Chats.

Your problematic fave

I spent far too long thinking about this, before I realised that the most problematic of my favourite characters is Damian Wayne. Ex-assassin. Technically wiped out a species, since he made Goliath the last of his kind. Literally went to DC hell when he died.

And all before he hit thirteen years old.


 A book that challenged you to think about morality

You would think this had something to do with the murder, but no. The thing I felt most conflicted over in this novel was that Addy cheated on her boyfriend, but she was the one I sympathised with.

A book that you find yourself name-dropping or bragging about having read 

Look. If it has upwards of 700 pages, you automatically win bragging rights when you turn the final page. 

A book you love because it has zero pretension

On the Goodreads page, an answer given to a question about this book describes it (with love) as "meandering", "self-indulgent", and "convoluted". 

All of these things are true.

It's also excellent fun.

A book that is informative or a good reference

Say it with me, Anne Boleyn did not commit adultery (with her brother, or otherwise) against the literal King of England.

Possibly my favourite historical figure, Anne Boleyn was wickedly intelligent and only fell because she was betrayed by her own body. Henry VIII changed the religion of the UK so that he could divorce Catherine of Aragon and marry her... only to execute her 1000 days later. You may have heard her referred to as the Queen of 1000 days.

A book struggling to know what it is
I have to go with a film here, because no story has more of an identity crisis than Alita: Battle Angel. Is it a cute teen romance? A sports story? A dystopian sci-fi? 


It's also pure heart-pounding adrenaline that'll have you watching the credits with a massive grin on your face.

A book you thought you'd like, but it ended up just being okay

The Gallagher Girls series. My ratings went up, down, up, then down again, but ultimately there was too much romance and not enough spying. 

A book you would assign as torture

We all know what I'm going to say here, right? It's got to be Pamela. If you haven't heard of my intense hatred for this book then, honestly, you must be new here. It's the heart-freezing love story of a man who goes from a tyrant to a saint the second he falls in love with the heroine, and a protagonist who shows how little she cares for material possessions by talking about practically nothing else.

I once described finishing it as like surviving bubonic plague.

 What's the worst novel you've ever read and why?

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Thursday, 17 October 2019

Stepford Suburbia (The Road Through the Wall by Shirley Jackson)

"'We must expect to set a standard. Actually, however much we may wish to find new friends whom we may value, people who are exciting to us because of new ideas, or because they are different, we have to do what is expected of us.'
'What is expected of me?' Harriet said suddenly, without intention.
'To do what you're told,' her mother said sharply." - Shirley Jackson, The Road Through the Wall, page 148 

If you've never read a book by Shirley Jackson, I strongly recommend you follow this link and read The Lottery. Shirley Jackson is a master of Gothic suspense and it occurred to me the other day that I should therefore make an effort to read everything she has ever written.

The Road Through the Wall was her first novel and it centres on Pepper Street, where a number of very snooty families (and one or two exiled ones) live. Plotwise, I found the ending to be a total let-down. I want to know who did it and the reveal never came, so I now feel totally unsatisfied. The one thing I feel certain of is that it likely wasn't Tod. I don't know why he was so desperate to sell his bike and he's a sneaky little so-and-so, but there was never any indication of him being particuarly interested in Caroline. Hester, he was fascinated by, and he was always trying to get the other boys to hang out with him, but Caroline? And, as one of the other characters said towards the end, the rock was too big for him to lift. Suicide is not necessarily an indication of guilt, especially when you're already damned by public opinion. (I've gone back and realised he's thirteen - for some reason I'd gotten it into my head that he was eight so that idea that he even knew how to do that was even more HORRIFYING.)

Tod's real problem is that he's an outcast in the group of children.

Pepper Road doesn't take kindly to those it rejects. The Perlmans are excluded because they are Jewish. The Terrels are considered ill-bred and have a daughter with a developmental disability. The Martins are poor and considered ill-bred. Basically, there's a lot of class snobbery.

The blurb made it sound like this is a book about monstrous children, but the actions of the children are shaped entirely by their parents. The Desmonds are basically street royalty and their children do not really associate with the other children.Johnny Desmond is held in such esteem that when he is insensitive about one of James Donald's hobbies, James is forced to apologise to him rather than the other way around. This decision is made entirely by the adults - Johnny notably did not want an apology. Tod feels excluded because he is the least favourite child in his family. Another mother - Mrs Roberts - outright states that she only had her second child because her first was such a disappointment. Harriet's mother is emotionally abusive. She is disgusted by the girls writing rather silly, completely innocent love letters that most of the other parents dismiss after a quick chat with their child, and even brings it up later in the story to guilt her. The most awful thing Harriet's mother does though is make her break off her friendship with Marilyn Perlman. Harriet and Marilyn are delighted to have found an equally bookish friend, but Harriet's mother makes her break the friendship off simply because Marilyn is Jewish - she claims that there are "standards" that must be upheld. These standards are apparently closet bigotry as she outright states that on the outside people of their class must be accepting of all religions.

The parents in this story are the root of all evil. If it takes a village to raise a child, this village is rotten to the core.  

 Has an ending disappointed you recently?

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Horror Books For Halloween

I'm not saying you should only read horror books on Halloween. You should read horror books all year round. Christmas. Easter. Hell, take one to a wedding and read it in the back row.

(You have no idea how weddings work.)

This is true. My experience of weddings is limited to sitcoms.

But Halloween is the one night of the year where it's socially acceptable to dress up as witches, demons, ghosts, and ghouls, to gorge on sweets whilst you watch films with terrible special effects. You can, of course, if you don't fancy attending a party or having a film night, also dress up and gorge on sweets whilst reading, so here are some horror books to curl up with this Halloween. Accident by Diana Hoh

I will never be over this book. It's a Point Horror novel that I took out of the school library when I was thirteen and read in a night. Megan trades places with the girl who appears to her in her mirror.

If this happens to you, I strongly advise you do not do this. Call Buzzfeed Unsolved instead. Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

Patched together from diary entries, police interviews, and CCTV camera footage, The Dead House tells the story of Kaitlyn and Carly. They share a body, one coming out during the day and the other at night. Dr Annabeth Lansing has diagnosed them with Dissociative Identity Disorder, but it's always been the two of them, as far back as they can remember. And there's another possible explanation. Something far more sinister... 

Fun fact. I was once marked down on an essay, because I did not think the twist in this novel was difficult to get. (I literally called it on page one.)

Merricat has a cat named Jonas, likes to bury things, and spends her time fantasising about the deaths of her enemies. She also doesn't like change. She doesn't like change at all... Charlotte by Alex Bell
Two words. Creepy. Dolls.
After Sophie's friend dies after using a Ouiji board, she heads to the Isle of Skye in Scotland to stay with relatives and has to deal with a horror of a different kind.

Ooh, and for added creepiness? Frozen Charlotte dolls are actually real. by Lou Morgan
Want to combine the horrors of exam season with the horrors of untested drugs ordered off the internet? This is the novel for you.'s Baby by Ira Levin

(Warning for a scene of marital rape.)
A horror classic set in the sixties with feminist commentary and an unfortunate dose of Satanic Panic at the end. (The baby's in a black crib! This is definitely the worst thing about this situation!) I read this one recently and really enjoyed it.
 Who's ready for Halloween? What fabulous monster will you be going as this year?

Thursday, 3 October 2019

So Fetch! (The Mean Girls Book Tag)

It's the third of October, and you know what that means.

(It's the day that Ed and Al left their old lives behind in a desperate attempt to regain the bodies they lost when they failed to bring their dead mother back to life using human transmutation?)

Yes. But, on a lighter note, it means that today is the perfect day to do The Mean Girls Book Tag! (Created by Sarah Jane @ The Book Life.)

Cady: Which fictional character's name did you get completely wrong?

Before I watched the Naruto anime, I thought Sasuke was pronounced Sas-oo-k. 

"She doesn't even go here!": Pick a fictional character you'd like to place in another fictional world.

Definitely not something I'd usually think about... Um. Can we drop Jetta from His Bloody Project into a world that would be kinder to her and her situation? A contemporary setting, maybe. One outside of the US.

"On Wednesdays we wear pink.": Which book gave you Deja Vu whilst reading it?

Death Note, Bakuman, and Platinum End are all written by Tsugumi Ohba and drawn by Takeshi Obata. Sharing the same artist means that, even though these series are completely different, a couple of the character designs are similar, notably Mello, Aoki, and Saki from Death Note, Bakuman, and Platinum End respectively.

"You all have to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it okay for guys to call you sluts and whores.": A book that was the opposite of girl power!

Remember kids, popularity is the most important thing. Even if you're dead.

Glen Coco: Name a character you wanted to cheer on whilst reading.

Steph: *appears in literally any comic*


"Get in loser, we're going shopping!": How long do you typically spend at a book shop? 

Half an hour at most? I usually know what I'm looking for and, if I don't have any money, I'm not going to stand around torturing myself. 

"I can't help it that I'm popular.": Which hyped up book were you cautious about reading?

Well, first of all, cue Glinda

The thing with hyped books is that quite often I never plan on picking them up. It just happens. I'll see it at the library and think, "might as well."

I was a bit nervous about reading The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, simply because there was SO MUCH PRESSURE to like it.

"She's a life ruiner. She ruins people's lives.": Which villain do you hate?
I don't tend to hold things characters do against them - there's this thing called plot which requires bad decisions and conflict - but I hate the Joker. 

(Because he killed Jason Todd?)


(Because he shot Barbara Gordon?)


(Because he's a complete monster?)

Nope. I hate the Joker because I think he's boring. Simple as that.

"It's not like I'm a regular mum. I'm a cool mum.": Name your favourite fictional parents.

Hmm. Let's give Hades from Percy Jackson an award for basic decency. He certainly seems more involved in Nico's life than a lot of the other Gods are with their kids.

"That is so fetch!": A book or series you'd love to catch on.

Please read The Invisible Library series by Genevieve Cogman. It has dimension-hopping librarians and dragons. I mean, what more can you want?

"How do I even begin to explain Regina George?": Describe your favourite character.

I have many many favourite characters. This is not a fair question.

"I just have a lot of feelings.": What do you do when a book gives you a bad case of the feels?

Revel in the fact that I can still feel something.

"Boo. You whore.": Name a time when you wanted to roll your eyes with a fictional character. 

Literally any time a character is exasperated with Batman I am right there with them. I'm pretty sure this is the reason I like Nightwing, who seems to exist in a permanent state of exasperation with him.

If you can pick a favourite character, congratulations are in order. Please decribe them in the comments.