Saturday, September 10, 2016

Minireviews: Hark! A Vagrant, Different Seasons, and We Should All Be Feminists

I've really dropped the ball on writing reviews lately... oops. Part of the problem is that I've been rereading a lot, and writing reviews of rereads is quite difficult- as they tend to be books I love, and there's not much more I want to say other than the odd comment on new things I've picked up on, and the rest is just me going READ THIS, READ THIS NOWWW IF YOU KNOW WHAT'S GOOD FOR YOU.

But, yeah. Here's some reviews all the same.

Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton

Hark! A Vagrant! by Kate Beaton
So the problem with having such a groaningly large pile of unread books (185ish, at last count...) is that there are so many books I was super excited to read when I bought them and then just... didn't. I have no excuses for this one in particular, as it's short and consists of comics. I read most of it while waiting for my mother to come out of a doctor's appointment, actually.

In case you haven't met the delightful Kate Beaton's work yet, she writes short, funny comics based mostly on history or classic literature. My favourites are, as you can probably guess, the ones based on books I particularly love. For example, Sherlock Holmes:

And the Brontes:

I seriously love it.

But yeah, there's some ones about things I don't necessarily get (Canadian history, hello) but mostly this book was delightful. So much so that I immediately bought Beaton's next book, Step Aside Pops after I finished this. You can also find most of her stuff online but having it in book form is just so much nicer, ya know?

Different Seasons by Stephen King

First of all I want to complain about this book's many titles. It's known as Different Seasons, The Shawshank RedemptionApt Pupil AND Stand By Me, depending on the edition. To make matters worse, my copy says Different Seasons on the spine but The Shawshank Redemption on the cover. This is greatly annoying to me.

Anyway. This is a collection of four novellas: Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, Apt Pupil, The Body, and The Breathing Method. The first three of these were made into movies, none of which I've ever seen.

Stephen King tends to be pretty hit or miss for me, and likewise I enjoyed some of these more than the others. Apt Pupil was by far my favourite- it's about a teenage boy who discovers his elderly neighbour is a former Nazi commander, and they end up in this really twisted codependent relationship of blackmail and lies. It was really interesting to read from a psychological point of view, and the passages that deal with the Holocaust really bring home that real horror exists in real life. Which is the most terrifying thing of all, really.

The Body (which became the movie Stand By Me) was less about a body than about growing up and coming from a broken childhood. The whole thing was really well written and I enjoyed it a lot.

The Breathing Method is a weird little piece of genuine horror, which is hard to describe without giving away the ending.

Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption was probably my least favourite of the bunch, to be honest. It's interesting as far as anyone escaping from prison is interesting, but it didn't really do much for me.

Overall then: I liked this a lot. It's definitely not up with my favourite Stephen Kings, but it's still in the top half of my mental ranking.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This is another book I should file under 'SHOULD REALLY HAVE READ BEFORE NOW'. But I don't even really remember buying it, and it wasn't even on comprehensive list of books I own but haven't read- which has led me to fear the number is actually far exceeding the 185ish...

Anyway. This is based on a TED talk Adichie gave, based on, well, read the title. When it comes to me reading about feminism it really is a case of preaching to the choir, but this one was interesting on the argument that feminism is for everyone, not just white Western women. Which, yes. If I hear one more person say that only rich white Western women worry about feminism, I think I'll scream, because hello, feminism is a worldwide movement concerned with everything from rape culture in Ameican colleges to FGM in Somalia. Anyway. This is well-argued, short, succinct, and you can read it in 10 minutes. So there's no excuse :)

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

#20BooksOfSummer Wrap Up & RIP

Way back in June, you might remember that I was super excited to spend my summer reading books and stumbled across the #20BooksOfSummer thingy, which I wrote about here. My plan was to read much more than 20 books, and in the end, I read 25. Yay! Out of those, 11 of those were on my original book pile list, and I'm still reading another two. So, all round better than I expected.


The next reading thingy is RIP (Readers Imbibing Peril), a challenge to read more creepy/scary/spooky/mysterious books in the lead up to Hallowe'en. I'm all for this- looking forward to Hallowe'en is the best way to chase those post summer blues! I'm going to be taking part in the first level, which is reading four books that fit the theme of the challenge before 31st October.

I actually don't read this sort of genre that much... but two books I'm currently in the middle of fit the bill, so that's a good start! The two books in question are Ghost Story by Peter Straub, which I've been reading forever because my library e-book keeps expiring, and The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, which maybe isn't scary exactly but there's a murder in it, so that'll do.

As far as the others go... I actually want to use this time to reread some books that handily fit the criteria! Here's a few I'd like to get around to reading:

- Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry- the definitive book about the Manson case. I loved this when I read it a few years ago and I've been looking for an excuse to reread it. The Manson case is so disturbing on so many levels- the violence and horror of the murders themselves, and then the cult element which is fascinating to me. This book also functions as a riveting courtroom drama which is so interesting to read.

- Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ranson Riggs - I read this when it came out and don't remember it very well, so I need to reread it before the movie comes out. Owes its place in this list purely because of those photographs *shudders*

Night Film by Marisha Pessl - Seriously creepy book about the apparent suicide of the daughter of a cult horror movie director, and all sorts of messed up stuff about the family arises. This book has multimedia elements which I missed out on during my first read as I didn't have a phone capable of reading the QR codes. So, I obviously need to remedy that and get the full experience!

Image result for my best friend's exorcism

I also recently bought My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix as part of a big birthday money/gift voucher book splurge and I'm super excited to read it. It's by the author of Horrorstör which was surprisingly good (and possibly another candidate for rereading soon). This is another multimedia adventure- I've got the enhanced e-book edition- and it even includes an 80s Spotify playlist. So, super exciting!

So, that's the plan for the next couple of months. What are you planning to read in the lead up to Hallowe'en? :)