R.I.P. Challenge Update: I stan Stephen & Shirley but Shelley can stay home

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We are more than halfway through the R.I.P. XIII Challenge so it’s about time I kicked myself into gear and took a look at what I’ve read so far.

Novels I loved

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I started this challenge with a book by one of my favourite writers, Stephen King. As I’m working my way through King’s books in chronological order, by the time September came around, Cujo was next on my TBR and I couldn’t wait to dive into it.

I knew the gist of the story as I’d seen the (very dated) film adaptation a while ago: Big dog catches rabies; Mother & son are locked in a broken down car in the blistering heat while the rabid dog lurks outside. It’s a scary concept and I had faith that King would know how to pull it off.

What surprised me from the get-go though was that this isn’t just a simple tale of one big scary monster. An added element of the supernatural – the literal boogeyman in the closet – was also there to grip you from the first page. It isn’t enough to put 4-year old Tad through the trauma of being trapped inside a burning hot car while a beast outside terrorises him; What does he have to go home to? Another monster – the ghost of a serial killer – in his closet. And his mother? What does she have to go home to? The breakdown of her marriage. There is no safe space for these characters and that is one of the scariest elements of this book.

The rapid storytelling is unusual for King (who normally takes his time crafting backstories of characters before putting them through hell) but it works really well in this book and still manages to host a group of characters that all feel well-rounded and fully-formed.

Did this book scare me? Yes and no. The concept of a rabid dog coming for you is scary but those parts of the book didn’t fill me with fear – Just created a sense of excitement & a lot of tension. On the other hand, the parts with Frank Dodd, our ‘boogeyman’ in the closet, did scare me. Parents out there – If your child is telling you there’s a monster in his closet and even you start to notice some weird stuff going on back there, put your house up for sale & get the fuck out of there. I would not be hanging around long for that shit.

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5 Books to Read for Indigenous Peoples’ Day

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Tomorrow is Indigenous Peoples’ Day in the USA.

Unfortunately, the national holiday is still named Columbus Day in most of the country but, in recent years, more and more cities & states have been waking up to the absurdity of celebrating a mass killer & father of the slave trade.

I’m not American so why should I care? Well, I’m European. As was Columbus and every other coloniser who forced their way onto American soil. So there is a responsibility there. Great-great uncles of mine moved from Wales to Australia, Zimbabwe, and the US at the beginning of the 20th century. And who’s to say more didn’t emigrate and help to colonise countries hundreds of years before that?

There’s a responsibility to make sure history isn’t whitewashed so that we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past.

I have no idea why Columbus is celebrated in the USA. The man never stepped foot on the North American continent.

And then there’s the greatest myth at all: That he ‘discovered’ America.

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Fortunately a lot of people these days seem to be waking up to this lie. Unfortunately, disregarding Columbus doesn’t automatically bring about respect for the people who were already there.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day can be a great day to celebrate and honour those who have historically been mistreated and had their land snatched away.

The first way to do that is to discard everything you were taught in school and start learning some real history. So here are five books I recommend to help you do that:

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My Physical TBR

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Following on from my epic list of 35 unread books I have on my Kindle, it’s time to take a look at the physical books (hardbacks/paperbacks) on my shelves that I haven’t read yet.

All of these books are purchases from the last 6 months so I don’t feel too bad about not having read them yet. I just need to put my purchasing on hold until I get through a big chunk of what’s here.

1) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
2) Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
3) Halfbreed by Maria Campbell

4) The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline
5) Once Were Warriors by Alan Duff
6) Less by Andrew Sean Greer

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September Reading Wrap-Up

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September was an okay month for my reading. It wasn’t the best but it also wasn’t the worst. I started work at the start of the month and, as I predicted, I didn’t have as much time or energy to dedicate to books as I’d had over the summer. Add some sort of cold/fluey thing on top of that and you have my September in a nutshell.

Books Read in September: 4
Books Listened to in September: 1

5 Star: 2
4 Star: 2
3 Star: 1
2 Star: 0
1 Star: 0

Fiction: 5
Non-Fiction: 0
Total Pages: 1029
Total Hours: 7 hours, 41 minutes

Male authors: 2
Female authors: 2

Countries:
North Korea – 1
USA – 4

This month could have been much worse. I might not have read anything. The fact that I managed to read one book a week is a big plus. And look at those ratings. No 1 or 2 star reads this month.

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I did end up DNFing Clive Barker’s In the Flesh but not because it was bad. I just realised I only picked it up to read one of the short stories inside and didn’t really have much of an interest to read the rest.

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I also had a goal to read Jane Eyre during the month of September so that I could read Wuthering Heights in October. That didn’t happen and I’m still working my way through Jane Eyre at a slow and steady pace. My Reading the Brontes schedule is going to be a little behind but that’s okay. There’s no need to rush anything.

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In other reading challenge news, I did manage to complete half of my Peril the First challenge for the RIP XIII challenge. Yay!

1) Cujo by Stephen King
2) The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
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I’ve also completed my Peril of the Short Story challenge.

1) The Forbidden by Clive Barker
2) The Madonna by Clive Barker

I still have to write up some reviews for these books and stories but, overall, I’m so happy with my progress. If I can read two more scary/creepy books in October, I’ll have nailed this challenge.

And that’s everything. I had originally thought about joining Victober for the coming month but, as I’m trying to lessen the pressure and not making reading such a chore, I think I’ll skip it for now and maybe try it next year.

Let me know how your reading went in September. Happy autumn everyone!

WWW Wednesday – 26/09/18

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I’m ill. My throat is on fire, I’ve lost my voice, my head hurts, and I just feel overall lousy. Reading has been slow. I have practically zero motivation to do anything outside of work except sleep and I’m trying to get rid of the reading pressure I’ve been putting on myself over the last few months.

I don’t want to feel guilty for not having read a certain amount of books per month or per week. And I don’t want to feel bad for not having read everything on my TBR yet. Right now, all I’m wanting are comfort reads and that means a lot of Stephen King & a lot of re-reading.

I have TBRs for September and October that correspond to certain reading challenges but you know what? It’s not the end of the world if I don’t complete them. Why am I worried about being such a failure? That’s not what reading is about. I definitely need to get out of that goal-oriented headspace.

Recently Finished:

Y’see, here’s the problem. The Running Man and The Haunting of Hill House were so brilliant that everything else is now a steaming pile of rubbish in comparison.

The Running Man was a Bachman (aka Stephen King) book that I was certainly not expecting to love as much as I did. Wow. I had issues with some of the language in certain parts but, overall, this was an incredible read. It’s set in the (oh so distant) future of 2025 when reality TV and gameshows have essentially taken over most of the world. Desperate, poverty-stricken people everywhere audition to be a part of these shows in order to win a huge amount of money but nearly of the games involve risking their lives. Our protagonist is a man who is entered into the most dangerous gameshow of all called The Running Man.

I don’t think I was expecting to enjoy this because I knew it had been adapted into a film with Arnold Schwarzenegger which made me think, “This is going to be a braindead action-packed story … ugh.” I was very wrong. This is definitely action-packed and and fast-paced but, as with all Bachman/King novels, the characters are really well-formed and worth investing your time into.

I’ve checked out the trailer for the film adaptation with Arnie and I’m here to tell you now that I can see that the film is very different from the book. While the book explores themes of class differences, lack of healthcare, poverty, family, and voyeurism, the film doesn’t touch on any of these things and is clearly another showcase for Arnie to flex his muscles and spout bad puns.

Moving on to The Haunting of Hill House. This story centres on a group of people who arrive at Hill House for the summer, ready to investigate claims that the house is haunted. Any other plot details would be a spoiler as this book is really short.

This was my first Shirley Jackson read and certainly won’t be my last. So many people are in love with her work and I think I was a little nervous going into this because, sometimes, overhyped writers and books can lead to disappointment.

I had nothing to worry about though. I loved this. I loved Jackson’s writing style. Everything flowed so easily. The dialogue between characters was so clever and so much suspense was built from the smallest things.

I can’t wait to read more from Jackson. If this is an indication of how good her writing is, I know I’m in for a treat.

Currently Reading:

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I’m still working my way through Jane Eyre at a very, very slow pace.

This is a re-read for me and I was putting quite a bit of pressure on myself to read and finish this by the end of the month but honestly? I’m enjoying the slow pace and don’t want to rush through it so I’ll probably still be reading it during the first half of October.

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I’m also halfway through Volume 5 of Clive Barker’s Books of Blood. This volume only contains four stories and, so far, I’ve read The Forbidden and The Madonna.

The Forbidden is the novella that was the basis for the Candyman films and the main reason I picked this book up in the first place. It definitely didn’t disappoint. It had the exact kind of horror I was looking for and really did scare me half to death. The Madonna, on the other hand, was a disappointment. There was a fantastic build-up which culminated in … meh. Nothing really scary or creepy or suspenseful. Disappointing and kind of blah. I hope the remaining two stories are better.

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I’m also still working my way through Richard Burton’s diaries. I’m not overly-concerned about going through these at a slow pace. Ideally I’d like to have finished them by the end of the year but, if I haven’t, it’s no big deal.

I’m enjoying what I’ve read so far. I find old Hollywood really interesting so it’s been even more fun to hear about it from someone who was right in the middle of everything.

Reading next:

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I think I’m going to pick up another Stephen King tonight. Usually I’d prefer to finish whatever I’m currently reading before starting a new one but King has been a comfort to me lately (this will be my third this month) and I’m eager to read Different Seasons.

This is the collection of four novellas that contains the stories, Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption (which was later adapted into the film The Shawshank Redemption), Apt Pupil (later adapted into Apt Pupil), and The Body (later adapted into Stand by Me).

As I’ve said, I need some comfort reading right now and (as weird as it sounds) King’s the one to do it.

My Top 5 Favourite Stephen King Books

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Autumn is here and it’s getting me into some kind of mood. The kind of mood that makes me want to stay inside and wrap up in warm blankets, hot tea next to me, and a good book on the go. But not just any book.

Since the start of September I’ve taken a hard dive into the R.I.P XIII Challenge and have been craving anything that comes under the horror/thriller umbrella. Shirley Jackson. Clive Barker. Mary Shelley. And, of course, the master himself – Stephen King.

So far, I’ve read two King books this month and I’m on a bit of a roll that I don’t see ending any time soon. There’s something about King’s writing – a familiarity perhaps – that provides a kind of comfort … even when he’s scaring the hell out of me.

Friday was King’s 71st birthday so I thought, as I’ve been picking up his books a lot lately and as autumn is the season for all things spooky, I’d give a rundown of my top five favourite books by him.

Now, I just want to point out that the man has written 50 something novels and 10 short story collections. I’ve only read about 16 of his books so far so you might notice more conventionally popular ones missing from this list. I have no doubt that as I read more of his work, this list will eventually change.

For now, September 2018, these are my favourites:

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Sunday Post: Getting a Grip, Crappy Families, & William Thackeray

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What’s new?

Things have been a lot smoother this week and I think I’m finally getting the hang of juggling the jobs. After a bumpy start at my school job, I’m now managing it a lot better and understanding more & more about my role there. My theatre job is pretty easy and the people I work with are lovely so that’s also meant having a lot of pressure lifted. Things are good.

I also had this entire weekend off so I’ve been doing my favourite thing – Lounging around in leggings & a blanket, reading a book & drinking lots of tea.

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