Saturday, 17 February 2018

[Meme] Greek Mythos Based Asks

Zeus: What is your favourite kind of weather? Honestly? Probably a day when it's just nicely warm, bit of a breeze, and not raining. A kind of ... basic day? Not too hot or too cold. I don't do well in the extremes, though through simple fact of where I live I'm a little better in the cold than the hot.

Hera: What is the last book you read? So I finished a re-read of Much Ado About Nothing yesterday - best play of all the plays - and I'm currently reading Girls Who Rocked the World. It's aimed at a lower age group than myself but it was on offer in the shop and it's a nice little reference style book to awesome women in history. It includes a good bibliography at the end with further reading and even some movies to check out.

Poseidon: Where is your favorite place to go on a weekday afternoon when you have no plans or obligations? I like staying in if I had no plans or obligations but on the rare times I do feel up to going out, I like going to the nearer Waterstones book shop. It doesn't have as much as the big one in town, but it's still fun to go to.

Demeter: Are you spiritual or religious in any way? If so, how? Yes. And while you ask me to go into it, I'm not going to. Because... it's just a part of myself I keep to myself. I do freely admit I had a Catholic upbringing however, so there's still a lot of that that influences my life.

(Also Catholic churches are really nice to visit)

Athena: Would you rather be anxious and intelligent or carefree and simple? Carefree and intelligent. I disagree with the use of simple in this context, being carefree does not indicate a lack of intelligence, but likely a better coping mechanism with the world.

Apollo: Name the last song you listened to? Objects In The Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are. Yeah.

Artemis: Do you believe it is vital to everyday life to know what is happening in the world around you? Not vital, no. It is important to know about the wider state of the world but that amount of negativity can really do you mental harm so it's good to just step back and try to ... not take it all in.

Ares: Do you still remember arguments or upsets from over 5 years ago? Do they still bother you today? Yes. And sort of? It's ... They tend to play on my mind whenever I feel particularly anxious, which is the majority of the time. I keep thinking how they could have went differently, or how I could have put my point across better and ... it's not healthy to keep thinking on stuff like that, so I really try not to. Try being the key word.

Aphrodite: What did you love most about the place you grew up? What about it did you love the least? Okay so like the vast majority of my time when I was little at my grandparents because the Mum was pretty much their primary carer and ... it was a lovely little village with a park and lots of places to go and play and yeah. Where I actually lived? I couldn't really go outside because people were assholes.

Hephaestus: Do you have a favorite/most interesting Wikipedia page? Not really, no.

Hermes: What's the best nickname you've ever been called? & what's the worst? I don't think I've ever really been given a nick-name that's lasted? I mean, my initial, but I don't know if that would count because no one uses it in conversation, it's just like a typed shorthand.

Hestia: What is the weirdest scar you have and how did you get it? ... I have one on my right hand that came through a stress based itch. Yeaaaaah. This is a weird question for the Goddess of Home and Hearth...

Dionysus: If happiness was the national currency, what kind of work would make you rich?Writing. Being paid to come up with live blogs for shows I like?

Hades: If you could find out the date of your death, would you want to know? Right now my answer is no. That being said, I can actually see the merit in such a thing because it would help to settle affairs but I know my own mind and as it stands, I would send too long panicking and not actually get a damn thing done.

Heracles: What has been your biggest challenge in life so far? Anxiety, depression and stress problems. We're still fighting.

Persephone: What one thing have you not done that you really want to do? What’s holding you back? There's a few. Majority of the holding me back? Money or my own mind.

Asclepius: Have you ever lied about being ill to avoid school or work? If so, how elaborate have your stories been? It's entirely possible on the school level. I was bullied a lot by students and a couple of teachers so the place was just a misery to me and the less time I spent there, the better I felt. I don't think it was a deliberate lie - looking back on it it's likely I was suffering from bad anxiety over the place that made me feel ill - but ... yeah, it's likely.

Eros: How did you meet your best friend? Online, and thanks to various fandoms.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

[Meme] Bookish Questions

Wilde: Would you rather relax by reading a new book or by rereading a well-loved book? Hm, either fits really, because it's very dependent on the mood that I'm in. On low days, I prefer to re-read for the comfort of familiar characters and settings, and on other days I want to read all the new things. Because that's how it goes, really. I do probably re-read a bit more than my tbr pile allows for.

Fitzgerald: Reading with a cup of tea or mug of hot chocolate? Cup of tea. Can't be beat.

Adams: Fiction or non-fiction? Nine times out of ten, it will be fiction. On that rare occasion, it'll be non-fiction, but often presented in a humorous format.

Cabot: Do you read in the bath? No, but that's mostly because I take showers...

Lee: Favorite book? Oh gosh, where to start? Okay, let's do this alphabetical by author, but only show book titles: Pride and Prejudice, Peter Pan, Dodger, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Artemis Fowl, Matilda, Oliver Twist, Good Omens, Les Misérables, Ash, Anne of Green Gables, Kamikaze Girls, Bound, Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes, Hogfather, Monstrous Regiment, Night Watch, Thud!, Wintersmith, Percy Jackson, Carry On, Harry Potter, Battle Royal, Howl's Moving Castle. AND THIS IS AN ABRIDGED LIST.

Rowling: Favorite message from a book? The one that comes to mind right away is a sort of message from Good Omens that being human is a pretty awesome thing. Yes, we're capable of a lot of bad but also a lot of good and really that potential for both makes us kind of amazing... Also just pick up any Discworld book. Pratchett was really good at getting his messages across in an entertaining way.

Tolkien: Stand alone novels or a series? Both. Sometimes I'm in the mood to read all a series, and other times I just want to read a one-shot. It feels like there's not as many one-shots as there were though, which is odd.

Kidd: Do you 'dog ear' pages? When I was younger, I did used to do this. I've long grown out of the habit of it though. It was just that I could never find a bookmark when I needed one. I've got a pile of them now sitting on one of my bookcases.

Zusak: stories set in the past or the future? Any-time really. I do not discriminate.

Austen: 3 favorite characters? ... Oh bugger, this one is hard. Mildred Hubble was one of my first book faves so we'll say her. Luna Lovegood is another one that just makes me smile whenever I read her stuff, so we'll add her too... and Sam Vimes. Because you cannot go wrong with someone who believes in the Law as solidly as he does, and believes that it stands for the protection of the innocent.

Shelley: 3 characters you dislike? Bill Sikes, Delores Umbridge and... okay I know there is a third, but no name is genuinely coming to mind. Maybe The New Firm from Neverwhere, but I like them at the same time? Ugh, this is harder than I'd thought.

Dickens: a book you didn't enjoy? The Twilight series. At the time of it's popularity, someone I knew tried to get me reading it by saying it's vampire fiction, you'll love it! Yeah, I did not. I found a lot of the messages in the book to be problematic at best and dangerous at worst. Also I had some bad experiences with over-enthused fans which left a sour taste. Of course, you can add 50 Shades to that. Oh, The Great Gatsby as well, but I'm not sure if that was a dislike of the story or if the situation in which I had to read it left it's imprint on the story.

Shakespeare: A book that made you laugh? Discworld wins this one, but also the Blart books by Dominic Barker. It's a shame that not many people seem to know these books, because they're fun little satires. Also my St. Trinian's comic strip collections. Oh, and the Addams Family. They would count here, right?

Dahl: A book you read because you saw the movie? Percy Jackson was one, but to be fair I was in uni and not exactly keeping up with books at the time. I immediately went to the bookstore after the cinema - it was a day I had like a six hour gap between classes - and picked up the first in the series and ... yeah, so much better. 101 Dalmatians as well, but that's more I didn't know that was a book at first. I was a little kid. There's not really been that many, to be honest. More when I was a kid than now.

Carroll: A book that made you cry? The Book Thief. Oh gods, I cried so much reading that book. It's beautiful but so emotionally draining.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Review: Revolutionary Girl Utena Complete Deluxe Box Set

Revolutionary Girl Utena Complete Deluxe Box Set Revolutionary Girl Utena Complete Deluxe Box Set by Chiho Saitō
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Revolutionary Girl Utena is one of those titles that is often referred to as a 'must see'. The thing is, I live in Scotland where it is not available for streaming or purchase on DVD. Thus when this manga box set appeared in my recommendations on Amazon, there was really no doubt about purchasing it. Now, from what I've heard, the manga isn't considered the main source of the canon - that would be the anime - so this is probably not the best introduction to Utena I could have. That being said... it's the one I got.

The story follows the young girl, Utena, as she attends a prestigious Academy, and attempts to become like the 'Prince' who once saved her life. In an attempt to defend a friend's honour, she winds up in the middle of a duel, which she wins. On winning the duel... things get odd.

Odd is really the best way to describe this whole thing. At the very core, the story appears to be a coming of age tale for Utena, trying to get her to leave behind this almost childish belief in her Prince. Then on another layer, it's a deconstruction of what it means to be a Prince, or to be a Princess, and the behaviours that these roles are often assigned. Then another layer seems to be about relationships, both healthy and unhealthy, and how while you can offer all the help in the world to those in a bad situation the only way they can really be saved is by ultimately helping themselves. And then in another layer... Well, there's a lot to this story, is what I'm saying, and from what I understand, the manga is relatively simple in comparison to the anime!

The art work of the manga is very gorgeous, and the imagery is striking enough to linger in the mind long after you've finished reading. Honestly, it's only getting three stars from me because, well... As interesting as the story is, the manga does feel like a weaker version of it and I really don't know how to explain that feeling well. It is an interesting read, and definitely one that should be read by many people, but... the anime series is probably going to be the stronger version of the story.

This box set also includes the manga of the movie which is ... well, it's another thing. It's alright, but I prefer the original manga to the movie-manga. Still, I am glad to own this box set and to have finally been able to read it.

Maybe one day I'll be able to read Rose of Versailles...

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Doll Collector's Tag

I found this being done via videos on Youtube, and thought it might be fun to write it up as a blog post. Just, y'know, for something to do. This is the Doll Collector's tag and if anyone out there would like to do it as well, then feel free to pick it up and continue on!

1. How long have you been collecting? I've been officially collecting since... 2010. I did have dolls and stuff as a kid, but I wouldn't have called myself a doll collector. I've been collecting action figures since about 2006, I'd say, but that's a smaller thing really. Dolls was 2010.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Review: Quests for Glory

Quests for Glory Quests for Glory by Soman Chainani
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It feels a little odd, going back to a series that you were sure had finished with the previous installment. Then again, the biggest question for most fairy tales is what happens after Ever After and it really should be little wonder that the same is true for Agatha, Sophie and the rest of the students of the School for Good and Evil. Quests for Glory picks up roughly six months after the third book, and we're now dealing with the aftermath of Tedros' disasterous coronation, the upcoming wedding, Sophie's first year as Dean, and the problems that the others are facing on their last year Quests.

Needless to say, it's a bit of a mess for everyone.

If the previous three books were deconstructions of the basic characters you would find in a fairy tale, then it could be said that this book attempts to deconstruction the concept of the fairy tale staple of the Good King, simply by asking what is it that makes a good king. Should he ride to war as soon as he is requests? Should he consider his kingdom above all else? Does a symbol of kingship matter more than the character of the King themselves? This questioning is at the heart of the book, and the danger and adventure building around it.

It's a great build up ... but it's just that, only a build up. The ending of the book slams at you, but it feels like a halfway twist, and you sort of expect some more to come. Of course, there is more coming but that's not entirely what I mean. And yet, it is. This reads like it will be continued and it's nice to know that book 5 will be coming soon.

Our character roster is rounded out with new girl Nicola, who has a sensible head on her shoulders and tends to think a little bit more than anyone else around her. It's amazing, really, how quickly people in fairy tales forget to put a bit of thought into a thing, but Nicola is not the type to do so. This book also gives a bit more depth to Hort - one of my favourites from the first three - and it's great to see him given that depth and self awareness.

I'm looking forward to seeing how the question of the Good King is continued in the next book. When is it due out, again?

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Thursday, 11 January 2018

Review: The Addams Family

The Addams Family The Addams Family by Elizabeth Faucher
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have a thing about novelisations of movies, being that I like to read them. It's a cool way of seeing the fuller picture, and seeing what little bits didn't make it. The Addams Family is more of a junior novel that a full novelisation, but it still manages to help fill in little gaps in the movie. It also stands pretty well as a book in its own right.

As we know, the story follows the return of "Fester" to the family, after 25 years away, except he may not really be "Fester" after all... The characters are the strong points, as they always are in anything Addams related. Even in text, their personalities shine through strongly, and you can feel the warmth and care this family have for each other. A particular highlight is the relationship between Gomez and Morticia. Married and with children, their passion still rings as true as the day they met. For anyone who says writing married couples leads to staleness, well they've clearly never met those two.

Really, the only downside to the book is that it is pretty short and simplistic. I wish there were more Addams Family novels, not just comic collections. It would be fun to read more about them.

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Monday, 8 January 2018

Review: Tangleweed and Brine

Tangleweed and Brine Tangleweed and Brine by Deirdre Sullivan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Tangleweed and Brine is an anthology of fairy-tales that have been re-written to give their heroines more of an active role, for want of a better phrase. 13 stories in all, and each from a point of view of one of the heroines of the tales.

Deirdre Sullivan has a very interesting style in these stories, often from the first or second point of view, and always with this poetic, mystical feel to their narrative. There are recurring themes of sexuality, trust, age, betrayal, and magic which are true to the original tales, but spun in such different ways that it can make the stories feel altogether very new. While each story itself is a short read, they have this way of lingering with you after reading them, the illustrations capturing the imagery in the words well and said imagery still playing out the story for you.

As beautiful as all the stories are, I don't actually think I could chose a single favourite among them. I really want to re-read this one, actually, but I'll give it time. I think this is one of those ones that should be read sparingly, so as best to savour it. I do recommend picking it up if you've ever wanted to read a thing where the heroines didn't have to be married off for their stories to end well.

Also can Sullivan do another collection like this, please?

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