Friday, 14 December 2018

Spring Cleaning during Summer

So, how are you today? 

As I mentioned the last time I blogged, after my daughter started sorting out her room I was inspired to do the same. So I've had a very busy couple of weeks tackling my own Spring Cleaning Project. It turned out to be a pretty big project that wormed its way so deeply into my brain, I started having dreams about sorting stuff. 😁 

I started with the Big Stationery Trunk Reorganising, which turned into the Huge Bookshelves Reorganising Project and ended up becoming the Excess Toys/Collectibles Sorting. I even added a bit of Pen Shuffling.

Yep. There was a LOT of stuff to do, even more to go through, and I made a pretty big mess while trying to find proper homes for everything. Although there was a lot of physical work involved, at the end of each day I was mentally exhausted. There was just SO MUCH to go through. A lot of stuff to reorganise and then donate.

Seriously, during the last 3-4 weeks we've probably donated about 20 bags full of assorted stuff: stationery, toys, clothes, collectibles. A lot of the stuff we got rid of was practically new, some still in their original packaging. It's nice to recycle things for other people to enjoy, rather than throwing things out so they end up as landfill.

I even infected hubby with the spring cleaning bug. We went through the kitchen and laundry together, sorting through everything there. 

And now I feel lighter. Just have to get into the habit of finding proper places for things ASAP. Oh, and buy less, too. LOL. Not going to stop buying completely because we're such big collectors of many things, but the impulse buying needs to stop.

During the decluttering, I was so overwhelmed by the process that it consumed my mind entirely. I couldn't even concentrate long enough to read much. But now that most of it is done (because this will be an ongoing thing) I can get stuck into other stuff. And I did, I got back into reading. 

Speaking of other things, through all of the above, I managed to revise the short story I wrote last month. Yep. During the last few weeks, I squeezed in the second and third drafts. I even proofread the story on my Paperwhite, formatted the doc and subbed it to an anthology.

The final word count was: 4,178

I'm really happy that it's done, and that the story turned out pretty close to how I imagined it in my head. And since the anthology closing date is the end of the year, my goal was to have it finished and subbed before the X-Mas break. So I've crossed it off my to-do list WAY before. Yay.

At the moment I'm a little slow and plan to spend the rest of the week concentrating on reading and daydreaming. I always feel this way after finishing a project, but being December means I feel it even more. 

So there you go. I'm pretty much done with my 2018 goals. Anything I get done now is extra. LOL. I think I'll spend what's left of the year reading, planning, sorting (ideas & files) and trying to take a mental break.

Well, have a great day. And an even better weekend!

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

THE GREAT GOD PAN by Arthur Machen

The Great God Pan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the third classic I've read in a row, and I'm glad I did because I'm enjoying these old time horror stories. It's a novella I've had on my Paperwhite for months. Also, one that comes highly recommended by Stephen King himself. So of course I had to read it.

When a doctor decides to perform a bizarre experiment he claims will allow a young girl to see beyond the veil, something truly awful happens. Something so horrifying the effects ripple long after the poor girl is dead...

Okay, so that doesn't even begin to cover what happens in this novella. It's the tip of the iceberg. A tiny percentage of what really happens. Except, most of the awful and terrifying stuff happens off the page because the narration of this book jumps from one person to another. Tumbles from one person's retelling of an account they witnessed, or a strange tale someone else told them. Features memoir snippets and letters, a variety of ways to patch together a dark mystery.

This really is a story within a story, inside a bunch of other stories, tying back to the original one Mr. Clarke introduced about Dr. Raymond and Mary. It's nightmarish and takes root inside your brain. It's surreal and teases with enough imagery for the reader to imagine what isn't shown.

And that might be my only real problem with this story. I REALLY enjoyed it, was hooked instantly and the writing style put everything together well. But sometimes it also dragged a bit and I wanted more actual showing. I needed to know more--so much more--about Helen. Wanted to see things through her POV, because what she was/did turned out to be pretty effed up.

So yeah, this is a great horror novella that does a great job at keeping the dark mystery alive, and keeps the suspense the whole way through. I just felt it was missing something, which is why I didn't give it 5 stars.

I didn't find it scary, but it was definitely freaky, and worth checking out.

Monday, 10 December 2018

THE VAMPYRE by John William Polidori

The Vampyre; a Tale
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I watched the Mary Shelley movie earlier this year, and one of the things it featured (of course!) was the fateful getaway which produced one of the best and most influential stories of all-time, Frankenstein.

This story was another that the challenge produced. It was written by William Polidori, Lord Byron's physician. Though at first, the world was led to believe it was Byron's tale, and Polidori had a hard time convincing everyone that it was his story.

Although now that I've actually read it, I don't know why anyone would want to lay claim to such a boring tale.

This story dragged so much. The writing style was blocky and failed to keep my attention. So much I was nodding off a few times and had to force myself back into the narrative. It was a hard story to get through, and I only stuck with it because it was short. If this was a novel, I would've DNFd it for sure.

Ugh. Although I'm glad I read it... who would've thought one of the first vampire stories could be such a bore? The origin story was definitely better than the tale.

Friday, 7 December 2018

CARMILLA by J. Sheridan Le Fanu

CarmillaCarmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've had this book on my Paperwhite TBR shelf for AGES. And because I was in the mood to read a shorter book, but definitely one on the creepy side, I thought of Carmilla. The vampire tale that came before Dracula.

The story is told by Laura, a lonely young woman who lives with her father and a bunch of servants. When her friend can't come and stay with her, it just so happens that an accident introduces a mysterious and beautiful woman into their home.

Carmilla is left in their care, and as soon as she arrives people in town start falling ill. Laura starts having strange dreams that Carmilla claims to be experiencing too. But all is not as it seems, and it doesn't take long for the truth to reveal itself...

Well, that was an excellent read! I quite enjoyed this book and was hooked from the beginning. The narrator tells her story, but included within what she shares are tales and the experiences of others.

There were so many ways this could have failed, but it didn't. And as much as the writing and descriptions bordered on too much in some places, everything totally worked. I got so caught up in Laura's story that I didn't want to put it down.

Not to mention that I got carried away by the spooky air of mystery, as well as the vivid description of the gothic location. There's a LOT to like about this book, and the vampire lore is another thing I enjoyed. Carmilla is beautiful and cunning, looks so innocent but is clearly keeping secrets. And doesn't really hide the fact that she is.

Oh, and the attraction/passion between Laura and Carmilla was so obvious. There was no denying that these two wanted to be together, even if Laura was often confused by her need. I loved the natural way Carmilla's sexual preference was presented. No one freaked out. No one judged. They just accepted this was happening and ultimately, the only reason Carmilla is suspected of anything is because she might be a bloodsucker.

I don't know why it took me so long to read this very excellent book, but I'm glad I finally did.

LOVE vampires. Always will. And this satisfied my vampiric craving. For now.

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