Blogtober

Thoughts on… Halloween

It’s October 31st meaning it’s Halloween! If you’ve been online this past month, you’ve probably seen many a gif and if you’re on Twitter just about everybody has had Halloween-themed user names.

I’ve never been into Halloween and I think that’s because I live in the UK where while it has got bigger and more popular over the years, it was never a thing when I was a child. When I was growing up I lived on a street where there were no other kids and very limited lighting so it wasn’t like I took part in trick or treating or anything – and to be honest I think it was something that just didn’t happen.

When I was a teenager, friends had parties for Halloween but that was more of an excuse to get dressed up and get drunk, it was the same when I was at Uni. Yes I did dress up and have fun (my favourite was when a friend had Halloween/birthday party where the theme was dead-people or characters and I went as an unnamed zombie Red Shirt from Star Trek) but I never got into the real spirit of Halloween – whatever that is.

I don’t enjoy horror films so I don’t make an effort to watch them in October like some people do, and I don’t really read spooky books, so what I read and watch don’t make me feel very Halloween-y.

I don’t begrudge anyone who enjoys Halloween, it’s just not for me. Maybe it’s because I’m a Brit and never did the trick and treating thing or because I don’t like scary things. This year I have no plans for Halloween, instead I’ll be curled up in front of the TV watching Bake Off and eating chocolate. But to all those who celebrate and enjoy Halloween – I hope you have a great time!

REVIEW: October Kiss (2015)

Free-spirited Poppy (Ashley Williams) never sticks at a job for long but when she is hired as a temporary nanny by workaholic Ryan (Sam Jaeger) to look after his young children Zoe (Hannah Cheramy) and Zach (Kiefer O’Reilly) she finds something she’s good at and maybe even loves.

October Kiss is a Hallmark original movie and it’s a very cheesy seasonal movie but I couldn’t help but find it somewhat endearing. October Kiss is Halloween overload. There’s so many decorations, pumpkin carving and costumes (some of which look really rather good) that it’s sometimes a little overwhelming for a Brit who’s never had a “proper” Halloween.

The cast is good and I was pleasantly surprised by the child actors – they never really feel like they’re over-acting. The chemistry between Williams and Jaeger isn’t always there but when they are with the kids it does feel like a real family as everyone slots into place.

There’s a lot of the usual tropes here but it somehow doesn’t manage to be grating. There’s the absent father, the miscommunication and the perceived threat of a new girlfriend/mother for the children in the form of Ryan’s work colleague Abigail (Miranda Frigon). It’s all rather predictable but it’s still a pleasant watch.

That just about sums October Kiss up. Nothing ground-breaking, an easy-watch and one of the better seasonal films I’ve seen. 3/5.

BOOK BLOGGER HOP: Candy Corn, chocolate or popcorn – which is your favourite to eat while reading?

Book Blogger Hop: Halloween Edition!

The Book Blogger Hop is a weekly feature hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer, to find bookish blogs and to learn more about the bloggers themselves. You can find more info on the feature here.

This week’s question is: Candy Corn, a chocolate bar, or Popcorn. Which of these snacks are your favourite to eat while reading?

I’ve never had Candy Corn so I can disregard that right now. It’s one of those American foods that I’ve not tried and while in some UK supermarkets there’s a small “American food” section that has stuff like Hershey bars and pop tarts in it, I haven’t ever seen Candy Corn there. I find popcorn can leave you with greasy fingers and obviously I don’t want to get food marks on my books, and to be honest I only really eat popcorn at the cinema, I very rarely have it at home. So, my favourite is a chocolate bar. Chocolate is my favourite snack to eat while reading because you don’t get your fingers dirty because you hold the wrapper, it’s the best.

October’s FairyLoot Box – Villainous

This months FairyLoot box arrived on Monday – after some confusion with a lack of tracking number (my email with a tracking number actually arrived after my parcel did) this month’s box still arrived in good condition and I couldn’t wait to open it. I love a baddie so was looking forward to seeing what sort of goodies and book(s) (yes books plural!) were inside.

The first thing I saw was an exclusive candle from Meraki Candles, it was named Maleficient after the witch from Sleeping Beauty and smells and looks great. It’s lime green in colour and has purple glitter in it too (I may have spilt some of this glitter when I first opened it, I’m not used to glitter candles) and smells of jade orchid and lotus blossom – it’s a really subtle, fresh smell. Then there was an enamel pin in the shape of the Dark Mark of a Death Eater from House of Wonderland that is surprisingly cute for something so evil. There’s a pocket mirror made by Little Inkling Designs with a quote from The Young Elites by Marie Lu – a series I’ve been meaning to try forever! – and a coaster inspired by Moriarty made by Evie Seo. There was another goodie from Evie Seo, a print featuring a quote from The Aeneid by Roman poet Virgil, and a second art print inspired by Night of Cake and Puppets by Lani Taylor.

Now onto the books!

The first book I saw was The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo. This an exclusive edition of the book, it has red where there’s normally gold, and it looks gorgeous. From what I can gather this is a collection of short stories, or fairy-tales, set in the Grishaverse. I’ve read Six of Crows but as of yet haven’t finished that duology nor read the original trilogy. Still, this is a gorgeous book with some wonderful illustrations on just about every page and I’m looking forward to delving into this world again. Especially as you don’t need to know anything of the main story to understand these tales. The book also came with a set of postcards featuring art from the book.

The second book was Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie Dao – a book whose cover I’d seen on social media a lot but hadn’t really looked into it much before. It sounds intriguing though, with it being a retelling of the Evil Queen from Snow White’s story but set in Eastern Asia. I’m always interested in retellings, seeing how they’re familiar to what we know but if and how they forge their own narrative. The books came with a letter from the author and a signed bookplate as well.

I was really impressed with this months FairyLoot. I don’t get a box every month, instead seeing what a theme is and purchase a box if it’s a theme I’m interested in. I liked that the goodies were varied, my favourites are the pin and the candle, and that there were two books this month! I’m looking forward to reading them both (hopefully) very soon.

MINI COMIC REVIEWS: Fun Home, Power Man and Iron Fist Vol. 1 and Filmish

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

This is a graphic novel memoir from Alison Bechdel (yes, she’s the woman who the Bechdel test is named after) about her childhood and adolescence living in her family’s Victorian home with her rather eccentric family. The memoir is mostly about Bechdel and her relationship with her father, which was both very distant and unusual, neither of them understanding one another until she came out as a lesbian, and learning from her mother that her father was a closeted homosexual.

Fun Home isn’t a linear story, with scenes being revisited when you have been given new information. It’s also both funny and farcical at types when Bechdel recounts her dysfunctional family life. I liked the moments when Bechdel looked back on different events with hindsight, you got to see what the teenage her thought at the time and her own ideas of what really happened now she’s older.

Fun Home features a lot of themes including sexuality, gender roles (Alison preferred to wear “men’s clothes” from a young age) suicide and emotional abuse. It’s an interesting and quick read but I never really felled compelled to keep reading. 3/5.

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TOP 5 WEDNESDAY: Non-Horror Books that Scared You

Top 5 Wednesday is a great feature created by GingerReadsLainey and hosted by ThoughtsonTomes. To find out more about Top 5 Wednesday and the upcoming topics, check out its Goodreads page. This week it’s about books that aren’t horror books but that scared you anyway, whether that was a certain scene or it was the whole book you found frightening.

Lirael by Garth Nix
I always mention this book when it comes to scenes that scared me. Lirael is the second book in a YA fantasy series and there’s one scene when Lirael encounters a monster, deep inside a magical library that scared the bejeezus out of me. My heart was beating so fast and I had to take a moment to calm myself before I carried on reading.

 

The Strain by Chuck Hogan and Guillermo del Toro
Technically The Strain is a horror, it has vampire-like creatures in it anyway, but the scene that scares me in it doesn’t feature any monsters. It’s at the start of the book when this plane lands but then it’s deathly still and silent, it doesn’t move, there’s no lights or sounds from the people inside it, just nothing. As the people outside try to figure out what’s going on it really creeped me out, it’s like there was something unnatural about the plane and the situation and it gave me goose bumps.

 

The Three by Sarah Lotz
This book has an air of “something isn’t quite right” throughout and as it progresses it very slowly amps up the tension causing it to be really quite scary and unsettling. The Three is weird and creepy and mysterious and it’s one of those books that put me on edge.

 

 

Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates
This is a non-fiction book about sexism in day to day life, the little things that often go unnoticed but build up. This book scared me because of how brutally real and honest it is about what an average day is like for a woman. The part that really scared me though, was the section on school age kids, the rise of social media and the pressure to send naked pictures of themselves. It’s both sad and scary reading the pressures this young boys and girls are under and I am glad that when I was a young schoolgirl there wasn’t the ability to see and share sexual images so easily.

Luther: The Calling by Neil Cross
This is the prequel to the Luther TV series so it’s a detective mystery but Luther has to solve an incredibly grisly and creepy crime. The thing that scared me about this book is it gives you an insight into the mind of some messed up people, who don’t realise they’re messed up and actually think what they’re doing is the right thing to do.

Are there any non-horror books that scare you?

Non-Fiction November TBR

November begins next week and that means Non-Fiction November is back! It’s a readathon/challenge hosted by ABookOlive and NonFicBooks on YouTube. As the title suggests, the aim of the challenge is to read more non-fiction than you normally would in a month.

There are four challenges for this readathon. They are four words that can relate to the books you read and they are Scholarship, Substance, Love, and Home. You can apply these words to non-fiction books however you like but the challenges are a choice, you don’t have to use them.

I’ve got a few unread non-fiction books sitting on my shelves but I’ve just chosen just three for my TBR as I like to vary what I read. None of them really fit the challenges as I picked the books before the challenge words were revealed, but I’m not too fussed about that.

One of Us by Asne Seierstad
One of Us is about the terrorist attack in a Norwegian summer camp in July 2011. I got it for my Read the World project and it’s a bit longer than I thought it’s be (it’s a bit over 500 pages) so Non-Fiction November definitely gives me an extra push to read it sooner rather than later. I can imagine it being a tough read, especially as it has testimonies and interviews with those involved with the attack and the subsequent trial.

Nasty Women
This is a collection of writing from various British female writers that I backed on KickStarter. It was put together as a response to Trump’s election and the general attitudes women are facing in in the twenty-first century. I’m really into feminist writings and just generally learning more about what different women go through in day to day life.

Know Your Place
This is another essay collection I backed on KickStarter (I love backing books on KickStarter) this one is essays on the working class, by people who are a part of the working class. I suppose you could say I’m a part of the lower middle class, so I haven’t had it as difficult as many people, so I’m keen to learn more about what life in the UK is like for such a big proportion of the population.

I’m looking forward to reading these books, as I always say with readathon challenges, if I read one book from my TBR I’ll be happy. Are you going to be taking part in Non-Fiction November? The hashtag to use on all social media channels is #NonfictionNovember2017 and there’s a Goodreads group as well.

REVIEW: The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

When five friends go to a remote cabin for a weekend break, they soon discover they have got more than they bargained for and they are all in danger.

The Cabin in the Woods is a good horror film because it knows what it is, has the usual tropes but turns them on their head. The five friends all fit the standard clichés; there’s Curt (Chris Hemsworth) the jock, Jules (Anna Hutchison) the sexy, popular one, Holden (Jesse Williams) the quiet one, Marty (Fran Kranz) the stoner, and Dana (Kristen Connolly) the good girl.

The film embraces the horror stereotypes and the fact that so many people watching it will know all the genre clichés and it does it’s best to subvert expectations. It feels both self-referential and new and intriguing. It’s equal parts weird, scary, gruesome and funny – and sometimes all those things happen at once. The script is witty and clever, with some of the best lines coming from stoner Marty, his attitude to the weird goings-on is the best.

Honestly, The Cabin in the Woods is the sort of film to watch, knowing as little as possible. It starts out as the typical five-friends-go-to-a-remote-cabin-in-the-woods horror cliché but it becomes so much more than that. It’s bonkers and fun and creepy and is well-worth a watch. 4/5.

BOOK BLOGGER HOP: What is your favourite scary movie?

Book Blogger Hop: Halloween Edition!

The Book Blogger Hop is a weekly feature hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer, to find bookish blogs and to learn more about the bloggers themselves. You can find more info on the feature here.

This week’s question is off the topic of books and is instead: What is your favourite scary movie?

I am not a scary movie fan. I’m a bit of a scaredy-cat and generally do not watch horror films. I think it’s mostly because I don’t like blood and gore (I’m actually OK with blood in real life but I really do not like any sort of body horror in media) and I don’t enjoy being scared.

BUT! My favourite scary film, out of the few I’ve seen, has to be The Descent (2005). It’s about a group of women who go on a caving expedition, but they soon discover they are trapped in the caves with something deadly. I watched it in college as a part of my AS Film Studies class and it was the one and only time I’ve watched it but it has stuck with me for almost eight years! I remember watching it in the class and when it finished and we all went to break, it was bright sunshine outside but my heart couldn’t stop pounding.

The Descent is an incredibly tense, scary and at times gory film. I do think it’s a great film and something I recommend to just about anyone but I definitely don’t need to watch it more than once.

Thoughts on… Not Replying to Messages

I am terrible at replying to messages – whether that’s emails, texts, WhatsApp messages, FB messages, any form of messaging contact I am bad at replying. I’m not always sure why I am so bad. Sometimes I see a message, open it and think “must reply to that” but I’m doing something else and forget and next thing I know it is three days (or more) later. Sometimes I don’t even open the message because then I think, the notification will stay there to remind me to read and reply, and in the case of WhatsApp – they won’t know I’ve read it and then am ignoring them/forgotten all about it. Sometimes this prompts me to reply sooner rather than later, other times I end up with dozens of notifications on my phone I’m ignoring.

As I write this post I currently have 104 unread emails staring at me from my phone. These emails are from four accounts; my work email, my blog email, my personal email and my “professional” email aka the one I use when applying for jobs and LinkedIn and such. Many of these emails are notifications from my blog (new followers, comments etc), automated emails from sites like Etsy, AO3 and LinkedIn, and emails about my latest Amazon order. Probably only 10 emails or less are something I need to actively read and reply to – so why aren’t I?

Sometimes I think it could be a kind of anxiety thing (I don’t have anxiety but how I feel about the pressures of emails mounting up does make me feel a bit uneasy) If I don’t open them, I don’t have to deal with it, but then there’s more and more of them and that puts me off opening them even more.

Sometimes I don’t feel like talking to people – this one is probably a bit more of a problem when it comes to emails to my blog-related email account, especially if it’s someone offering me the opportunity to review something. My close friends know I’m generally slow at replying to a text/WhatsApp message and understand that a three-day wait is pretty normal for me, but with other people it doesn’t always work and I must force myself to reply as soon as I get the message otherwise I won’t for ages. I just know what I’m like.

It’s weird because for work, I can reply pretty promptly to an email, or at least within 24 hours if I reply the next day (I refuse to deal with work emails at home) but with personal ones I put it off a bit. Maybe it’s because at work I feel people are relying on me or are waiting for a response before they can do something else but to be honest, anyone who emails me, whether that’s for work, my blog, or personal, are waiting for a response so that’s no real excuse. Maybe it’s because with work I have to reply or there’s a network of people to have a go at me if I don’t, whereas anything to my personal or blog email account, it’s up to me to reply and deal with it – no one’s making me besides my own conscience, and that takes a back seat sometimes.

Really this post is me, trying to put my thoughts in order on why I am so terrible at replying to messages. I don’t think I’ve really succeeded but if you ever email me about my blog, or leave a comment that I take a week to reply to, maybe you can now see why I take so long to respond.

Replying to messages more quickly is something I’m working on. Now, to prove that I’m going to go and whittle down my unread emails – even if it’s marking a lot of them as read!